Brian Ellis alias Sigmund Siignatuur (the Jordan Times 2002) in his own words

Thinking of working abroad?

Sigmund Siignatuur


IF YOU are thinking of working abroad, then there are many considerations to be taken into account; more so if you are married and have children. Anyway, I have dragged up a few statistics that might help in this general direction.

Some people are gregarious and want to be in the hustle and bustle of civilisation, e.g., cheek by jowl with the world, joining every club in sight and lonely if there is less than a battalion of soldiers in their house every night. If you want a densely populated country where the word loneliness does not even appear in the dictionary, then you must go to Macau; but if you seek loneliness, either to write poetry, look intently at the wilderness through expensive binoculars or people have petitioned you to leave an urban environment because of anti-social personal habits, then Greenland is made for you (but beware of alcoholic dependency in lieu of people).

If you like tonnes of children playing in the street and getting under your feet, then there is a plentiful supply in Guatemala. If the thought of children playing football in the street drives you insane, then you must see if you can live in Monaco. There are hardly any children there, but there are plenty of millionaires, which might make it difficult to live in Monaco.

The healthiest children naturally live in Iceland. Or they are when they are born (lowest infant mortality rate). You have to give some thought to your child’s education — San Marino (if you can find it), famous for turning out worthless stamps, is an educator’s dream. It has a ratio of 5.8 children to one teacher.

Having decided on so many issues, it is time to turn to healthcare. If you live in China and learn the phrase “please can you recommend a hospital”, they can direct you to no fewer than 63,100, though Ukraine might take them for beds. If you need consultancy with a doctor, there are millions in Italy, who would love you to ask them any question ranging from Ebola to heavy dandruff. While on the subject of medicine, psychologically that is, you just have to live in Amman. Truly staggering statistics inform us that there was only one suicide in Jordan in 1970. So complaints about rises in utilities must be taken with a “pinch of salt”.

People are usually interested in whether they are walking into a mugger’s paradise or a relatively crime-free environment, so take note of the following: the country that has the lowest crime rate is… not Switzerland, but Togo. Now if you are likely to have a car, then the following is important to note. The country with the greatest car theft is not Nigeria but Switzerland. The golden rule in any Swiss town is to place a cuckoo clock on the front seat of the car which, because of its Swissness, will be enough to deter most fondue-eating car thieves.

Now here is a statistic that I am not quite sure what to make of: the country with the least number of police officers is the Maldive Islands. Now does this suggest that this small country, quietly sinking into the sea because of the “greenhouse effect”, is an idyllic tropical paradise or that the Maldive islanders do not like dressing up as policemen. The jury is out on this one. Canada comes second, but I guess we know that is the case because there is no need for heavy policing. On the other hand, Angola has the most police per thousand and we can be pretty sure that this is necessary to fight lawlessness rather than a theatrical desire to dress up. Feeling safe is important and if you don’t like the feel of military surrounding you, then I suggest you live in Costa Rica. They have a total military force of 400. I can’t remember any war involving Costa Rica, but I might feel safer if a few more Costa Ricans were employed in this field. You never know when the subject of bananas might create an international friction. If you want to feel happy with the military everywhere, then you can feel secure in China.

Now human beings are one thing, but the animal kingdom is another. If you are frightened of spiders or something similar, then pay attention to the next part of the article. The oriental rat flea should be avoided. Best carry a photo of this one (passport size will do). If you are going to Central and South America, beware of the poison arrow frogs. Colombia is the reputed place where they like to have annual get-togethers. North West Australia supplies us with the world’s most venomous snake, none other than the sea snake. While in Australia, we have to show particular respect to the box jellyfish. While talking about dangerous fish, piranhas are not a fish that you should encourage your children to put into the fish aquarium. Piranhas have been known to eat people’s apartments but as yet, not a complete villa. Tigers, lions, leopards etc. should not be encouraged to become sociable with you, e.g., by offering steaks and delicious hamburgers to such beasts. If you are tempted to offer a leopard a hamburger, do not smother it with Dijon mustard, this will really send the big cat berserk.

These animals are not usually found wandering on 5th Avenue or in Bloomingdales. If you do spot one in a New York department store, call security straight away. They have a special anti-leopard division that can deal with such a crisis.

One more point to consider is the weather. Some people like to be soaked by rain and others like heavy snowfalls, while others like to fry to a crisp in the heat. The most equitable weather, e.g., little variation in weather is between 19 and 31 degrees centigrade and is to be found on the Mariana Islands. Pity there are no jobs there. If you like the heat at its most unbearable, then try Ethiopia, Western Australia (some areas) or Death Valley, US. Once again, job opportunities seem slight in these inhospitable environments. I don’t want to sound intellectual, but it seems that there is a link between weather hostility and job opportunities. Most sunshine occurs in Florida and there are opportunities to succeed here. Siberia is extremely cold and bonuses are paid to work in these climates (thus destroying my earlier hypothesis). An additional advantage might be if you are fluent in Russian and your record shows you to be free of serious crime. If you love torrential rain then Meghalaya in India must be your destination. You will never be dry and mildew will be your constant companion. You don’t like mildew and rain, then some parts of Chile are calling you. It never rains in the Atacama Desert.

Perhaps you desire a place that is alive with thunder and lightening. Tororo, in Uganda, will give you a display for no fewer than 251 days per year. If snow is what you want, then try Washington State, but if you want to be killed by hailstones, then the Gopalganj district of Bangladesh is your ultimate destination.

So where is the best place to succeed in working? Try Luxembourg. Ninety- eight per cent of its population is employed. It has no animals that kill you, no weather that destroys you, little crime and an international radio station that no longer functions. Great tales of adventure are never written about Luxembourg, but this could be your breakthrough: making Luxembourg romantic, legendary and finding those three people who refuse to work, thus blotting an otherwise perfect employment record.

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