Sunday, August 30, 2009

Damn It's Hot

Around 40 C / 100 F every day . . . and it's hard to acclimatize when every building is kept at refrigerator temperatures on the inside.

Arrived in Saudi Arabia last Tuesday -- no problems getting through customs, but we got a flat tire out in the desert on the other side of the causeway and had to wait a couple hours as the driver tried to figure out how to work the jack. And this is Ramadan so I had to be discrete about drinking water -- the poor guys changing the tire must have been parched.

As for the Kingdom -- well, it's amazingly like I'd imagined it, with sand dunes and camels, everybody wearing white or black sheets -- which wikipedia tells me are called "thobe" -- and head coverings, women covered up like ninja.

I'm living in a room in the "faculty dormitory" on the campus -- like a small apartment, nothing particularly fancy, but it has a kitchen and is plenty big for one guy.

There's a beach across the road, and a modern shopping center with an Applebee's in it about a ten-minute walk away.

I went to the nearest "city center" area last Thursday with one of the teachers to eat Thai food and was surprised how grubby, chaotic and southeast-asian it looked -- like a back street in Bangkok or New Delhi. (Hardly a surprise I guess, with all the guest workers from India and Bangladesh and the Phillipines.) Previously, I had sort of thought that everybody drove Rolls Royces here -- in fact, though, I find that the people I'm teaching will generally be from low and middle-income families. (It's a government educational project, apparently.)

Today I had my second medical exam of the week. Managed to produce a stool sample a bit more easily this time, probably owing to my breakfast of mango and cornflakes. I wonder what the Saudi Government does with all that shit from their guest workers. . .

My blood pressure was a much more reasonable 117 / 60 this time. This is kind of like being in rehab except of course for the fact that I'm getting paid large amounts of money for it.

In fact, I'm in the somewhat enviable position of being here for a month more before classes begin; I'll get a full month's salary for not doing much of anything.

I have an office I share with three others -- all of whom, along with most of the rest of the teachers and students, are on summer vacation now -- and there's internet here but not yet in my room, as they're upgrading the wireless internet service.

Pictures coming soon.


Lawrence said...

do not post any pics-close down the blog-if you get found out as the author you can be thrown out the country next day

The TEFL Tradesman said...

I'm with Lawrence on this. People have been deported (you're just a very expendable Western infidel) from Saudi for publishing photos that some big boss wearing half a set of curtains thinks are 'uncomplimentary' of his dear country. So give the snaps a miss.

BTW, be VERY careful of your 'colleagues' - some are not all they seem. And take care about your comments (=criticisms) of Saudi and its people. Some bastard will rat on you, for sure.

It's like that, out there. The siege mentality eventually gets to eveybody.

Lawrence said...

its a prison-people become institutionalized; trust no-one; never give out any information that can be used against you-dont worry about the teaching but expand a lot of energy on arselicking

stevie austin said...

i want to see pictures for sure, X is only posting everyday shit, i doubt there are going to be arab cleavage photos like there were in the last country.

all i would say is don't use the company computer for this blog. at home you can do as you please. i'm sure every foreigner has surfed porn in saudi and they haven't been kicked out yet.

keep up with the blog and keep up the stlye, if you compromise it wouldn't be the same. just can't let it be known you write this like people knew in russia.

waiting for photos, but am prepared to wait til you get your home connection

Chris said...

yes photos are a good idea..the company computer isnt. You'll be fine, and anyway, its not your style to be a photojournalist, and so i dont think you'll have much to worry about from the few that you post. They'll probably be landscapes more than anything. Ive learned that most people in the world, including and maybe especially teachers, are overly neurotic. What they dont realize is that its really annoying behavior to those of us that aren't. And that we are right most of the time.

The fact that your now teaching in Saudi isn't quite computing, but i'll get over it... Try to mark the exact time that it takes you to get bored as fuck, and let us know when that is. I've got 20 Riyal on this weekend..