Monday, August 24, 2009

To Travel Hopefully Is Better Than A Kick In The Nuts

Somehow I didn’t imagine Bahrain would be so . . . Arabic.

It’s unbelievably hot – 40 celsisus, nearly 100 degrees farenheit – and all the buildings are low and brown and there’s a lot of dust. There are a few high rise office buildings poking into the sky with Middle-Eastern phallic opulence, and more being built, but the overwhelming impression is of low brown indeterminate-looking concrete buildings and dust. And of course you see minarets here and there.

I’m here for a couple of days to get my Saudi visa, which first involves getting a medical exam – blood screening, chest x-ray, and a physical.

They told me my blood pressure was a little high yesterday, 140 / 80.

Hardly surprising given the inordinate amount of going-away parties I had, and the previous three days especially, and about 18 hours in airports and planes.

Thursday involved a party at a banya, a Russian sauna – with a four guys and five girls. I’d like to say I had a wonderful time, but in point of fact I can’t remember most of it – vodka blackout. I woke up missing 6000 rubles and covered with mud. But at least I woke up in my own bed. And at least I woke up.

Friday involved giving my cat away, then being greeted by a girl who I had met the previous week and one of my other going-away parties. (I’d irritated the people at that going-away party by disappearing into the toilet for quite a while with this girl.) She gave me a Long Goodbye, while Crazy Bob cooked an omelet in the kitchen.

The final going-away party was at a Russian chain microbrewery called Tinkoff – and I was very moved to see so many -- pretty much all -- of my friends turn out. I picked up the bill and bowed out at about 1.00am – completely ill and exhausted from the last few days and mostly unprepared to leave.

However, two voluptuous blondes I've known a long time insisted on coming home with me and drinking a couple last bottles of champagne. Ill, exhausted and feverish at this point, I can’t say their extremely thoughtful idea of a going-away three-way was very successful by porn-movie standards, but I thought it was a nice thing of them to do. (The fact that at one point I actually told them to leave me alone and let me get some sleep should indicate to all of you just how burned-out I am.)

They went home at 4.00am and I got up at 7.00 to begin cleaning out the filthy rubbish strewn remains of my apartment; it was still such a hopeless mess I just told the landlord to keep the week’s rent he owed me and hire a professional cleaner.

I was seen off to the airport by thoughtful friends, but encountered my first problem with I tried to check in – my bags weighed too much, I was told, and I would have to pay about $100 for the Vodkaberg to Moscow leg . . . and approximately $2000 for the Moscow to Dubai leg. About four times the cost of my ticket.

Not seeing how that could possibly be correct, I paid the extra $100 and then went to check with Air Emirates at Domedeovo airport in Moscow – they told me that number was indeed not correct, because their baggage allowance was 30 kg, not 20kg.
So actually, 20 kg extra only actually meant I had to pay 570 Euros – about 800 US dollars.

Now if you took the entire value of everything that was in my third bag, it would be worth MAYBE 200 dollars, considering the purchase price. Because nobody would particularly want to buy a bunch of old books, blue t-shirts and black trousers from the Gap and Old Navy after-Christmas sales.

So I went and sat outside the airport and threw away a bunch of clothes, one of my bags, a few books, and a travel steamer that never really worked correctly anyway, and managed to get everything down to 30kg.

570 Euros. I could buy enough new clothes for three years at the Gap and Old Navy after-Christmas sales with that!

So here I am. My hotel is a bit dingy for the price, but they’ll serve room service during the day (against Ramadan regulations) and it’s comfortable enough.

I met with the "manpower agency" for my future employers and they started the medical process yesterday. I finally managed to produce a stool sample this morning, and they took it back to the lab -- I'd assume I'd have heard by now if I failed, but I considered it a distinct possibility, my body chemistry must have been an absolute mess after the last few days.

If all is acceptable -- which I think mainly means I don't have HIV or Hepatitis -- then they're getting my Saudi visa now and I'll have it by the end of the day, and I'll be off to Saudi tomorrow.

And of course some of you ask yourself -- did English Teacher X cry at the thought of leaving Russia and his life of the last nine years?

You bet your ass. After a blackout vodka hangover and right after I gave my cat to a colleague to keep, you can bet I wasn't feeling too steady. And all it took was a reference to this song on Howard Stern to have me crying like a little girl with a skinned knee when I watched it on youtube:

Sharing this fact with the two voluptuous blonds late in the evening, even they thought it was a bit corny. "You're a grown man crying at a song sung by puppets," one said, sitting in my lap in her underwear, arms around me.

"They're not puppets," I informed her. "They're muppets."


Lawrence said...

you can never go back-those babes are gone forever

Jesse said...

Jesus I fucked up and commented on an '05 post. Just wanted to say, short time reader, long time lurker. Read your stuff all in one go. Good luck in your new place. I used to sling English in E. Europe in the late 90s. But only a few years of it.

English Teacher X said...

the babes are all getting married soon anyway. . .

stevie austin said...

Gonzo was nominated for an Emmy for that episode.

EnglishTeacher365 said...

We'll really miss your frequent dispatches from the front line of ELT in Russia, ETX. I have feeling (OK, I bloody well know) that Saudi is going to be a shock for you - but you'll work a way round it!

I certainly hope so, anyway.

Chris said...

Hey, its only 12-24 months and a plane ticket to be back in Russia if you get too "home" sick...Just don't come back to the US. It blows here right now, Id be gone again in a minute if my extremely old grandparents weren't here...

But yes, Id cry too if I had your type of going away parties were made up of pubescent Korean children...and after your story, never again will I, in any sense, look upon those parties as 'fun' or 'good'...