Monday, September 14, 2009

Things To Do In Saudi When You're Dead

So, talk about 'me' time.

When I first arrived there were a few mornings of filling out and signing forms, getting documents stamped, and of course a morning at a clinic providing my blood, urine and feces. (In Russia that we had provided plenty of blood, urine and feces, but never in plastic bottles to doctors; a bit more indiscriminately, on the streets and dance floors.)

There were a few mornings meeting with my new managers and colleagues; but now, pretty much the entire school is on holiday and most of the teachers won't come back until September 24th.

So I have pretty much nothing at all to do, until classes start in October.

Fortunately, keeping myself amused has never been much of a problem, and I didn't have any problem getting my hard disc with 350 GB of TV shows, movies, e-books, audio books, and comic books into the country.

A typical day?

So I'm tending to wake up at about ten, and then I do my prison cell workout -- pushups, situps, squats and tricep dips, as well as some stretching and jumping rope -- and then I set about preparing the first meal of the day.

Ramadan -- during which it is forbidden even to chew gum or drink water in public between sunrise and sunset -- and the extreme heat -- 40 degrees C, 100 degrees F -- kind of limit my ability to wander unchecked during the day, so the afternoon has me digging into the aforementioned hard disc for some entertainment until about three or four, when I take the twenty minute walk to the beach. I swim for a half-hour or so, and perhaps sit and read on the beach for a bit, then come home and have the second meal of the day.

The college I work at is not exactly centrally located. The old city center is about twenty minutes away, by car, and there's a new waterfront development center with a mall and fast-food places -- that's about a forty-five minute walk away. This area is really for people with cars, so it's not particularly easy to get around on foot.

In the evening, after six, when the Ramadan restrictions end, I usually walk back down the beach to the "e-park" -- about a thirty minute walk -- to use the wireless access there. (Still no internet access in my apartment.) For the hour and a half or so that my battery lasts, I do my Internet business -- the most enjoyable of which is talking dirty with Russian girls I know on instant messenger programs. (Some habits die harder than others.)

There's another shopping center about a ten-minute walk away that has a big modern supermarket, an Applebee's, a bookstore, and a coffee shop with wireless access, as well as a few other random shops; sometimes I go there to use the Internet, but everything closes for the eight o clock prayer for about thirty minutes so I don't go there until about eight-thirty or nine.

The supermarket offers a bit of intriguing wandering, as there are a lot of new food products to consider; I'm diggin on the hummus and the stuffed grape leaves.

Pretty much all the women I see are covered head to toe in black, only their eyes showing -- it does tickle me a bit to see them just going through their normal day, yelling at their kids and buying cornflakes and such, just dressed like ninjas.

The bookshop has books in English as well; turns out the black-cloaked women like that TWILIGHT crap here, too, and the black-cloaked girls like that little trollop Miley Cyrus. So far I'm more surprised by what's NOT banned than I am by what is banned. . .

So I come home at 10.00 or 11.00, enjoy more downloaded goodness from the hard disc (or watch Discovery channel) and get to bed at 1.00 or so, and sleep like a rock for nine hours. Apart from the hum of air conditioners, it's completely quiet.

Far from the madding crowds, indeed. . .

1 comment:

stevie austin said...

more photos