Saturday, February 27, 2010

. . . It Tolls For Thee

Article in the Moscows News about changes to Russian visa regulations which have caused "chaos" to Russian schools of English which employ native speakers:


Article in Vanity Fair about the Russian expat sex, drugs and politics newspaper the Exile, and its not-especially-untimely demise, probably as much from lack of the first two as the vagaries of the last:


So yes, if you weren't there -- you missed the party. Sorry. It's over now. Russia is expensive, snobby and full of shopping malls and chain restaurants these days.

Anyway, haven't haven't you heard that Lebanese chicks are the hot international babes of choice these days? Russian chicks, give me break, that's so 2003.

(A postscript: I once submitted some very early (2002) English Teacher X cartoons to The Exile and was told that I was "too soft and Generation X" but Mark Ames also said that I had some talent and would like to see more stuff -- I got pissed though and said I was trying to avoid the "cynical drunken expat thing" and he never replied again. Click on the page to enlarge it to a legible size.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thank God It's Wednesday!

Still can't get used to having the national days off be Thursday and Friday. Saying "See you Saturday" to classes that you're not meeting up with to get drunk. . . it just fails to compute.

All the new semester classes started this week -- 35 students in one, 39 in two others. That's a lot of little pubic-hair beards to keep track of. Fortunately they seem very well behaved.

The rumor floating about is that the government doubled the number of students admitted, in an attempt to head off youth unrest. (A Starbucks and a Pizza Hut were trashed one hot weekend in October. Anarchy now.)

I hear various figures floated about as to what ridiculous percentage of the population is under 25 -- anywhere from 40 to 60 percent, according to the grapevine. The CIA Factbook tells me that 38 percent of the population is between 0 - 15, and the median age in the country is a rosy-cheeked 21.5 years old.
And of course having a lot of disenfranchised youth running around, especially young men who can't get laid -- well, that's your recipe for extremism right there.

Which is where our college steps in to save the day. You're welcome.

English Teacher X -- teaching them English, so you don't have to.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Went Down To The Sea, And It Didn't Say Nothing, It Just Waved

Got back from my trip to an Egyptian Red Sea resort yesterday. It was the first time I've ever stayed at a 5-star resort -- three pools, 4 restaurants, right on a beach that had coral and fish . . . being from the American south, I can tell you that something very nasty about human nature is unleashed by an all-you-can-eat buffet, and this place had four of them, three times a day.

Basically me and my cute little Russian minx didn't do much other than eat, swim, and have sex -- although we got a little TV watching in there in the evening I guess. Alcohol was free there, also, before 11.00, so I had a few beers and gin and tonics, but not especially to excess. (The girl I went with doesn't drink much.) We took a boat trip out to some islands and coral reefs one day, and I'm happy to say that there are still some good ones, despite there being more tourists than fish and more tour boats than living formations these days.

The clientele of the resort was mostly German and Russian, mainly families with small children; as to who was more red-faced, bloated, and who wore the most inappropriately sized swimwear, I'd give a slight edge to the Germans. But only a slight one.

Monday, February 08, 2010

He Who Does Nothing Leaves Nothing Undone

Okay, I'm halfway through the school year now.

It's been painless.

Yeah, dealing with classes full of 25 - 35 young Saudi men may not be my idea of Paradise, but in point of fact, in this job I don't actually have to do that so much.

Five days a week I have 4 50-minute classes. (Sometimes more, but if I do I get paid overtime.) Most of these classes involve watching students while they do written exercises or take quizzes. In a 52 week year, there are two 16-week semesters. The rest of the time is either holiday time, or exam weeks.

For the last three weeks I haven't had to do anything but watch students when they take tests. This can be a bit tedious, I suppose, but hardly taxing, and I can often goof-off with my Ipod Touch.

I had to check my own student's papers, and that took a few hours, but I think I've had to do about . . . let's see, 14 hours of "proctoring" in the last 3 weeks?

The rest of the time -- basically I have that dream job of so many adolescents -- getting paid a lot of money for doing nothing. We're technically supposed to hang around the office, but nobody really cares if you don't.

And tomorrow, I get to go to Egypt -- meeting a Russian girl there -- and have sex for the first time in five months.

S0 basically all of you who said this was a bad idea? You were completely and utterly wrong.

And what's more, half the world is buried under several feet of snow in a horrific winter, and I'M NOT!

Friday, February 05, 2010

One For The Road

I went to a nearby city with a colleague yesterday -- he was getting his Rolex serviced.

This is a guy I first met in Russia -- he's the reason I came to this particular posting in The Kingdom, as I had his assurance the administration was fair (true) the salary was good (true) and the work was easy (true.)

He's in his early 60's now, and has been here for about 5 years, but certainly occasionally misses the more lively days in Russia. I was showing him some pictures on my Ipod Touch of parties and girls that I knew.

He saw this picture and commented, "I think you had more fun than you deserved over there."

That about sums it up.