Friday, February 25, 2011

Part of The Problem: or Yankee Go Home

I grew up in the Dirty South, back in the 70's and 80's, so unsurprisingly I was exposed to quite a bit of racism.

One time I was driving around with a friend of mine, and he was scathingly castigating all the black people sitting on the porches of their cheap houses, drinking beer out of 40 oz bottles.

You know all the epithets; I don't need to repeat them here.

Then, we drove to his cheap apartment, where we proceeded to sit on the porch and get drunk on 40 oz bottles of beer, with various strippers and unemployed would-be musicians we knew.

One of the strangest (and seemingly fastest-growing) breed of English teachers are these kind of odd tea-bagger/survivalist/conspiracy theorist/ tax protester types.

Convinced that some kind of vast political conspiracy to enslave the people is about to happen in England and America, these geniuses move to oases of individual freedom. . . like Russia, China, and the Middle East.

I hope just writing that down as a sentence shows how fucking stupid that is.

I'm willing to put up with bitching about this or that President, this or that theory about FEMA internment camps or chemtrails or fluoridated water or whatever. You can't really argue with such people about such things.

But one thing I REALLY hate is the expats in other country who relentless bitch about how their home country has been ruined by immigration.

I'm not going to go into all the arguments "fer and agin" immigration -- leave that to the Huffington Post and whoever.

I'm just going to point out that protesting immigration into your country, BY (or while) MOVING TO ANOTHER COUNTRY TO WORK, is the most hypocritical fucking thing you could possibly do.

It's like protesting violent crime by shooting people randomly in the street, or protesting world hunger by going on a hunger strike.

YOU HAVE BECOME THE PROBLEM, not the solution. You have moved to another country, where you are very likely not completely legally employed or paying taxes, and TAKEN A JOB AWAY FROM A LOCAL, in a situation where their unemployment rate is most likely much higher than back in America and England. You have taken an apartment from a local, and possibly a woman, as well, though of course we know HER motivation.

(And if you think there aren't locals who can teach English as well or better than you -- you are again, completely fucking wrong.)

While organized gangs of criminal expat English teachers are as of yet unheard of, I could give you a lengthy list of the crimes I have seen them commit, mostly but not limited to drug use and dealing, vandalism and public drunkenness. Cases of sexual assault are well documented. (Here is but one.)

"Oh yeah but that's not me!" Yeah, well neither is it most of the immigrants you're bitching about, dickweed.

So, please, goofballs -- go do what you always claim the immigrants should do -- go home and work to fix the problems in your own country. Become a police officer, or a social worker, or -- and here's a brilliant idea -- teach English to immigrants back in your home country to help them better assimilate and get decent legal work.

Hell, go check yourself into a FEMA internment camp. It's about as logical as bitching about immigrants while living abroad.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rock On

I'd say, "It can't happen here!" but the poor teachers in Egypt and Libya were probably saying the same thing, until it happened. Nothing bad ever happens -- until something bad happens, as Grandma X used to say.

Nonetheless, things seems to be under control here. The King made Saturday a public holiday, as well as making plans to give out $35 billion in public aid. They've already started construction on a new,bigger English Language Center behind the existing ELC building.

Yet minor disruptions persist in my otherwise tranquil sunny existence --

I was riding my bike last weekend down a quiet residential street and a little kid started running after me throwing rocks. A little kid -- maybe 6 or 7. Given the poor aim and the small size of the rocks, I just ignored him.

But he kept it up, running after me shouting for nearly the entire block.

Not particularly angry or anything, I nonetheless decided to teach him a lesson in diplomatic relations, and got off my bike and ran screaming back up the street after him. Bellowing like a madman, I sprinted after him and his friends, who ran as fast as their little legs would carry them towards the nearest mosque.

Satisfied, I got back on my bicycle.

They came out again, throwing more rocks -- again, at age 6 or 7, you probably can't throw a rock big enough to hurt me, and my hat and wraparound Oakleys protected my head and eyes -- so I got off the bike again and ran screaming straight at them. Again they scurried away.

I learned these strategies dealing with stray dogs in Russia.

Strategically, this was not a good idea at all, I admit. Their brothers or fathers could be nearby and decide to teach ME a lesson in diplomatic relations.

But in fact a guy in a nearby shop came out, laughing a bit at the spectacle, which he seemed to understand was a joke.

Monday, February 21, 2011

To Travel Hopelessly

Enormous natural and man-made disasters, huge country-rending demonstrations and food riots, terrorism and war, general economic malaise, and airline service which grows ever more humiliating, invasive, uncomfortable and inefficient.

It's all falling to pieces faster than Patsy Cline ever did.

Can't imagine why anyone would travel at all, unless they lived in Saudi Arabia and had to go abroad to see a woman.

Very contrary to my expectations, The Girlfriend has at this point proved herself loyal and long-suffering -- a year and a half now. She devotedly Skypes me and (perhaps less mysteriously) goes on week-long holidays with me every 8 or 9 weeks. (Of course there was the month-long shackup during the summer.)

So last week we met in Sharjah in the Emirates. (It's the coast near Dubai.)

It was pleasant, especially insofar as there were no enormous natural or man-made disasters, huge country-rending demonstrations and food riots, nor terrorism and war.

(And the economic malaise just meant, for us, that stuff wasn't too expensive.)

The only problem was the other Russian tourists at the resort -- many of them re-routed from Egypt due to the massive country-rending demonstrations there.

The Russians are the new Ugly Americans, as the Americans are all too scared and broke to travel now. Now it's the Russian tourists who scream at the waiters and demand changes in the food offerings, all sunburned and wearing inappropriately small swimsuits and annoyingly loud colors, smoking in the non-smoking sections and letting their bratty children run around unatended.

"You must become an old man in good time if you wish to be an old man long." -- Marcus Aurelius

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

You Say You Want a Revolution, Well, You Know. . .

Massive protests in Tunisia, leading to massive protests in Egypt, leading to changes in government and other Gulf countries scrambling to assauge their citizens by slashing taxes, subsidizing food prices, and even, in the case of Kuwait, giving cash bribes of $5000 or so to all citizens.

And here? Well, it's hard to get any impression of unrest, because I live in a very quiet suburb that kind of doubles as a sometimes would-be beach resort.

In fact, that's kind of why I'm here. The place I work is an enormous government subsidized project to provide education and vocational training to the many many young men who might otherwise turn to drugs and extremism.

English Teacher X -- your first line of defense.

Anyway, as I mentioned, there are still little kids who throw rocks at us when we bike through the working-class neighborhood (mostly cops and soldiers) near the supermarket.

I was at the supermarket last week, and chained it to the railing outside, as always, and saw some shady-looking kids, eight or nine years old, stink-eying me as they walked outside.

I kept my eye on them as I walked in and they walked out - they lingered by my bicycle. I'd been warned by colleagues that bikes tended to get vandalized outside this supermarket, so I went back to shoo them away.

Then I saw that they were waiting for a friend -- who was in a wheelchair. The kid had practically nothing below his waist.

I figured they probably had other concerns than vandalizing my bike, and went into the supermarket.

When I came out of the supermarket about twenty minutes later, my bicycle seat was gone.

I darted around the corner and scanned the area. How far could a kid in a wheelchair get? It astounded me.

I wondered if they were going to use if for something, or just dump it somewhere. I checked the nearby garbage cans and didn't find anything.

I unlocked the bike and walked it home.

A few days later I got a new bicycle seat and went to the supermarket on an evening which was, uncharacteristically for here, dark and rainy.

Locking the bike up, I considered that it was unlikely they could attack again so soon, particularly on a rainy night -- but I went ahead and ran the cable of the bike lock through the metal brackets of the new bicycle seat.

When I came out of the supermarket twenty minutes later, the bicycle seat was on the ground, dangling from the cable. No children, in wheelchairs or otherwise, were in sight.

(As far as disgusting stories with alcohol and whores here in the Middle East -- there are a few, but I'm not at liberty to divulge them at the moment.)