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Rats!

One night, I walked into the kitchen to get something to drink. The curtain by the class door was still open. I don’t bother to close it, even at night, because there’s nothing outside of it except the yard and a wall.

But that night, I saw something. I turned on the light, and there it was. A rat! It was sitting on a bar of the iron door. It was as if it was sitting inside as far as I was concerned. 

Even though it was outside, I couldn’t stand the sight of it. So, I tapped on the glass thinking it would run away. Not only did it just sit there, it didn’t even flinch. Obviously I had to try something else. So, I hit the glass harder using the broom stick. This time, it acknowledged that someone was trying to get its attention.

It turned its head as if to say, “Do you mind?” And that was it. That rat didn’t give a tiny rat’s fill in the blank about me or my feeble attempts to get rid of it.

Apparently, there was a cat in the neighborhood, and the rat was hiding in a dark spot where it might not be seen. 

Now, whenever I’m in the kitchen at night, I check to see if there might be one. I’m still bothered by the fact that there might be others lurking about.

Just a day in the life…

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2016 in ....Here in KSA

 

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Only in KSA

A few years back one of my colleagues talked about a visit she had at the doctor’s office. She mentioned that the doctor was chewing gum and how she thought that it was inappropriate. At the time, I laughed as I tried to picture it. But who knew I’d have a similar experience someday?

Well, my experience wasn’t exactly the same, but gum was involved. I went to the pharmacy in hopes of finding a particular type of shampoo. As is customary when I’m shopping, I picked up a couple other items I probably don’t need. I put them on the counter and asked one of the pharmacists about the shampoo. He went to get it and gave me instructions on how often to use it. And then the other “pharmacist” behind the counter started ringing me up. I watched in amazement as he scanned each item while chewing gum. And he wasn’t simply chewing. He was really going to town.

I remembered my friend and said to myself, “Smacking gum isn’t a good look on a pharmacist.” He was trying to tell me the total but all I could see was his mouth moving a mile a minute and also hear the sound of gum popping between his teeth. As you might have guessed, I can’t stand that.

Where on earth would you see doctors and pharmacists chewing gum like school kids while on the job? Maybe it happens elsewhere, but for now I’m going to say it’s one of those things found only in KSA.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in ....Here in KSA

 

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What KSA Has Taught Me…..Part 2

In the West, people tend to be in hurry to do things.  In a hurry to get to work, school, etc.  If you come to Saudi Arabia, you will need to learn to slow down and just relax.  Things are not as fast paced as they are in other parts of the world.  And when I say other parts of the world, I mean America.  I know that we’re the only ones who seem to be in a hurry all the time.  It’s an adjustment and it was one I had to make.  It didn’t come without a few growing pains though.

It started with getting the job in the first place.  I had signed an initial offer and I was supposed to receive the actual contract after that.  It would be sent by DHL.  Even with international service, the longest it should take is about five working days.  But these five days turned into about three weeks.  I called and when I finally got through, the man in HR told me, “Yeah, your contract’s right here.  I was waiting for you to say it was okay to send it.”  Being that I wanted the job, I didn’t say what I was actually thinking which was something like, “When I signed the initial offer, didn’t that mean you were supposed to send it, dimwit?”  He was apparently suffering from hunger pains which caused him to be unable to think or act.

So, I got to KSA with my same “in a hurry” attitude.  But actually being here has taught me to chill, relax, chillax.  Am I too old to say things like that?  Maybe.  But please don’t tell anyone.  People who know me, really know me, will tell you that generally my demeanor is calm.  I don’t get angry quickly, though I do have little to no tolerance for stupidity.  But I am a typical American.  I believe in being on time and following schedules.  I believe in efficiency.  If I have an appointment, I won’t eat or do anything else just to make sure that I’m not late.  I would get really upset if I couldn’t make it to any sort of appointment on time.  Needless to say, my first semester at YUC was, well, a learning experience.

Whenever it was time for class, I’d head out in a mad rush as so many Americans would.  My mom told us that, “If you have an appointment at 8 o’clock, you be there at 7:30.”  Of course I didn’t go to class a half hour early but, I did want to be there before my students were.  There was just one problem.  The students!  Here I am practically running and they’re walking down the hall like they’re strolling down the beach on a beautiful spring day.  I was new so I didn’t want them to see my “crazy” side but I was screaming in my head.  I’d be shouting to myself, “Get out of the way!” And I was always perplexed by the fact that they couldn’t “sense” that I was trying to get by.  Nope, they were in their own world.  Not worried about a thing.  I kept wondering why they were so relaxed.  And I know I shouldn’t say this but I wondered what they were smoking to make them oh so mellow.  Was it something in the air?  Perhaps the gases coming from the refineries gave everyone a contact high and it calmed everyone down.  I don’t know.  I always got, get the sense of, “Just ride the waves, dude.  Ride the waves.”

Their laid-back attitude caused me to think, a little anyway.  Teachers complain all the time about any number of things.  In fact, we complain so much it seems to be part of the job.  Our office was more like the Dr Phil show.  This one has problems with her students.  That one has problems with her schedule.  Blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.  With that I remembered one student telling me, “Miss, مشي حالك.”  And that was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.  I learned to ride the waves and slow down when going to class.  I don’t run, especially since we moved to the new campus.  S3ee between admin and faculty building A requires walking, strolling in fact.  I also stopped expecting things to arrive or be done on time.  On time is a “state of mind” if you will.  All I ever got out of being in a hurry was, tired.  It didn’t change anything.

Now, when new teachers come to the department, I let them know how things are.  The first thing I say is, “Forget about wherever you were before.  This is KSA and they have their own way of doing things.  Learn from them, you’ll be the better for it.”

So they’ve got it right.  What’s the rush?  Live and love your life.  Make the most of it.  What will be will be whether you’re walking or running.  So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Thank you students of YUC for showing me “the way.”

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Neighbors…..Serenity Now!

In Arabic they say…

اختار الجار قبل الدار

My loose translation, which doesn’t sound as nice is, “Choose your neighbor before your house.”  Why would they say that?  Prior to my time here in Saudi Arabia, I don’t think I ever really thought about it.  I lived in my parents’ house until I went away for college. If I had annoying neighbors then, I assumed it was because they were young and didn’t know any better.  I know that my parents must have thought of such things when buying our house but as a spoiled, but nice, girl growing up I never thought of all the reasons why they chose the neighborhood they did.

Well, enter my new apartment.  I live on the second floor.  There’s a family below me and there was a family above me.  Before I moved in, I thought that being between two families would be a good idea.  And who asked me to think?  Thinking sometimes leads to the wrong idea or conclusion, as in my case.  I had seen the kids from downstairs, and they seemed normal.  And you know how the saying goes, things aren’t always what they seem.  Who knew that such sweet, innocent looking kids would turn out to be my nemesis?  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do believe that they are Satan’s offspring.  Maybe that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.  They screamed at the top of their lungs, apparently in an attempt to see who could scream the loudest before their voice boxes exploded.  Unfortunately, the contest is ongoing and they still scream though it is a little less than before.  Their other favorite past time was banging on walls.  What makes it really fun is that they usually start at night.  Maybe I was wrong.  They’re more active at night.  Hmm, could it be that they are in fact, vampires?  It remains a mystery.  Anyway, one day it was so bad that I decided to go speak to their mother.  Lucky me she speaks neither English nor Arabic.  I knocked on the door and asked her again to be sure, “You don’t speak any English?”  She shook her head and I proceeded to complain about those demons they call children.  My arms were flailing right and left, up and down in a futile attempt to tell her to do something about her kids.  When I think about how ridiculous I must have looked, I can laugh about it.  But only a little.  As if that wasn’t enough, the neighbors upstairs had a baby who literally seemed to spend his/her every waking hour crying.  I thought to myself, “They’re lucky they’re here or I’d report them to Children’s Services.”  The husband downstairs apologized to me on more than one occasion, and I believe he was sincere.  But you know what, buddy?  Your apologies don’t mean crap when I still have to listen to your psychotic children day in and day out.  Do I sound a little angry?  I’ve done my best to remain calm even as I wish I could throw them off the balcony.  But don’t worry, I would never do anything like that.  But in the movie I’m going to write, I will. You know what’s funny?  He actually asked me to teach them English.  As if.  He’d send them to me and never see them again.

My neighbor downstairs finally came to me with good news a few weeks back.  He said the family upstairs would be leaving and that would cut down on the noise because his kids wouldn’t have anyone to bother.  So I kept telling myself to be patient.  They’d be gone soon.  Things were looking up until…

Someone opened a karaoke bar upstairs.  And I probably wouldn’t have noticed except I could hear singing, loud and bad singing.  The first time I let it go even though they were singing Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.”  That’s right, “Heal the World.”  The next time I heard them, it was Barry Manilow.  I asked, “Dear God, what did I do to deserve this?”  They went on an on singing, “Do you lo me like I lo you?”  WTH?  I finally decided to pay them a visit.  I went upstairs, knocked on the door three times and waited.  No answer.  Of course.  How could they hear me when it was karaoke night in Yanbu?  I went back to my place and wrote a note.  I slipped it under the door and I can tell that they did read it because it has gotten better. Thank God!!!

So beware of psychotic children and karaoke-loving maniacs.

Ah, just another adventure, here in KSA.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in ....Here in KSA

 

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