Sea Change

My apologies for the extended absence. Things have been a little different here as of late. Quite different, actually. Different probably isn't really even the appropriate word to describe the level of change that’s happened, but, nevertheless, things are definitely very different.



From Oxford Dictionary: Diversion: an activity that diverts the mind from tedious or serious concerns.

A few weeks ago I wrapping things up for the end of the year chatting with some of my students as they were doing their morning work.

Student: Mr. S, why you don't teach science anymore?
Me: I have some other things to take care of because I won't be a teacher next year.
Student: Why you won't teach?
Me: I was asked to be vice principal, so I'm going to make sure next year is better than this year, because this year sucked.
Student: Oh... This is good.
Me: I concur.
Student: .... I don't know that word... Mr. S, if you be vice principal, this mean if I make trouble you punish me?
Me: Yes, basically.
Student: This is good Mr. S... Free passes for meeee.
Me: You wish.
Student: No problem Mr. S, you know me. (Winking) You touch me, I touch you.
Me: It's scratch my back, not touch me.
Student: Oh... (He moved around behind the chair I was sitting in and started scratching my back) You like here? No? More ups, Mr. Mike?
Me: Thanks Nafil, that's enough. Go do your maths.
Student: Okay Mr. S.... Remember, (whispering into my ear from behind) free passessssss.


No Rush

As much as I've enjoyed trying to update this blog with some sort of consistency over the last 18 months, I just can't seem to fall into a regular rhythm. This probably isn't going to change anytime soon, and although I wouldn't care to admit it I seem to be adapting to an Arab frame of mind when it comes to time.

That said, I'll be on holiday for the next two weeks. I'm journeying north for a change, and for the first time in two years I'll be seeing snow. Or at least I hope so.

See you in a few.



From Oxford Dictionary: Diversion: an activity that diverts the mind from tedious or serious concerns.

Earlier last week I was playing football with my kids because I didn't feel like teaching.

Student: Mr. S, why you get so red in your face?
Me: Because I'm hot from running around.
Student: But we run more than you and our skin not red?
Me: You're not white. I change colour when I'm hot.
Student: Oooh, like this (slithering hand gesture).
Me: Yes. I'm like a magic white chameleon.
Student: No no Mr. S. You look like him (slithering hand gesture).
Me: It's called a chameleon.
Student: No. Like snake, but he have legs.
Me: A chameleon.
Student: No. He change colour.
Me: A chameleon.
Student: No. He have eyes, they go like this (makes his fingers point around his eyes all skewed and cross-eyed).
Me: It's name is chameleon.
Student: I don't know.
Me: It's a chameleon.
Student: You say champion, I say patatas (how Arabs say potato).
Me: Alright then. At least you're starting to understand colloquialisms...
Student: ... Ok Mr. S.
Me: Good. I'm glad we got that sorted.


Nothin' Better

I’ve fallen into the habit of staying away from my apartmentover the last few months, not so much because I can’t stand my roommate (whichis reason enough), but mostly because I don’t have much to do there. Instead, I’vefound myself at the Brit’s helping out with his kids and frequenting MonkeyHangers, my local pub.  

My evening usually involves some sort of childcare, a dinnermade by the Brit’s Wife or his housemate (who is also British but twice our age),then a short walk a few houses down to the pub. I don’t mind babysitting solong as I get some sort of payment, and usually food or beer is quitesufficient. Most people find it surprising that I’m good with kids, especiallybabies, and tend to make comments like ‘I can’t believe they would leave youalone with their 6 month old.’ I don’t really care, especially because I’musually drinking while I watch these children. The Wife doesn’t seem tooconcerned anyhow.

After I fulfill my spawn watching obligations, I sit aroundat the pub with the regulars. Monkey Hangers is interesting in many ways, nonemore so than the fact that it’s a very well known illegal bar operating inSaudi Arabia, and for as closely as the Fat Man (the proprietor) watches hisdoor, there are always new people wandering in and out on any given evening.

The regulars are a fairly uninteresting group of miserable,old, sarcastic, and incredibly profane group of British men. They’re incrediblyabusive if you aren't accustomed to their sense of humor, but once you've gotten used to the usual banter they’re an all right group of people to sitaround and have a pint or three with. I don’t particularly like large groups ofpeople, especially when I drink, but this group of codgers is more than happyto leave me be at a table in the back and occasionally turn around to sling afew insults when the moment seems apt. The beer at the Hanger is a homemadeconcoction that changes its strength and flavor throughout the week, but it’sbetter and cheaper than most of the booze you can make yourself. Nobody reallylikes it, but you’d be hard pressed to hear anyone complain to the Fat Manabout it. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Such is life in Saudi.



As I have written about before, my roommate is a very simpleminded person. Nothing in his life is actually all that complicated, but his understanding of the world and how to live in it are definitely much harder than they ought to be.

One of the more luxurious (and blatantly colonialistic) things about living in Saudi is the ability to have hired help for just about anything you’d like. Anything vaguely manual or dirty is usually done by someone else, and it usually costs next to nothing. I’ve managed to take advantage of this, though not to the extent as your typical Saudi, and it comes in the form of a ‘house boy.’ Submissively gay moniker aside, my house boy is actually an old Pakistani man, who prefers to be called Bob. He cleans my apartment on a biweekly basis outside of his normal day job, but also comes around to fix things if they happen to break. Bob is one of the nicest people I’ve met here on my compound, and I greatly value what he does, mostly because it involves a considerable amount of looking after my roommate.  


Renewed Perspectives

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet my parents in the UAE over the course of my school’s winter holiday. It was a nice escape from Saudi and everything that had been happening at work.

I set out from Dammam early Thursday morning, driving to the border at Batha, and continued on to Ajman, the Emirate just north of Dubai. It was a fairly peaceful drive until Abu Dhabi. Then it was stop and go for a few hours. I had an interesting time waiting over the midnight hours at Arrivals at DBX, then shared some jetlagged cocktails in the early hours of the morning catching up with my folks.



From Oxford Dictionary: Diversion: an activity that diverts the mind from tedious or serious concerns.

Student(tugging on my cardigan): Why you wear this?
Me: Because it's fashionable.
Student (tugging on my suit coat): But you already wear this...
Me: Yes, but I'm cold.
Student: I cold too, but I not wear this like my grandfather.
Me: Yeah, but you just wish you could look as good as your grandfather.
Student as he raised an eyebrow: ...No...
Me: You don't think I look good?
Student: ...You look like my grandfather.
Me: Yeah, but I'm willing to bet your grandfather is a pretty suave guy. You just wish you looked this good.
Student: .........
Me: I look good, right?
Student: .........
Me: Right?...
Student:'...You look old.


Spur of the Moment

Several months ago we had our Eid Holiday. Although I usually look forward to extended holidays, I hadn’t originally planned anything. It was as that time when I had started diving head first into administrative duties, and the first half of the break was a welcome reprieve from teaching to focus on other matters. I put in several days staring at a computer screen and holding meetings with the inept members of administration, and quickly realized I needed a break. As luck would have it, Girl and the Paki were trying to put together a trip to Muscat, and I invited myself along one night after a few pints at the Local. Girl and I set out in my car the next morning.

A petrol station just before the Emirati border.


Now Lie in It

Another week has come to an end. As usual, it hasn't been all that particularly interesting or all that far from normal, but Saudi has a way of altering what that constitutes.


Patience and Apathy

It’s been a while since my last post, and for that I apologize. I haven’t been particularly busy, but I've managed to fall into a steady day to day rhythm and I've been able to keep myself occupied. Mostly at the pub.