Monthly Archives: February 2016

Things I don’t see me missing

I’ve been spreading the love, showing off all the things I treasure here.  Since the wind alarm, that seems to be only near my complex, woke me up most of the night, I’m in the mood to share some of the things I could do without.

  1. That siren!  Although today its warning was real.  My drive in was scary.  It was all awesome and oh-wow-it’s-gonna rain at first, but then I hit a sandstorm streaking across Truck Road, which —- get this —- is where trucks drive (imagine that!).   Apparently, at one point we drive over a drainage ditch because a wave of sand hit it, crashed up over the wall, and curled over my car.  Had it been water my car would’ve flooded.  The most excitement I’ve had on my drive in, ever (well except for the first time I saw a camel caravan use the cross walk).  But back to that siren —- it goes off every few minutes on windy days.  Leche?!
  2. It’s not a good idea to park in the right lane, so you can run into wherever, nor is it a good idea to take a right hand turn from the left lane — especially when there are cars in both lanes you need to cut across. On the bright side, I no longer flinch when this happens.
  3. Please don’t honk at me as soon as the light turns green.   My foot was on the gas, but you just scared it back onto the brake —- and now I think I’ll wait awhile.
  4. I live near Dewan not Tawam roundabout.  If I got paid a dirham for every time a delivery person called me from near Tawam —- where Miss?  A. I realise my delivery dilemma is a sign of just how spoiled I am (because I can have just about anything brought to me), and B. I miss having an address.  Although C. I’m amazed at how well we manage without it.
  5. Starbucks oh Starbucks why don’t you deliver?!!!  It’s such a pain getting in my car and driving to even the one with a drive through (which is just a few minutes from my place).  Yeah, I’ve officially gotten too lazy to brew my own.
  6. The definition of consistency has somehow gotten lost in translation.  To my future employers: know that when I say I’m flexible and adaptable, I’m a flipping chameleon who can do yoga tricks with my appendages tied.
  7. My appendages, however, are in great shape because I use them a lot when I attempt communication.
  8. Arabic or Indian pickles —- just don’t like them.  I’ve tried.
  9. The heat, which isn’t a problem now, but will be in too short of a time, and the heat brain that goes with it.   We get a little zombified.
  10. Attempting to teach when it’s raining outside.  The girls are all excited, and quite frankly so am I.  All we want to do is enjoy this extremely rare phenomenon.

That said, I will probably miss all of the above as well —- except for the wind alarm (God help me if I ever move to tornado country because I’ll just end up ignoring the siren).  Good news is I’m not leaving anytime soon, so I can whinge about it some more.  Even better news:  Tomorrow after school, I’m off to Bahrain for the weekend.  whoop!  whoop!

Some snap shots

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Aaargh in that I was shaking from our hike, so didn’t capture all of the sun as she gave way to the moon, but you get the idea.  Miss Shams (sun in Arabic) rules whether she’s waking up or going to sleep.

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Miss Qamar (moon) doing her part in the changing of the guard — she too rocks her reign when it’s time.  FYI:  the only reason I know the Arabic names is because I have a Shamsa and Qamar in the same class, and we joke about me having the sun and moon.  I keep telling the girls all I need now is someone named Star.

So, as you can tell I’m trying to do a better job of posting more frequently and doing more writing — or cheating by posting pics.

It’s the end of a lovely, easy weekend.  Thursday night I had a wonderful time meeting new people around a fire pit.  It’s been way too long since I’ve done this.  Friday we had a lovely breakfast at Circle Cafe — Al Ain folk, check it out — then lounged at the pool, and then did The Steps, which is literally a steep set of stairs that goes up a small mountain.  It’s a good workout and something Al Ainers often post about.

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Shannan’s and my shadow as we begin the descent.IMG-20160219-WA0008

me happy to have made it to the top my second — or was it third? — try.  Sorry folk, but it’s been awhile so no where near my hiking-days shape.DSC00351

a lil peak of Al Ain; boys are playing cricket below.  Yeah I know I could’ve given you a better shot than this — next time maybe.DSC00333

Another glimpse

Today Haneefa, my neighbor, and I took a morning walk to get coffee and ended up socializing for three hours.  Is there any better way to end a weekend than a long morning sitting outside, sipping lattes and chatting it up with friends?

Other snapshots that I’d love to share but don’t dare snap because I don’t want to invade anyone’s privacy are:

  1. Seeing the lines of men outside during Jumu’ah (I hope I wrote that right).  Muslims pray 5 times a day.  There’s a special prayer on Fridays, which is why we have Fridays off.  This weekend Shannan and I were lucky enough to drive by two mosques where men were praying outside.  The weather is beautiful here right now, so who can blame them for communing with God outdoors?  Sometimes you will also get to see people pray in the desert or alongside the road.  Sometimes you get to see this on top of The Steps as well.  It’s a beautiful thing.

  2. Al Ain is known as an Oasis because we have underground water — not a lot, but enough to have patches of green.  This time of year when you drive by anywhere that has a garden (and we have several green parks) you will see families picnicking — especially on Fridays.  People are playing games, smoking shisha, grilling meat, chasing toddlers, laughing at themselves.  While it’s a little stressful driving past these families because you’re worried a child will dash out onto the street, it’s also another one of the beautiful things.

Tomorrow is my version of a Monday, so maybe I’ll be in the mood to post some of the things I don’t love — but let’s be honest I’ll be too pooped and will spend that time sacked out on the couch.

Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend as well!

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Some other writings…

I’ve been more busy living it up than writing, but I have been doing my writerly bit every now and then.  I feel awful that I’ve neglected my role as a blogger for TeachUAE (and will get right on top of writing another entry soon), but I have sent them a few bits that went into their magazine.  I don’t know why I haven’t posted links to them in here, but I’m doing it now.

In this issue is my article on Zanzibar, and I love what they did with my photos in it!

Jan/Feb issue 2016

In this issue is my advice piece for newcomers.  I think it’s on page 24

December 2015 issue

Michelle’s and my trip to Jordan

October 2015

The links don’t go directly to my articles, but the magazine is worth thumbing through.  I think there’s a few more from when I first got here, but I probably already posted those links a while back.

Yeah, I know I’m not living up to my goal of really pumping out the writing, but I’m okay with it because I’m doing a whole lot of living.  One day when sitting outside somewhere else in the world, sipping my beverage of choice, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about my time here.

 

 

 

 

All you need is love, love…

A pic taken from my phone during the drive in to work — before I get to the mountains I wrote about below.
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Happy Late Valentine’s Day!  Another year spent away from my man and family, but luckily I have my friends/family here.  I went to my second painting party in Al Ain (when will I ever just come to grips with the fact that I’m not an artist) and then pigged out on the cheesiest stuffed pizza with my neighbour while watching a brutal episode of Vice.  So cheesy and bloody was how we chose to spend the day, and it worked.  Plus, we now all have paintings of camels that look like dinosaurs or mutated dogs hanging on our walls —- yay us!
In celebration of Valentines Day, though, I’d like to send you my version of something nice.   I can’t send chocolate or roses, but I can give snippets of the every-day things I love here.  Sadly, some of the most beautiful things I witness cannot be photographed, but I’ll try to do a better job of painting by using my words.
Things I see from my balcony
  • There’s an Arabic couple with two boys who walk together almost nightly.  Many times the mom leads the pack with her abaya flapping behind her while her husband meanders with their sons.   Sometimes its mom and dad together while the boys kick up dust devils.  This morning, early, for the first time I saw mom and dad alone walking side by side.  I don’t know these people, but I love seeing how much they love each other —- just in the way they walk.
  • Sometimes a teenage boy sits cross legged in the shade of the anaemic trees across the street from my place, and he just reads for hours.  I haven’t seen him in awhile, but he always captures the escape of reading for me, and I hope I get to watch him again soon.  He reminds me of how much power and good our words can hold.
  • In the same vein and not something I loved at first, when the weather cools to humane, at night men gather on the patch of grass in the middle of the roundabout that leads to my place.  They’re in tan, working man’s dish dashes.  It creeped me out at first, but you see there’s a mosque just a few feet away from there, and I’ve come to realise this is where they can relax and bond with their brothers in between prayer.  Why sit on the rocky, sandy side of things when there’s a patch of lush grass to enjoy?  The road that encircles them is nothing but a thing.
Things I see while driving to work
  • The sun timidly tapping the mountains that lead to Oman as she slowly rises to take control of the day.  And trust me when she’s fully awake there is nothing timid about her.
  • Those same mountains showing off their silhouettes during our foggy days —- demanding that we see them since the sand is not the only thing that adorns the desert.
  • Although the sand sure does love to show off, especially on windy days when it imitates waves and snakes racing across the road.
  • My favourite is watching the camels train for racing.  We have several training tracks alongside the road that leads to my school.  Yesterday a racer escaped and used the camel cross walk all by himself.  He ran, but stopped first to give us all the stink eye, letting us know we better damn well stop our vehicles so he could get to the other side —- which he did.
  • The romantic picture of this, and maybe one day I’ll stop to photograph it, is the camels running with their veil of dust blending in with the mist and rising sun.  Inshallah one day I’ll post a pic.
Work
  • At home we shake hands when we first meet someone; here you do it every day.  I’m such a girl in this case, but it warms my heart every time someone genuinely grabs my hand, smiles and says “Good Morning, Miss Bettina.”  One day I will so miss hearing my name said with an Arabic accent.  I like feeling like I belong here.
  • My students voices (when they’re not trying to get out of English class), and oh my goodness the smiles that come with them.  I have this at home too, and I’m so lucky my job includes the bond we develop with the young we learn from. (on the bad days I forget about this).   I keep saying after this I’m done with teaching, but I don’t know that I can quit it just yet  —- oh wait there’s the politics and paper trail part of it, but enough of that this is a ‘what I love” thread.
  • The moments when we all get to be just women and girls together.  Obviously it’s work, so these times are rare, but it’s great when all of we Western, Eastern, Somewhere In Between, souls get to laugh and bitch about what women have been laughing and bitching about for eons.
There’s more to share like all of the traveling and fun I have with my friends, but you’re probably tired of me posting about all of that, which won’t stop me from posting about it the next time I do something different.  And, of course, there’s so much more to post, but you didn’t plop in here for a book.  So, Happy Post Valentines Day, and lots and lots of hugs, kisses and hand shakes from me to you!
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Another phone pic, which doesn’t do any of this justice, but you can see the mist rising from the desert.  If only a team of camels ran by before the shutter finished!
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