March 6, 2006

Saudilogue 18

February 22, 2006

When I first sent these Saudilogues I thought I was sending them only to friends and
colleagues. The VDIL started posting them on their website and again, I figured that the
only people who would read them were curious folks at UMD. Guess what. If you do a
google search for ice-skating in Jeddah, my comments about ice-skating in Jeddah appear
very near the top of the responses.

I have heard from a new administration member at Effat College, the other private
womenÕs college in Jeddah. The VDIL staff let me know I had a response to one of the
Saudilogues. Recently, the new manager of the New New Sawari mall I spoke of earlier
contacted me. He isnÕt even here yet ? will arrive next week. The audience for these
ramblings is much wider than I thoughtÉ blush. I should at least put these things through
spell-check. (I know, I should have done that anyway.)

The first week of classes is over, thankfully. It is a non-week. Most students cut the first
week, which leaves the professor with a pile of syllabi staring at mostly empty seats. I
feel for the student (note singular form) who actually shows up and is face to face with
me for an awkward ten minutesÉ both of us hoping someone else will show up. Oh well.

Heavy load this semester. Six classes. Art of the Poster, 2 sections of Symbols and
Trademarks, Drawing, Editorial and Book Design, And Basic Design. Whew. Still donÕt
teach on Wednesdays, so that is a good time to grade and prepare for classes. Everyone
has a heavy load because one teacher, as I said earlier, left.

There are rumors that bird flu is in Saudi Arabia, but nothing official yet. Just in case lots
of people here have quit eating chicken.

A group of us were eating at a mall this week. A mosquito flew into the hamburger that
one of the women, who is a devout Muslim, was eating. She put down the burger and said
"hallas" meaning finished. We asked why ? the mosquito had contaminated the food. The
mosquito had already flown off, but the damage was done. We asked if she could break
off the part around the area where the mosquito landed and she said no. Most of the
dietary requirements in Islam come from the Quran. Like the Bible, these codes protect
people from diseases experienced thousands of years ago and even today of food is not
prepared correctly. The 5 second rule (if you grab it off the floor in less than 5 seconds,
the food is not contaminated) is not applicable in Islam.

Feb 24
ItÕs getting hot. One of the compound folks said summer has startedÉ a bit early.
Winter,, in my mind lasted 4 or 5 days ? when the temps were in the mid to upper 70s.
Sigh. It felt hot, but I must be adjusting. I figured mid 80s and it is 93.

Classes start for real this week. I am looking forward to it.
And I fear a civil war in Iraq and that it could lead to inter-Islamic wars anywhere that
Suni and Shiite Muslims live. If a person thinks the street riots were bad regarding the
cartoons, that is nothing compared to destroying that mosque in Samara. It will be
interesting to see the reactions on campus tomorrow.

For anyone quick to point a condescending finger at the Moslems, please consider
Northern Ireland before making any negative judgments. There is enough blame to go
around here. One thought is that Alkawi his Al Queda network did this. Seems that if that
were true, more Moslems would turn against the Al Queda movement. Never know.

Food: Ate at a wonderful Turkish restaurant last night. We ordered lots of food, thought
the bill was wrong because it was too low (87SR or $23?) and took a doggie bad (here it
is call takeaway) for our cab driver Mr. Khan to munch on during the night. If I havenÕt
mentioned it, a very common tasty drink here is green tea with mint. Fresh mint. So, pour
hot water on said Green Tea bag and add 3-5 mint leaves. Yummy.

March something.
February 28 was my birthday. A student in my first class that day gave me a CD mix of
her favorite songs. Between that class and the next a larger group of students burst into
song (happy birthday to you), gave me two brownies and a small chocolate cheesecake.
We divided it all, had a great quick snack and went into the next class. Still had some
brownie left, so I gave it to some other students.

We had an emergency faculty meeting later that day. Cake appeared for that, also. Went
to a mall that night ? had dinner with friends and topped off the evening with scrabble
with Maggie and David. A very nice birthday. Received greetings from friends in the
states, an ecard from Jen and another from Angelo and Gretchen. Nice day.

Classes have switched quite a bit since the beginning of the semester. The enrollment in
graphic design is ballooning. I remember those days at UMD. Though it is great seeing
the program grow, I hope recruitment efforts at CAA were successful.

Had a baby shower for one of the ladies whose baby is due March 8. Any day now, as
they say.

Went to a party given by two Indian faculty members. It was awesome. This morning I
remembered one of the major differences between Western and Middle Eastern/Asian
partiesÉ Here there is talking and snacks and dancing which can go on for hours. Once
the meal is announced, everyone eats and then goes home rather quickly.

In the West we tend to visit, eat quickly, then talk, dance and play games with desert
later. Not here.

Parties like the one last night, were women only. And the dancing was just great. I am
trying to learn how to dance in an Arabian fashion. So far I look like a stuck tippy doll.
Try moving your hips without moving anything else. Course, if I ever figured this out, I
could probably lose a lot of weight.

Started Arabic classes tonight. One of the women from school is teaching us. She is a
special education teacher and that is very important with three older ladies trying to learn
such a complicated language. I figured we would just learn conversational Arabic. Nope.
Started with the alphabet. If nothing else all the signs on the say to work will make more
sense even if I donÕt know what they say, I can identify how to read them. (In timeÉ.)

She is very patient. I still have a great blank look when I have no clue what is going on.
Many of the letters sound the same to me, but IÕm sure the fog will lift here pretty soon.

Back to work tomorrow, but wanted to say a quick hi.


S of a

at March 6, 2006 1:08 PM