9.14.2013

learning the layout of the land...

Saturday morning here in my desert kingdom.  This is, of course, our Sunday as it works out in the Gulf Coast Countries (GCC). I'm in bed drinking my coffee and pondering my first week of work. 

Now, a short note.  It is already quite hot.  I'm not sure of the temperature right now, but surely it has already hit 90º and it is 8:30 am. It's much too late for me to go for a run, but not for a swim, so that is the idea after I pump out this episode… heh heh.  Not that my life here dictates any drama to be had, but…

And a short note about the coffee trip here.  I'm becoming accustomed to making my coffee the night before and refrigerating it so it is cold when I step out the door to go to work.  This is a new endeavor, but due to the extreme weather, I find this working for me.  Today, on the other hand, I am having my coffee piping hot- just like old times…

Because I am still without a car (I need to have my CPR card 1st- this is like a SSN), my work cannot lease a car for me), I either ride into work with the Fulbrighter that lives downstairs, or my driver picks me up.  Now, my driver never seems to make it on time exactly, and then we go downtown into Manama to pick up 2 other professors temporarily staying at a hotel while they settle in.  So my preferred method of transport is to go w/Lynette.

My work week went by fast.  I/we all finally received our class schedules late Thursday afternoon- right before the weekend. We all attended a conference at the Gulf Hotel downtown Manama Thursday afternoon so no one was at the university to print out schedules, etc.  I imagine that Sunday morning at the various printing rooms at the uni are going to be chaos!  Anyway, while Lynette and myself were walking into the conference area of the hotel, we walked past the Sherlock Holmes Pub and Restaurant… Now, I've heard great things from a few dodgy contacts (I mean that lovingly of course, and I am talking about all you Kahoolawe gentlemen that I've worked with in my past life as an archaeologist), so I feel like I hit the jackpot with this discovery.

But I digress… work was pretty hectic this past week- as it would be for anyone at a new job in a new country.  Miss Sameera, Mr. Majhmoud and Nasr especially have been lifesavers. The week was full of various workshops and missing various workshops because I needed help from professors that led various workshops that I was not able to attend earlier due to attending other various workshops… Phew… But when it was all said and done, I think I pretty well navigated around the place and figured things out to a sophomoric degree.  My office overlooks some greenery! The air conditioning is freezing- apparently a problem throughout the uni, but if I keep my door open, it seems to be okay.  There has been some talk about obtaining space heaters- which is amusing considering we live in a hot box!!! Alas… life in my desert kingdom.  I think I am warming up to it rather quickly honestly.

Yesterday my friend Lynn showed Lynette and myself around Manama City.  He had his big, bad jeep (that was currently sparkling clean- unlike after our escapades last weekend that left a big, bad mud puddle). We went to the fish market, the vegetable market, etc.  What a delightful sight to see!  It reminded me of my time spent in Tunis at the market downtown. We loaded up with fruit and vegetables and then headed into… City Center Mall.  Now, this is a mega mallopolis if you will.  We were there the previous evening to catch a movie- 2 Guns, with Mr. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg which, BTW, was pretty entertaining.  I didn't get to see the true 'girth' of the mall that evening though. 

So, my main mission was to obtain a GPS unit so I can navigate my way around Bahrain fairly effectively (actually all the GCC and Levant countries as that is the maps application that came with the unit). After much research (both beforehand and inside the store), I made my final decision.  It was exciting.  I've never needed a GPS unit to get around before… Apparently I have 3 British English speaking voices to choose from. I am hoping one will sound like a Mr. Jeeves.  Anyway, with constant traffic and road blocks, etc and no-no areas, I know that I will need it, so that is that. I walked out of the store with a blender as well so after this posting I will move on from coffee to a smoothie before breakfast…

COFFEE BREAK

In other mildly interesting events of the week, I completed my first 'race' with the Bahrain Road Runners Club!  It was like running into a furnace, but I completed it and it was a great time.  The BRR is a great group of people who dedicate their time to this endeavor and made me feel really welcomed. Hisham will have my official 'card' ready for me next week- which I can use for discounts at the Bahrain Organic Foods Cafe/Store in Al Seef Mall.  This will be a big help as the products there are fairly expensive- yet they are there which is a blessing! It isn't exactly Mana Foods, but honestly it is pretty damn close.  Instead of hippies, there are expats and elegant women gliding around there in their abayas and sunglasses perched perfectly atop their hijabs.  So I feel kinda at home is the point of this… *wink*

My nesting at home has been fun as well.  The apartment is so big that I have designated areas that are actually designated, separate areas.  Lynn mentioned that the apartment complex reminded him of an Italian villa of sorts- which it kinda does- all whitewashed with loads of colonnades and arched way angles.  The big, glistening swimming pool is always eerily quiet- except when I'm there trying to learn to develop a decent stroke… Unfortunately I will not make it in time for the Aquathon coming up next month…

One thing about the apartment- everything is there and it does what it is supposed to do.  I set up my gas finally, with the help of Mohadeen- the apartment guy.  The (2) large bottles of gas were already outside on my back porch and voila! BAM. Poof my work is done.  As well with the washer in the kitchen.  I fooled around with switches for about 5 minutes after it didn't automatically turn on, and BAM! All lights are green so GO!

The only thing that isn't there, which is amusing, is that there are no plugs in the bathrooms… yes, that is right- I have TWO bathrooms… or hammams as they call them there.  Funny story there.  Hammams, where I've been living the past 3 years) are places to go where you have steam baths of varying degrees. Usually there is a HOT room, a warm room, and a cooling room.  Loads of running water and a central HOT stone where you can get massaged, or just relax, etc.  So, I asked a female coworker where the hammams were 'here' (meaning in Bahrain), and she looked perplexed.  After a few strange exchanges, she finally laughed and said that 'hammam' is the word for bathroom (as in toilet).  So she must have been thinking that I haven't gone to the bathroom for a few days!!!

Today a coworker is taking us out to lunch in an area of the city called Sahr (?) I believe.  The only other thing on my agenda is to just lesson plan the day away.  I pumped out 2 Power Points yesterday- or updated them from what I had been using for the past 2 years in Turkey. 

I think that this about wraps up this communique for the week here in my desert kingdom which, legend has it, could be the locale of the biblical Garden of Eden.  More on that later so I will leave you with that cliffhanger (note to self: conduct more in-depth research on that last claim so I can discuss it properly next time).

smoothie time...