Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Summer's Here

Shhh, you have to be quiet. Crouch down and you might just be able to spot one. They're rare, and most often only seen at this time of year. They are timid creatures, and getting near one can be tricky. Yes, there's one: it's a lesser spotted removals van.

Yes, it's that time of year again. The humidity's up; the daily joggers and power walkers have been replaced by the lesser spotted removals companies. Yes, it's time to move house or leave Dubai. You see them every where - like termites crawling out of the woodwork when it's raining. Schools out, University is finished and people flock to the airport like bees to a honeypot. Summer is officially here.

I always feel a bit sad at this point in the year: it's weeks until I go home for a UK fix and my students are gone. Scattered to the four corners of the earth until October. Many of these won't return to Dubai but take the opportunity to study in London and transfer there over the summer. I try to dissuade them, tell them it's cold, miserable and dangerous, but they don't listen. So, in true educator style I thought a training session may be in order for those brave souls giving up the beach and the sunshine for the rain and dirt of the UK. Sessions begin next week and will cover the following topics:

1. Security in the supermarket: What is a stab vest and why must I wear it at all times?
2. Child in a sweetie shop:  Yes, the pubs are open all day but that doesn't mean you need to spend all day in them
3. Pickpockets: No she wasn't feeling your bum, she was nicking your wallet
4. Cardigans: what they are, where to buy them and discussion of the probability of the temperature ever rising above 20 degrees
5. Car theft: why I can't park my Ferrari in Asda car park and expect it still to be there tomorrow
6.  Alternatives to the Pub: Cannabis, Skunk, or E: your options
7. What is a part time job and why do I need one?
8. No Abaya here: why a woman in a short skirt and crop top is not necessarily a prostitute

Classes begin next week. Enrolments at

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Please explain it to my husband, I only understand rocket science!

So, my plan for the summer is to put a Phd proposal together. I am the Queen of studying, I love it. A Phd is not to be sniffed at; it's a big commitment, but in my educated opinion, is far less scary than the paradigm known in the business world as the Blackberry phone package.

My daughter wanted a Blackberry - not an iphone, not a Nokia E72, a Blackberry. It's the phone of the moment (if you are 12) and being able to BBM is every girl's dream (apparently) Well, let's face it, this is infinitely preferable to her coming home saying she'd like a gram of cocaine to snort off her boyfriend's butt. So, we charge off to the mobile phone shop.

As we enter, I am greeted by a boy who I am convinced is missing school for this, who explains the various options available, in what appears to be a language I have never spoken before. Oh, he's speaking in English, it's just the order of the words I am not getting. He hands us a contract to sign. I glance across at my husband who looks like he's just been asked to seal the deal to sell his soul. 'I am not sure I want to sign up to a contract', he says, looking at me pityingly. I catch a glimpse of the look of panic on my daughter's face and almost reach for the hankies. 'Ok', I say to the small boy, 'could we just go over the plans again please, I only understand rocket science'.

 'You get six months free of this package (he points to a card on the desk) if you pay 120 dirhams a month',  he explains for the third or fourth time, sighing.
'But why is it 120 dirhams a month if it's free for the first six months?' I enquire
'Well, you have to pay the first month, plus 25 dirhams, and then it's free for six months, then you go onto the 120 dirhams a month package, unless you pay 75 dirhams plus one month and then it's 75 dirhams a month but you don't get six months free you only get three'. What??????? Ahhhhhhhhh!

Eventually, I manage to grasp that we can purchase the phone without the soul selling contract, if we buy a sim card from another telecommunications company. This we manage to achieve and the equilibrium of my daughter's street cred is restored.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

What did you say? Can't hear you over the snoring...

If snoring were a competitive sport, my husband would be reigning Olympic gold medalist. I am not talking amateur snoring here - the occasional snort - I am talking ear splitting decibels of championship grunts, groans, snorts and whines. I am a snoring widow. And with this prestigious position in mind, the summer, and the annual trek to the Uk looms.

Now, we have an olympic sized bed. You know the ones: you get them in hotels. You lie on one side of the vast landscape of fluffy pillows and starched cotton sheets, and you have to telephone your husband on the other side to arrange any...well, I'll leave that up to your imagination.

But, the annual trek to the Uk involves sleeping in a minature bed (my mum in law's spare room double). Closeness abounds. And with closeness comes the inevitable cacophany of not-so-tuneful racket that is my husband's nightly audition for the X Factor. So, what's a girl to do?

Well, for the other millions of snoring-widows out there, here's my 'sleeping an inch from my somniferous-soloist of a husband' survival guide:

1. The key to a good night's sleep is to fall asleep first. The most effective comatose inducing drug I know of, is alcohol. So, at least two glasses of wine and you've got it covered.
2. A little note about earplugs: industrial strength, 'standing on the shop floor whilst they are testing the world's largest jet engine and you can't hear a thing' strength earplugs. Most chemists have them.
3. No sex. The myth that everyone falls asleep afterwards, basking in the afterglow of their glory, is exactly that...a myth. men fall asleep; women lie awake listening to men snoring in the afterglow of their glory. Reserve the horizontal shuffle for earlier on in the evening.
4. And finally, when it all gets too much, I find a pillow over the face solves the issue perfectly. But then, I am writing this from my prison cell.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Procrastination Perfection

When I tell someone that we actually finish teaching at Easter, they often say 'what do you do all day?' and to be honest, it's a bit difficult to say. By mid June however, I have become the Queen of wasting time; the perfect procrastinator. I can spend all day doing literally, nothing. So, for those uninitiated in this fine art I thought I would pass on some helpful hints. Here's a description of the perfectly procrastinated day at work:

10am. Optimal arrival time at work because you can immediately see which of your co-workers are equally lazy buggers by the number of cars in the car park. The boss's car is unlikely to be here by now.
10.05am Say good morning to everyone who is in, stopping to chat with as many as possible.
10.20am Log onto computer and whilst it whirls and groans, make first cup of tea, stopping to chat with any member of staff already in the kitchen.
10.45am Take out numerous papers, journal articles and half written papers and place them, strewn across your desk. This is sure to make you look extremely busy and intellectual. (For anyone struggling with this, see 'Professor Yaffel' in our building - he has this down to a fine art)
11am Log on to Facebook. Play Cityville. Log off and then login to your child's Facebook page to spend half an hour playing their Cityville and sending yourself stuff to your own Cityville account.
11.30am Log back onto your Facebook account to check new wall postings and finish game of scrabble.
11.45am Time for a cup of coffee from Starbucks. Remember to go round the office first, asking everyone if they want a Starbucks and write down orders. Walk to Starbucks to buy searing hot coffee in the 40 degree heat.
12.15pm. Log onto work emails, read them slowly, swear a lot. Send a few rude replies.
12.45pm Log onto Linkedin and read updates from all the other saddos on there.
1pm Lunch. Don't bring your own packed lunch because you can waste half an hour wandering round the food court trying to decide what to have.
1.30pm Bring lunch back to desk and eat it surrounded by your strewn papers so that it looks like you are just 'squeezing lunch in, in an already very busy day'
2pm. Log onto personal emails. I have four accounts so this takes a while. Reply to anyone who has bothered to share the details of their life with you today.
3pm. Coffee break.
3.15pm. Log onto work emails again. Swear more, send more rude replies.
3.45pm. Time for a blog entry I think.
4pm. Pick up a number of the strewn papers, pack them into your laptop bag, with your laptop, in the pretence that is called 'I'm going to just finish up with this at home' and leave for the day.