Ink & Paper

Friday, September 24, 2004


Firstly, congratulations to Mat, Dace's better half, on his successful application to join the Calgary Police force. Well done. We all know how hard you have worked to become a cop and may all your scandals be quickly swept under the rug.

It is Friday morning now, my Sunday, and I rest. This past week was, to put it mildly, quite obviously a sign that life has a rather nasty mean streak attached to it. From the fingerprinting anger to the destruction of my PDA, to the fact that I have been sick since Tuesday. And finally, as if I hadn't been shit-kicked enough, a minor flood breaks out in the small bathroom yesterday morning.

Marc, the roommate, knocks the air freshener can off the top of the toilet. As it falls it hits a nozzle. What kind of nozzle is below the toilet, you ask? Ah dear reader, in this land of sand, toilet paper is a rather new invention. It is still customary for some people to use a little hose to wash themselves clean after using the facilities. This is the nozzle and the hose that I speak of.

Personal hygiene aside, this nozzle proceeded to fall to the floor, leaving in its wake a rather strong current of water spraying forth from the wall. I was dutifully marking papers at 715am when this happened and I heard some unsavory language coming from behind the bathroom door, followed by some bangs and crashes, more language, and finally the creak of the door opening and Marc saying, with a rather calm voice, "Uh, Jay? I think we may have a little issue here." Indeed we did.

Thankfully there is a drain in the floor, and even though it was now under a foot of water, a flat-head screwdriver did the trick and we were left with a torrent of water pouring out of the wall and into the drain. Marc and I regarded each other, wondering if the plumbing gods had made bets to see which one of us would crack like a nut first. It was obvious to us that some higher power was playing with our plumbing sanity, for it was Tuesday when we finally got a plumber to unclog the tub drain in the main bathroom, as well as to fix the toilet so it would flush properly in the small, and now flood-prone, small bathroom.

And so, Jay and Monday go off in search of the building manager. Of course he is not in, for work absenteeism is a national sport in Kuwait. Jay speaks to the assistant, trying to underscore the fact that water is everywhere. Jay maybe embellishes a little in an effort to elicit a quick response. It is now 725am.

The assistant manager says he will send the plumber right away. Sometime after 800am. Jay and his pleas of catastrophe are apparently unable to move this process into a higher gear. It strikes me as odd that in a country where everyone drives like Mario Andretti, the end result of all that speeding is a rather slow reaction time to work related events.

So back to the apartment, which is now quite humid with the AC and water combining to create a hazy mist. The doorbell, or should I say door bird, as it emits a sound like a rather mangled pigeon, rings at 815am. Could it be? No. It is Richard, kindly offering to shuttle Jay to the bank to, well, do some banking. Jay leaves the flood to Marc, a truly roommate thing to do. But before leaving, Richard finds the cold water shut off, tucked neatly behind the washer, and stems the flow of water. Old age and experience beats youth and vigor every time, doesn't it Dad?

Jay returns at about 945am, after having gotten robbed by the bank while exchanging travelers cheques. Still no plumber. Finally at about 1030am, the plumber shows up. Monday is shuttled into the bedroom, whereupon she proceeds to occasionally bark and, from the sounds of it, ram her head against the door, as the plumber sets about fixing the problem. It takes him about 10 minutes, after he goes back to the shop to get some fittings. Jay is left staring at the mess that his bathroom has become. Monday watches, with a cat's inclination to work, as Jay sets about mopping the bathroom, his nose running and his throat sore.

So I can only surmise that this week will be better, for if it were to get worse, I would be confined to a mental institution. I realize that this, and the previous fingerprinting blog, may seem like I am I dire straits. It is true that life here has definitely been hectic and chaotic so far, but some things are working out. For example, starting tomorrow, Jan and I are officially carpooling with Neil, thus eliminating the headache that is the bus. You do not understand how happy this makes me. Secondly, this upcoming Friday is October 1, meaning that I have less than nine months to go before my 'one foot in front of the other' mantra brings me back to Canada. It also signals that it is only 112 days until I see Meg in London. Thanks to all who emailed and posted comments, they were appreciated.

It was a shitty week though, so lets all hope that the upcoming one deals me a better hand. Oh, one more thing. I had mentioned that people here tend to give Monday and I a fairly wide berth (no fat jokes, jerks) when we are out walking. Turns out that dogs are considered to be just slightly up the ladder from a diseased rat in terms of cleanliness. Odd, but that is life here in the sand. Until next time, dear reader, adieu.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:19 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Monday, September 20, 2004

Hell. Damn. Fart. That is how mad I was today. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

We went to get out fingerprinting done, leaving the school at 715am and arriving a whole 10 kilometers and 25 minutes later, at our sister school, Gulf English Academy. Apparently we needed to go with a bunch of their teachers just to increase the whiteness of our group. You know, as if we were not already white enough, hey, lets go pick up some British people. Yeah, good idea.

Wait. Wait. OK, still waiting at Gulf English. There are 14 of us from my school. Still waiting, goddamn Brits. What, 10 of my group are going off on a self guided tour of Gulf English? Oh okay. Now they are gone. Oh look, here come the Brits. Are we ready to go? No? Oh right the tour group is now somewhere inside the school, so we get to wait some more.

Five to ten hot minutes later, here they come, wondering why the other bus is gone. I resist the urge to kill everyone except Marc and Jan, who being smart like me, did not decide to go for a walkabout. Pile into the hot bus, drive a grand total of two minutes to the fingerprint place. It is a good thing we came with the Brits, as they only beat us here by fifteen minutes.

Sit and wait. This place is way better than the medicals we had to do a couple of weeks ago, no thousands of jealous Indian immigrants cursing us as we butt to the front of the queue. Waiting. Dozing. Okay GO GO GO, why are you so slow? GO!

So I go, one of the first. Get fingerprinted by a man because women are not allowed to touch men they are not related to in this country. Wash hands with crappy soap they provide, hands still somewhat black after two minutes of scrubbing. Go back the waiting area.

Wait. Oh, what, since I am already done I have to go wait in the bus? Is it running? You do not know. Do you have any clue what I am saying to you, you moronic stupid jackass of a man? I can see that you do not, as you are smiling at me, not comprehending my language at all. Your mother is ugly, your father is a three-legged dog, and your face makes me wish humanity had never crawled out of the seas. Still you smile. Sigh.

Out to the bus, it is not running. Wait in the heat, about 28 degrees or so. Holy shit, there is a bird in the bus because one of the morons, not me, left the window open. Maybe that is why the AC is of poor quality. Jay and Marc chase the bird out. No one has arrived to see our heroic feat.

Wait for ten minutes, start to read my book. Cannot focus, too hot, go back inside to the waiting area, where everyone is, you guessed it, waiting. Sit down. A few more people go. Then security tells us that we have to leave if we have already gotten our fingerprinting done. I protest. He looks at me and is obviously thinking that he could kill me and get away with it. Hmmm. I look back at the black-fingered people, shrug as my spirit is now broken, and head for the door. We all trudge out to the bus, waiting for the women, who were taken to another separated room to get fingerprinted. About 20 minutes into this portion of the wait, Jay is considering what body part he would gladly give up if someone were to offer him a flight back to Canada right now, this second. He decides it would depend on where in Canada the flight would land. Left arm, probably to Toronto. Both legs to Edmonton. Baby toe to Saskatchewan.

Finally, it is now 945am, the rest of the group emerges. Everyone onto the bus, which is turned on so that the AC can blow hot air around for a few minutes. What? Oh screw you. What do you mean where is your bag? Goddamn Simon, for a guy with an engineering degree and teaching credentials, you sure are an idiot. Stop laughing, it is not funny. I hope someone took your goddamn, trip-delaying bag. And I hope your passport was in it. And your mother.

Wait. Simon waddles back to the waiting area, emerges with his bag and a stupid grin on his face. Damn, I really was secretly hoping his bag was gone. Finally the bus starts to move and we are shuttled back to school just in time for me to walk in halfway through my grade 9 class, which is being taught by a sub. Hand out a few DTs to control the chaos, they now shut up and I plop wearily into my chair, rubbing my temples.

Later on in this wonderful day.

I was puttering around my classroom this afternoon, and I had put my bag up on one of the tables. I was dealing with Jimmy who had decided to skip his lunchtime detention and was trying to tell me that he deserved one more chance. I turned around to talk with him and heard a lovely sound of my bag falling to the floor. Not overly concerned, as I had left my laptop at home, I picked it up and laid it down again. A little later, much to my dismay, I discovered that my little handheld computer, my PDA that Megan had bought me for last Christmas, was suffering from a rather spiderwebbed screen, having absorbed most of the impact from the fall. In short, it is ruined, totally messed and now is sitting in my kitchen trashcan. Jimmy remains blissfully unaware of the now-present axe hanging above his head.

I can survive without this modern convenience, it just means a lot more paper. I had grown quite attached to it, so I swore perhaps a little too loudly, and simultaneously thanked the heavens (Allah in this part of the world) that my laptop was at home. Still pissed off mind you, but not as bad as it could have been. But that got me thinking about how this country has managed to destroy a fair number of my electronic toys.

Toy 1. My beard trimmer. I take the blame for this, as in a blond moment, I plugged it into a 220V plug, burning it out.

Toy 2. My battery charger for my camera. This expensive double A battery charger was the victim of an apparently non-functioning voltage converter that I bought at Radio Shack before I left. I guess this could count for two toys ruined.

Toy 3. My PDA. Jimmy will suffer.

So far my laptop is okay, but this is getting ridiculous. I will be buying a new charger, one with the proper prongs for this wacky country, and it is about $10-12Cdn, made by Energizer for the long life batteries that I have. Much cheaper here than at home, thankfully. I will go without my PDA, just taking notes from Outlook on my laptop. I am now reduced to wet shaving, something I abhor.

So that was my Monday, ladies and gentlemen. I am now at home, about to start work on some writing I have been doing lately. Dog Monday, who does not care what kind of mood I am in, wags here tail at me. I smile, she is a good dog. Stop licking yourself you stupid dog. No do not come over here to lick me, ewwww. Okay, Marc just walked in the door from dinner, which means Jan is home, which means I am going to go raid her CD collection (lotsa jazz, nice) and burn some music for my ears. Then I will write. Good night, North America, you are still my true home.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:53 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


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