Sunday, 25 November 2012

Meeting the Mothers and Achieving Greatness

Last week we had a 'mothers meeting' at school, which is Saudis answer to a parents evening. Of course I was grateful there were no men, as this would've resulted in me having to wear my abaya for the whole thing, but it still seemed a bit one sided and unnatural to me. You'd think one of the perks of a man-free meeting would be that the women could uncover but actually there wasn't a single one who took their abaya off. One woman even chose to discuss her children with me whilst wearing a full burka, which meant I couldn't really hear what she was saying.
But abaya or no abaya I was still struck by the glamour and glitz of the occasion. I've really never seen so many women doing their makeup and sorting out their hair in a childrens' bathroom. Also there were some people who brought their girls in pretty party dresses complete with blusher, eyeliner and lipstick; miniature doll version of their mums.
Another odd part of the 'no men' set up was that I spoke to one lady who is divorced and doesn't live with her child. Her boy is quite naughty and a bit of a handful, but it was impossible to discuss strategies for improving behaviour with someone who a) doesn't see the child and b) was nearly crying in front of me.
Some women found it impossible to comprehend that their children are badly behaved. There seems to be a general consensus that the boys are just 'babies,' which accounts for a lot really.

In other news it actually rained last week and the kids went crazy. When we arrived to our private tutoring the two boys were running around in ponchos, screaming and playing in what can only be described as a bit of drizzle. Exciting times. I just wish the rain would happen in the morning next time because apparently so many people stay at home that the King has to call it a national holiday.

There were two main highlights of the last school week. Firstly, I did a mini award ceremony with my boys class, for the winners of the most stamps. It was very cute.

But my absolute favourite moment of the week has to be the pride I felt in my teaching ability after doing a plural nouns worksheet with the girls class. This girl clearly didn't get it, as she decided to take off the last letter of each word and and replace it with s.
Please note number 13:

I really am so impressed with myself. Maybe it was some sort of subliminal messaging that she picked up on? Pat on the back for me.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Getting Christmassy (in November!)

Sorry guys at home, I know you're probably saturated by Christmas adverts etc by now and could do without a Christmas related blog too, but for me it's a bit different so please be patient! As I prepare to miss the third Christmas in a row, sniff sniff, I find myself really being regretful I won't be there. When I lived in London I took for granted the Christmas market, mulled wine with friends and all those trips to outdoor ice rinks with the young people I keyworked (once actually whilst it was snowing!) And all the lovely things about being at home like massive games of Cranium involving a school-sized flip chart, opneing all the presents too quickly and therefore making a total mess in the living room, and always watching A Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. I think this year I'm also more sad because of a certain two nieces who will be really excited by everything this year.
But hey, no point dwelling on it too much: it is what it is. And so I've been thinking of ways to bring that Christmas spirit to me, in a country where it is not exactly welcomed, to say the least. I know it's a little early- in fact the weather here says it's still August!- but I watched two Christmassy films at the weekend (that's Thurs and Fri to you, if you've forgotten) and curled up on the sofa, something who's joy is a little lost when it's not cold in the slightest. I've never seen before The Santa Clause and whilst I found it entertaining, I also thought it was a bit creepy and won't watch it again in a hurry. Vice Versa, not exactly Christmas themed but set around the festive period, is fun but not a patch on Freaky Friday if you ask me. On a side topic it was weird that we spent 50 Riyals (about 8 quid) on a bag of pick n mix to eat whilst we watched the films. Clearly that is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on sweets, but I wasn't at all bothered. Weird? I realised it's because those sweets make up the whole evening- in the absence of actually being able to go to the cinema, or go for a quick drink before/after/before and after, the sweets are the only thing we can actually buy. So it still works out cheap.  
Anyway, I also started work on some decorations for my tree, which are definitely going to involve glitter and will most certainly be totally tacky. Then on Friday morning whilst relieving my overly hard pillow of some of its stuffing, I had a genius idea. You guessed it- I'm going to make a snow man!
I tell you what people, the fun here never stops.

Any Christmas related suggestions are very welcome...

The ghosts of snowmen past?
I'm also going to set to work soon on making a certain something involving a big bucket, oranges and lemons, lots of sugar and a dash of yeast. Do you know what that might be? In my opinion no Christmas would be the same without it :)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A rather long Ikea outing

I feel I must report to you about our weekend trip to Ikea. Everything here is such an ordeal- popping to the shops simply doesn't exist, and that's how a visit to Ikea ended up taking six whole hours. I kid you not, we set off at 4pm and finally arrived back home at 10. A combination of factors contributed to the length of time it took: the roads are so massive here that when we missed the exit it took fifteen minutes to get back on track; there were two prayer times while we inside, during which there was no one to ask for assistance and no way of paying; and we had to wait over an hour for our driver who kept lying in his almost non existent English about how long he was going to be.
But anyway, the silver lining is that during this almost whole day stuck in Ikea we got to see some hilarious sights. Saudis can be pretty entertaining when they want to be.

Let's do a countdown.

5. Children were rollerblading round the shop- it's sad but true that shopping centres are their playgrounds.
4. A woman got her abaya trapped in the wheels of her trolley.
3. A showroom set of shelves just wasn't quite right.

2. There was a full on scrap (primary school kids eat your heart out) in the car park between two groups of Saudis. We're not sure what they were fighting about-possibly parking spaces-but it got so heated that a woman in one group actually took off her sandals and threw them at a blokes head!

1. A man next to us tried for more than thirty minutes to get a package into his car that just was not going to fit. First he tried the boot, then the back seat. We were lucky enough to catch some of it on camera:

Eventually, after some guidance from an Ikea employee, the man had the genius idea of opening the package and putting the really quite small pieces of sofa comfortably into his car. 

Despite its moments of hilarity, I won't be rushing back to Ikea in a hurry. It's fair to say that every time I go out it ends in me having a mini internal crisis along the lines of "what the hell am I doing here?" and having to spend a good few days in the house, pretending I'm somewhere else. Sigh.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Mini Film Thingy

I've been thinking of getting a camcorder so figured I'd give movie maker a go with some photos and stuff from Sri Lanka (with a lot of help from Lee).
So here it is, our movie debut:


Friday, 2 November 2012

The Real Joy is in the Making of the List

These days I try not to make goals and lists for myself, as I find they can often lead to disappointment and a sense of under achievement. For example, new years resolutions are a big no no for me- if you want to do something, why not start now?
Coming back from holiday, however, is one of those times when I just can't resist a nice juicy 'things I want to do' list.

Here it is:
  • Review the books I've been reading, for my poor neglected 'reviews' blog.
  • Review hotels and receive Agoda points (then actually find out how to use them next time I book something)
  • Try to use DVD maker (for the first time) to showcase holiday photos
  • Put some effort into planning school work
  • Find an unsuspecting innocent at work to teach me Arabic once a week
  • Skip more
  • Cook Soup and try out Phil's wonderful recipes
  • Decorate flat, starting with a trip to Ikea!
  • Work on Spanish
  • Write the next chapters of Map Mysteries (and maybe finally give the story a proper name)
  • Learn a new musical instrument
  • Find out where on earth to buy a musical instrument from in a country that pretty much forbids them.
  • And last but never least, say a post-holiday hello to my family on skype.
I think that'll do for now, I feel exhausted just thinking about it all. Maybe its time for a mid morning nap! 

Do you have any plans or goals? I'd love to hear about them.