Thursday, September 22, 2011

What mean domestic?

In one of my classes today I gave a conversation activity. The students were supposed to ask eachother questions using a certain grammar topic. During conversation, one question that came up was, 'What pets did you used to have when you were a child?' And the conversation continued as follows:

Mahmoud: 'Teacher, what mean "pets"?'
Me: 'It's an animal you keep--'
Mahmoud: 'Ah, camel!'
Me: 'Heh, well--'
Omar: 'Teacher, what is a pet?'
Mahmoud: 'Like animal in your house, cat, dog, camel...'
Me: 'Do you keep a camel in your house?'
Saleh: 'Teacher, can I say falcon is a pet?'
Me: 'Yes, Saleh, you can say a falcon is a pet.'
Saleh: 'Ok. I have a falcon.'
Me: silently laughing to myself...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Today Ray and I decided to go biking and rollerblading--he bikes, I rollerblade. As we were leaving the house, he realized that his tires were a bit low on air, so we decided to go to the nearest ADNOC station to fill up. It's very close to our house. Since it was rush hour the gas station was completely packed. Ray and I maneuvered through the crowded parking lot to the air pump. While Ray was filling up, I glanced across the street.

Now this is the street we live on. It is also the street where Ray and his family lived for about 14 years. The building where Ray and his family lived is in the process of being demolished. We pass this building regularly and every time the demolition makes further progress, but for some reason I really noticed it today. While Ray was pumping air, I was looking at his old home being destroyed.

Buildings here are demolished all the time. I just taught the word 'demolish' to a group of students the other day because in this city it's such a common word. demolish transitive verb: 1a:tear down, raze b: to break to pieces : smash 2a: to do away with : destroy b: to strip of any pretense of merit or credence.
Once Ray finished getting air we stood together staring up at his former home, counting the floors, trying to figure out which pulverised rooms used to hold our memories. I spent a lot of time with him in that house. Now it looks like a life-sized dollhouse, half open for the world to see inside.
"I think that was your front door."
"No, that's the door to the kitchen."
"Your sister's bedroom is gone."
"I can still see a bit of my parents' room."

How strange it is to stand across the street and peer into a place that used to contain your life. People used to sleep there, eat there, make love there, laugh, cry, dream, grow, live. Soon it will no longer exist. The house that I see in the playback of my mind will be an empty lot.
I wonder where all the neighbors went.
I wonder what they'll build on the empty space.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Summer Vacation

I am back. Yes, I took a vacation. A long, much needed vacation from work, from the UAE, from this blog, from email, from facebook, and all the pressures of adult life. Here are some things that I did on my vacation:

  • Slept in...everyday.
  • Saw almost every member of my family that I know of and some that I didn't know.
  • Played hide-and-seek in my grandma's house with my nephews instead of hanging out with the grown-ups.
  • Took a nap.
  • Watched cartoons.
  • Went to the zoo.
  • Built towers out of blocks with my nephews.
  • Tried to catch lizards (failed), fed ducks and ponies, and cuddled with a puppy.
  • Spent an entire day getting dirty, four-wheeling through 'swamps' (yes, I'm from the South).
  • Spent HOURS shopping with my sister.
  • Kept my mobile phone turned off for more than a month.
  • Rarely remembered what day it was and didn't plan my day according to a clock.
It was a good vacation. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I hadn't been back to the States in over a year, the longest I've ever been away. Before I left, I decided I was going to just chill, to not allow myself to be stressed about anything, to let myself remember what it was like to be a kid again. I think that descision, combined with my being gone for so long, helped me to see so many things differently. Instead of feeling awkward and out of place among other Americans, instead of judging American ignorance and materialism, I found myself enjoying its freedom. I saw that it actually is a fun and beautiful country, something I hadn't noticed in a very long time. As I let myself become a child again, a teenager again, I let myself become me again, and I realized that I'm fun and beautiful too.