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Showing posts from 2008

Everyone's Son

"It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today." - Barack Obama

“Barack Obama?”

These words are just as often posed as a question as they are formed as a statement.

At home, in Dubai, people often ask me where I am from. Prior to the election, after I said the United States, I often received a perplexed look, mainly because I do not look like what they expect from someone who gives that answer to that question. Then if the person somewhat knew me or we had an extended conversation, they would beat around the bush (no pun intended) to politics to figure out who I was voting for.

The parents of my students, for instance, would get around to the election, and hint at the possibility of change – almost as if it were a code word. A f…

Yes, We Can; Yes, We Did; Yes, We Can

"And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments to palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand." - President-Elect Barack Obama

I left the high school around 7:45 this morning to run an errand at the elementary school. It was 10:45 pm eastern time in the States. On my way back to the high school, I passed a group of middle-school students.

"We got Florida!" a boy yelled while pumping his fist into the air.

"And we got New York too!" replied his comrade, a little blond boy.

I smiled to myself, but I did not yet know if it was because they clearly understood the electoral process, or because they were so enthused so early in the morning that Black is the new president.

As I walked, I was lost in my own thoughts regarding an earlier event in the morning. I awoke at 4:45 and checked the …

The Dubai Dream

"Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living." - Anais Nin

I was chatting with YG online one morning when I first arrived (actually it was about two weeks ago, but it feels like much longer...).

How is dubai U like? 7:15 PM me: i do...but it's a little too western...i'll probably only stay 3 years too much air conditioning YG: Word 7:16 PM me: but i like. it's like living in new york 120 years ago YG: Lol me: you know, while they were buildin[g] everything and people just kept coming and coming and there was probably always construction
Dubai does remind me of a growing New York, and the reason people come reminds me of the former American Dream. I say former because the American Dream does not seem as likely as it once did. Coining the term first in 1931 (according to the Library of Congress), James Truslow Adams in his book The Epic of America states:

"The American D…

By the Numbers

"Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness." James Thurber

This morning, at 8:10 local time, our school held a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11. We are an American school, therefore, I suppose, it is appropriate. My students and I sat quietly during our moment of silence, and a few of us teared up, but once it was over we moved on with class and did not mention the event. The destruction of the Twin Towers occurred seven years ago. Yes, the more than 3,000 people who died represented over 90 nationalities. I wholeheartedly concur that the day was tragedy. I remember. I was there. I was learning how to be a journalist. I was confused by the news reports, and I alsocried. Sometimes, I still do.

September 11 is a day that was tragic. It is a day that should be remembered. But it is also day in which the United States and the West are more solipsistic than necessary.

Every year in the United States on September 11, the media and th…

Under Construction

“Sure, where there is a will, there is a way. Too bad there is construction going on on my way.” - Loejse (Dutch Fictional Character)

My first week in Dubai I knew I would never be late for work. At least, not because I overslept.

The first morning I awoke in my bed in Dubai, it was approximately four in the morning. I looked out from my bed straight into the distance where I could see the lights of the city. I did not have curtains yet. I have huge picture windows in my bedroom. One faces the south and the other, the west. To the south is the sand for about one quarter mile and behind it the city; directly to the west is another new building under construction, and beyond that, more new buildings under construction.

By about 5:00, I decided to get out of bed. I knew there was no more sleep to come, so I might as well unpack. I put on some yoga clothes and began piddling around the house. I noticed a bus full of construction workers drive up. About ten minutes later I walked back into…

An American Tale

"Sarah is a zealot, but she’s a fun zealot. She has a beehive and sexy shoes, and the day she’s named she goes shopping with McCain in Ohio for a cheerleader outfit for her daughter."Maureen Dowd, The New York Times

There is nothing more American than the 2008 presidential race. First off, let's look at the cast of characters: we have Mr. Obama, a black man whose mother is from Kansas and his father from Kenya. In addition to his uncanny life story, he has a gift for rhetoric. A great gift. His wife grew up on the south side of Chicago, where she attended Chicago's public schools, and then went on to graduate from Princeton, followed by Harvard Law School. After working in corporate law, Mrs. Obama dedicated her professional self to social programs. She is now the ideal mother and wife. Mr. Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, is an all-American lawyer-turned-Senator, who respectfully commutes to Washington D.C. from Delaware and is married to an educator, Dr. …

Calling Name

I can only guess that being called a Turk
when one is an Armenian
is as heinous as being called
when one is Aretrean.

Apparently being called a Turk
when one is Lebanese
despite how much Turkish blood
one actually has,
is as despicable as being called
if one is a Polish Jew.

And seemingly deplorable
to name a Palestinian, Israeli
and a Honduran, Salvadoran
a Serb, a Croat.

My experience was in disrespect
of another sort
color, class
and sexuality
outdissed religion
and nationality
my "now" kids historical reality

Accustomed and acquainted
with the American way of being hated
I was less than prepared -
hadn't fathomed these babes would dare
to thwart me into a time when
"get your dawg paws off me"
"you f@^*!%$ faggot"
seems a minor offense
to the deafening words
from a child of Lebanon
to another of Armenia -
...and vice versa...

Before and After

"One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life." - Chinese Proverb

For the past week, my colleagues and I have referred only to two points in time as of any importance. Before Ramadan and After Ramadan.

Ramadan is the month of the lunar calendar in which the Qu'ran was said to be revealed. For this reason, Muslims fast for the 29.5 days in order to practice patience and humility. Ramadan begins tomorrow at sunset here and began in the Americas this evening.

We arrived here in Dubai the first week of August. There is much ado about everything when one is settling into a new country and here is no different. Thankfully, the school cuts through much of the red tape for us, otherwise I imagine it could be much worse.

Because life changes here during Ramadan, our goal was to complete logistical tasks related to residency, transportation and communication before Ramadan. I just made it. I have my residency visa, my dri…

So Dubai

"Satire - trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly." - Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

I am officially in Dubai. I have my residence visa, a sweet, pink, little card, inserted in my passport. It will be considered null and void only if and when I leave the country and do not return for six months. If that happened I would also lose my job, thereby eliminating my need to return.

Gracefully inhabiting the sacred spot behind the clear veil inside my wallet is my United Arab Emirates driver's license.

I have my account at the local bank and my Etisalat Internet connection inside my flat. I have my quad band mobile, which I can use when I go back to the States on holiday (with a different SIM card) and no voicemail whatsoever. So Dubai. I have yet to call a number that ends with a message on which I could also leave one. Luckily (unless one is in a meeting) no one in Dubai is afraid to call back, and keep calling back until the…

Yes, We Can - The Obama Factor

"He stands not just for Black people, but all people." - We Are the Ones

Thursday in AP U.S. History, my co-worker introduced the students to the Yes, We Can videos. (And yes, they did look at other campaign media as well.) When they arrived in my class they were in awe.

"Miss, have you seen the 'Yes, We Can' videos?" They asked. "They're awesome!"

I was surprised they had not seen the videos before. My students are very news savvy. The day the papers announced Musharraf's resignation, the student's knew about. Some of them read the Huffington Post. They knew Obama was going to select a vice president soon. They understood the controversy of the (now unlikely) chance that the Clintons may have joined Mr. Obama in the White House.

The kids have yet to mention John McCain, in any manner in my class.

To boot, they understand the implications of an Obama presidency.

One of my students, stated that he would like to be president one d…

Water, Water Everywhere

"A toilet is something of a feng shui hazard. Flush it and great amounts of ch'i, quite literally, go down the drain." Karen Farrington, Feng Shui: A Practical Guide to Health, Wealth, and Happiness

This is the first time in my adult life that I have lived in a “complex” style apartment. Prior to this I have always rented apartments in houses, duplexes, or other such non-conformist dwellings. The fact that I usually lived on the second floor meant I also did not have to deal with the effects of others’ whimsies and errors.

To try and manage my own space, I try to integrate a little of the Eastern philosophies, one of which is Feng Shui, the Chinese principle for enhancing ch'i in the spaces we occupy. One of the most stringent rules is to keep the bathroom doors closed, particularly between the bedroom and the bathroom. The reason behind this is because water is unpredictable and hard to contain.

Binu was downstairs when I’d arrived from work. He assured me that …

Al Barsha

"Al Barsha!" -Ann Laros-Weaver and Grant Weaver

Finola Pinto is the woman who was in charge of our shipments from the Dubai side. One week after our arrival, all of the new teachers from my building still did not have our shipments. Most of us sent them in June. One was even coming from as close as the Philippines.

We discussed Finola everyday. So much so, that one of my coworkers' children, who is only six-years-old, but very verbal, got the message.

“Finola is not getting a Christmas card this year,” she said one day. No. Finola will not be receiving any kind of card from anyone in Al Barsha.

Al Barsha is the area of the city where we reside. To say it is under construction is putting it mildly.

Supposedly our building’s name is the Sheik Rashid; however, the name is not on the building, and we only know it by the plot number. It is a government building. Some people confirm that Sheik Rashid is the name, others say not. Here in Dubai we do not use street names…

The Best Laid Plans

“Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it." Lao Tzu.

I had a slight problem our first week in Dubai. We live in the desert. Although the transformation of Dubai means our skyline is constantly changing and it is becoming increasingly more challenging to count the malls, there is a little bit of sand left, mostly surrounding the area near my apartment. Because of the climate here, we wear sandals and open-toed shoes, and one has to walk somewhere, even if to the nearest road, to catch a cab. Therefore, my feet are always dirty by the end of the evening. Always.

I don't mind getting dirty, but I hate dirty feet and I despise the black marks they make on my new bathtub, in my new home. This is my first experience with anything close …

Bubble Burst

"Filthy water cannot be washed." ~African Proverb

I arrived home yesterday at 4:30. Even though this morning was a disaster, this evening held promise. My shipment had arrived and had been cleared through customs. The delivery men were on their way to my flat. The last of my new furniture, at least for awhile, would be delivered tonight. I walked in, and I went to check on the situation in the bathroom. Everything was dry. Thank goodness. They had cleaned up the water.

I debated calling Binu to ask him for an update. I decided against it at first, then I wondered if later I might decide that they must have fixed it and end up trying it out. I settled on the decision not to use it all until I heard from Binu.

I did not know what to do with myself while I waited for my shipment. I still had nowhere to sit. I decided to sweep the floors.

I was in the hallway, and I heard a chilling, hissing sound. It sounded eerily familiar. I ran into the guest room and at exactly t…

The First 24 - Part 2

"The welcome ever smiles, and farewell goes out sighing." William Shakespeare

The Marhaba ladies were my first introduction to life in Dubai. The administrators from my school had given us very detailed instructions for arrival, so when I got off the plane, I knew to look for the Marhaba ladies; although I did not really know what they were. They would be wearing bright yellow-ish jackets and I would find them somewhere after the escalator. I knew they would have a board with my name on it, and that they would assist me in the customs control process.

As I walked through the airport, I immediately noticed how refreshingly serene the airport was. It had an air of cool, calm and collected. No one was rushing. There were no loud disruptive announcements. It was surprisingly empty. I felt at peace. What a lovely way to enter my new living space.

After approximately five minutes of walking, I met my first Marhaba lady. She was petite and she quietly handed me a pamphlet,…

The First 24 - Part 1

"The modern airplane creates a new geographical dimension. A navigable ocean of air blankets the whole surface of the globe. There are no distant places any longer: the world is small and the world is one." ~Wendell Willkie

I was bloody lucky. My row mates on the plane were brilliant - they could not have been better. I got to know them well enough since the lights, television and anything else electric was not working in our section from our row back. We had 14 hours and little light to get to know each other.

On the far left, in window, was an American who works in Doha, Qatar. He is a project manager and he has something to do with oil. We did not get into those details. In the middle, I found out the next day, a few minutes before disembarking, was Paul, an American who works in Kuwait, but has lived overseas most of his life. At aisle, was I, an American going to teach in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. We immediately began conversation. By the time we were prep…