I'm here, I'm reasonably happy, I'm rather busy, and I'm only slightly too hot.

A few first impressions.

* Every significant room has a large, noisy air conditioning unit. I suppose we have a stereotype in mild, damp England that people who live in hot countries don't notice the heat. Well, they do.

* You'll need a hat - and sunglasses.

* Tea really is better without milk.

* Your room will have some some electrical outlets with two pins, and some with three. Some will be 110 volts, and some 220. Make sure you have some sort of insulated tool for tripping the switch on the third pin while plugging a two-pin plug into the other two.

* You can cook and eat in, but eating out is cheap, plentiful, and safe. Your hotel might be a bit grotty - with damp chipped walls highlighted with the occasional cockroach - but the government imposes very strict rules on hygiene in restaurants and takeaway outlets.

* Whatever your phrasebook says, the local dialect will be significantly different. According to my book on Gulf Arabic, my tea without milk or sugar should be something like "Chai, hAlib laa, shikAr laa". Instead, I've just ordered "Shai, hAlib laa, shUker laa".

* If you want to travel more than a hundred meters, you need a car. The towns just aren't built for pedestrians. Assume everyone else on the road is an incompetent maniac. The sound of cars passing, horns blaring and tyres screeching is constant.

* The arabic reputation for hospitality is well justified, in that men will have their male children wait on you.

* Young children drink beer. No alcohol beer.

* Tap water is safe, but bottled water is cheap, colder and tastes a lot better.

* If someone's over thirty, you'll find it's not unusual for them to have fifteen or more siblings. But younger families are a lot smaller.

* Manual labour is done by Indian immigrants. Many of them speak better English, but they can't afford a tutor like me.

* All the children are schooled in rote-learned formal English grammar, and some stock words and phrases. This is odd, as the street signs and shop fronts bilingual in English and Arabic - even in a relative backwater like Arar where I am. English is the language of business, to the extent that in any major company, managerial meetings are conducted in English, even though for everyone involved it's a second language, and they have a first language in common.

* British English is seen as more respectable than American, and probably less imperialist.

I've been here only a week, so...these are just first impressions and I'm some of them aren't accurate. I've got over 30 students waiting for the school to open properly, but my first one-to-one lesson is today.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you arrived safely and are settling in. Looking forward to the next chapter of Kapitano of Arabia. :D