Algebra of Need

This is a bit of a rant. Sorry.

There are three reasons to stay in a job, or a place, or an arrangement. One is for the money, or some other definite, measurable and significant benefit.

Two is because you enjoy it.

And three, the job itself isn't what you love or benefit from, but it comes bundled with something that does give you something good. You might not like the city, but you stay because your family are there. A personal reason.

Well, my personal reason to stay in this job, this city and this incredibly busy and a two hour plane journey away. I am thoroughly bored with teaching - maybe after a good holiday I'll start to like it again, but right now I get no pleasure from stepping into the classroom.

And the always promised, and in the future. The one big contract which will make us all rich is always on the horizon, and negotiations are in progress, but it never arrives.

So, of the three possible reasons to stay, I don't have one.

And I do have reasons to leave. I am sick of so many things about this country. I'm sick of the insane bureaucracy that means it takes a year to get a licence to set up a business, and six months to get a bank account, and three months to get a work permit - which ties you to one contract with one employer for twelve months.

The only way to get out of a contract is to commit a crime and get deported. And if it comes to that, the easiest crime to commit is to go on strike.

I'm sick of the infantile supersition that's tied up with self-mythologisation. The more intelligent Arabs I've met are puzzled that god's chosen people are not rulers of the world - and the stupider ones can't grasp that outsiders don't want to be god's chosen people.

In this last, they're a bit like the stupider Americans.

Why did god deliver his message in Arabic? Was it because he was talking to an arab? No, it's because arabic is god's language. And how do we know this? Obviously, it's because he delivered his message in arabic.

Oh, and because arabic allegedly (but not really) has sounds that no other language has. Because...something or other. And therefore...something. Somehow.

We know the Quran is the perfect, eternal word of the magic man in the sky because it's impossible for mere mortals to make a sentence which compares in beauty to any of its sentences. And we know this because the people who've appointed themselves to judge the beauty of competing sentences have already decided that no sentence can compare.

I'm sick of a government that's trying to reap the benefits of being open, while staying closed. They want to be innovative and cosmopolitan while staying a fossilised monoculture. The people are obsessed with images of drugs, alcohol, sexual freedom and even political dissent...and with condemning each other for having the same thoughts.

This is a culture that's trying to develop a work ethic while maintaining a racist elitism that justify's only foreigners doing work. And not just foreigners from poor countries.

I'm sick of an educational system that confuses rote recitation and mindless copying with learning. Tomorrow I'm invigilating an exam for elementary students who, after six years of study, can name every object in their house. They just can't construct a single complete sentence about them.

They've actually asked for more tests and exams, presumably on the grounds that the more tests you do, the more chance you'll get the answers right by the law of averages.

Oh, and strictly unofficially, no one gets graded below 50%, even if all they do is write their misspelled name at the top of the sheet. Because low grades are "discouraging" and high ones are "respectful".

So what's the plan?

Well, there is another potential big contract that will take four weeks for come into effect...or else collapse. In fact it's the biggest ever. So if after six weeks the money is rolling in, I can stay until the work permit expires in February.

If it isn't, I'm out. And with luck I'll even be home for christmas.

Edit: Actually, a slight miscalculation. The work permit doesn't expire in the second month of the Gregorian calendar, it expires in the second month of the Islamic calendar - which is used in one islamic country, and almost exclusively on official documents. Like, erm, work permits.

Expiration date: The 27th of Safar. Also known as the 30th of December. New Year's Eve.

So I've got ten weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, sounds like it's time to move on to the next great adventure.

    Given the so-called "war on Islam" many US Christians feel justified in waging (from the comfort of their church pew), I find it ironic how similiar these "enemies" are.