Sunday, April 10, 2005

Where to start

It's hard to know where to start. I have never seen such a complex set of issues to be sorted out as Lebanese politics. And even if they get sorted out, and even if the opposition wins a majority in the upcoming elections, and even if the already elected Syrian-backed security people resign, there's no guarantee that the next government won't be just as corrupt in its own way and the pro-Syrian one is now. What a sorry state of affairs!

It explains a lot about Lebanese citizenry and why they act as they do. It's hard to get things done here. There is no sense of expediency. I have been told that there is no word in the Arabic language for "anticipation" which explains why nothing gets done until it becomes an emergency. For instance, I have a ceiling fan in my room that is hanging by the electric wires. For four weeks I have filed a Maintenance Report to get it fixed. Fan doesn't work either which is a good thing as it would really vibrate and perhaps fall. The first week I was told that after it was hot the fan would be fixed. The second week I was told that an electrician was coming on Wednesday. The third week there was astonishment that it still didn't work. Well the electricity part worked but the fan still wasn't attached to the ceiling properly creating an even greater hazard. The fourth week, this week, the shoulders were just shrugged, accompanied with, "Oh, well!" My solution will be to move the desks so that if the whole thing comes crashing down it won't kill some kid. Too bad! It was really warm this week but so windy we couldn't open the windows as everything would blow out the door. Could have used the fan, but the electricity to it doesn't work again anyway.

I am working out the logistics for my move to Cairo next year. Word on the street is that it is very difficult to get books through customs without an Import License for heaven's sake! So I will be lugging all my books again to Germany at the end of the month, our spring break, and leaving them there until I get to Cairo and scope the situation out for myself. I am told that books will get pages ripped out, a form of Muslim censorship. Remember the people there are Arabs too, so I don't expect much in the way of accurate information on shipping. My clothes and what few household things I still own will be shipped by DHL after I get there and name a ship date. They will be picked up here and sent. Then I can expect to spend a day in customs just clearing everything.

The payoff for all this is a nice big fat tax-free raise, free furnished housing, free transportation to and from school and so I have also heard, free internet. The Arab kids are a joy to teach after the street smart snots in American schools. It has been great fun to teach here in Lebanon and I expect that the kids in Egypt will be great also. This is a private school with an American curriculum. About 65% of the faculty is American, yeah! Class size is under 20. I think this will be a self-contained classroom again. Thankfully I won't have 44 students as this year. (Just imagine reading 44 essays a couple times a week!!! YIKES!)

I will be living in a Cairo suburb called Heliopolis with somewhat cleaner air than downtown or in Maadi the other living choice. The school is brand new, K-12 on one campus, state-of-the art, air conditioned. I am glad I won't be living on campus for the next two years. (It has been quite confining to live here in Lebanon behind locked gates 24/7. The guards know when we come and go and there is virtually no privacy. We are at the mercy of students who frequent the campus on Sat's for "extra schoo"l for the Brevet test given this summer.) Later I will post my address but I am guessing that mail will be a problem there.

More news as it happens.