INGULFED

(Notes for the Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah)

Archive for Language

اسبوع مرحبا — Marhaba Week

الجزء الاول — Part One

One bus carrying students from the airport arrived at around 8 AM. A colleague of mine (let’s call him America) decided that the best way to give out keys would be the tried and true read-names-from-a-list method, which, despite certain snags, is one of the world’s simplest ways of getting things to the right people. Bad choice, bro.

A “global university” offers two things: the first is an intellectually stimulating international crossroads that puts in conversation different perspectives, competing ideals, and opportunities for cooperation unparalleled in a more homophonic context. The second is hard to pronounce first names.

And on this bus populated entirely with students fresh from South Korea and China, we had that in spades. Usually a teacher might stumble on the pronunciation of one weirdly spelled version of “Kate,” but after a few Jihees and Haorans, America hit a Xiaomei and could tell he’d made an especially poor choice.

With a list empty of Bobs and Sams, America was stuck behind enemy alphabets without an exit strategy. And it was hilarious.

Hubcaps Don’t Make The Man – [الترجمة غير متوفرة]

After seeing Inception two nights in a row, I feel qualified to make enormous statements about the theater experience in the Gulf. The first shock to the western movie-goer is the assigned seats. While something about choosing your exact place makes going to see Leonardo more like an outing, it forces certain stressful decisions not found at American first-come first-sit Loewses or AMCs. The teller shows you the layout of the theater and asks you to pick as you force yourself to imagine,

Will that be too close?
Too far?
Next to fat people?
Behind the tallest building in the world?
(The Emirates are unpredictable.)

Turns out not that many people are out at 21:00 on a Wednesday and it doesn’t really matter. Though Midnight the next night was packed full of an even more animated crowd laden with take-in from surrounding mall restaurants, answering their cell phone calls, and yelling warnings at Leo and Ellen Paige.

Leaving the mall at 1 a.m. after Inception Night One, we found shoppers steaming in the night heat and an hour-long cab line. But a friendly enough-looking Indian man stood offering a private car (a no-no in your mother’s book of Travel Safety Rules) like a scalper offering last minute tickets to your own house. So, like any smart shoppers, we weighed our life against our patience. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: