University Life and Related Lists
We’re all starting to figure out the university! And we found two delicious pastry shops in the building housing the English department. One is full of doughnuts, and the other, samosas. Meaning we are always full of doughnuts and/or samosas.
So it turns out one of the English professors is still in the States—some of his paperwork has been misplaced, etc. This is the news I deliver to his classes—three of them, at least—as I introduce myself as their interim professor.
Class: “Are you a Doctor?”
Me: “Not yet. Some day, probably. I haven’t decided. But maybe.”
Class: “Do you have a masters?”
Me: “Nope, don’t have that yet either. But I have a B.A. in English/creative writing! We’ll all be fine. Mafi Mushkila (no problem).”
That’s right, classes! I’m asking you to trust some American fresh out of college. Well, the Department’s asking, really. The professor should be here next week (in sha’Allah), and I haven’t got a syllabus for you, but go buy this book and be prepared to discuss it.
I’m teaching two sections of Intro to Fiction, and one section of Intro to Drama—both are literature courses. We’re reading Animal Farm in fiction and Oedipus Rex in drama. Revolution and incest. Completely halal topics.
Note: the University of Bahrain is a public university (connected to the state, government, etc.). There are lots of pictures of the governing family throughout the university. This isn’t altogether surprising considering there are pictures adorning pillars along the highway, too. There is a practice in place at UOB of reporting on classmates, professors, etc. to the administration. This somewhat limits discussion.
Here are some lists for you.
Things I write on the board:
- “Benjamin = >:(“
- “Dead babies :(”
Things I reference in class:
- Shrek: “Onions have layers” = round character.
- Harry Potter: scar = symbol.
- Arrested Development: “Never touching Buster’s hand again”/Buster has his hand bitten off by a seal = foreshadowing.
Things I say in class:
- “I don’t know how classes normally go at this university, but at my university in America, we discuss things, so that’s how it’s going to go here.”
- “I say ‘y’all’ because I’m from North Carolina.”
- “I mean, you can’t just go out in the streets and start making fun of whoever’s in charge, right?”
- “Homeboy’s dead.”
- “Do you see any red flags in this passage? Wait, is ‘red flag’ a saying here? It means drawing attention to something. But I guess your flag is actually red, so that’s probably not a phrase. No? No. Not a thing.”
And while we’re making lists, here are a couple of nuggets.
- Favorite quote so far from Olivia [while discussing the perplexities of humanity, history, etc.]: “Don’t get me started on people.”
- And from Scott [while in the car when we hear a male vocalist on the radio]: “Is this Adele?”
Scott Gets a New Roommate
Scott gets a new roommate! He is French, and we’re calling him “Frenchie.” He arrives late last night, and he’s working on his MBA at UOB. That’s about all I know for now.
The Gang Goes to International Parties
A few nights ago, Team Bahrain attends an evening party hosted by the Indian family. Also in attendance are the Algerian professor, the Tunisian professor, and the Jordanian professor and his two adorable daughters. We drink kiwi juice and eat Indian finger foods and pastries and play a game involving celebrities, guessing who chose which celebrity, and organizing into teams along the way. Such fun! This compound is quite the international hub. Also, we are called “spinsters” because none of us is married yet.
The Girls Get Fancy
A few days later, the Indian woman takes the American women (Olivia and I) to get our nails done at the local beauty parlor. Part of the pedicure involves threading the tops of my feet, which is removing the hair via a thread. I don’t understand how this works. Also, I didn’t know there was problem hair on my feet. WAS problem hair.
I wear a knee-length skirt to the salon (my favorite blue one, Mom), and based on the angle and height of my leg while Lina—who is now my local beautician, apparently—is doing my pedicure, the scene is perhaps a scandal. Small scandal. There are men in the salon (none of whom are at the proper Lina angle to really experience the scandal of seeing partially up my skirt), and Lina discusses with her coworker whether this scene is a problem. Her coworker says, “It’s no problem. She’s American.”
That Time We Go To a Different Mall
This time, we go to City Centre Mall, which is atrocious on the weekends. We go on the weekends, and we are a success because we are able to find a parking spot. ALL OF BAHRAIN AND MOST OF SAUDI ARABIA IS IN THIS MALL. There is a Fuddruckers, a TGI Fridays, a carousel, and a kiddy drop-zone ride. There are three stories of glam. We eat ice cream and look at fancy jewelry and abayas. We wish we could justify dropping 1000 BD (2500 USD) on a fancy abaya, but we are not divas. Not yet.