Friday, August 08, 2003

Interlude, Day 1

From last night’s email to Darcie:

Henry and Azra and I went over to the Aga Khan School this afternoon at about 2:00 to see the lab and other teaching spaces. George, the principal, is from Ontario and looks it; he’s a nice and casually well-organized guy who runs the school almost single-handedly through sheer presence, kind of a modern version of an old British colonial in his India element. The kids all wear green and khaki uniforms and say “good afternoon, sir” to him as they pass, and he knows all their names and faces; they’ll be on break for the next week while their teachers learn from us, so it was especially nice to see the place teeming with happily almost-vacationing students playing chess and soccer and making speeches on the subject of their school.

School is taught entirely in English; it’s weird to see the scholastically ubiquitous 81/2 x 11 posters advertising clubs and candy sales in such an unfamiliar environment. But it’s not much like NMH, or even Oak Grove or Academy, for that matter. The school looks like nothing I’ve seen before – everything is open on the sides to the air, so it’s more like a crumbling, slightly yellowed concrete parking lot than a school. And, as with everywhere else we’ve been so far – the airport, the hotel – the entrance to the school is gated and carefully guarded by silent men in uniforms carrying assault weapons. Even the safest neighborhoods here hire guards for their best buildings; it seems like middle-class status is marked by the same sort of staffing once endemic to the colonial mindset – personal drivers, building guards, and “assistants” abound, and the school even employs a guy to do nothing more than sit around and wait until someone needs him to make copies.

Wish I had thought to bring my camera – I hadn’t realized this would be the only time we’d see the school with kids in it. I did take a few hotel room and from-the-balcony shots a while back, though, so at least we’ve got that covered.

Over a very-late lunch in the hotel after being driven back by Ibrahim, George’s driver, through the maniac streets, the three of us began work on the curriculum we’ve been hired for, and then the others went off to nap while I tried to keep my eyes open by smoking cigarettes on the hotel room private patio. I can see an Egyptian hairless cat in the apartment across the way from there, and an occasional glimpse of a dachshund in the one above; they’re not Zellie and Jacob, but they’ll do for a reminder of what I have waiting for me at home.

The sun shone for much of today through scattered clouds, so I guess this monsoon thing is a bunch of hype. Good thing I packed the sunglasses, even if they’re currently covered with exploded DEET along with most of my books.

I’ve been up for 48 hours straight and I’m a little loopy, but no one seems to notice, so I guess that’s good.

I’m meeting Henry and Azra for supper at 8:30 (it’s seven thirty now); I’m not hungry, but I should eat before I crash out completely. But now I better go – the internet time here’s pretty expensive. Give Willow big kisses for me and think of me often; I’ll call on your birthday, but will probably be too busy between now and then for much contact.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:50 PM |

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