Monday, March 22, 2010


Often, when I'm teaching, I tend not to delve too deeply into the relative 'rights' and 'wrongs' of any particular culture. It's not really my place to express an opinion and I am at pains to avoid giving one. That doesn't necessarily mean that students don't express them. There isn't a lot you can really do if they blurt one out. They only thing you can really do is just 'move on quickly'. Whilst teaching in Korea, such cultural 'chat' was mostly limited to not liking Japan or, at times, not liking America. Nothing too tricky.

However, the Middle East is a different beast. I have Iranians, Sri Lankian's, Indians, Pakistani, Bangladeshi's, Nepalese, Filipino's and various other Arab nationalities in my midst. Not only that but you have the regional differences within those countries, much like we have in Scotland.

If anything 'sensitive' comes up, I just kind of smile and let it pass.

I did have an 'incident' today in class though. The class is small with only 3 people in it. The 3 are all Pakistani's. But even though they are all Pakistani's 2 of them have spent most of their life in Dubai. For some reason we got onto the subject of whether children tend to listen to their parents, particularly during their teenage years. 2 members of the class were adamant that they always did when they were growing up. One was less convinced. The 3 then started 'chatting' in Urdu about the relative merits of this. I don't think it was anything 'major' but certainly they were saying something about it. I did my best to move on and eventually we did. What I did get from it, was an admission from one of the students that he has a younger sister who is living in Balouchistan (Northern Pakistan) with the students' parents. Seemingly, his sister is has not been out the house in 6 months! The only time she is allowed out the house is in the company of her mother! Not only that, but if something 'happened' and the family honour was put in jeopardy, then and I quote "it costs 50 fils to buy a bullet". 50 fils is about 10 pence!

He was totally serious.

What can you really say to that?

Eh, 'each to their own' would be one thing to say.

I can't wait for tomorrows class - I wonder what we will talk about?!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Another 6 Nations comes and goes and for the 3rd straight year, there is another winner. Sadly for us Scots, it's not us. Happily for us Scots however, is that it's not England or indeed the Welsh. England is our traditional foe but the Welsh do get up my nose a bit. Whingers and one trick ponies. Controversial, yes, but there you go.

Anyway, France won the Grand Slam. Perhaps not a classic French team but certainly very solid and perhaps have the makings of a very decent squad for next years World Cup. The Irish were up for the Triple Crown against us. They were certainly favorites to beat us in their last game at Croke Park but we gave those boys a hell of a beating, eh, 23 points to 20. They all count and given that we were up for a wooden spoon, I'll take any win that comes our way.

Indeed, I think it would have been very harsh to have been bottom. I really don't think we played all that badly at all. In fact, I would say that we have played as well as we have in a number of years. With a bit more of a killer touch we might have easily won 3 games, perhaps even 4. We definitely lead in 5 going into the last 10 to 15 minutes but just couldn't quite get there. I wonder if we are in some ways 'scared' of winning. By that I mean, unsure how to play when in the lead with the last quarter to go. I guess that is a mental thing more than anything but if we do do that, then there are grounds for optimism. I am quite happy with the new strip as well. It still has a bit too much white around the sides for my liking but it's an improvement on that 'grey' thing.

It'll be interesting to see how we get on in the Autumn tests. Certainly, we don't need to be fearing anyone. A couple of wins would be good. Oh, and a couple of defeats for England and Wales, thank you very much.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


The joy of playing football may be over. I might though just be a temporary thing.

We were playing straight after work over in Sharjah. I started OK but as the game went on, I gradually got the feeling that I just couldn't be bothered with it all. I wasn't getting involved, my touch wasn't that great and it just all seemed to be passing me by. I was, in effect, bored. Perhaps it was the time of the day. In fact, that would make a bit of sense, having been at work for the preceding 9 hours, the last thing you really want to be doing is driving through the nonsense traffic to Sharjah and then to run about for an hour.

Not only that but there was a lot of niggly little fouls going on. This 'progressed' into 2 people eyeballing each other and a lot of 'chat' and frayed tempers. It was mostly in Hindi, but you don't need to be a cunning linguist to figure out that things were getting overheated.

In the end, we got beat. I played crap. I got bitten to bits by mosquitoes. Wonderful. Same time next week then.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Sometimes, I get surprised. Just little things surprise me. However, some things leave me feeling shocked and angry and things like that. I saw this and couldn't quite believe it. It was in the Telegraph (U.K), under the heading 'The Woman who wants to be the world's fattest':

"Miss Simpson, 42, from New Jersey, USA, already holds the Guinness World Record as the world's biggest mum. She was 520lbs when she had daughter Jacqueline, three, becoming the largest woman to give birth. Now she weighs a mega 600lbs, or 43 stone, and hopes to break the 1,000lbs or half a ton mark.
Miss Simpson, who wears XXXXXXXL dresses, eats whole cakes and bags of donuts and tries to move as little as possible.

"I'd love to be 1,000lb," she said.

"It might be hard though. Running after my daughter keeps my weight down."

She runs her own website where people pay to watch her eat, or see her wash her huge body.
The cash helps fund the family's $750 a week food shop, which Miss Simpson carries out in her mobility scooter.

She met her partner Philippe, 49, seven years ago on a dating site for plus-size people.
Philippe, who weighs just 150lbs, is a self-confessed fat admirer, who will only look at a woman if she weighs over 28 stone.

But Miss Simpson, who has an older son Devin, 14, from a previous relationship, insists she's healthy.

"My favourite food is sushi, but unlike others I can sit and eat 70 big pieces of sushi in one go," she said.

"I do love cakes and sweet things, doughnuts are my favourite."

 This might be hoax. It might be a lot of nonsense. I sincerely hope that it is.

If this is true, then I am repulsed by the sentiment of the woman. It is someone who wants to be half a ton in weight. That's the weight of a small car. She wants to be that weight. She doesn't want to run after around her kid because she might lose the weight. She would love to be that weight. Am I missing something here? Am I the only one who finds this more that strange? I'm sure I don't need to preach about health consequences or quality of life or even to jump on my thin bloke, kitchen sink morality to see that this is the most unpleasant thing I've heard in a long, long time. Is this what people think is 'cool' these days? Is this acceptable? Is this what evolution has brought us to? Is this what society as a whole has made 'fine'. She would not survive in the 'wild'. We are not meant to be that big. End of story. If that is her selfish attitude, then I'll be selfish back and say the sooner she has a heart attack and passes away, the better. Harsh. Definitely.

Apologist's defend that one please.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Apparently, there is enough blood in someone's decapitated head to keep it alive for 20 seconds.

Yes, I know.

And don't ask how I know or how the person who told me knows. Some things need not be discussed and finding that kind of information out comes over that category.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Sometimes, just sometimes, in a moment of not really doing much or even in a time of deep daydreaming a thought comes to you. Often, you have no real idea where it comes from or even why it would necessarily pop in there. It's alarming when it does because it's 'source' is a complete unknown. Or to coin that evil neo-con warmonger Rumsfeld, it's an 'unknown unknown'. Never a truer word spoken. Honest.

There was this one thought that came that was shocking and highly unexpected. I didn't know how to react to it as it is something that could never be 'found out'; proved or disproved. That thought was related to the moment of death. Not exacting the most charming or enjoyable of subjects and one which I am hoping beyond hope that I can avoid. The thought was this: if someone was decapitated a la by the gulloteen, for example, would the person being decapitated 'see' that his or her head had been removed from their body. Yes, I know. Gruesome and I'm not impressed by it. I'm not mental!

But the point remains; could the person know? Have an awareness that it has happened. For a split second perhaps. Indeed, could the person indicate that they could see it? Of course, I do not wish it to be proven one way or the other. Ever. As I mentioned, it's an unknown unknown much like finding out 'what it's all about'.

The reason I bring this up is because I'm currently reading the Idiot by Dostoyevsky. To my utter amazement, the 'hero' essentially asks that exact question when he is at lunch with the 3 daughters and wife of the General. He has never met them before yet goes on to talk about a public execution. I was surprised by this because it was such an obscure 'thought' in the first place yet here it is in one of the classic novels of the 19th century. He didn't really have an answer to it and thank goodness for that.

I'm hoping to occupy my time now so that I won't be idle and if I'm not idle I can't daydream and if I can't daydream then I can't have seemingly random thoughts come to me. And that would be best. I think.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Today was football day. Inter-departmental football that is. Our Department are a merry bunch of aging players. Some have no real football background at all and we essentially just play for fun. We certainly have no real ambitions to win the whole competition; hell, to win a game would be a great achievement. The past 2 competitions weren't great. I think we've had a win and a draw in 6 games. Omens weren't good.But, we practice twice a week and we enjoy it.

It was an early start. Up and out the house by 7am in order to get to the football club for registration at 7.30am. Not the best time to be playing football. We had new strips as well. All white. Actually, it was the Liverpool away strip. Not too bad. It could have been worse.

Game 1 ended 0-0. We had our chances and in fairness we should have won it. I had a shot on goal which the goalkeeper pushed away for a corner. There were other chances but none went in. In fact, that was a relatively good start.

Game 2 was a defeat. I think it was 3-0. It was a strange game. Their 'captain' was somewhat vocal, shall we say. He was tackled, went down like a lead balloon then shouted that 'you could have broken my leg!' I think not you big girl's blouse. He got up and tried to start a pushing match with the guy who tackled him - a 5 foot 7 girl's blouse against a 6 foot 4 defender. He had balls, I'll give him that. All mouth though. Later in the game he scored a tap in. In response to scoring he tensed up as if to show all his muscles and yelled 'yeeeeeeeeeah'. What an ass. Would have loved to given him a hard but fair tackled.

Game 3 was another game that we really should have won. It ended 1-1. We were OK. Not great at going forward but solid enough in defence. I scored our goal. I went through on goal, one on one with the goalkeeper - who was Scottish! - he came out but before he got to me I slid the ball past him into the net. 1-0! They went and scored with about a minute to go. Disappointing.

Game 4 was going to be interesting. We needed to win but sadly we didn't. I think it was more to do with tiredness actually. It was an open game but we lost it 2-0. One of our guys got taken out and had to get subbed. No real clearcut chances for us and there was no real complaint's about the score.

Overall, 2 draws wasn't too bad. Could and should have been a win at least. Writing this later in the day, I'm hurting!

Next time...

Thursday, March 04, 2010


That was a good start. 1-0 to Scotland over a decent Czech team. Even though it was 'only' a friendly, a win is a win and given that we have posted only 3 wins in the last 16 games and indeed not won a friendly in Glasgow 14 years, it will certainly do.

Craig Levin's first game in charge was always going to be interesting and promised to be more about containment and being hard to beat. He lived up to that, yet, that was the foundation of the teams of the last few years and was in many respects stripped away by the last manager. I'd rather be hard to be beat than consistently getting stuffed.

It also marked a return of those who had decided not to work with the last manager. If they can do a job and enhance the team, then I don't necessarily see any difficulties with that. We are a small nation with a small pool of players to choose from. We need the best players playing and not sitting at home watching on the TV. Ultimately, we want to qualify for a major tournament.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


It shouldn't rain here. Certainly not in March. It's the desert for goodness sake. It's 'meant' to ran for about 5 days a year in December or January. And that's it.

But no.

Saturday night saw heavy rain and big, big thunderstorms literally right overhead. It rained solidly for about an hour and a half. Long enough for a giant lake to form at the bottom of the road. Thankfully, I wasn't out and about. Seemingly the rain caused severe traffic jams and indeed a number of major roads that go from Dubai to Sharjah (the next Emirate over) were flooded and therefore impassable.

That wasn't the end of it though.

I walked into work on Tuesday and was in the office a bit earlier that usual. About 5 minutes after arriving, the heavens opened. It wasn't just a bit of a downpour. It was pelting it down and continued for around 5 hours. Without stopping! The guys in the office love it because they never really see rain. I am not a big fan of it. Given that Scotland has 200 days of rain a year, I could quite happily live without seeing anymore. They are like 'It's brilliant' blah blah. No it's not.

The reason it's not brilliant is because Dubai isn't set up sufficiently for rain. And neither is Sharjah. The rain on Saturday was only a 'practice' for the real thing. Lakes formed, cars got stuck, roads were impassable, drains burst, 'soil' washed away, roads closed. It was horrible. When the rain did finally stop, the sun came back out to play. I had no particular issues getting back home at all but I did notice that the roads were significantly quieter than normal. Perhaps everyone had gone home early!

I wonder if I can insert some photos?!

Yes he can!