Thursday, September 18, 2003


Elwood here.

Helen still hasn't been able to post (we understand that she's very busy getting settled in). To help keep all updated, I'm posting a copy of the article she's submitted for the Village 900 magazine, The Villager. Here it is unedited...

Listening on the other side of the Globe
-Helen Pearce

Until quite recently I thought this September I would be doing what I’ve done each fall for the past ten years --- teaching radio to students in the Applied Communication Program at Camosun College and listening to their work on Village 900. Instead, I’m on the opposite side of the globe taking up a new position as Supervisor of Communication Technology at the Women’s College in Abu Dhabi. I still often listen to Village 900 in my office but being 11 hours ahead makes for a bit of a time warp. Right now (5:15p.m.) I’m getting ready to head home and I’m hearing Johanna saying it’s 6:14 and still kind of dark out and the kind of morning she’d like to stay tucked into bed. You see Johanna, didn’t I tell you in radio you never know who’s listening when you turn on your mic? Kevin is safe though, for now - I haven’t been able to hear his afternoon show yet as it starts at 3 a.m. the next day.

The time difference isn’t the only thing we’ve had to get used to. The weekends here are really throwing me off. The workweek starts on Saturday, and the ‘weekend’ is Thursday and Friday. I’m automatically translating “Thursday” as “Saturday”. We bought a new desk and were told it would be delivered Thursday. I later told my husband Bob that the desk would be arriving Saturday morning. Sure enough he stayed home Saturday waiting for the desk that didn’t arrive until Thursday.
I’m also having trouble getting used to the appliances in our kitchen. The combo washer/dryer is an intriguing contraption. It looks like a normal, small, front-loading washing machine, however when it finishes washing your clothes it turns into a dryer and starts drying them! Great concept but we’ve discovered why the locals refer to this appliance as a washer/fryer. The trick is to rescue your clothes at just the right moment before the washer turns into the ‘fryer’. An added complication is that the appliances are connected to power switches on the wall. We turn on the ‘dishwasher’ to wash our clothes, and we turn on the ‘washer’ to start up the dishwasher.

We’re still trying to figure out the proper use of the hot water switches for the bathrooms and the kitchen. We turned them on when we moved in because we wanted hot water. Logical? We thought so. After getting scalded half a dozen times we made some inquiries. We were told we shouldn’t need to turn on the hot water switches until the winter because the water tank on the roof of the building is heated by the sun therefore if we want hot water we should simply turn on the cold water tap. Imagine then how silly I feel when I turn on the cold water tap hoping for hot water, and instead get lukewarm water. It begs the question “Is this their definition of hot water, or am I just doing it wrong?” I’m still highly suspicious of this whole hot/cold water thing, and still getting scalded.

We’re fortunate that the people here are extremely helpful and patient with our dilemmas. They sometimes look quizzical but always sincerely try to figure out what our problem is and how to solve it. Ironically though, these gentle, polite, people seem to become demons behind the wheel! The only sense of danger I’ve felt here in Abu Dhabi has been when crossing the road or riding in a taxi. The advantage though of taking a taxi in to work is that the adrenalin rush from 8 minutes of reckless speeding and sudden breaking is equivalent to chugging at least four espressos.

Ending on a positive note, I have survived another challenging but rewarding week and I’m heading home now for the weekend. Thank goodness it’s Wednesday! Hmmm doesn’t have quite the same ring to it…

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