Friday, October 9, 2009

Famous Deaf Man

A shop in one of the malls here. One of my little sisters name is Nona, so I had to take a photo.

One morning on our walk the moon was still up.

Can you see the difference? Look at the gutter.

Here is the new carport. At the end of the street is a chicken farm. Notice the drive way.

School students on my right. Tall fellow on my left then beside him the Famous Deaf Sportsman, Hamad. He was here to have his photo taken for another newspaper article. All are other students.

9 September 2009
I learnt some things this week I thought I would share. I learnt it is nice to wear slightly damp underwear. If you have never tried it, I suggest when it gets over 40ยบ try it. It is really pleasant.

We pay to have our Sunday and work shirts washed and pressed down the road at the little laundry. When Matthew went in last week and asked how much – the man said 10 - 5. It seemed he had no comprehension of 10+5 = 15. The math would be 15dhs ÷ 5 shirts = 3dhs or $1 each.

Oh, another funny toilet story. The upstairs toilet wouldn’t flush, The flush button wouldn’t work. So, eventually the plumber arrived. Now you have to understand they do things differently here. Instead of pulling the $15 part out and replacing it they spent 3hrs trying to repair it then finally one fellow went to the truck and bought up a tiny piece replaced the other and finished. Done.

On one of my morning walks I came across 4 goats and 1 sheep in a pen. Very sad to see as they lay just on dirt. No grass, and I don’t remember seeing a water container but instead the water was pouring out of a hose onto the dirt. I had to remind myself, a few years ago the Bedouins may not have even had water to share with the animals. There is a meat Eid soon so many people are now buying the young animals for their feast. I want to find out more about this Eid.

I also learnt a saying this week that goes like this, “Keep the promise”. I loved it, and another one I am fond of is, “very much”. Eg. ‘very much happy’, or ‘ very much thankful.’

Here is really isn’t what you know at all but WHO you know. It is called wasta. Of course the more important the person you know the greater your wasta. To have good wasta means you never have to pay speeding fines etc.

I have put up photos before of soccer fields I have seen that are just bare dirt with a goal post or something at the end. So on my evening walk I came across a soccer field I had never seen before, either in Doha or here. This field has flood lighting, lush green grass watered by big sprinklers and a high fence. So there in is the difference. If you are Emirati or from somewhere else.

Oh, I have to ask – Is there anything better than eating dates?? Yes, drinking them… I found a date syrup. Oh brother, it is delicious. Very sweet though almost like treacle. I poured it on top of a cake for dessert with a side of ice cream. Wicked actually, but oh so yummy.

Now to the most wonderful experience of the week. On the Wednesday Matthew had a meeting with a most dynamic lady here working in the special needs program of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. She was driving to the Special Needs School that afternoon and offered to take me to meet people. I had an opportunity to visit the Deaf school here. I met the Head of the whole school and then the head of the Deaf (unit). There are 28 students in the Deaf unit and a total of about 200 students in the whole school. The Head of the Deaf unit presented me with the latest edition of the Arabic sign language dictionary with CDRom, and I was granted permission to return tomorrow (Thursday).
I arrived at 8am. It is on the same school campus with all students with other disabilities as well. When I walked to the Deaf wing the first thing that was almost overpowering was the smell of Detol disinfectant. In the school there are children with Down’s Syndrome, children in wheelchairs, blind children with children with intellectual impairment, and ASD. The classes for deaf children go from grade 2 to grade 9. The grade 2 & 4 classes are the only ones in grades the other classrooms are subject classrooms. The subjects are, English, Islamic studies, Arabic, Science, Math, and Geography. In the yr 7 class some young men are growing beards. I thought to myself, ‘It is not up to me to criticize because when you know better, you do better.’ Up until recently these young people were kept out of sight even in the home, and certainly out of the view of society. I had a lovely exchange in one classroom with some students. I spoke to them in Auslan using some gestures and some mime. The teacher that was there with them told me later the students had understood me.

To top it off at the end of the day – class finished at 11am only started at 8am, The young men - some who seemed easily 17-19yrs, were gathered around 2 Male visitors. I learnt that one fellow was indeed a famous Deaf man. He had gone to America and was educated there. I racked my brain to remember some American Sign Language (finger spelling). I had never learned it, I have only seen a sheet of paper with the alphabet on it. Laurence at work has used it on a couple of occasions. I was so slow but he was very patient as we communicated. He was there to have his photo taken for the latest newspaper article on the Deaf Sports groups he has been responsible for organizing.
I had planned to stand out on the footpath to hail a taxi to get home. But one of the teachers organized for one of the Indian worker fellows to stand in the sun and had the taxi driver, drive in the grounds for me. I gave the Indian worker the directions to my place as best I could and he interpreted. This taxi was a white and gold. They are a little cheaper than the silver taxi. But I had been told and it turned out to be correct, there is no seat belt in the back and it smells of labourers.

I didn’t have him drive me right home but to the shops at the corner. I needed to do a little bit of walking anyway. The fare meter showed 2.50 dhs when I got in the taxi and 7.50 at the shops. I gave him 10dhs and let him keep the change. So 10dhs only equals about $3. I am returning on Mon, Tues, and Wed this week. It may lead to paid work if not I still have the opportunity to learn Arabic and Arabic Sign Language. I am thrilled for this opportunity and thankful to my wonderful Arabic teacher back home who tried so hard to help me learn and remember. But, as I hear words now, they are familiar.

I now have my passport back and am classed here as a resident. So I am planning to visit my dear friend in Qatar about the end of November. Until next time, God be with you ‘till we meet again.
Love RhondaG

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