Thursday, January 6, 2011

Flooded Street

Today it was pouring, but this time I could definitely tell the potential that monsoon season has. For starters, this morning on the way to work many of the gutters had water up to the top or were even overflowing. Even the gutter outside of the place I live the water was up to the top. There were fields that were completely under water. There were parking lots completely under water. There was one street that they have been working on for some time now. It was scary to drive over it. It looks like they are working on putting in gutters. They also have these cement cubes that usually go at the corners of streets instead of having the gutter come to a point and go down the next side of the street. Anyway this one has sunk down into the ground where the ground around it has washed away. They have put new asphalt down on the street where they were doing work under the street, but it doesn't look very stable either. I am expecting that this street is going to get much worse and they are going to have to do many repairs to the work that was left half done. Many streets don't have gutters on them so the water just collects on the road and floods it. One would think after years and years of monsoons that they would figure out a way to improve the gutter systems on the roofs of houses and for streets. The road in front of the school were I teach was flooded. Across the road is a car place and next to that is the MPK stalls where we get our lunch. The entire parking lot was flooded. I watched a couple of ladies holding umbrellas in one hand and their food in the other cross backing over to the side of the street my school is on with their pant legs rolled up and the water up to mid calf. Cars that drove down the street sprayed water really high in the air.

There were only two cars in the parking lot in front of the food stalls. The one vehicle the wheels were almost completely covered with water. I asked our Director of Studies, how do we get food with the road like this? He replied that one person (one of the people on duty) gets all the food orders and goes across to get all the food. That person will get wet. I thought to myself that I am not looking forward to the day when it is my turn to wade across the street to get the food. Sure, I will roll up my pant legs and wear flip flops that I bought to wear on days like this when I am outside so as not to ruin my shoes, but I am sure that the water is not clean. I will probably buy a cheap towel to keep at school to wipe my legs with when I return. My Mom also left me some body cleansing sheets that I can probably use to sort of wash my legs. I would think that this street has probably flooded before and if it has done it for several years that they would decide to add a gutter and drain, so that water doesn't continue to build up. The parking lot in front of the stalls is mostly gravel. It was paved at one point but there are huge pot holes and very little concrete left. I don't know much about how street works get decided on or how they handle the money for doing repairs, new streets, etc. So maybe they are limited on improving the roads or maybe they are just so used to it that they don't really think about it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Urge to Learn Malay

Tonight when I was down eating dinner the one servant called me into the grandma's room. They showed me a phone number and to call the number. I was hesitant to call because I didn't know who I was calling, and they could not get across to me who it was. I picked up her cordless phone but she shook her head. The servant showed me the non cordless phone also on the table and picked it up showing me there was no dial tone. I pointed to upstairs and asked if the one male housemate that was home spoke English, but they didn't know what I was asking. I finally ran upstairs and got my cell phone and my new English/Malay, Malay/English dictionary. I tried to give it to them, but I don't know if the servant can read. I showed them my cell phone and they handed me this envelope that had a number written on it. I called the number but there was no answer. Then the servant went back into the grandma's room to get the other slip with a cell phone number on it, but she couldn't find it. The grandma and I headed back to her room. I dialed the cell phone number and it rang and rang. The one servant heard the other servant outside the front gate. She did not have any keys. The servant with the grandma and I ran to let her in, and I got the impression from the grandma I didn't need to call anymore, so I hung up. The grandma thanked me, and I said your welcome. Something must have happened to the servant that they were worried about her. She was talking animatedly, so something must have happened. Obviously if the grandma was sick that would have been easy to figure out that I needed to call whatever the equivalent of 911 is (which I should find that out). I kind of wonder why they didn't have the male housemate that has lived here the longest make the call. They can communicate with him in Chinese, I think, or maybe Malay.  He left probably about 10 minutes before I called but maybe the grandma was sleeping or didn't know the time. Guess I will never know. This has made me want to try harder to learn Malay though. I did pick up a phrase book over my holiday break that I was practicing pronouncing and memorizing phrases, but when I returned to school it is easy to just stick to English.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

American Holidays

So, I know I am not in America and I wasn't sure exactly what holidays they had here, so I wasn't sure how the holidays I am familiar with would be. For Halloween it was just another day that I worked. No people dressed up or trick or treat. Thanksgiving was also not celebrated. We had part of the previous week off for Hari Raya Haji.  I did have a friend offer to make chicken and other side dishes if I wanted, but I told her that was ok. For Christmas my Mom was here, so I thought it might feel more like Christmas. I did not have any Christmas decorations in my room I am renting. There was not enough space and I didn't really want to buy things, because what would I do with them when I leave. Some stores did have Christmas decorations that they were selling. A couple places played Christmas music, but "dashing through the snow" and "sitting in front of an open fire" just doesn't really fit with hot  and humid weather and green plants and flowers everywhere. The place my Mom stayed most of the time did have a little fake Christmas tree that was decorated nicely. We also stayed at a hotel for a few days that had some Christmas decorations. It still didn't really feel like Christmas though. There were lots of traditions that were missing. Of course, no snow. No Christmas Bazaar where I run into people I haven't seen in ages and spend the time catching up on what the year has brought. No Festival of Trees, going to look at the Christmas trees, mini Christmas trees, and Wreaths. No listening to the awesome Chamber Singers and Symphony do their Christmas concerts. I didn't get to decorate any trees. I didn't have a nativity scene to set up and spend time getting it just like I wanted. I didn't have Christmas music here that I listened to and sang to while decorating the house. No Christmas cookies or favorite appetizers. No presents exchanged or gifts from "Santa". No Christmas Eve church service with my favorite part where the end is done only lit by candles singing "Silent Night". No driving around the neighborhoods looking at all the Christmas lights. We did have a Christmas Day church service and a Christmas Day dinner. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. As much as I missed these things I know it is not the end of the world. I am living in a foreign country where things are different. Someday I will return home and be able to return to my traditions in some form and will probably add new ones. Missing all these things will make me appreciate them more some day. It will be interesting to see what other holidays I cherish turn out like while I am here.

Snow and Cold Weather

Well, today is January 2, 2011. My Mom has been visiting for my holiday break and left this evening. She is going back to the land of snow and cold. I was thinking today that I can't really remember what cold is like. It is hot and humid here all the time and on top of that I feel like I am burning up all the time. My body is constantly radiating heat like a heater. After my Mom had been here for several days we could see that the pores on her arms had opened up and were very large. Mine have never done that. They are as small and closed as they were back home in the cold and dry climate. I am just learning better most days to tolerate feeling like I have a fever 24/7. Even when it is "cold and rainy" here I still feel hot, hot, hot. Even over this holiday break when I saw local people in jackets, long sleeve shirts and pants, I was still running around in shorts and short sleeve shirts.  My Mom was saying how she would rather have cold over hot because it is easier to add layers and heat up and one can only strip so far. I agree with her. I have always liked cold weather better. I like to curl up under fuzzy, soft blankets. I also like to bundle up in warm sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, and jackets. I miss those things. Mom said that when she got back home that she would probably be wishing she was back in the hot weather. It seems like many people always want to be on the other side where they think the grass is greener. I don't necessarily wish to be back home because I am enjoying my time here, but I know when I return to the US someday I will be so glad for cold, dry weather. I will think fondly of my time here, but even when it is minus I won't be wishing for hot and humid weather.