17 June 2009

Miscellany and Musings

Taking a break from syllabus creation and flush with cash from a Kuwaiti Dinar salary advance, I am back at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf enjoying an hour long Internet session whilst sipping on a cappuccino. Much has happened since my peanut butter update, as a result this post shall include brief commentary on a variety of topics.

First and foremost, I have been reporting to work for the past few days (partially to receive the salary advance, mostly to prepare for the summer session). Classes begin on Sunday (with the Islamic holy day falling on Friday, the official Kuwaiti work week lasts from Sunday through Thursday) and run for eight weeks until 13 August. Although my syllabus is still under construction (new book, new assignments, new course theme, etc.), I feel relatively prepared for the initial day of teaching. I am teaching a total of two sections (1 male, 1 female) of English 101: Critical Reading and Writing. Thankfully, both sections will require me to be indoors during the high temperatures of the afternoon.Interestingly, the most entertaining work requirement has very little to do with critical reading and writing skills. Before landing at KWI, each Kuwaiti bound traveler was issued an H1N1 (aka swine flu) medical assessment card. Dutifully completing and submitting the form before leaving the airport, I assumed that my commitment to assuring the public health was fulfilled. Despite the fact that the man wearing a long white lab coat accepted and returned my card after removing two of the triplicate forms, there was still more left for me to do.

Apparently the forms requires a post-entry 72 hour follow-up medical assessment. Failing to understand the need for a follow-up, I was somewhat surprized when the Humanities Division Senior Support Staffperson asked me about my H1N1 card (and then used her scarf to cover her mouth while taking a big step back from me when I told her I had not been rechecked). Long story short...I had to go to a medical checkpoint (all of the locations are listed on the back of the card, but in Arabic) to get re-screened for H1N1. Failure to comply carries a KD50 fine and 1 month imprisonment. So, you'll believe me when I say I was decidedly nervous when stepping into the hospital 5 days after arriving in Kuwait.

Good news...I don't have H1N1.

Funny story though, I went to the hospital (next to the infamous Sultan Center), reception waved me to the back. After wandering through the hospital corridors for a bit (navigation via signs in Arabic is surprisingly more difficult than expected), I located the H1N1 checkpoint and handed my card to a man wearing a baseball cap (LA Dodgers if I my mind's eye is accurate), shorts, and t shirt (very nondescript and nonmedical looking).

He asked, "Have you been feeling anything? High fever?" To which I replied, "no sir, nothing, no." after this quick exchange of info, he excused me with a simple, "OK, that is all. bye." With a simple "thank you," my H1N1 assessment was complete. To be fair though, apparently I was unknowingly checked by a heat camera in the airport (that was the guy wearing the lab coat).