A Christmas wedding in Oz

Tuesday 9th January 2007

Hey everyone,

Just for those of you that didn’t know, I’ve just had a fabulous 2 weeks off work, and flew to Australia to visit my family and to be there for my brother’s wedding.

The wedding was gorgeous – it was all lovely and happy and sweet and they are like the most beautiful couple ever – they actually look like the couple you get in your picture frame when you buy it!

Continue reading

Technophobia and the art of computer maintenance

Sunday 12th November 2006

Ok, I realise I just wrote less than a week ago, but you literally will not BELIEVE what happened to me!

Most of you already know about my complete inability to use any kind of technology without having a total meltdown, and my track record currently includes single-handedly (but accicentally) crashing an entire room full of computers not just once, but twice so

However, after my poor laptop, Bob, bit the dust over the summer, I decided to try out one of these new-fangled applemacs that people keep telling me about. Everyone says they are a million times better than pc’s, and so I got one in August, to replace poor Bob (RIP).

I must admit I’ve been loving my new shiny white mac laptop, and it’s been fine until last week when it suddenly refused to turn on. Continue reading

My Buddy Holly moment…

Wednesday 8th November 2006

Hey guys,
Have been mega busy as usual, so I don’t know which of the many amusing anecdotes I shall regale you with today!

As far as school goes, it’s getting pretty ugly, long story, things are falling apart quite badly at the seams, aside from the teachers leaving, a number of people have been getting screwed out of money by the school and it’s all very worrying. I’m not quite ready to start looking for a new job, but it may come to that yet. Madame finally appeared after almost 8 weeks absence, but it still feels like too little too late in terms of management organisation.

Anyhoo, I don’t really feel like getting into all that just now, so instead I’ll tell you all about my Buddy Holly moment. I always felt that I had somehow missed out on the intense zeitgeisty-type moments that members of older generations had – the death of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, JFK, and, of course, The Day The Music Died.

However, I recently had just such a moment!
I was in the bookshop, looking for some resource books for my clasroom when I found this lovely Winnie the Pooh science book on nature. I was flicking through it trying to decide if it was too hard for my kids or not, when I saw this massive black mark across the
front of the title page. It was a brand new book, and I realised it was the same black pen/paint they use for censorship here. Now usually they censor things that have references to Israel, or Jews etc, but what on earth could be offensive in a children’s book?
I looked more closely at the picture, which had Winnie the Pooh and a giant black smudge on his back and then it hit me.

They had censored Piglet.

I literally couldn’t believe it.

I mean, I get that Muslim countries take not eating pork seriously, but I mean, it’s a fictional cartoon of a stuffed teddy baby piglet!!

(I had previously discovered when doing farmyard animals in class that the noises are: “duck?”
“quack quack”
“baa baa”
“…. huh? …..”
“What’s that miss?”)

So there you are; for some people, Buddy Holly’s death really was The Day The Music Died, but I think I may have been the first person to truly recognise the significance of The Day They Censored Piglet.

Sad but true.

I guess I should leave off there, as there is so much more I could say, and only so much of your attention span left!

hope this finds everyone well and happy and healthy etc
tons of love and hugs and happy vibes

p.s. – I’m in an uber-good mood at the moment due to the weather. The weather here has been hot and oppressive for so long that I just stopped noticing it completely and forgot
about other kinds of weather altogether. Day after day after day of the same hot blinding heat.
Then on Tuesday morning, I stepped outside to walk to work and it was cool!! Not just cool, but there was a refreshing breeze too!! I’m told the temperature has dropped to 28/29, which I know sounds hot, but it really is surprisingly lush after 40-something!!
It was completely sudden and was the same today too – I’ve been in a stupidly good mood ever since! I never knew it was getting to me so much until it changed!
The kids also started coming to school in jumpers, and the caretaker had a woolly hat on today – it made me laugh sooooo much – 29 degrees is apparently woolly
hat weather here!


Time for another…

Wednesday 25th October 2006

Hello everyone,

It’s been an incredibly busy and hectic term, so I apologise for the lack of communication, although most of you never write to me anyway, so fair’s fair.

My classroom all decorated for Eid

Since the riot in Hawally it’s been a fairly restrained Ramadan, and apart from a huge fight at our school Gurgian night, it’s been quiet but busy. The fight incidentally involved some of the secondary boys, and when the police were called, one of the boys started yelling at one of the cops, who promply bashed him in the chest (yes, that’s right, the policeman knocked around a mouthy teenager, in the school!!).
One of the Arabic staff standing next to me was kind enough to translate the following dialogue, which went:
(teenager): “You can’t touch me you f***ing pigs! My dad’s a general in the army and if you dare f***ing touch me he’ll f***ing have you!!! f***ing pigs!!”

to which the cop replied

“Yeah?? Well MY dad’s the minister of defence and can fire your dad in minutes you snot-nosed little piece of s**t”

At this point it deteriorated into a mud-slinging match basically involving who’s dad was better/more important, and you can pretty much insert your own expletives there!!
In the end they arrested the kid and his mate, and (I’m reliably informed) took him down the station for a beating.

So that was fun.

Soooo looking forward to our next school event! At least we all learned a valuable lesson about coming down to a teenager’s maturity level.

Some of the boys dressed up for the Gurgian festival at school

Awesomely high level of Health and Safety at school…

In other news, term has finished for this week, as it’s Eid (or the end of Ramadan) so Betty, Bryn and I went off to Dubai for three days of highly intensive drinking!!
We succeeded in getting drunk four times in two days, and then spent the third day feeling soooo hungover it was hard to move.

Outside the Irish Village for a slap-up hangover breakfast

Dubai is an amazing city – so unlike Kuwait it was unbelievable! Dubai is modern and new and innovative and flashy and clean and tourist-friendly – pretty much everything that Kuwait isn’t.

So it was incredibly nice and relaxing and we drank real proper wine too!!
Anyhow, now I’m back in Kuwait and term starts again on Saturday, so  it’ll all be fun and games (at least three more members of staff have done runners this week, and the school is pretty much falling apart at the seams with a complete lack of proper management, so wish me luck!!).

That’s it from me, hope you’re all well and good and happy etc.

loads of love
Dubai-lovin’ Maya

Indoor ski slope inside a shopping mall in Dubai

Where do all the pitchforks come from?

Sunday 1st October 2006

Well, last Thursday night there was a full scale mob/riot outside our building that was INSANE!!!

Betty and Bryn came over to watch The West Wing at my house, and I had corralled Bryn into helping me carry a couple of boxes of water from the Co-op on the corner back to my flat, so off we went to the shops.
As we came back, we saw a large group of people yelling and milling around in the alley across the street. So we walked up the steps of my building and stopped to watch. We quickly realized there was a fight going on, and suddenly there were TONS of people running towards the alley with massive big old sticks!! People started piling out of the buildings around us carrying heavy planks of wood and bits of iron scaffolding, and then all hell broke loose as the men started smashing their planks against cars and each other. We retreated inside the building to watch through the window as the fight moved out of the alley and into the street directly in front of us. We watched one guy with a 10-foot metal girder type thing start beating a guy round the head and then the guy just went down like a sack of potatoes SMACK in the middle the road unconscious.
The sound of his head smacking the ground was horrible – somehow you could hear it above all the shouting and yelling, and then it suddenly went very quiet.
He lay there for a good minute and a half while everyone stood around wondering if he was dead or unconscious, and there was a sudden lack of big sticks, as if everyone was like “stick? What stick? I didn’t see anything.”
Then he got up and they helped him to the bakery to wash the blood off and the sticks came back out and the riot continued and moved back down the alley again.
We saw another guy come limping out of the alley propped up on two guys, and then collapse on the pavement, and then his mates managed to shove him into a car to get to hospital. Eventually the ambulances started arriving, although where the hell the police were is anybody’s guess!!
There were probably about 150 men out on the street with sticks, and who knows how many were further down the alley that we couldn’t see. At least three ambulances had arrived before the first cop showed up by himself, had a look around and got back in his car to wait. After AGES two more cars came, and about three more ambulances, and the cops, all five of them, just sort of wandered through the massive crowd, not really doing much. Then they just started yelling at everyone to go home, and they did!!  People just started to disperse, although it took a while and there must have been a lot of injured people down the alley out of our line of sight.
It was all very dramatic and exciting, and we then found out that there had been another riot in the same street a couple of nights ago, but it had happened at 4am, so we didn’t know about it, although we heard a rumour someone had died at the first fight, which may be what sparked off this one. Apparently it’s all about the Egyptian and/or Syrian tribal groups having some sort of a turf war.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to find out any more about it was all about, but I don’t know whether it is likely to die down or escalate at this point.
As riots go it was fairly minor, certainly not as big as Cronulla or the Paris riots, but nevertheless, very bizarre that it happened LITERALLY on my doorstep!!
You needn’t worry though, I’m perfectly safe here, and I shan’t be going anywhere alone for a while, so fear not!!
The funny thing is, aside from seeing a guy literally get beaten unconscious in front of me, and the puddle of blood in the road he left behind, the thing that kept running through my head is “Where did all the sticks come from?”
I mean, seriously, there was a fight, then a mob, and in about 4 seconds, everyone was holding a plank of wood!!
It must have been the same in the old days of angry mobs and pitchforks, I mean, if you saw a mob, did you have to run home and get your pitchfork, or did people leave them out by the road for just such an occasion?
Anyhoo, as I say, it was all very exciting and dramatic and I couldn’t resist writing it all own just for you. I had heard last week that fighting always escalates during Ramadan, generally at about 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening. It’s ironic, considering that Ramadan is pretty much the holiest Muslim holiday, and is all about peace and love and harmony etc, but then again, you’re talking about an entire city of testosterone-filled men who have incredibly low blood sugar after fasting all day (which we all know makes you frankly, a bit tetchy!!), plus they’re all chain-smokers who aren’t allowed to smoke all day, and I’m guessing the enforced nicotine ban doesn’t help their mood much either. So it’s not really that much of a surprise that a riot escalated when you think about it.
As you’ve probably guessed, Ramadan has begun and it’s all a bit crazy. We can’t eat, drink or smoke in public from ‘official’ dawn to ‘official’ sunset (Iftar), which today was at 5.32pm. (the riot happened at about 6pm , so chances are the men who were rioting hadn’t eaten yet).
Anyway, hope you’re all well and keeping your pitchforks handy, cos you never know when an angry mob’s gonna come down your street!!
Loadsa love

A bizarre coincidence…

Friday 29th September 2006
Hi everyone,
I’m so, soooo sorry I haven’t written for ages, I have been so unbelievably busy since getting back to Kuwait that I have barely had time to even read my emails, let alone write any!
As usual the school is a complete mess, we’re four weeks into term and still haven’t got a proper timetable for classes, a number of staff either didn’t show up or came back, collected their summer pay and then disappeared, so we’ve been very short staffed as well.
I’ve discovered that teaching Year 2 is very different to Year 3, as I taught Year 3 at the end of the year, when most of them were 8, whereas at the start of Year 2 they are mostly 6, which is way harder!! Six-year olds need to have EVERY minute of the day planned and busy, or else total mayhem breaks out!
So most of my free lessons, break times and evenings are spent planning and preparing for the weeks’ activities, and attempting to anticipate problems (I had a full lesson planned and prepared, got all the kids colouring and cutting out worksheets to glue into their books after a detailed explanation of scissor safety, and suddenly found myself with two children who had no idea how to use scissors. One boy was trying to hold the paper still in his teeth while using both hands to hold the scissors!)
So, even after my careful preparation, things still inevitably seem to go wrong and leave me unsure of what to do next!
Being back at school is much like fresher’s week at uni, in that everyone gets every bug the children bring back from their holidays, and they spread like wildfire. Most of the staff (including myself) have already had a stomach bug not dissimilar to amoebic dysentery, followed immediately by a cold (I’m convinced I caught mine off a student who insists on coughing directly into my face at least once a day before I have a chance to tell him to cover his mouth!!).
Illness aside, tensions at school are mounting, as Madame (our school director) decided to have an enormous rant at the Primary department during our Saturday staff meeting, telling us all that we’re not doing our jobs, and are too lazy etc. She then decided we needed to have staff meetings every afternoon on top of our morning meetings three times a week, we are to do compulsory tutoring three times a week after school as well as our usual after-school club, and took away two of our free periods as well. So, now there’s even less time for planning and marking etc, which is why I’ve taken so long to write I’m afraid!
One little boy in my class gave me quite a scare the other day too. His name is Mohammed (I have 4 Mohammed’s in my class this year!), and he’s quite a boisterous little cheeky chap, although he’s physically very small. He was hit by a car earlier in the week, thankfully not badly injured, although he’s so small and the cars here are so enormous that he would only come up to the wheel rim on most of them. He only cut his hand and had some scrapes, and I can totally picture him running into the road to get his ball without looking.
Anyway, he came back to school, and had gone to the bathroom. He was gone for ages, but then we were in the middle of a times tables test, so I wasn’t surprised he was trying to avoid it. As he was coming back from the loo, the fire alarm went off, so he hurried back and we all trooped outside. In the car park, he was showing off something to the other boys, and when I asked to see it he hid it from me. So I reached into his pocket and guess what I found? A cigarette lighter.
So then I’m thinking hang on, he was in the bathroom for ages, he had a lighter, he’s six, the school uses lots of paper towels in the bathroom, then the fire alarm went off….OH MY GOD HE’S SET THE SCHOOL ON FIRE!!!!!
I freaked out completely, and rushed off to find Debbie (our head of Primary) to tell her. Debbie was very calm about it all, and didn’t seem bothered at all. I explained patiently that I thought Mohammed had set fire to something in the bathroom, and she looked at me and said “Maya, didn’t anyone tell you we were having a fire drill today?”
Turns out everyone except me had known about it, and it was all just a very bizarre coincidence!!
Anyhoo, I’m also taking Arabic lessons in the evenings three times a week at a Berlitz center we found here that is really good, and I already know 14 letters of the alphabet, which I am well chuffed about!!
I’d better leave it there, but I hope you are all well and happy, and looking after yourselves,
Lots of love
Busy bee Maya

Green, green grass of home

Thursday 13th July 2006

Hello everyone,
I’ve been home for about a month now almost, and I’m having a wonderful time!!
You know, while I was in Sydney, I kept looking around and thinking, “It’s so perfect here, I really can’t remember why I don’t live here!”
Well, my memory has been refreshed!!
The reason I don’t live in Sydney is because I LOVE England, especially Essex and Suffolk in the summertime.
All the flowers are out, the sun is shining, there’s about 50 different shades of green in the trees and grass and hedges and fields. Golden yellow corn and wheat, blue sky, red poppies all over the sides of the roads.
It’s magical. It really is.
I was driving up to Bury St Edmunds the other day, the sun was shining, I was singing along out of tune to some cheesy classic songs, and I drove past a field of flax, in full bloom, the most gorgeous purple colour you can imagine.
I could honestly drive around Suffolk for hours and not get bored, it’s so breathtakingly beautiful!!

Anyway, aside from being amazed at how lovely it is here (I never truly appreciated it when I lived here before), I’ve been busy catching up with friends and family. I spent last weekend in St Andrews with an old flatmate of mine, and we had a wicked time trying to have at least one drink in every pub in town!! Scotland is as pretty as ever, all rugged and wild etc.

(I’m feeling very poetic today!)

In other news, my weight is still creeping up and up – I can no longer fit into most of my clothes, and despite joining the gym here and going swimming, my body just refuses to shrink!!
I had to resort to a food diary and calorie counting madness, which is not really helping, like all the other diets I’ve tried and failed at, but we’ll see.
I am actually seriously considering giving up chocolate however, which is a bit scary.

Other than that, life is good, I’m relaxed and enjoying my holidays, although I seem to be
hemorrhaging money somehow – it’s a good thing I have enough to keep me in wine for a while yet!!

I hope you are all well and enjoying your summer.
Oh, and don’t forget if you’re in the uk, I’m having a party at my house, August 5th, the costume theme is vicars, tarts, ninjas and pirates.

later dudes
love suffolk-lovin Maya

Last Days…

Friday 2nd June 2006

Hello everyone,

Life here is fairly mundane at the mo, the temperature is rising steadily, last week it was around 44 celcius most days, and this week it’s been around 47 or 48 almost every day. The heat is completely draining and exhausting, and the air-con in our classroom is struggling to keep the temperature below 35, which is still a welcome 13 degree difference!

Playground duty is gruelling, but aside from that everything’s going well. We’ve had our exams, and now have two weeks left with basically nothing to teach them, as the syllabus if finished, so I’m just making stuff up (worksheets, wordsearches off the internet, and a random project on cars – next week we’re going to do a project on the world cup!).

Luckily, most of the governement schools have already broken up for the summer (the heat gets steadily worse so they break up as early as possible so everyone can go somewhere else for two months!) and it’s only the private schools that are still open, and as a lot of our kids have brothers and sisters in public schools, the parents just decide they can stay at home after exams.

My class of 16 unruly 8-year olds has gradually reduced, and on Wednesday only 4 of them showed up.

Which is nice.

Last Tuesday we took the primary kids to Aqua Park, which was totally awesome, and me and Tudor (a 55 year-old ex-headmaster) raced each other down the flumes for most of the day. Yay!

In other news, a rumour has got around that one of the teachers in SEN has a crush on me. The description of him that Michaela gave Bryn was (and I quote) “He’s about 40, going bald, pretty tubby with horrifically bad teeth. He fancies Maya because he thinks she looks innocent and naive. His name is Mohammed. Oh, and he likes porn with animals in because he grew up on a farm.”

Seriously, word for word.

Oooh I so can’t wait for him to make his move!

Sadly, as Bryn and I discovered when trying to spot him at the secondary graduation ceremony, there are literally about 7 guys called Mohammed who are going bald and have bad teeth! Not exactly a lot of talent out here.


Aside from that, not much is happening, although for some reason the heat here is making me swell up, and I have put on another 3 slobby kilos, (which I’m hoping like hell is water retention through dehydration, but I have my doubts)!!

I’m an enormous heifer at the mo, and may have to wear a red carnation at the airport so my dear family will recognise me, instead of craning there necks and saying “Where’s Maya?” “I dunno, I can’t see round this elephant coming through the arrivals door”, or something similar.

If you ever want to put your own weight into perspective, I can recommend this terrifying option – I realised yesterday that even if I lost 3 kilos, I would still weigh DOUBLE what Nicole Ritchie weighs!! She may be an anorexically thin celebrity waif, but nevertheless, I can fit TWO of her into my bodyweight, with 3 kilos of flab to spare.



So, I’ll leave you with the terrifying question, How many Nicoles can you fit into your weight?


(Oh, and if I don’t come home in two weeks, it’s because I’ve decided I’m too fat to ever have sex again, except with bald Mohammed, and I’ve moved to a farm in the desert to live out his animal porn fantasies).


Lots of Love,

“Sheep have feelings too” Maya!



Get ready!!!

Sunday 14th May 2006
Ladies and gentlemen,
I, Maya, will be coming home in just over a month!!!
I’m very excited and can’t wait to see all you lovely people and catch up properly!
I still don’t know my exact dates yet, as the school had to book all the staff onto three different group flights, which i think are on the 16th, 17th and 18th of June, but they won’t tell me which one I’m on yet!!!
However, I will be home on one of those days, and will be based in sunny Suffolk once again for about two months, until roughly 22nd of August when I will be flying back to Kuwait for the next school year.
I will try my best to make a trip up to St Andrews, via Edinburgh to visit some people and I’ll definitely make at least one trip to London to see everyone there, as well as hopefully a trip down to Scilly.
And, of course there will be at least one legendary party to plan and have and clean up before I disappear again!
That’s about it from me – just get ready for some fun, cos I can’t wait to see everybody!!!!
love Maya

Evil penguins

Sunday 30th April 2006
Hello hello everyone!
Another long one, so prepare yourselves!!
Am now back at school after my fantastic holiday in Sri Lanka, working hard, and we’ve just had “fun day” (on a weekend of course!!) where we all had to put in eight hour shifts selling raffle tickets and having sponges thrown at us etc.
Last night and tonight are parents’ evenings, and most of the parents have been lovely so far, and very keen to be supportive etc (one mum asked me for photocopies of all my lesson plans so she can keep up at home and help more with the homework!!).
I found that a bit scary, and ever-so-slightly like she might be trying to keep tabs on me, although it is nice to see parents getting involved!!