Back to the Chalkface

I don’t know what these damn teachers are complaining about! (They are complaining aren’t they?) My teaching day today started at 9:50 with two little Bridge Year (Primary One) Sri Lankan Girls, followed by three P2-3 boys, two P4-5s and finally two P7-8s. I think that’s nine kids in total (four in the same family). There’s quite a mix: apart from the two P1 Sri Lankan girls, the P2-3 boys consist of one Sri Lankan, a Ukrainian and a Russian (“I have small English”) lad who also started today. We will have to let Fedor learn the ropes from Zakhar, who’s been here a bit longer, but discourage too much chatter in Russian. Or border infringements, if it comes to that. The P4-5 and P7-8 are one family: apparently Mum is Canadian; Dad, Saudi; as for the kids three are Canadian, one Saudi.

I will normally drift in early, about eight, meaning I can either prepare stuff or support other users. I don’t do Fridays, but tomorrow there’s a staff meeting I’m expected to attend! Sounds fun.

After school, a return trip to the Dialog shop got my mobile phone sorted out, I think, and home I came.

I brought out two “educational” robots with me, but so far the robotic arm – which was working not long ago – is refusing to play ball. There is an excellent on-line substitute simulation but the internet speeds are execrable: I doubt I’ll get a successful download overnight! In the process of fiddling with the robot arm, I went to the next door shop in case they sold batteries. It’s a typical small shop for the area, selling foodstuffs, basic domestic products etc.: the counter keeps the customers on the pavement and the shop – more of a small warehouse – stretches back into the narrowing gloom under the corrugated roof. Behind the shop, through a door, is the family home and it is often necessary to shout “Hello” to get attention. Through came the lady of the house and what a lovely welcome: a big smile and “a long time you come back” with lots of head wiggling.

I’ll be OK there for ginger beer and ice-creams, but they don’t sell batteries. This led to a return trip towards town, but this time I got off at House of Hidayath, a supermarket downstairs with a sizeable clothing section upstairs. Batteries were finally tracked down, but to no avail in getting the robot arm working.

In this neck of the woods, they don’t seem to go in for marking bus stops – their location appears to be established on the basis of common consensus. The drivers tend not to stop between these unmarked points, which is not a problem when getting off a bus, but leads to difficulties when wanting to get on one, if you’re not in on the secret as to the location of the bus stop. Partly that and a desire for some exercise spurred me into walking back: no more than a quarter of an hour, probably, but full of challenging moments given the traffic, lack of pavement and proliferation of potholes.

I chatted to Sera for a few minutes: I’ve booked him for a “Burns’ Night” on the 25th and I hope Rick will also come along. It’ll hardly be a fully-fledged Burns’ Supper, but the oatcakes should be fresher this year and I’ve got a bottle of Balvenie, some whisky-flavoured fudge etc. I think I’ll say a very, very few words about the poet – who seems more or less unknown to both of them – and maybe declaim a bit of “A Man’s a Man” or something and a more “English” one, perhaps “My love is like a red red rose”. I don’t think there’ll be any lassies to toast, though both wives – all three in fact! – are welcome to attend. Come to think of it, I could download some stuff from Youtube. If I start now, some of it may possibly get through in time!



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