Friday, May 15, 2009
Checking out...for good
Another rerun of the Eagles' tune on VH1 last night reminds me now of where I came in. That being the Hotel California where I was holed up for three months in 2007 courtesy of my former employers, a conflict resolution charity. In this two star benign regime anything was available for Dirhams, albeit that Heiniken was my only occasional indulgence. Now I am really checking out of the UAE, and from this university compound in Sharjah where we redeployed nine months back. It has been another benign regime, hard to escape its collective clutches, its welfare provision, and its relative ease and convenience. Well, we are now finalising the prison break, although like Michael of the TV series we may have to continue the struggle on the outside, in part one of our own making. Blighty beckons, main reason being to provide psychological support to my mother , but other factors are at work too. Teaching has been especially hard and almost gruelling when combined with writing research papers on the regional situation. These though will provide fame and glory in the major publishing platforms that only Abu Dhabi and a UK university can provide. Once back in the child's bedroom of musical delights and hi-fi, I will probably miss the structure, the relative respect, and the apparent purpose behind what I have been doing in Sharjah. Close, confessional, friendships there have not been, but interesting folks a plenty have been discovered among the faculty. Friendships made here and in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will hopefully be sustained when we all move on to pastures new. Where this goes next, and what will have been achieved is hard to gauge. I know that some students appreciated my insights, others made me feel intellectually and personally inadequate to the task. Overall, university teaching diminishes your analytical depth as those close to the real politics are more out of reach and your own analysis is necessarily simpler. We fly soon, hoping that the advantages of northern European climate and things to access without wheels will make us both closer and life in general more fulfilling.