Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A woman in hijab stopped to let me cross the street. I noted that instead of a license plate, her car sported this white crescent plus palm tree on blue and I thought: "How nice that she customized her car." It was, as I learned a bit later, the state flag...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

a new language

Day Zero.

I'm traveling to my new home town. As it turns out, I travel alone, my bag manages to stay behind somewhere, providing endless joys at the phone. At one point, literally the only word I can make out is "bag", but, luckily, the collegue I'm staying with doesn't mind translating.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I landed last night and took the first opportunity to try out my new name in the cab. It went down very well! The driver, "Jack", whose name was helpfully inked into his arm, regaled me with lengthy stories about his army stint in Vietnam and Germany and with local tidbits ("32,000 recruits are cycling through here at any given moment" "they are sending THOUSANDS of people here from DC"). He even pulled out a photo of the city, post-Sherman while driving ("he destroyed everything, everything!" He might have told me more, but that's all I could understand.

My first day in my new dept. My office is not ready (of course) but it has two (!!!) windows, I get to pick the color for its walls and to choose new furniture.

It's shocking to meet polite people and a good thing my Mom isn't around to see that I forgot all she ever taught me. I misunderstand when someone pulls back a chair for me. I plop down on the opposite chair, watching him watch me sit down. Ooops! Of course, if he'd been the average New Yorker, he would have thought I was totally rude if I'd sitten down in his place. And I need to get used to staying in the car until the door is opened and no, this wasn't a date and no, we're not in Europe.