Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 2, 2013

What a wretched night I spent unable to breathe, constantly blowing my nose and taking Advil repeatedly to keep my headache at bay. My fever broke in the early morning hours and I woke up drenched in sweat. After a long shower and a bite to eat, I went to the American Corner where Jennifer was going to give a presentation and Lingua would be issuing certificates to the winners of the pre-service teacher contest.

Jennifer’s subject was the release of the video game, “Trace Effects”, for teenager students of English, a preview of which we had seen at the mid-year conference. We moved to the third floor of the American Corner where a row of computers had been installed and teachers had to share a computer to navigate through the game. I’m not sure how successful, or useful, this game might be here since most schools lack computers or have so few that only staff members are allowed to use them.

Lingua introduced the winners of the contest, handed certificates and goodie bags from the embassy and the requisite photos were taken before we repaired to the usual venue for Forum members to discuss issues related to the organization’s doings. Gulnara showed a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the major successes of the last couple of years making special emphasis on the reviving of the newsletter and the functioning Facebook page.

                               Listening to Gulnara summarize what Forum does

One member of Forum had brought along with craft items she makes from a combination of materials, mostly felt, and put them on display for all to see. Jennifer was enthralled with the paintings of tulips on some of them and bought a few as souvenir indicating they were definitely cheaper than anything she could buy in Kazakhstan. She also commented that a silent auction, a concept completely unfamiliar in Kyrgyzstan, might work as a fundraising idea. She pointed at me to follow up with a discussion of its inner workings in the near future.

                               Admiring the handicraft items a Forum member brought in

Natalia has asked me to join her and Jennifer for lunch, but I felt bad about excluding Willoughby and asked if she could be included to which she reluctantly agreed. We walked to the Host restaurant where service was as slow as usual and my mutton vindaloo tasted neither like lamb nor like it had any of the spices associated with the vindaloo sauce from the south of India. Jennifer insisted on paying the tab using her credit card despite my reservations about it.

We went to Lingua to hold yet another meeting regarding the CATEC conference and its logistics. We first poured over an Excel sheet showing how the conference’s initial budget of $106,000.00 had gone over by 9K as the hotel had doubled its prices for the rooms since Jennifer had obtained a quote last September. Jennifer found some expenses that could be deleted and promised to cover the difference from her own budget.

Then the bomb was dropped that Forum wouldn’t have anything to do with the academic portion of the pre-conference since Jennifer had hired the former president of TESOL, Christine Combe, to fly in from Dubai to conduct that portion of the conference as well as to be the keynote speaker. I could see Gulnara, Elvira and Asel roll their eyes at the news and then much whispering took place among them.

When the meeting was adjourned, Jennifer approached me wanting to know if she had sounded “too bossy” about the whole conference. I demurred not willing to talk in front of everyone. She picked up on it and since she had agreed to join Willoughby and I for the ballet tomorrow, she suggested we talk privately either before or after the event.

At that moment, Elvira approached me to suggest we go back to the American Corner and hold yet another meeting to digest what had been said at Lingua. I had had it with meetings for the day and declined suggesting instead that we tabled it until next Saturday when we would meet after the regular session. The group stood outside still talking when my trolley came around and I jumped on it.

I came home to find out that my landlady, once again, had failed to show up with the chairs or the plumber to repair the irritating sound of water leaking from the toilet. I checked my phone, but I had no missed calls or text messages from her and once I logged on to my computer, there were no emails either. I was beyond furious and had to restrain myself not to call her right at that moment and give her a piece of my mind.

I cooked some dumpling soup to stave my hunger later on, made more tea and spent another miserable evening sniffling away.

No comments:

Post a Comment