Archive for February 2010

Homeward Bound

February 28, 2010

In a couple of days, we get to pay a visit home. We will see our families and friends, mooch around Galway for a little bit, and revisit some old haunts. We are really looking forward to it. Noel remarked that he wouldn’t need his ID badge in Ireland because everyone there already knew his name and knew who his dad was. I wanted to hum the theme from Cheers but, alas, humming is forbidden in our house. He told me that he is looking forward to seeing his grandparents, shopping in Smyths, and going to Xtravision. He is already packed, i.e., he has selected the DVDs that he will bring, has charged up the portable DVD player, his IPOD, and his Nintendo DS.

Meanwhile, here at KAUST, the swimming pools and the beach have opened. The pools are beautiful and it has now been sorted out so that everyone has access while still guaranteeing privacy to those who want it. I haven’t made it to the beach yet as it has only been open one day so far but I understand it’s gorgeous. However, I have added “pool time” to my gym visits. Somehow, access to these facilities has lifted everyone’s spirits and there’s an almost festive atmosphere about the place.

So, time to dig out what winter woollies we still possess and get ready for our trip. It’s funny to think that we are going to Ireland and not crossing the Atlantic. It doesn’t matter from what direction we approach though, it’s still home.

Winter without a coat

February 2, 2010

I haven’t worn a coat yet this winter – abayas don’t really count.  I miss the US and my friends in Chicago but I do not miss the Chicago winters – all that scraping of ice and shovelling of snow. The weather here on the Red Sea is perfect right now and I am enjoying every minute of it although already there are hints of what it will be like later in the year.

We have been busy here at KAUST for the last while – the Winter Enrichment Program has been a big success. The talks and lectures have been great and the visitors have been suitably amazed at the campus and facilities. And make no mistake, it is amazing. Three years ago, there was nothing here but sand and now there is what amounts to a small, very beautiful,  and very high tech city.

I am trying to take advantage of at least some of the many things KAUST has to offer. I am going to the gym practically every day – I don’t really love it but if am to live to be 120, then I need to make an effort to stay fit and healthy. Really, with all the stretching I am doing in the Pilates classes, I should be at least an inch taller by now. Last week, I went to a beach here called Silver Sands – it was gorgeous, white sand and turquoise water. It felt like heaven. Another day, I went into Jeddah and went to a beauty salon with an Irish friend and had a special hair conditioning treatment – lots of fun, and the treatment was nice too. I made the mistake of agreeing to having more “volume” added at the end though – foolishly, I thought this would involve some sort of mousse. Not so, the very nice lady at the hair salon produced her comb and proceeded to back comb my hair. I didn’t have the heart to ask her to stop. I emerged looking like one of the Stepford wives. It’s actually not a bad look for me – I may have to change my opinion about big hair.

I am here three months now – the time has flown by.