Punda Malidadi

Monday, August 29, 2005

About the Sky Shuttle

I've been taking the Sky Shuttle to the airport and back every day for a week now. Here are my observations:

1. Sky Shuttle Drivers really like EZ Rock(Is that how that contemptible station is spelt?). I have had to listen to a show with a first class harpye nutcase woman called Delilah every night on my way home. Except for that one driver tonight who listened to AM radio on a slightly off frequency so that it was all screechy and you could sometimes hear part of a different song from a different station. He had it on really loud. There was a baby in the car. It screamed, of course.

2. That same driver also thought it was a really good idea to occupy two lanes from the airport right up until and including 112th street. I swear it looked like he was concentratedly trying to divide the shuttle equally onto two lanes. Except when he swerved frantically to evade pot holes, of course. I have yet to be on a trip where not at least one of the following happened: screeching brakes, fender bender, honking at other cars, getting honked at.

3. Half of the drivers are the grumpiest &*$% I have ever met. The other half are the friendliest @&%#$ I've ever met. One of them even forced a Snickers on me. Not that it is particularly hard to make me eat chocolate. Well, I did refuse the first time he offered. I think. And one of them asked me a lot of questions about Germany. When a girl in the back got out at a stop before me( I always sit in the front because I get carsick in the back, and because the back doesn't have any headrests and neck injuries are the most common preventable injuries in car accidents, and because that way I don't have to be touching other people's thighs with mine when the bus is full), she said: "That was interesting to listen to. I always thought Germany was a horrible, scary place." She was Canadian. In your face, all you people who have told me that I overreact when I get upset about giving people a completely false picture of Germany when German people are portrayed as evil humourless fascists in just about every funny show or movie because none of these supposedly funny people have ever been to my country so they just decide to base their jokes on World War II which was over when my grandma was too young to understand politics!

The unfriendly half behave so terribly towards the new international students that I want to wear a shirt that says "I'm not Canadian, I'm German". Not that I know for sure that German shuttle drivers would be any nicer. But international students wouldn't know that, would they? Anyways: Way to make a first impression on the international community. Remember, those are the kind of people that Canada will do business with after they graduate. Let's scream at them because they only have a $50 bill, or because they confuse the Campus Tower stop with the Lister Hall stop, or because they do not understand your accent.

You #$%^@&, old, @#$%@, @@$% of a @#%!


Friday, August 26, 2005

"I hate malls.We have two of them in Iceland, and now they're building another one. It looks like a penis."

Oh, the joys of working at the welcome booth. After a few strategic improvements, I have practically septupled my business.

What else is new and exciting? Stephen Lewis is coming to the Citadel theatre in its lecture series on Saturday September 17th. I'm going, and so are two other people who are as of yet unaware of their good luck.

But now off to the airport- there are scarves to be crocheted.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Best. Job. Ever.

Yes, you should once again be jealous of the neverending joy that is my life. Why? Because I am currently working at the International Centre's airport welcome booth, where I get to welcome international students and help them out with immediate issues such as accommodation for the first few nights and how to take the sky shuttle, as well as with any questions they might have. Today was my second day. On my first day, I helped *four* international students in 7 hours. Today, I helped *two* international students, also in 7 hours. They both came at the same time and had identical problems. It was a pleasure to help them, and very interesting to meet people from Ghana, Iran, Egypt, Korea, China and India. For the rest of the time, I sat on a comfortable cushioned chair, drank coffee, ate my snacks, and read. I am already through with one of my readings for fall, and I am starting the second one tomorrow. Finally, a job where I can read for hours without being interrupted(well, other than the occasional "Do you know where the washroom is?")! And the best thing is that I can do it on a clean conscience, as there is absolutely *nothing* else I could do. I am so enjoying this that I am considering a career as a nightwatchperson. Sleep all day, read all night- why, it's like utopia!

When I close the booth for the night at 9pm, I leave out a sign saying "Welcome International Students!", a sign-in sheet and welcome letters with information on temporary accommodation and other essentials. When I came back this morning, a Canadian student had signed the sheet, and indicated "Quebec" as his home country. Now I'm left to wonder if he was just confused or whether that was a political act.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why *you* should be jealous

You should be jealous because I spent almost 12 hours yesterday at one of Chris Chan's infamous tea parties, and you most likely did not. I drank tea, peed, drank tea, peed(rinse, wash, repeat). I listened to divine music. I was told I had a ticket for the Feist concert in October. I played geeky German board games in the style of settlers of Catan. I talked about all kinds of current issues(this included hack talk as well as an interesting conversation with the director of the food bank, which I will not divulge according to his wishes-by the way, you look a little bit like Joaquin Phoenix). I ate all fricking day, from 2.30 in the afternoon until 2 a.m.-

  • bean soup with roasted red peppers and zucchini
  • veggie samosas with hot mango chutney
  • spinach feta pie
  • apple-zucchini salad
  • little rolls with a cheese filling(can't remember the name)
  • coconut rice with mango and other fruit
  • German Speatzle pasta
  • Ghanian deep fried bananas with tomato stew
  • Stuffed squash and zucchini
  • Orange and regular raspberries
  • Candied cantaloupe
  • Green tea ice cream
  • White chocolate raspberry gelato
  • fortune cookies
  • homemade brazilian toffee chocolates
  • all kinds of fair trade chocolate
  • cherries

I also now know a lot about all kinds of people in Wetaskawin- I tell you, life is one huge soap opera there!

Chris Chan also had the good sense to point out the best website I've seen in ages to me.

Now: more good times.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Armoury

The Armoury is a terrible dance club, with really bad music, and very boring people.

I absolutely love going there. About twice a year.

Here are some of my reasons:

-Vodka Cranberries are only $3. What an ingenious two-in-one drink! ("Get smashed while you take care of your urinary tract!")

-The girls dancing on the box are dressed like sluts and dance like total prudes. Why don't you try the other way around? If you're not having fun up there, and if you don't plan to look any different from the mass of drunk high shool graduates rocking back and forth on the dance floor, just don't get on the speaker for heaven's sake. The speaker is for true exhibitionists like my roommate and me. I'm not saying we are great dancers, but no matter what we do, we sure as heck are entertaining one way or the other. Which leads to any girl who is willing to actually enjoy herself up there having an audience with even occasional applause. And the best thing is, you'll never see these people again.

-The guys are so smashed they'll be brutally honest("You are an amazing dancer. It is so much fun to watch you. Could I slap your ass?"-"No. But you can shake my hand.").

-somebody like the owner's son(I don't know that for sure, but in my experience, if there's an obnoxious guy around who everybody hates but still everybody listens to, it usually has to do with nepotism)usually hits on you over the microphone. Tonight, while I was dancing on the speaker, the witty challenge was this: "The first nipple I see on the speaker gets free drinks." This led my roommate to jump off the speaker horrifiedly, while I pointed both of my arms towards the idiot with my middle fingers extended upwards. That got me a mild laugh. Then I pulled the next available guy up on the speaker and said, "He said nipple. You have one. Take off your shirt." Which he did. Unfortunately, the obnoxious guy wouldn't give the free drinks to the poor now-topless guy, and even ordered him off the speaker.

-the Armoury also gives me the opportunity to be really mean to a bunch of assholes. I'm not mean to everybody, and it totally depends how a guy approaches me- I won't usually say no to an initiated conversation, and almost never to a drink. But some guys are just sexual predators. Like the guy who was approaching me from the front and before saying a single word put both arms on my shoulders. That warrants a frown and a sharp "Excuse me? Why on *earth* do you think you can *touch* me?". I always feel very feminist after something like that(They usually answer with "Whoa, whoa, whoa..." and walk away, but sometimes they just stay silent with a really confused look on their faces).

Anyways, it's late, my feet hurt, my thighs hurt, and I'm tired, but man, did I have a good time tonight.

Tomorrow: More good times.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Germany and same sex marriage

After quite a few occasions of reading in newspapers that Canada was the third or fourth(somebody refresh my memory) country to introduce same sex marriage, and me reacting to that slightly confusedly because I was absolutely sure gay couples could get married in Germany too, I finally did some research.

I was almost right. Yes, since 2001, they can get married, like everybody else, in a civil ceremony(in Germany there is always a civil ceremony, which is legally binding, and sometimes a religious one, for the fluff and the tears, or whatever reason people do it for). They get the same benefits as heterosexual couples when it comes to inheritance, health insurance, tenancy and welfare benefits- however, not when it comes to taxes. Funny how Germany doesn't want them to have tax benefits, when Canada gave tax benefits on a common law basis to same sex couples a long time ago(you can even get your foreign same-sex common law partner permanent residence and eventually citizenship), but minds if they call themselves "married".

Oh, and another tidbit about how scarily similar my home-Bundesland(federal state, literally, or province) Bavaria is to Alberta:

In Munich, the capital of Bavaria, gays demonstrated in front of the town hall against the state's attempts to block the law. Bavaria and the eastern state of Saxony have so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to persuade the federal constitutional court to rule against it.
But as the law went into effect it did not escape fierce criticism from some conservatives, who said gay partnerships undermined traditional family values.

I better not move again any time soon. Looking at the pattern, I'll probably end up in Texas.

My Ethiopian Food Experience...

...turned out to be more authentic than I had hoped. Meaning that they were out of food.

I'm not kidding. I mean, I find ethnic slurs as funny as the next guy, probably even funnier, but they were actually out of food. All of it. We had to go elsewhere.

But man, it was funny. And I'm going to go to hell. Or they're going to withhold my degree in International Development if they find out. They really should.

I hereby also want to end all rumours concerning my favourite and only niece's resemblance with Sir Winston Churchill:

In your dreams, Winston!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Funny Sidekick Couple

Thanks to Daveberta and procrastination I am proud(and a little ashamed) to present this.

Go ahead and make your own. But remember, it's funnier if you don't let yourself be limited by such petty categories as gender and skin tone.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Meine Weisheitszaehne...

...haben sich wieder mal entzuendet. Dummerweise habe ich hier keine richtige Krankenversicherung- Blue Cross zahlt nur fuer Medikamente und Notfaelle wie zum Beispiel Krankenwagen. Ich merke gerade auch wie schwer es mir faellt auf Deutsch zu schreiben- ich muss echt oefter ueben. English kann ich inzwischen gut genug um die Seminararbeiten meiner Mitstudenten zu korrigieren, aber mein Deutsch verlaesst mich so langsam.

Ich habe auch gerade festgestellt dass ich im Fruehjahr fertig bin. Unglaublich. Hat ja kaum 6 Jahre gedauert! Aber wie die Englischsprachler so schoen sagen, "time flies when you're having fun". Was danach kommt weiss ich noch nicht genau. Vielleicht studiere ich weiter- vielleicht in Kanada, vielleicht in Deutschland, vielleicht ganz woanders. Wahrscheinlich mache ich aber erst mal ein Praktikum- Afrika, wenn's geht. Und dann ist da noch das Seminar in Botswana naechstes Jahr, fuer das ich mich sicher bewerben werde. Die UNO probiere ich sicher auch, aber es ist sehr teuer nach New York zu gehen, und im Gegensatz zu den meisten Leuten bin ich nicht so begeistert von der Stadt. Zu gross fuer meinen Geschmack.

A propos Stadt: In meinem neuen Nebenjob, in dem ich mit Kindern mit Behinderungen arbeite, habe ich in meiner letzten Schicht mit einem Mann aus Bosnien zusammen gearbeitet, Steve, der fuer zwei Jahre in Regensburg gelebt hat! Er hat einen Universitaetsabschluss in BWL aus Bosnien, und war Vizepraesident in einer Import/Exportfirma. Nachdem er nach Deutschland gegangen ist, hat er unter anderem als Schreiner, Fliesenleger, und am Ende fuer Siemens gearbeitet. Er hatte allerdings keine Chance jemals deutsche Staatsbuergerschaft zu erhalten, und deshalb ist er nach Kanada ausgewandert, und seitdem Kanadischer Staatsbuerger geworden(dauert ungefaehr 5 Jahre). Hier wollte ihn aber auch keiner einstellen in seinem Fachgebiet, und deswegen ist er zurueck zur Schule gegangen, und hat Website Design gelernt. Er arbeitet jetzt fuer den Schulbezirk und managt deren Websites, und nebenbei arbeitet er mit behinderten Kindern. Er hat mir von seiner Tochter erzaehlt, die mit sechs Jahren nach Deutschland gekommen ist, und ohne ein Wort deutsch zu sprechen die Grundschule begonnen hat. Sie war Klassenbeste in diesen Jahren, und als sie 12 war, ist ihre Familie nach Kanada ausgewandert, wiederum ohne dass sie viel Englisch konnte. Trotzdem hat sie hier in Kanada eine Klasse uebersprungen. Steve ist nicht sehr begeistert vom kanadischen Schulsystem. "Die bekommen ja nie Hausaufgaben auf!", hat er gesagt, "und haben kein Hausaufgabenheft! Ich war es gewohnt von Deutschland dass ich abends von der Arbeit komme und dann nachschaue was meine Tochter aufhat, und ihr dann helfe. Aber hier- nichts!"

Seine Tochter ist jetzt 18 oder 19 und studiert Civil Engineering(Ich habe nicht den blassesten Schimmer wie man das auf Deutsch uebersetzt- aber die bauen Bruecken und so weiter).

Ziemlich unglaublich wie manche Menschen es schaffen immer und immer wieder von Null anzufangen, in neuen Laendern, mit neuen Sprachen, einer komplett verschiedenen Karriere, und trotzdem nicht aufgeben oder bitter sind.


So, jetzt habe ich genug Deutsch geuebt.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Want to know what makes me cry?

Find out.

Monday, August 01, 2005

An Adventure in OED

Groovy, the loan collector said, and adjusted her nautical equipment. By the way, the new password is Learning Disability, she added. That's not a password, I said, it's a pass expression, or a pass compound. Fuck off, she replied. We continued to hike through the god-forsaken desert, occasionally engaging in differential calculus. It was exactly at that moment that the possum crossed our path. The loan collector dropped to the ground shaking violently. It's the possum, she croaked. I'm allergic to possums. They aggravate my Bartholin's glands. Sorry, the possum said, it's a free desert, and settled in for a pitiless nap on a green placemat. The loan collector continued to have violent seizures, during which her slouch hat came off. Please, I appealed to the possum, I can't lose her- I need someone to carry the nautical equipment for me. Fine, the possum said, have it your way, and stomped off indignantly. After the possum had made off, and the loan collector's Bartholin's glands had dried back up, we continued our mission to find the lost sloth bear. I told you it wasn't going ot be in the Kalahari, the loan collector bitched. I know for a fact it's in Vatican City. Or Winnipeg. But it sure as hell isn't going to be in the Kalahari. Why on Earth not?, I retorted. People lose their minds here all the time. And if you can lose your mind, you sure as hell can lose a sloth bear like nothing. I mean, what would you miss first, your mind or your sloth bear?, I argued elegantly. the loan collector nodded thoughtfully and continued chewing on her favourite placebo. Alright, she said eventually, here's my ultimatum: if we haven't found the sloth bear by Monday, you will water my flesh-eating begonias for the rest of their life. Done deal, I said, already imagining the slow and painful death of the loan collector's carnivorous flora at my hands. As we approached the next dunetop, I could see our final destination in the distance: the Fig-wasp Figurine.

(To be continued)