Sunday, September 08, 2002

What to do with the boy?

Well, we've completed the teachers' orientation period, and tomorrow we begin teaching. It's the start of another adventurous year. I think everybody is pretty nervous about beginning, except me. All the new teachers will do fine though. They've had a little more preparation, both in time and in information, than last year's group had. They've also seen a lot more of the city than last year's group had seen at this point in the year due to having a personal tour guide to accompany them everywhere.

It's been great for me getting in touch with students and other friends from last year. I'm organizing a meeting of my former main class -- A2. So far, most of them have been slow to respond to my email, but I ran into Hamik in the Kacerov metro station, and he's looking forward to the meeting. He is now working for a charity organization where he communicates by phone with Japanese people (why, I don't know). Obviously, he uses English to talk with them, although I'm not sure how, since he wasn't one of the top students in the class, to put it lightly. He didn't seem to have improved that much over the summer either, but I'm glad that he's gotten a job.

Eric, our lawyer friend at Hotel Dum who works at the castle, is still staying there on the 8th floor. I'm on the 7th floor now, but I ran into him as I was coming out of the 8th floor laundry room. We chatted for a while. He told me a little bit about the floods, as well as some of the happenings at Hotel Dum over the summer. There was, and still is, a guy staying there named Misha. He has a very long story, and will gladly tell it to anyone who will listen. It's a sad story, and I'll not relate it here, but nearly every night he would end up passed out in the television room with a bottle of vodka beside him. Eric told me that for a long time over the summer he and Misha were the only two people on the 8th floor. One morning Misha knocked on his door and said, "I guess you're stuck with me." Apparently the hotel had moved Misha into the suite with Eric. Eric, understandably, does not appreciate Misha at all. He told me that he complained to the hotel staff everyday about the situation, but it took them a week to move Misha out of his suite. So he had the unfortunate priviledge of living with Misha for a week. He also told me to say "hi" to Tanya, Jerry, and Karen. He misses Tanya's cooking, as do I. I'm not doing too badly as far as food goesthough.

Lucka and Big Petr (not to be confused with Petr H.) have been doing a lot of things with the new teachers, so they already know them pretty well and everybody is getting along like peas and carrots. John and I played ping-pong with Big Petr on Friday, and that was fun as always. Big Petr loves his ping-pong. He's better than most people, but he has trouble beating me. I use a lot of spin, and this last time he got so frustrated because he kept missing the ball after it bounced crookedly from the table. He exclaimed with clenched fists (in Czech), "I just don't know what to do with the boy!"

Transportion is getting better, slowly. They've gotten slightly better at organizing the schedules. They also opened Smichovske Nadrazi back up on the guys' yellow line, which means their travel times are much shorter. They don't expect to have the whole metro system up and running until Christmas, although it might be late January before they can have it completely in operation.

I'm going to get a cellphone for this year. Petr H. is trying to find a cheap one for me, and Pavla's husband, Tomas, who works for Eurotel, has offered to let me use his old phone for free. All I have to pay for is the little chips that slide in and give me minutes. This will be perfect since I've got a ton of people to keep up with this year.

Well, that's about all the news for now. Keep us in your prayers. I forgot to mention that the two Canadian teachers are still not here, and probably won't be for a couple of weeks. There are a number of uninformed (not to be confused with "uniformed") slackers who work in the Czech and Canadian Embassies. The visas have not yet come through. That means that the rest of us have to substitute teach. Obviously, that's going to put us under a lot of pressure for the first couple of weeks.


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