MARHABA!

MARHABA! (Arabic for Hello)

Well, here we go again! It’s time to get out my Arabic language cards and refresh all those important words and phrases. I fly back to Cairo on the 13th of March to assist on one of our AdvancEd accreditation visitations to a small high school in the Heliopolis area of the city.

When our team finishes on the 18th, some Egyptian friends are taking me to their country/weekend home a few hours from Cairo, to a small town that is known for making excellent pottery. Undoubtedly my father’s flea market gene will raise its head and I’ll return home with a number of new artifacts. I fly home on the 23rd, realizing that the 3:30 a.m. flight is not punishment, only a schedule necessity, and as all of my flights are aboard Lufthansa, my so-far favorite carrier, it’s not all bad.

So far, I’ve selected MaSalaama (good bye), thayib (it is good), mumtaz (excellent), La (no), naam (yes), Shookran (thanks), Afwahn (you’re welcome), Kem?(how much?) and perhaps the most practical of all, Wain al hammam? (Where is the bathroom?). These should be enough to deal with bell hops, taxi drivers, and general interaction although I think all of them fall short when one becomes involved with unwelcome incursions. Hopefully nothing of that sort will occur but if it does, I shall likely resort to using language more familiar to me, generally consisting of a string of four letter words and for my personal enjoyment.

As is usually the case, the school is placing us in a luxurious hotel, at least my Googling indicates that the Heliopolis Fairmont deserves my attention. And it couldn’t be more welcome, given the disastrous winter we’ve had throughout the U.S. I’m just glad I don’t live anywhere from Chicago eastward. I understand that the March temperatures in Cairo linger around 85 F., a cause for rejoicing.

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A recent visit to begin the spoiling process for our new grandson was highly successful; we managed to spend a bunch of dollars in getting him off to a good start, and were pleased to hear that he has a voice which could guarantee him at least a career as a star in one of Wagner’s operas. Loud is important. My wife and I struggled to recall what we used to do with his father as an infant, to achieve some mellowing out from the crying and yes, some bellowing. Even if it could be reduced to a mild whimper, would be an improvement. So, we took turns walking the hallway and bouncing up and down, meanwhile counting the minutes until his parents would return from a two hour outing. I think we used to go for rides in the car, and phenol barbital was available ostensibly for cold symptoms. Nowadays, at least in Colorado and Washington State, there are other nostrums.

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Next week, I shall be attending the Wyoming School Improvement Conference in Casper, a semi-annual affair that brings lots of national speakers to provide resources for our state’s educators. Usually, anywhere from 700-1000 attend, depending upon weather conditions and local finances. During the conference there will be presentations to prepare school personnel for AdvancEd visits to their own districts during the coming spring and fall, and “refresher sessions” for those of us leading teams to schools and districts both at home and abroad. Next fall, the conference will be in Cheyenne at the Little America complex.

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In late April, I’ve been invited back to be a volunteer at the Wells Fargo Championship Golf Tournament in Charlotte, N.C. Relying upon my background and experience, I’m assigned to monitor children up to the age of 12, as they stand behind the ropes in the practice range area. I try to herd them to placements so that they can get autographs from the players, all of whom seem happy to comply with all of those pens and articles being thrust toward them for signatures. Last year, it was usually raining lightly, but still enjoyable. I hope to have my clubs with me this time and play with my son and other grandsons, who live in Charlotte, and I’ll make a trip down to Atlanta to play with one of my colleagues from our Peace Corps Days, 51 years ago. They had best beware; I think I’ve finally solved the shanking and chipping issue that’s plagued me for five years! And it was just a minor adjustment!

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Sobering thoughts are more frequently invading my mind as I realize how lucky I’ve been, at least to some extent. In the aging process, a variety of diseases, conditions, and downright deterioration begin to work their tools on one’s body, and in many cases we’re only held together by a cluster of pharmaceuticals and supplements.

In looking back over the years, most of us would have died years ago from one thing or another, if not for modern medicine and its continuing advances. I recall having scarlet fever and measles simultaneously when I was about 8; without medicine I would have passed on at a very early age. But during the past year, more and more of my friends and colleagues have died, many of them much younger than I (I’m 75); at the same time I also see younger persons fighting to survive a variety of terrible diseases, and I try to count my blessings that mainly I have only back pain from arthritis, numbness from neuropathy, and a number of other non-terminal conditions that only make daily living uncomfortable. But at least I can still travel, walk, play golf, and I remain vertical most of the time. And most of the 10 pills I take daily are merely OTC supplements for Iron, B-12, and to relieve other irritations.

So instead of worrying about which of the several unwelcome intrusions into this former cathedral of health is going to get me, I will try and ignore the possibilities, just as I do in returning once again, to Cairo.

MaSalaama!

Always Be Happy   To Our Youth

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One Response to “MARHABA!”

  1. Alan Sheinker Says:

    It has been a very cold winter in KS. Getting beow zero next week. I can’t wait. Enjoy your warm visit.

    Alan

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