My first day of work

This is going to be a short post for two reasons. First, the first day at work was short and reasonably uneventful, and second, I am very tired.

On Friday evening, I thought I had done a great job overcoming jet lag in just one day. I managed to stay awake until 11:00 p.m. after getting up at 10:30 a.m. I did manage to go to sleep quickly, but getting to sleep is not the problem. Staying asleep is the problem. At 3:00 a.m. I was wide awake again. My body was telling me this was just a nice afternoon nap. I got up and checked email and Facebook. I got a little snack from the kitchen. I watched a little television, and then I fell asleep at 5:00 am. After what felt like no time had passed, I was startled awake by the sound of my door bell. It turned out to be the housekeeping supervisor, who was coming to check on the state of the room at 1:30 p.m. Jet lag had the last laugh.

That was the best sleep I had had since the last night at the cottage, but I knew it would doom me. Last night again I fell asleep around 11:00 p.m., but I woke up less than an hour later. I was wide awake until almost 5:00 a.m. again, but this time I needed to be ready to leave for work at 8:00 a.m. With less than three hours sleep total, I went to the University of Waterloo campus this morning. I am typing this at 9:40 p.m., and I am extremely tired. I am hopeful that when I fall asleep tonight, I stay asleep for more than a couple of hours.

Today and tomorrow are orientation days for the first year students on campus, so there are no classes. I will write more about the UW campus in a later blog, after I have had more time to explore it. Today was mostly getting settled, and trying to do some work to get ready for my classes on Tuesday. Before most of us left the campus in the afternoon, the director of the Dubai campus (Peter) asked us if the faculty wanted to get together for dinner tonight. One faculty member had arrived last night, and he was not on campus and not available in his room when we called up. The rest of the faculty, along with one of the staff and one spouse all went for dinner together to “Automatic”.

“Automatic” is a chain restaurant serving Lebanese food. Learning that there is a chain of Lebanese restaurants at all was new to me. I did not think to bring a camera to the dinner – I will not make that mistake again. Every time I leave the hotel, I will make sure I at least have my Blackberry with me in case documentary photos need to be taken. We had about 12 people together at one long table. There was crispy bread on the table which might have been toasted pita bread, pickle and olive trays, and an assortment of vegetables that was arranged like a centre piece. I don’t think I can really describe the arrangement well, which is why I wish I had brought a camera. The centre piece of vegetables included carrots, green peppers, cucumber, lettuce, and what looked like fresh mint, or some other kind of fresh spice. I honestly didn’t know if it was supposed to be eaten or not, but those who are more familiar with this part of the world were creating their own salads and vegetable sandwiches from the centre piece material and the pita.

Peter decided to order food for the entire table, rather than have us order individual appetizers and entrees. This was a great way to eat a meal with people I was just getting to know. It was like sitting around a family dinner table on a holiday weekend – except the food choices were a little different. We passed the pita bread, the hommous, the baba ghanouj, the tabbouleh, and the fattoush (which is a type of salad with a strong flavor of mint). I have had some good hommous and tabboleh from the St. Jacob’s farmer’s market, but this was definitely the best hommous I have ever tasted. After the appetizers we shared the two “Automatic mixed grill” platters, which contained four variations of meat, including chicken, and beef I think, as well as a ground spicy chicken (I think), and a ground spicy beef. My favourite was the ground beef. It was a relaxing, enjoyable way to get to know my colleagues a little better.

Tomorrow I will spend more time getting ready for my first class on Tuesday morning. But in the afternoon and evening, I am going to join the students on a desert safari. I will definitely take my camera on that trip, and expect to have more to write following that little adventure.

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