I feel the need to acknowledge the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Certainly I would never have predicted at that time I would be living in the Middle East ten years later. Like most North Americans, I remember where I was the planes hit the World Trade Center. I was returning from teaching my first class of the 2001 fall term. My friend Ruth, who had the office next to mine, said that two planes had hit the World Trade Center. I assumed that she meant two small planes, and said something like “that sounds like a terrible mistake by an air traffic controller”. I was shocked to find out the details. Two days after the attacks, my father died. I, my mother and my sister, were going through a personal time of mourning, while the United States was going through a public mourning process. It was all surreal to me.
I wondered if living in Dubai would give me a different perspective on the anniversary. The only news I can understand on television is from BBC and CNN. Certainly CNN was dominated by the coverage of the ceremonies in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. The BBC covered it to a lesser extent. The top headline in Gulf News paper today is “America unites in grief”. There is a two page spread inside the World section of the paper, and an op-ed piece about the impact of 9/11 on Pakistan. One of the articles in the paper is entitled “Being a Young American Muslim”. I am guessing that is a perspective not covered by the major networks in the US.
I had a relatively unproductive day yesterday, at least until I got home. I had hoped to work out some issues in the computer lab and get ahead on some of my course work. Things didn’t go as planned in the lab in the morning. I found out that I needed to go for my medical appointment, that would eventually lead to my residence visa, at 10:30. The location of the medical centre seemed to be at the opposite end of the city – but of course I really don’t know where it was because I was driven there.
Before I left, I was told that I wouldn’t have to stand in line because ladies don’t have to wait. There were four of us going for the medical check: two of my colleagues Giovanni and Surya, and Giovanni’s daughter Cristina. When we arrived there were two signs for lining up. One was for men, but the one for women was blocked by chairs. After watching for a minute I realized that we were supposed to sit in line, rather than stand in line. Cristina and I were processed quickly, and sent to see the doctor. There didn’t seem to be much of a lineup for the men, so Giovanni moved along too. I assumed that Surya had already moved around to see the doctor, but I didn’t see him.
When we got to the next “station”, I handed in my paperwork and was told to see the doctor in Room 27. Cristina was sent to the same doctor. There were three men in line, and we stood behind them. The men in line ushered us to move in front. I stood in the doorway as Cristina saw the doctor. He asked this 17 year old girl if she was married. I had to smile at that question. He stamped her forms, and I sat down next. The doctor asked me if I was still having my periods. I said yes. Then he asked me when my last period was. I told him it ended just a couple of days ago. He asked me the date of my period. I asked if he wanted to know when it started or when it ended. He said either was fine. Fortunately it had been fairly recent, otherwise I wouldn’t have had a clue of either date. I said it had ended last Wednesday, but I actually wasn’t even sure of that date. I wondered why he needed to know any of this, but especially an exact date. I also wondered how would he know if I was lying. Afterwards I asked Giovanni and Surya what the doctor asked them, and they both said they had just been asked their names and where they worked. Ironically both Surya and Giovanni saw a female doctor where Cristina and I saw a male doctor.
After we saw the doctor, we went to have a chest X-ray taken and then on to have blood drawn. In both cases there were male and female rooms for the procedures. Things moved along very quickly especially for Cristina and me. We were waiting in the hall for Giovanni and Surya, and I realized that I had never seen Surya as we moved from station to station. It turns out that he was turned away in the first line, because the picture he had taken several months ago didn’t look enough like him today. In particular, his hair was too long now. He had to have another picture taken and attached to his form.
I believe that the university had done quite a bit of work before we went for the medical check compared to what had happened in previous terms. Things did go very smoothly from my point of view. Now I just have to wait for the test results, and I can get my passport back. I am irrationally worried about these results. It has been a long time since I have seen a doctor. I am sure everything will check out, but I will be glad when I receive the final stamp of approval.