Tuesday, August 10, 2004


It is perhaps impossible to convey here without the support of photographic evidence the unique environment in which I am spending my summer days. How can the uninitiated accurately imagine the figure the superintendent of the Board of Education cuts as he slouches in his enormous office in his sleeveless undershirt listlessly fanning himself. His style is that of benign neglect, and one gets the impression that the Social Education Section and the Schools Section are autonomously run by their respective supervisors. The supervisors and their staff occupy a shared office next door to the superintendent’s, the two rooms being roughly equivalent in size. Both supervisors have an assistant, and besides these full-time staff members there seem to be two temps and an office lady (OL). There is also a middle-aged woman who comes in a few days a week. Her role in this office is puzzling, but I saw her ironing tablecloths this morning, and when she’s not sitting on a sofa fanning herself she can often be found hanging out in the Board of Education kitchen with the OL. She is probably the reason my coffee mug is sometimes cleaner than I remember it being. She also seems to have a mysterious power over the Social Education supervisor and spends a lot of time berating him in the local dialect. His humble submission to her diatribes causes me to suspect that they share a family tree and that he occupies a lower branch therein. My own position falls under the Schools Section, and my supervisor’s assistant is his nephew. As I have previously indicated, my supervisor and his wife are good to me. This morning, as I was returning from my morning prayers in the park,

he passed me on the road and let me know that he had left some mustard-pickled cucumbers and a dish of fresh, raw squid in my fridge for me. As I had locked my door on the way out, he simply entered through the sliding screen doors of my living room. That is the way we live here, and I am content.