Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chaptette 8: Normal Curves and Straight Lines

Doha bathrooms have bidets. Even the GAS station bathrooms have them! I'm really not part of the "blame America first" crowd, but public bathrooms in the US could use a serious upgrade ("We're, um, 'Number 1'?") The toilets themselves typically have two flushing buttons. Ok....

Because of its conservative Islamic tradition, public bathrooms are strictly segregated by sex.

My laundry machine both washes and dries. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to use it. Yeah, right, like you can do better. Look at the
front of that machine, and tell me you know what those buttons are for and what the icons mean. I studied them, as if I were translating ancient hieroglyphics (the scholar asks himself "Does that icon represent "no socks"? "add softener?" "take a shower?") I wish the buttons had just been labeled with Arabic, so I could look at them and say "I don't know Arabic". "Universal" icons just made me feel "uniquely" stupid.

My washer is much better. It doesn't clean dishes very well, but at least I understand it. You push one button and it helpfully shows a display: "English?" You push another button and the screen reads "Normal," "Rinse" and so forth. I need to get it to talk with the washer/dryer.

The pictures clearly show that appliances in Qatar are asymmetrical, and pictures don't lie.

The microwave? Like all its tribe, it is a machine of many buttons. As with every microwave, I only need one: I keep pushing the "add 30 seconds" button until whatever I'm cooking explodes inside. Then it's done.

The electrical plugs are pretty cool. They have three prongs and one generally shoves in a universal (!!) three prong adapter; this accepts any power cord, the slut. All outlets do have an "on-off" switch, so the outlet is not hot until you turn it on. This seems like a pretty good idea to me, after I figured out why the iron wouldn't work, my laptop wouldn't charge, etc. unless I turned the power on. But now I know this: I'm almost Qatari!

The pool is simple operate. Jump in. The first two weeks I was here, the pool was not chilled. In fact, the water temperature was exactly 98.6 Fahrenheit, which made me feel like I was swimming in....oh, never mind. But you wouldn't want to swim in it. Today, it was delightfully cool, and breezy. It only lacked women without veils and drinks not from fruit juice bottles. (Surely some literary style allows for repetitive elements running through the chapters, right?)

Here I am, trying to figure out how to use my appliances.

I would have posted a picture of my camera, too, but it is not autophotographical.

1 comment:

  1. Your self-portrait is very shows a man with a great deal of determination...Read Ellen Gilchrists's novels and short stories, she has elements and characters that/who run through them...I think it adds a wonderful element to a series of writings or paintings or the like. Go for it....I not only grant you permission, yes, I know you did not ask, I encourage the practice. Most electrical stuff, computers, phones, cameras, etc...are getting way too complicated for my taste. I really would rather contemplate the intricacies of a seed pod or tree branch than how to program a unique ring I empathize...If this is indeed a generational shift in brain structure so be it...maybe I am already suffering some calcification of synapses..they harden and then fracture into millions of pieces of debris(a good description of all the icons in existence)... Oh well. The problem with universal iconography is someone forgot to give us all a dictionary to the 'language'.

    ---You know, that might just be an interesting subject to research, just how many universal icons are there for hot, cold, wash, rinse, dry, etc........I would put money on there is more than one for each..???(a lot more).. lee ann