Monday, November 12, 2012


Yes, you read that right this is my  500th blogging birthday. Bring out the cake, light the candles, hang the banners and celebrate.  The KSA Daily officially has 500 posts !!! A collection of 500 stories recounting my cross-cultural mishaps and funny moments, stories of language learning and opening a business, tales of my travels and tour groups, 500 posts with pictures of Uyghur life and beautiful settings I get to call home.  

When I started this project a little over six years ago I never thought I would make it to 500 posts ( I didn’t think my life had that many interesting moments).  Not all of the 500 posts have come from my own hand.  In fact at least seven others have participated in authoring some of those posts, my former roommate, a classmate, my mom, my friend’s mom, expat friends, local friends and a completestranger.

  I am also surprised with the number of people I have met via the blogging world.  I was able to go for coffee in Thailand with a blogging friend from Mongolia, I catch up on news from college dorm mates who now live in Siberia.  I recently met another expat, we spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how she knew me or where we might have met in the past before she finally asked “Do you have a blog?  Are your initials KSA?”
I often feel as if it is unfair, when I go home to Canada friends and family know small details about my life.  They have a collection of 500 insights into what my daily life looks like. I, however, don’t know anything about what they have been up to.  I feel like a dud having to ask questions like “You had a second child right?  Girl or a Boy?”  Only to find out that baby is already over three years old.  Those same people know details about the color of my winter coat and my favorite breakfast food.  I feel like an uncaring friend.

The blogger stats say that on a daily basis more than 50 people check out the KSA Daily.  We have had guests from all over the world.  People from over forty countries have stopped by to read some of what is happening at the KSA Daily.  The map on the side shows that Tunisia, Venezuela , Egypt, Singapore and Azerbaijan. If you look up almost anything about Uyghur culture Google will pull up a link to this blog.

On the KSA Daily’s 100th birthday I asked people to leave comments indicating whether or not it was still worth my time and energy to record my experiences in this fashion.  After such a blatant plea for feedback and encouragement, only 4 people left comments.  Only four people took the time to respond.  Only four people asked that I continue.  On my 200th birthday my request for affirmation was even stronger.  I asked people to be completely honest and let me know if what I wrote was boring or if they just had nothing to say.  For the 11 people who took the time to comment I kept writing for another three years.

Part of me loves this whole idea of on-line journaling.  The thought that others may read what I am writing,  that you as a guest to this sight might check on a weekly basis to see if I have updated it,  helped me to be more disciplined in the act of journaling than I ever was when it was just a personal book stuffed in my sock drawer.   But truth be told I am tired.  I need a break from constantly thinking of my life as one big blog post.  I want to stop sitting down ever few nights and figuring out how I could write each life situation up as a funny entry.  

And so on my 500th birthday I want to thank you all for joining me in this adventure and I want to say goodbye for now.  I don’t know if I am permanently done with blogging, or if I just need a break for a few months.  It’s been fun.  We’ll see if in a few weeks I miss the habit of recording, or if enough people respond asking me to continue. But for now we say adieu.   Thanks for sharing in all the humors moments in my life, KSA.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Getting Paid

I had just sat down in the local ice cream shop to enjoy a treat and answer any question that the group I had just taken on a culture walk might have, when the guy who works at the ice cream parlor interrupted me.  “There is someone waiting outside to talk to you” he said.  I looked towards the window where customers can place orders as they walk by on the street and sure enough a Uyghur women stood there craning her head to see me.

I excused myself and step out to see what she needed.  She smiled warmly and greeted me by name, which sadly I could do in return.  I didn’t even recognize her, and yet it was obvious that I was suppose to know.  She noticed my confusion and graciously said “You don’t remember me, do you?  You taught my daughter English a few years ago.”  That didn’t narrow it down to much, but I faked a smile of understanding and said “Oh right, right”

She continued “I never paid you for the last few weeks of teaching and it has bothered me ever since, so how much do I owe you?”  She had already pulled out her wallet and was ruffling through the bills. 
I still had no memory of this women, or her daughter, or being owed any money.  I stalled.  “How is your daughter?  How old is she now a days?” Her answers to my question slowly started to draw the memory of who she was to mind.  I remember teacher for this family… I had only said ‘yes’ as a favor to another friend.  After one or two months of teaching I had cancelled on them with the lame excuse that my classes and work load were just getting too busy to keep  teaching.  

“So, how much?” she asked again.

“Don’t worry about it”  I had always felt kind of bad for the way I had dropped their daughters class so suddenly.  “That was a long time ago you don’t need to pay me”

“No,” she said very insistently.  “It has bugged me for four years.  I must pay what I owe.  I lost my phone and didn’t have your phone number or else I would have called you a long time ago.  I was so glad when I saw you out walking this afternoon.  I tried to call you name, but you didn’t hear me.  So I followed you for the last few blocks and chased you down to this ice cream shop.”

“Oh let me give you my number now,”  In truth I was still stalling over the whole money issue.  I felt weird that this woman I barely remembered had her wallet open under my nose and was asking me how much I wanted.  I recited my number and she immediately called it back so that I could save her number.  But I didn’t need to the second my phone ranger this woman’s name popped up on the screen.  I still had her number saved in my phone from 4 years ago.  I try to clean out unknown number ever year or so, since my phone log quickly gets filled up with the names and numbers of random people I meet on the street once and never hear from again.  But despite regular discards of unused numbers, this women’s name was still saved in speed dial.  She laughed when she saw it and said “Oh, you still have my number.  You should have just called me and asked for your money”

“I had totally forgotten about it.  Please don’t feel like you have to pay me now”

“No,”  she insisted, “It was like 250 ($40)”

As she handed me the ‘outstanding debt’ we chatted a little more and realized that we were practically neighbors living only a couple of blocks away.  Getting paid lead to making plans to be in touch and hang out some time.