Birds and balls in Romania

I have been living in Alexandria, a small town in the south of Romania and teaching English.

The first week has been bliss, I get spoilt by my host family which consists of a doctor, a dentist and their 13 year old son. I’ve started doing chemistry and physics in the kitchen with the kid which is a real eye-opener. He’s a bright lad, but Romanian schools tend to avoid practicals so this was the first time he’d actually done a practical. So we do practicals every night now, from “the egg-in-a-bottle” to the “imploding cans” for physics and electrolysis of salt (using paper clips 2 bits of cheap wire, salt water and an AA battery).

For those of you in the know, the electrolysis of salt water should give us sodium hydroxide and chlorine. However over here, the Romanians use iodine instead as the halogen as they used to have a high incidence of hypothyroidism so we made iodine and potassium instead. Being a travelling chemistry and physics teacher certainly does have some advantages.

Am starting to get a tiny bit paranoid that the birds are out to get me. Earlier in the year, I travelled to Vietnam and a few weeks before I left Kuwait it was reported that Vietnam had reported it’s first cases of bird flu. SE_London_Chinky mailed me the perfect solution to the epidemic earlier in the week. “Buy a ton of Pho (Vietnamese noodles) and a big pot” he says, “and serve with jasmine tea”. The entrepreneurial spirit of the Vietnamese never ceases to amaze me.

Just 2 days before I took off to Romania the birds saw me comin and started dropping dead on the black sea coast at the Danube delta. Dinner yesterday was Romanian rice stew with chicken. Is that a fever comin on…

The Romanians are taking the necessary precautions, killing off everything with wings in the Danube delta and restricting access to the affected town. In Alexandria, the ministry of education cancelled the Freshers ball at my school which was supposed to happen last night apparently to prevent the risk of the infection from spreading. What idiot brings a chicken to a ball anyway!? “Hi have you met my bird…” I don’t know. These Eastern Europeans huh…

Looks like a quiet weekend. Dad (as in my host family dad) crashed the car earlier in the week else we would have driven into Bucharest to get some provisions. As it stands at the moment though I am just gonna chill out in Alexandria and read the rest of “Salam Pax: The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi”. I’m hooked. Put a search on google for it and read the cached version. Thanks Salam for reminding me how to blog again!
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