The Good: It’s mango season! All over town, every fruit stand is piled high and loosely-formed pyramids of the green and red fruit spill out into the dusty street. Women cut slices, place them on trays, place the trays on their heads, and walk down the street, selling them. I buy kilos and kilos of them; this time of year, there’s usually cut-up mangos in the fridge, for anyone to snack on anytime. In spite of this, we often run out. We eat them on cereal or Saturday morning pancakes, over ice-cream, with yogurt, just plain in a bowl. I’m going to make a big batch of chutney when I get time, too.
Also in season are melons. Cantaloupes, casabas, and watermelon are brought by the truckload up from Senegal or down from Morocco. The melons are ripe and dripping with juice and flavor-packed. The cantaloupes, for example, are a deep rich orange and bear little resemblance to their pale-fleshed hothouse cousins for sale in American supermarkets. Tonight for supper we had a huge fruit salad. All these goodies are available for the equivalent of 80 cents a kilo.
The Bad: After some hot days in March, we settled down to a gorgeous spring. The weather has been downright pleasant—warm and dry, with cool nights filled with breezes. So today came as a bit of a shock. All of a sudden, we’re back to 110-degree heat. The air is filled with sand and stepping outside even for a minute means a mouthful of grit crunching between the teeth. The boys skipped soccer. Everyone stayed inside as much as possible, and we kept all windows closed. Tonight the sand hangs on the still air, blotting out the stars. It’s 10 p.m. and still 95 degrees.
The Ugly: Thesis students are getting downright surly. The initial deadline was April 30th, but since only a tiny fraction of the class met it, the admin extended it to May 15th. You might think that since they’ve had all year to do this and that they’ve procrastinated, they would be humble and appeal to me to help them. You would be wrong. No, they demand that I work quickly! One student gave me a large stack of papers on Friday (half typed, half written by hand, which means that it’s the first time I’ve seen them). “I need this by Monday,” he told me. I told him, “We’ll see. I have a very busy weekend planned. I’ll do my best.” “No,” he insisted. “Monday at the latest. I’ll call you.”
I gave him a long lecture on manners, dripping with sarcasm, but it didn’t do a bit of good. (Doesn’t work on my kids either. What am I doing wrong?) I spent my weekend reading other thesis papers (his was less of a priority than the two juries I had to sit on today) and he called me 8 times Sunday and twice on Monday. Today, we met again, and he handed me another stack. “Tomorrow,” he said firmly.
Another teacher told me of a student who handed him 40 pages yesterday and said, “Get these back to me tomorrow.”
Then there’s the student whose paper included lines like “At this point in the lecture I will look back at my first point.” While I’m pleased to see he’s learned how to use the internet, I’m not so thrilled about the blatant plagiarism. This is a student I’ve been lecturing on this issue for months. Does he really think I don’t read his work?
Kudos if you can figure out the following typo: young steers.