D is for Diplomacy

Me – OK. So the next one. The opposite of small is… anyone?… anyone?… opposite of small? Guys…. come on… guys… what is happening? Opposite of small?…


Total silence. 


Me – Big. OK. Big. The opposite of small is big. Salim, give me an example of something big. 


Salim – House is big.


Me – Erm, OK. And something small?


Salim – House is small.


Me – Right. Anything else? 


Hilal – Opposite of long is short.


Me – OK. Excellent, very good, Hilal. But please, wait for the other students. They are still writing big. 


Me – Issa, that’s a B. B.I.G 


Issa (rather aggressively) – Teacher, I know.


Me – You’ve written P.I.G, oink, oink. It’s a B. 


Issa – Yes, teacher.


Me – OK, the next one. The opposite of old? This one is a bit difficult. 


Mubarak – Young.


Me – Excellent. Very good. 


Hilal – No, new teacher, new.


Me – OK. The opposite  of old is new, correct. The opposite of old is young, correct. Young only for people. New for objects. Example, old car…


Mubarak – New car. No young car.


Me – Excellent. 


Hilal – Teacher is young.


Me – Yes. Or, teacher is old. Not teacher is new. Very good. Very very good. 


Said – The opposite of thin. Fat.


Me – Very good, Said.


Said – Mohammed is fat.


Me – OK, next one. 


Said – Teacher, correct? Mohammed is fat?


Me – Right, let’s move on. 


Hilal – Mr. Shane Anthony Teacher Sir is young and thin.


Me – Thank you, Hilal. Yes, that is correct, I am young and thin. 


Hilal – Mohammed is old and fat.


At this point, Mohammed, who is the largest Arab I’ve ever seen, puts down his biscuits and starts paying attention. He is comfortably rolled over two large chairs, like a slowly melting piece of butter. Like butter, he has a very sweet odor and can’t speak any English.

Me – OK.  


Said – Correct teacher. Yes.


Me – Yes. Correct. 


Mohammed – Fat, I. Teacher.


Me – Is that a question Mohammed? 


Hilal – Mohammed is old. Teacher is young.


Mohammed – Fat?


Me – How old are you Mohammed? 


Mohammed – 9.


Me – No, you are not 9. Definitely not.


Mohammed – 5 and then yes 9.


Said – 59 teacher. He is old. I am 58, I am old.


Me – Excellent.


Hilal – I 22. I young.


Me – I am 22, I am young. Very good. OK. Next one… expensive…


Mohammed –  Teacher, fat?


Me – A bit fat. Yes, Mohammed. No problem. 


Mohammed – Why fat, teacher?


Me – I don’t know, OK…. expensive…. The opposite of expensive?… 


Issa – Cheap. The teacher’s clothes are cheap.


Me – Right, let’s have a break. 


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