An extract from an email recently written to a friend in Kuwait:
'Despite the various frustrations of life in Kuwait: the shady employer, the bureaucratic sloth and irrationality, the lack of 'things to do', the Islamic rigour, the intense awareness of inequality, the prevalence of basic racism and social injustice, I already feel I miss the place. Not only the people and the friends I made but a certain buzz and energy that I think is a feature throughout the Middle East. I'm not sure I know how to explain it, but it was certainly there in Kuwait, as it was in other Middle Eastern countries I've visited.'
This does not mean, however, that I regret leaving Kuwait, far less that I regret coming to China, which as a venture is far too young to evaluate.
It's a pity, though, that the campus is 60s gloom, not the Durhamic majesty that surrounded me when I was last attached to a University, or the gracious delicacy of the Cambridge that embraced me as a child.
And that the campus is 30 minutes out of town in an insulated western cocoon.
Still, these are not significant complaints.