Thursday, October 8, 2009

Random Abu Dhabi fact

There are, or so I am told, as I have not personally counted them, 14 bars in the Howard Johnson hotel.

Overheard in the One to One hotel ladies bathroom:

"Oh don't you just love it when parents leave open wet nappies out?"

Healthcare: Abu Dhabi versus Canada

The system here is confusing, I'll tell you that. But when the lovely internist who serves as my GP here (see what I mean by confusing?) came out to the waiting room this week specifically to apologise for running, in her words, "grossly" late – a half an hour, actually – I realised things are very, very different. I have sat for more than an hour at my doctor's back in Ottawa without so much as a nod from the receptionist, as if keeping people that long for appointments was the most normal thing in the world.

Dr Fatima is one of my favourite things about Abu Dhabi, actually. She is remarkably candid – in speaking about a referral, she joked "I could send you to a female doctor, but she is a serious cow" – and really funny, joking "I am a peddler of drugs" as she wrote out a prescription for antibiotics. She always asks how I am doing, as well, purposely keeping me just a bit longer than I would like, because she is so very thorough. In my early days here, when I hated it sometimes and had turned up with a third throat infection, feeling absolutely awful, she asked how I was and my eyes welled up with tears in spite of myself. "It's hard for everyone," she said, and offered to write me a note for a day off work.

As for the system itself, who knows. I am apparently getting an MRI for a shoulder injury in the next few weeks; cool. When I needed one back home in Ontario a couple of years ago it took 8 months. Having said that, a medical test that was done by a specialist at one of the major hospitals here last Christmas Day? Dr Fatima has not received the results. She asked me to get them for her. "Email is fine," she said. Emailing medical test results? Really? I've heard tell of hospitals that won't accept people with car accident injuries (imagine that happening to you, driving around with a broken wrist looking for a doctor) and tests that insurance won't pay for. So who knows, really.

Dr Fatima though, she's tops.

Of course Brangelina was not coming

A silly rumour for the last few hours was that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would turn up to walk the red carpet outside Emirates Palace for tonight's opening of the Middle East International Film Festival. Not entirely out of the realm of possibility, as the pair have been in the region doing good works in Jordan and Syria in recent weeks, but pretty implausible. Two stars who did turn up: Demi Moore and Hilary Swank (not really "jaw dropping" as director Peter Scarlet promised yesterday, but you know, fine-ish). Also, and this is pretty random, Dennis Haysbert, who played the president on 24 for five seasons. Even weirder, this appears to be the third time he has been in the UAE this year. That the press covered, anyway. America's first black president, on TV, a friend of Abu Dhabi.

And I continue to be pretty amazed and entirely unimpressed with the festival offering a cool film for the closing night gala – this time George Clooney's Men Who Stare at Goats – that no one but a bunch of VIPs will get to see as they are showing it but once on the last day. I have tickets for about five films, including the Anna Wintour documentary The September Issue, Precious, which I've heard good things about, and No One Knows about Persian Cats, a look at Iran's independent music scene.

How to be a happy expat

Because a cloud wall makes you want to take a selfie.  After 10 years living in the UAE, some of that time happy, some miserable and ...