Monday, May 24, 2010

Jagshemash! Spotted in Heathrow: Sacha Baron Cohen

The man, the Borat, in the flesh, right now having a chair massage in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. It's niiiiiiiice when you make cut my cuticles.

How you doin'? Joey Tribbiani, spotted jogging in Hyde Park

Okay, Matt LeBlanc, the hunky guy who used to play him all those years. Yep, ran right past me. And though he looks in perfect shape, he must be trying to lose weight: it was already edging up to 30 degrees C and he had on long pants, a thin fleece and a black skull cap.

England has a lot of rules - and why do British people say "literally" so much?

I was on the plane and heard the air hostess - "I was in Dubai and it was so hot, I mean it was literally, I mean I was literally (hands motioning buckets of sweat falling from her head)..." My favourite is when people misuse it. "I was literally fuming..." I would like to see that!

As for the weird rules, well, I met a friend at a pub and since she has a beautiful brown Lab (named, awesomely, Fudge) we sat outside on the patio. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here - it was 30 degrees C today - so it was really lovely. As we took our first sips of cider, a staffer came out from inside to tell us that we couldn't actually drink on the patio at that hour. Just smoke, is all.

Next day I met the friend again, another pub, in Earl's Court. Tables outside. Her, her boyfriend, on either side of the deuce against the stone wall. And of course Fudge. I, being the 3rd (well fourth) did what others around me had done: pulled my chair up to the side of the table between them. Five minutes later the bartender comes out to tell me that I can't sit there - the place is only licensed for chairs along the wall. Then I hear a lady at the table beside us, who has also been rousted: "The last pub we were at, you couldn't drink outside, but only on Sundays!"

Check out this totally awesome all-weather scooter...

I am on a press trip in England and saw it in Dorchester, Dorset, for sale at a "scooter" store. I want it for when I am older and can no longer walk properly. Actually I want it now.

Isn't this typical?

Dubai wouldn't approve the Sex and the City 2 shoot, and I imagine it's not going to let the movie air in the emirate either. But there it is, in a Dubai duty free shop, "The Essential Collection", all Dh600 worth.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Prediction: There is NO WAY Sex and the City 2 will screen here

I know it makes a good story, stuff like this. But there really is no "wait and see" to it.  

In my humble opinion, the only way people in the UAE are going to see the new Sex and the City is if they are good at illegal downloading or know a guy with a suitcase who knocks at their door from time to time, bearing another batch of new releases that may or may not work or have been shot by a jittery video pirate on a crappy handheld in some unknown darkened theatre in God knows where. And when you forget your head and spend Dh10 dirhams because it's a new release you really want to see that will never open here, say Sex and the City 2, and it clunks out right at the good part, never to be revived even though you spend 30 minutes trying, well then it will be your fault. 

The first one never opened here – I know, because my oldest friend waited for me to make my first trip home and we went to see it together.

Although the UAE has no problem with bloody, horrific violence, sex, especially city-style, will not fly. Even if by some strange miracle it does show here, it would make no sense. Slash cut slash. Kim Cattrall's character would be all but obliterated and it probably won't make much sense. Liza Minelli performs at a gay wedding, for goodness sake. Best hope is for the full, uncut airing on Showtime next year. They never cut anything.

Just a reminder: it was Dubai who turned the producers down, location-wise, not the capital. And Abu Dhabi that ended up scoring the big product placement without making any sacrifices or without riling any conservatives. Wasn't shot here, see? We had nothing to do with it. 

Apparently a movie manager in Dubai says it's on the "tentative" schedule. But I'll believe it when I see it. And by see it, I mean when I fly back to Canada next month. And sit in a darkened theatre next to my oldest friend, who I know is going to wait for me. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Do they have these everywhere?

This little contraption was on my table at Cafe Firenze the other morning. As a former server, I cannot imagine anything worse. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yikes! Synthetic henna sounds... not so good

UAE University in Al Ain has published a study in the journal of Leukaemia and Lymphoma showing the rate of acute myeloid leukaemia in Emirati women was 93 per cent higher than in men, and 63 per cent higher than in expatriate women.

The scientists, who cautioned that the disease is still very rare, believe the henna Emirati women use to decorate their hands and feet may be a cause – but only when it is the banned synthetic kind.

"The henna here used here is often made with benzene, [which] is a well-documented factor causing this specific type of leukaemia," said Dr Inaam Hassan, an associate professor at the university.

Has anyone seen the scary weird player piano in Marina Mall?

We were rushing through the mall to go to the cinema when we heard a piano pounding out the notes of Jingle Bells. What the? we thought, before we stumbled on this contraption, roped off and the subject of several intrigued onlookers. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was wandering through those frosty corridors and heard the unmistakeable notes of My Heart Will Go On (not with Celine Dion singing it, of course - another person was on vocals). It sings, too? More intrigued onlookers.

I have to go to the mall this week, I shall check to see if it has taken up dancing and report back.

Random jumble of questions about life in the UAE

Even after two years living here, I am amazed at all that goes on around me that I don't understand. Here are just a few things that make me go 'hmmmm'.

Why do people keep the plastic on their car seats, forever?
How can people loudly honk at you, then be smiling like it was the most natural thing in the world when you turn to look at them?
What is that woman dipping – a large lima bean? A little pita? – into that white goo on the television commercial on MBC4?
Does anyone who takes the double decker bus tour of Abu Dhabi like it?
Why does WAM, the state news agency, so frequently report on developments in South Korea?
What do people do with all the soft jarred cheese on sale in the supermarket?
Why are there so many ladies of the evening in some bars, and so few in others?
Why are limes from India – the only ones I can get 3/4 of the time – so yellow and small and dry?
Why are restaurants so cold I can't enjoy my meal?
Why can't anyone make a decent martini?
Sandstorms? Really?
What does the horse and carriage offering rides outside Marina Mall – the one with all the UAE flag stickers all over it – have to do with Emirati heritage?
Why does Spinney's only have english muffins half the time?
Why are there no mailboxes to post my letters?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mini-restaurant review: Spaccanapoli, Crowne Plaza, Abu Dhabi

For all the money I've spent on eating out in Abu Dhabi, I haven't had very many good meals. So I've decided to start rating my restaurant meals, perhaps helping others avoid my mistakes. I am not going to get fancy, or pretentious, but I will give a rating: from one to five smiley faces. Cause that's what I look like when I've had a good meal.

Please do not judge me for how often I eat out.

Onto to Spaccanapoli, which I heard about on Twitter (thanks Twitter). I have never eaten at a Crowne Plaza Restaurant before because frankly, one night when I was there having cocktails, I decided that hotel smelled funny. (I can't vouch for the smell now – I entered Spaccanapoli from Hamdan Street and it smelled great. The restaurant, not the street)

On to the first thing I loved about Spaccanapoli: the street entrance. So many restaurants are tucked away in hotels that it's a bit stifling. Going in off the street helps me pretend I am at home. Someplace a bit more normal to me. Points for the trendy clean decor, and the faux library in the tiny bar. The food was delish (although the 1/2 metre pizza, above, was silly-big for three of us). We also had some yummy gnocchi, which was a little too samey to the pizza (our bad for ordering it and not a mushroom papardalle we had previously considered) and an awesome salad with smooth blue cheese and apples. The meal is preceded by baskets of warm flatbread served with roasted garlic (!) and tart chunks of parmesan, with a cool intertwined olive oil and balsamic set of bottles on the table for your pouring. As usual, due to the bread we were all full by the time our mains arrived.

There was also the requisite confusing-service moment, which I find a meal is rarely complete without. After our martinis had taken a really long time to arrive, the server explained "someone took the olives, and we are just waiting".

The best part though, was when the bill arrived. Spaccanapoli is not expensive at all! The massive pizza, most of it sent home in a box, salad, entree, bottle of pinot grigio and 5 martinis all came to a cool Dh630 dirhams. We all agreed we have paid twice that for meals we liked less. Next time I want to try the yummy-looking appetizer bar.

Also, and I consider this a major bonus, the toilets are self-flushing. And that is why, Spaccanapoli gets :) :) :) :)

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 ...