Friday, April 29, 2011

Random, lovely Dublin: Part 2

Overheard in Dublin: Vacation edition

"What's the big deal? She'll come up, she'll have a look 'round, then she'll leave."
-On the pending visit of the Queen

"The N11 is still mental."
-Radio traffic announcer

"Ah, the country's broke, but there's the summer to look forward to."
-Civil engineer, turned taxi driver

Friday, April 22, 2011

No one OVER the age of 12 should be called a boy

I snapped this while waiting in line for a taxi outside Al Wahda Mall the other day. This, my friends, is one of the most embarrassing British colonial holdovers of our time.

It is 2011, and the UAE is riddled with people expats commonly refer to tea boys and trolley boys and assorted other workers in the service industry who are men, MEN who work like dogs for long hours, many outside in unbearable heat and beating sun, six or seven days a week for peanuts they save and send home and use to build entire houses and support entire families. In this ridiculous world where people earning 100K plus – over here, without paying any taxes – yet live beyond their means on maxed out credit cards, whining about not getting a pay rise, we could learn a TON from these guys.

But the first thing, the very first thing we should be doing is calling them what they are, men. Standup, real, take-care-of-things men. And the last thing we should be doing is embroidering words that demean them on shirts for all to see.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Snap caption: Laundry to go

Moving in Abu Dhabi: A very, very long story

The bottom line in the UAE, when it comes to moving house or doing anything at all, actually, is this: Expect it to be a massive, major hassle. That way, when things do work out, you'll be happy and pleasant to deal with and not a stark-raving lunatic who fulfills every spoiled expatriate stereotype there is.

I found out I had to move house when I was informed by my company that my one-bedroom flat within walking distance of work was no longer going to be a company flat and was going up in price, meaning I would have to sign an inflated one-year contract that necessitated getting the company to front me the money. Since moving here, I have avoided such nonsense like the plague. Rent has been ridiculous in Abu Dhabi (upwards of US$30,000 a year, that kind of thing) and the idea of living in a month-to-month situation is much more relaxing to me than essentially making myself responsible for Dh100,000. You know what I mean?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Check your calendars people: May 21 is going to (supposedly) be a big one

But the US couple who has put these "End of days" billboards up in Dubai doesn't get to advertise about it any more.

Dubai officials have kiboshed the ads, which warn people that the end of the world is coming very, very soon:

About how they [Family Radio] came to know that May 21 is the ‘judgement day', Sheahan said: "Well, it is hidden in the Bible, and not many people can realise it."

Tweet of the week: But who does like to be eye-raped, really?

 Yazeed Al-Jufairi 
 by ceoDanya
People, I am aware of my good looks and charm. I don't YOU to show it for me. I also do not like to be eye-raped thank you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

NYT's 36 Hours in Abu Dhabi gives me a couple of things to do

The New York Times' Seth Sherwood did a pretty good job of his mini-travel guide to Abu Dhabi, published this week. I love these 36-hour guides myself (appreciating in particular Kathmandu and Istanbul) and it's neat to be able to read one about the city in which you live.

It was also reassuring to see that there is a reason why I eat and drink all the time. Love the addition of Cafe Arabia, on 15th just off Airport Road, as well as Sho Cho in the Souk Qaryat al Beri. Delish. And although you could give the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Heritage Village a miss, you really shouldn't be that jaded.

Anyone have a headache? Allergies? General aches and pains? It's the UAE weather, I'll bet money on it

The temperature shot up late last week. It's raining in April, for goodness' sake. I, personally, have had varying levels of a headache for a week – including what I believe is my first migraine. Several colleagues are complaining as well, of headaches, general pain and allergies. I realise we could just be a bunch of whiners, but I think this may be to blame: - United Arab Emirates | Abu-Dhabi Weather

11 Apr 2011 ... Barometric Pressure 1010 mb. Pressure Tendency Rising. Visibility 10 km. Sunrise 6:05 AM. Sunset 6:42 PM. Three-Day Forecast ... - Cached - Similar

Snap Caption, random press release photo edition: "And another thing..."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

UAE bloggers, activists arrested; A Canadian in Abu Dhabi to write exclusively about the Kardashians

As attempts at change sweep the Arab world, some more successful than others, there hasn't been unrest in the UAE. Not exactly. A protest here, a ripple there. A recent petition from heavy-hitters appealing for direct elections, you know, that sort of thing. The bottom line is, as I tell my family and friends, most of us are not from here and face boarding a one-way flight home for such activity. If we are lucky.

Overheard in a Dubai hair salon: The hidden cost of unrest in Bahrain

Hairdresser: "How long is it since you had your hair cut?"

Customer: "Six months."

Hairdresser: "Wow. Why so long?"

Customer: "I live in Saudi, and I usually fly to Bahrain to get it done. But the situation there means I've not been able to get it cut. It's just been a nightmare."

Hairdresser: "No way… that is a nightmare."

Recycling in the UAE: A personal conversation

Saturday afternoon. My flat. My boyfriend and I are preparing to head down to the Corniche, via taxi, for a late afternoon stroll. I gesture to two giant bags, one containing newspapers, the other clanking bottles, glass and plastic, that I wanted to feed into the tiny green, blue and yellow containers at Gate 2.

Me: I was hoping to take these. How do you feel about that?

My boyfriend: I don't mind. I think they're going to end up in the landfill, but if it makes you feel better. 

It was so hot yesterday...

... that when I came inside the Hilton Hotel after a stroll down the Corniche, my flip-flops must have been melting because for the first few steps they stuck to the cold marble floor like Velcro. 

Snap caption: Ummm, yum yum yum, Ummmm yum yum yum

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Keeping up will be that much easier: Kim Kardashian coming to Dubai

The star just Tweeted that she would be heading here "after the summer". (Reminds me of how everyone here says stuff might happen, inshallah, "after tomorrow".)

Typed Kardashian: "OMG I'm soooo excited I just booked a trip to Dubai! I've never been before! This is going to be such an experience!"

I imagine this will get a lot of attention, but not necessarily here. All the Kardashian reality shows air on E! here (that's three and an upcoming Khloe and Lamar, which debuts in the US on Sunday and will feature all the family at some point or the other). Khloe is on the cover of the first Cosmopolitan Middle East. And somehow, I can just picture them in Dubai.

And yes, I follow Kim Kardashian on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dear taxi driver: Asking a female passenger about her breasts is not cool

I got into a taxi near Al Falah Plaza last night. I was famished, so scarfing down a crunchy snack. I apologised to the man.

Driver: Where you from?

Me: Canada.

Driver: How many children, you?

Me: Two. (I always say this. I tire of blowing the minds of men from India and Pakistan who simply cannot fathom a woman my age might have no children.)

Driver (gesturing to his own chest): You give the milk?

Me (shocked, I manage to sputter): That's none of your business.

Now I realise that maybe this was a fair question, if he was just trying to figure out why I was so hungry and that seemed like the most logical explanation. But seriously, in what country could a strange man ask a woman this and not have it be weird?

The rest of the trip: We are silent, listening to the radio.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Change? What change? Not in the UAE, anyway

I absolutely love this piece by The National's Felicity Campbell about how the UAE is a country with no change. As in dirhams. It is the bane of my existence. Everyone wants change. No one has any. She writes:

The reason, as I see it, is this. The easiest way to get money is to withdraw it from an ATM. The smallest note to come out of any ATM in the country is Dh100. And if you want to withdraw Dh500, you are more than likely to get a Dh500 note. Which you are then stuck with for a long time as no one will give you change for it without a fight.

I also like how she thinks. Instead of walking around every day, getting cranky at the assortment of people who should have change that never have any (taxi drivers, I am looking at you), she just decided to arm herself with a fat roll of bills and bunch of coins and call it a day. 

Anybody know where I can get a copy of Cosmo Middle East in Abu Dhabi?

I am dying to review it. I scoured the usual places over the weekend (two bookshops, one in Khalidiya Mall, the other in Abu Dhabi Mall, as well as two Lulus)  but came up empty. By the way it looks like this:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Moby and Snoop Dogg to play in UAE: I am so going to be at these shows

The two are due to play separate shows, DJ Moby at the Dubai World Trade Centre and Snoop May 6 at Yas Island.

And don't ask me how Snoop – porn producer, profanity lover – can perform here, let alone get into the country. I don't want to be a downer, but it is illegal to even have drugs in your system here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

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 ...