Friday, September 7, 2018

That time when home feels more strange than away

Me and my dad, Larry, on his birthday. 
There are a million great things that have come into my life ever since I left Canada for the UAE more than 10 years ago – a trip I thought might last a year or two, tops.

I've been aware that the experience has altered me totally and completely for most of the time to varying degrees. (I often liken those first few months to having my personality disintegrate, and then the rest of the year as me rebuilding it into something I could vaguely recognise. It's something else, leaving one life and building a whole other one for yourself.)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Tadweer is recycling in Abu Dhabi: Be still my heart!

Me recycling for the first time in years.
Two days ago I saw two men putting what looked to be recyclables into a dumpster just like the one above, in the parking lot outside the Park Rotana, and I thought, hmmm. Then I spotted two of the same bin outside my apartment and literally, my heart soared.

I still don't know anything about the bins, other than that they are there and I am happy about it, but believe me, I'm looking into it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I want to lose my heavy baggage next trip with this $1,000 Travelmate robot suitcase

Wouldn't it be fun to walk through the airport with one of these "fully autonomous" Travelmate suitcases, which cost US$1,000 (Dh3,672) and come with a removable four-hour battery that can also be used to recharge any mobile device. There is also a fingerprint lock system, a built-in scale and a GPS to locate it if the absolute worst happens and your flight lands at 3am at Abu Dhabi International Airport and your suitcase is MIA and you have to line up at that little kiosk when you are so tired you can barely see. 

Of course I have also begun to envision scenarios where this robotic suitcase turns on you and refuses to stop at Duty Free, or some similar, or you run out of juice and it just refuses to move, like those petulant three-year-olds I always see slowly killing their parents at airport security. And I question: is it really fully autonomous? If that were true, couldn't it just flat out refuse to make the trip with you, or start spitting your clothes out as soon as you laid them in while packing? I shall never know. My trusty Victorianox looks set to last forever. 

The Travelmate was one of the exhibitors at the inaugural Amaze Expo 2018, which featured an array of high-end lifestyle products at the Dubai International Financial Centre's The Gate and wrapped over the weekend. 

Travelmate was one of the exhibitors at the Amaze Expo 2018 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Image of the day: Instagram bait galore in the INDEX Dubai's Off the Wall feature

Belgian "street luxury" artist Pablo Lucker. 
I've been seeing these all over Instagram lately and now, Dubai. It's worth a trip to the 28th INDEX Dubai, on at the Dubai World Trade Centre until Thursday March 29, for lots of reasons. But one is to get a shot like this in the Off The Wall feature

The side-ways room was created by Dubai-based interior designer Sharon Jutla and features furniture and d├ęcor worth an estimated Dh1.4 million from US designer Jonathan Adler. 

Overheard in Abu Dhabi at #MediaMondaysUAE – #ToroToroAD edition

"Please don't take my picture. My image is worth money."

Thursday, January 18, 2018

My heart always soars when I see AEDs (not dirhams, defibrillators) in public places. This has only happened in the last few years and it's a huge development. Years ago I wrote about losing my friend Rob Evans, who died out on Yas Island at the age of 37, for no real good reason. By all accounts those who were with him that terrible night say it happened quickly, but I always wonder whether if there was a defibrillator nearby... would it have made a difference. Either way, I think of Rob when I see these and thinking of him always makes my day, because he was a hilarious, gentle, kind and imaginative soul. You can read all about him here and here

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Costa Coffee catches up with almond and coconut milk

I haven't had a cafe latte in years, as milk makes me feel gross and like my pants are two sizes two tight. I'm obviously not alone, according to the boom in non-dairy, and that's why I was so excited to see that Costa coffee is now not only offering almond milk, but coconut milk too. (Coconut milk makes a better latte, in my opinion). These types of milks are on the regular back in North America.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Day 1: Whole 30 in the UAE

I’m not a fan of fad diets and I’ve pretty much figured out how I like to eat: clean, with minimal dairy and bread items. 

But I was home in Canada for three weeks over the holidays and ate my face off. Also, I’m intrigued by some of this diet’s claims, particularly that it can reduce pain. (For some reason, I have had an inordinate amount of it in the last year).

So I ordered a ridiculous amount of vegetables from a new delivery company, The Honest Counter, which I can highly recommend. I’m to avoid all dairy, grains, sugar, legumes and alcohol for the next 30 days, then slowly add them in to my diet after to see what’s bothering me. 

(I drew the line at making my own condiments. C’mon.)

The day got off to a bad start when, after resisting this banana bread at Costa, I accidentally made off with the wrong drink order. It took me way too long to realise that instead of drinking an almond milk latte, I had downed half of some sort of all-milk drink. (I haven’t had milk in years - it was delicious!) How could I mistake a cup of hot milk for a coffee, you might be asking?

Well I’m working at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center this week and I couldn’t find the office I’d just left, okay? I think this diet might address brain fog, too. 

But not if I keep drinking milk accidentally. 

China's Iconiq brings freaky new driverless cars to Abu Dhabi's Masdar City

Iconiq's Level 5
The Chinese company Iconiq will test two driverless cars at Masdar City this year, including the Level 5 – developed in conjunction with Masdar – above, an announcement made at the World Future Energy Summit at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. 

Iconiq's chief executive said the company plans to deliver the first L5 fleet for the Dubai World Expo in 2020 and begin mass-producing them at the end of 2023. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

It's 2018 & now we are all paying VAT. Also, I was on the radio

Hey there. Happy New Year. I was real ready for it to be 2018, because 2017 was basically the best of times and worst of times for me – 2016 too, come to think of it – and I'll be writing a little bit more about some of those adventures in the coming weeks. I've got a bit more free time these days, and I'll be writing about that too. New beginnings, and all.

For now though, one of the new things I started doing at the end of 2017 is reporting for CBC Radio's programme The World This Weekend. I used to be an Ontario Morning correspondent for CBC back in the day, and later filed reports for Ottawa Morning and I have to say, it's a real thrill to be back on radio. As a foreign correspondent-type person. (I always dreamed of being a foreign correspondent, but I kind of took a different route in my career) Anyway, it's a medium I love and will be doing more of. So stay tuned for that too.

For now, you can still check out the report I did this weekend on the five per cent value-added tax that launched today across the UAE.

As Alia Yunis, a Californian I interviewed for the report, puts it: "Taxes are one of those words that you never want to hear, but they seem to be getting inevitable so you can run but you can’t hide from them, as much as people try to." 

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 ...