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Showing posts from July, 2009

Quote of the day

“A person who has dustbins as his source of income cannot rest.”

-A labourer in Sharjah, speaking to The National about how he spends his Government-mandated midday break from construction

The Hangover comes to Abu Dhabi

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Yes, it's true, in a Muslim country one of the new(ish) films to hit cinemas yesterday was The Hangover. The Hangover.

How many scenes do you reckon have been cut out? I have half a mind to see it and then compare it with a bootleg copy. Not that I would condone that kind of thing.

A random thing I feel the need to semi-publicly confess...

... I have acquired way too many summer dresses since arriving here 15 months ago. Like, a scary amount.

Things I like about Abu Dhabi are...

...having a few minutes with people like the fellow working the counter at Al Wahda Mall's Costa shop Saturday afternoon. He asked how I was and then, when I did likewise, he motioned out into the mall, where a bunch of kids were bopping around to Lebanese dance tunes as part of the Summer in Abu Dhabi festival.

"I am happy today," he said, "because there is this music."

Re: Dubai in the summer

A colleague, lamenting the heat:

"If I didn't have [my girlfriend] and a parrot, I'd leave."

Headline of the month from WAM, the state news agency

"Man deported for shocking a camel"

Things I like about Abu Dhabi are...

...getting into a cab where the driver is listening to the Quran. Now that, my friends, is devotion.

Classic: Camel-vs-car in India, obviously slightly embarrassed camel walks it off

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There are a lot of camel-versus-car crashes in the UAE, and as you can imagine, they are not nearly as funny as they sound.

This one happened in India, where the cars are obviously a lot smaller and the camels a little darker: Camel walks it off "Camel walks it off" via BuzzFeed. Although I remain slightly concerned about internal injuries.

(I am also reminded of that awesome Man of La Mancha song A Little Gossip where Don Quixote's sidekick Sancho recalls the proverb "whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher, it's going to be bad for the pitcher". Unless the pitcher is a Hummer, and then all bets are off.)

Snap caption: That's alotta sandals

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Another thing I like about Abu Dhabi OR I have found my happy place

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I wrote about it today with my colleague John Henzell (who covered Ski Dubai) in the special cold issue of m, The National's Saturday magazine. It is the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink at Sheikh Zayed Sports City, and I am not sure I will find another place that will lift my spirits in such a way, even if their staff did basically sharpen off the toe-picks on my custom-made figure skates.



Oh well, it's been a couple of decades since those babies were crafted to my feet, and they are full of nicks and cuts and not really even the shape of my feet anymore, so I guess I shall be grateful that someone is forcing me to buy a new pair when I go back to Canada in the next couple of weeks. Sentimental value=blisters.

But back to the rink. I thought I would be the only one there. Or that if there were people there, they would be Westerners. I did not expect to find Emiratis in dishdashes whipping around the ice, or a special group of guys in their teens and 20s doing what is basically ice dancing - …

Okay, so the things I like about Abu Dhabi are...

...well, they are a little hard to find these hot days. I was talking to some friends the other night, and we were remarking that people seem as though they are at the end of their tether. Perhaps the summer is just finally sinking in. And even if you don't have to be outside, not being outside can make you just as cranky. We, as human beings, thrive on fresh air. And when we don't get it, our fuses, I reckon, get shorter and shorter and shorter.

It's like the reverse of Seasonal Affective Disorder, this heat and humidity (and if I hear "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" one more time... well, I probably won't do anything, will I?), and I'll take a bitter Ottawa winter any day over this hot box. But I can't and I'm not going to, so semi-regularly I am going to remind myself of why I like Abu Dhabi.

Reason one: when I visit the local falafel shop, Ali always gives me a little falafel to tide me over until my delicious wrap is ready. He w…

You don't need a building to pray in...

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... as these men prove. I've always wondered about the pile of mats and plywood in this vacant sand lot around the corner from my flat, by a supermarket and not far from the road.

Then one night I ran out to get something at the store and saw them there at evening prayers. There is a mosque not two minutes from this spot – although, like most of the mosques around, come prayer time it is not big enough for everyone to fit inside.

Camel milk chocolate from Dubai: Coming soon to a store near you

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Reuters reports that Al Nassma, the world's first brand of camel milk chocolate, is in talks with a number of companies, including Britain's Harrods, to distribute its chocolate around the world.

I have not had camel milk chocolate, but I have had camel milk. It's... well... not cow's milk, let's put it that way.

Then again, some days, I'd eat chocolate made from goat cheese if that was all that was in front of me.

Faboosh pink sofa set for sale

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I could not resist taking a picture of this completely awesome sofa set sitting in the sand outside one of the many furniture shops in my neighbourhood.

Snap caption: The sign in the Hummer window says it all

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Um, no you may not come in

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I opened my door this morning to retrieve the paper and this is what I found:



This bug is so big that it may actually have been knocking and, tiring, decided to take a load off for a minute by flopping out on his back. I prefer that scenario to the other, more nefarious one, that perhaps he was placed there by an unfriendly. I don't think I know any "unfriendlies", or anyone who would have it out for me in such a manner, but it does seem odd, doesn't it? A giant bug like that, on his back, on my doorstep?



You may recall that upon arriving in Abu Dhabi I was relegated not to the nice hotel with the spa that I had been promised, but as all hotels in the city were full, a cockroach infested hotel apartment notorious for offering a grim stay. Infested. That made for a series of dire early nights, but I was soon moved to a non-buggy room where I was able to compose myself. Most of the rest of my exposure to bugs has been dodging the sort of dudes I found this morning in th…

Now that is hot and humid

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The front doors of my apartment building the other night:

Some people wait for the weekend, others for a vacation

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But I, I have been waiting for this: the day I saw someone actually wearing a sauna suit. You may recall my previous fascination with this product, an oversized, grey rubbery suit designed, I can only guess, for people to wear while exercising for maximum sweating.

I snapped this pic of a couple I found on sale in Al Falah Plaza:



And when he saw it here, my friend JP back home immediately requested one of his own. After it had been purchased, shipped and received he emailed me this, which is now in my Top 10 all time favourite photographs.



Yesterday before work I headed over to my tiny gym, which is steps from my flat and pleasingly reserved for ladies between the hours of 8 and 4.



As I climbed aboard the elliptical trainer, my eyes wandered to the left, where to my utter amazement and complete delight, there was a woman walking on a treadmill clad in black track pants and the sauna suit top, complete with yellow and red stripes. She did almost an hour of cardio, stopping – understanda…

Snap caption: I'm just not seeing it

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Tell me this says "wash me"

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I realise it's more likely that Wajid Badi wrote his name in desert dust.

Parking too much problem

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I could go on about this, and I probably am, but this is how people actually park here. And it's rubbing off on me! If no one else can be bothered to find an actual parking space, instead seeing it sufficient to stick the nose of their Land Rover into any old opening, then why should I?

Because I am a bit obsessive, I guess, which is why I cannot stop being amazed at how people don't care where and how they leave their cars in this town.

Today, in sexist horoscopes

I enjoy reading the horoscopes in m, the magazine in the Saturday issue of The National. Mostly because they tend to be odd, predicting that I will have interest in a lot of things I am sure I would never do, such as tapestry and weaving.

Then, this Saturday, for Gemini: "You are ruled by Mercury, so you are versatile, self-sufficient, talkative and imaginative. Your intellect can be a bit chilly to some, so it is best to put it aside in marraige."

When I go home later this summer, BOTH my birthday packages from May 2008 will be waiting for me

You may recall news arriving last month that my oldest friend had found a battered package on her doorstep - one she had sent me from Toronto to Abu Dhabi more than a year ago.

I've complained about this before: homesick, in a new land, knowing two awesome care/birthday packages were heading in my direction. I didn't actually stop looking for them until shortly before my birthday this year. Neither my brother or my friend stopped mentioning it. And the worst part - no more care packages. I couldn't explain why the packages never arrived. They were addressed correctly, and every day I see the office mail man roll his suitcase full of letters and boxes into the office.

Anyway, when my friend wrote an excited email to tell me that the package had arrived back, she ended with these words: "there is still hope your brother's package may still be returned to him." Lo and behold, I got a text from brother late last night, saying "just got the package back we t…

Snap caption: two cars, two cats

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Sheikh Zayed: Hockey player

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This picture hangs at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink (more on that later). There are pictures of a young Sheikh Zayed, founder of the nation, doing almost everything, including bowling and shopping, but I had to chuckle when I saw this. Apparently he knew how to play hockey as well. And why wouldn't he. I love this picture all the more because it incorporates my favourite word in all of the UAE: "Ghantoot". I also like the hand gesture he is making in the top pic.

Thanks for the heads-up WAM; without you I might have mistaken it for "balmy"

From the Emirates News Agency this afternoon:

Very Hot Weather ahead

2009-07-04 11:04:23

WAM Abu Dhabi, Jul 03rd, 2009 (WAM): The National Centre for Metrology and Seismology predicted hazy and hot-to very hot weather for Saturday. Towering clouds may appear over the eastern mountains by afternoon.
The winds will be light to moderate in general, freshening at times during afternoon causing blowing sand and dust over western and internal open land areas. This may reduce the horizontal visibility.
Relative humidity will increase during night with chances of fog over some coastal and interior areas.
South Easterly and later south westerly winds will be some where between 05 to 10 knots during morning, becoming NW-NE at a speed of 08 to 14 knots by afternoon and evening, reaching 18knots at times over the internal and open land regions.
WAM/AB

To burqa or not to burqa, a question I (thankfully) don't have to answer

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It really hit home how much my perspective has changed since moving to the Middle East when Nicholas Sarkozy, the president of France, said in a state of the republic speech last week that burqas would be banned in his country.

“The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue. It is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women.”

Mona Eltahawy argued that Sarkozy had done good in an op-ed piece for the New York Times:

"I am a Muslim, I am a feminist and I detest the full-body veil, known as a niqab or burqa," she wrote. "It erases women from society and has nothing to do with Islam but everything to do with the hatred for women at the heart of the extremist ideology that preaches it."

The thing is, I know if I never left Canada, I would also have perceived this as a good move, a progressive move. Not that I am agreeing with the reaction of an editor I r…

Paris Hilton in a My Cozzie?

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No, of course not. (That is a My Cozzie above, by the way) Ms Hilton has been in Dubai and Abu Dhabi (Wednesday night, Etoiles nightclub in Emirates Palace) to shoot the new season of her reality show, where she will try (again) to find a new best friend. Although how they'll stay best friends when she goes back to LA is anyone's guess.

Anyway, she has been wearing all sorts of ridiculous, gaudy outfits while she's here - bedazzled headbands and big bouffant hair dos and flowy gowns I gather she thinks are what women go out in. I have never seen anything like this in 14 months:



But then she did a photoshoot in a bikini with the Dubai skyline behind her and the international press went nuts. I have no idea why, it's perfectly fine to wear a bikini here - I just did it last week. Not on the street of course, but on the beach or a private beach club it's a-okay. I saw the My Cozzie, designed to provide modest coverage for the Muslim woman who wants to swim, the other da…

Why wouldn't you park here?

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All it takes is a few days here to get how much people do not care about how they park, only that they park. I have rented a car with a friend and the other day I stopped at Spinney's to get some (bacon from the pork room) groceries. This was what I found when I came out. (Mine is the white car). Ten minutes later, guy in truck comes sauntering out and I McGyvered out of the spot.

You can't even go "grrr" because it's just so ridonkulous.