Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ah... Life in the Big City ....

There was a really good story in the paper the other day. Someone’s bull (yes, as in ox), escaped from his backyard and headed off down the street. People (on foot and in cars) began to chase the poor thing which got more and more scared and ran faster and faster. The police were called and they also set off in hot pursuit until finally there were about 500 people galloping after the unfortunate animal. That is not funny at all, I agree, but the funny part is … rumours began to spread that the police were actually after illegal immigrants in the surrounding flats. The illegal immigrants then herded out and streamed into the streets, ahead of the bull, which was ahead of the police and the rest of the public. Finally, there were close to 2000 people screaming and fleeing down the small side streets, with the police sirens blaring and the other cars hooting like crazy. The chaos continued long after the bull was caught and returned to its owner! Ah, life in the big city!

"Are you just glad to see me, or is that a SNAKE?":

Sherana Alansudhir bravely put herself in danger early yesterday morning to save a woman caught in the deadly grip of a large snake. The mother of three got hold of the snake’s tail – believed to be a young python – and unwrapped the four feet long reptile from the leg of a hysterical cinemagoer during the 11pm performance of ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ at a cinema in Dubai.
“It was about an hour into the movie and we were engrossed when the women in the row in front started screaming. But the scene was of an explosion and people in the film were running and screaming, so no one took notice,” Ms Sherana said yesterday. “Two minutes later and she was still screaming. A continuous high pitched scream.”
Ms Sherana said she was worried that the woman may have been having a heart attack as she was lying on the floor shrieking. Ms Sherana leaped over the seat in front of her to help the woman once it became clear that there was a snake. “When someone with a mobile phone with a flashlight pointed at it, we saw it was a snake. I told her to shut-up and stop screaming.
I got hold of the snake’s tail and began to unwrap the snake and carried it to the foyer,” she explained. “By then the lights had come on in the theatre and the film had stopped. Most of the audience left quickly on hearing it was a snake.

Aaaaahhhhhh ...... life in the big city ..........

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Lotsa gas but no stations

Why, if we are in a country that exists mainly because of the amount of oil/gas it produces, are there so few petrol stations? I can count on one hand the number in Abu Dhabi city, and if you travel the road from AD to Dubai or AD to Al Ain, you can go for many many many miles before passing one.

I have some problems with this :

1) What if you desperately need petrol - the harsh environment is not friendly to carbon based lifeforms walking along tar roads because their cars have run dry

2) What if you desperately, desperately need to fill up - not with petrol, but with food and liquids - we all know how important it is to drink lots of liquids .... and eat lots of fast food .... and buy lots of the junk (oops, sorry, I mean interesting trinkets) they sell at these petrol station shops.

3) What if you desperately, desperately, desperately need to make a p-stop - which is my main reason for stopping at petrol stations. There is no chance of stopping at the nearest bush (there are none) or tree - palm tree trunks are not wide enough to shield motorists from my wobbly, pale butt. Besides, I would be committing any number of sins and breaking any number of laws by watering the shrubbery - so if I didn't go to jail, I would certainly go to hell!

There are some other intriguing aspects about the petrol stations here ...

Even the smallest, most out-of-the-way petrol station will usually have a beautifully built, ornate mosque on the premises. Some are quite small, even pre-fab buildings on stilts, but all the ones I have seen have been quite striking. (Some petrol stations do not actually even have toilets, but DO have a mosque - guess you have got to get your priorities right!)

The local garage on the corner and its beautiful mosque

When you pull up to a pump, you MUST ensure your petrol cap is on the side nearest the pump. This is LAW and you (and the petrol station owner) will be fined if you pull the hose around or over your car.

Because there are so few petrol stations, the queues can sometimes be quite frightening - the first time we saw the queues, we thought of Zimbabwe - where people queued for days to get their ration of petrol ... then sanity prevailed - they are not going to run out of petrol here for quite some time ...........

And now - to be a complete B*tch .... let me tell you what petrol COSTS here :
Firstly, like in SA there are two types : Super and Special - Most normal cars use Special - Super is reserved for those high performance cars like Lamborghinis, Ferrarris etc - out of our league for the moment .....

So, the prices for Special Petrol are : (approximately and as recent as possible!!)
Dh 1-04 per litre (R2-10) The price in SA is R5-25 per litre
Dh 4-75 per gallon (R9-50) The price in SA is R23-00 per gallon

Doesn't it just make you wanna weep??

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Driving Like a Crazy ...

So, I picked up my hire car - very nice. Only one small, intzy, wintzy, teeny, tiny problem - I have never driven in the UAE before. I am used to driving on the left side of the road (not the right side, which is the wrong side!) So, I am used to steering with my right hand and changing gears with my left. Which explains why, the first couple of times I had to change gears, I tried to do so by wiggling the window-winder. Also, the flicker is normally on the right side, so every time I changed lanes, I flashed my headlights and squirted my windscreen washer. No wonder people behind me were hooting!
Of course, if you are nervous, you tend to drive slower than normal - and bearing in mind that the normal speedlimit is only 60kph - I was travelling at the speed of smell. One-legged camels and a herd of sloths would have left me in their dust!
But, I finally got out of the parking lot and onto the actual highway. Travelling in the exact opposite direction to where we wanted to go. You see, in my silly foolishness I took the road marked EXIT. I really do not know what I could have been thinking - imagine supposing EXIT actually means EXIT!! Foolish, foolish woman!
We ended up on a highway headed for some place called Er El Salam or something like that (actually, DD thinks it was Dar-es-Salam, and I swear it was Daar Doer is Salam!) There were no exits or breaks in the middle island for 30km and we seemed to be leaving civilisation far behind - all signs of human existence slid rapidly past. So, when we finally did come across an exit, we pounced on it and sped off - unfortunately, we could not turn back, but had to follow THAT road for a further 10km before being able to do a u-turn and get back to the original highway.
By this time (almost an hour later!), we were worried about three things : (1) that we would soon be needing our passports to leave the country (2) that we would dehydrate and perish without seeing another living being and (3) that DH would not miss us for at least 3 days before sending out a search party!!
Well, obviously the story has a semi-happy ending (I am writing this, aren't I?) We triumphantly rode into town in our silver chariot, keeping the advice of a seasoned expat in our minds : "Stay in the middle lane and avoid eye contact with other drivers".
The car is safely parked outside the apartment -
Question : Will it's battery go flat if I don't drive it for the next couple of weeks???????

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Driving Miss Crazy

I have been offered a job - a nice job ... with a company car. Only one problem .... I have never driven here. And the bloodcurdling stories you hear about AD traffic hardly inspires you to get wheels and drive.
Well, I really had no choice. First step was to convert my SAfrican drivers licence to an AD licence. Easier said than done. We thought we knew where to go - but it turns out the licence department has moved to another building. After driving around for 1/2 hour in the boiling sun looking for parking, then walking for 1/2 hour from the parking lot to the wrong building, and up the wrong stairs, and around the wrong floor, then back down the wrong stairs and out of the wrong building, we were drenched and bedraggled.
Found the "right" building - a steaming, stinking, pre-fab - stood in a "queue" to get a number (which was #482) and then stood around waiting for our number to come up. An hour later, having not moved one inch and having watched numberless newcomers stride up to the counter and be served, patience broke down and we pushed #480 and #481 out of the way and stalked to the front.
"We want to transfer a SA licence to a UAE licence"
"We want change licence to Abu Dhabi licence"
"Eh? Next"
"No, bliksem, OUR turn ... new licence NOW"
"Eh? Eye test in other building"
.... "Patience!!!"
Walked for 15 minutes to another steaming, stinking, pre-fab : not labelled, but subsequently found to be the "eye-test station", which consisted of two sonambulating men, one of whom had a pointer and an empty chair.
"Sit on chair, which way is E pointing?" x 2
"Eyes fine, give photo I stamp"
"I have no photo, they said you will take photo"
"No, photo other building"
........%$#@ "Patience!!!"
Walked for 1/2 hour to steaming, stinking, non pre-fab building - paid big bucks, got 4 photos
Walked for 1/2 hour back to steaming, stinking eye test station. They stamped photos.
Walked for 15 minutes to steaming, stinking, original pre-fab. Queued to get another number (this time it is #520). Man at queue counter asked : "It hot outside?"
(Could he have got a clue from the sweat plastered hairstyle and the drop of perspiration dripping off the end of my nose?)
DH had to sign "No Problem" Form (to show he had no objection to me getting my licence - well, he knew better than to have any objections!!)
Told to go into Ladies Section - DH banned
Waited and waited and waited and waited and then could not wait any more.
Swore at #585, who had tried to push her way to the front and who got such a fright that tears welled up in her eyes. Too bad ... had enough. IT WAS #520's TURN!!!)
Waited and waited and waited and waited while the counter lady punched and punched and punched into her computer - wondered : was she writing her autobiography, or playing minesweeper?
"Need 6 photos!"
"No, I was told 4 photos ..."
"Need 6 photos!"
"F-this, I don't need this licence THAT much!"
"I take photos here ..."
"You do? I love you ..."
More photos taken, Dh200 (R400) paid.
Waited and waited and waited and waited, name called : You Ass (close enough - those who know my surname - smile!)
I'm legal and licenced to thrill .... well, at least to drive, which in AD is definitely a THRILL!!
Tune in tomorrow for the next thrilling episode of "Lulu learns to drive ...."

Monday, July 25, 2005

SUPERsize me!!

Man, there are some things here that are just gy-normous ... Have a look at these photos :

This is Lebanese pita bread - big enough to almost be a bedspread!

Two potatoes = almost 2kgs!

An onion ... almost the same size as DD's head!!

I know you have already seen this strawberry, but it really is my gat se deksel!!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Need a drink?

Liquor Licenses (For non-Muslims only)
Licences are issued through A&E and MMI the two licenced suppliers of Alcohol in Dubai.
Just go to one of their outlets and pick up the forms

No one said it is easy!!!

1.Original passport with valid Dubai Residence Visa, plus copy.
2.A salary certificate from your employer in English and Arabic (because your quota amount will be determined by your salary. Housewives are entitled to .... nothing!)
3.A coloured passport size photograph with your full name written on the back and one of your spouse ( if you authorise him/her to purchase on your permit)
4.Completed Application Form in English signed and stamped by your employer as well.
5.Copy of your accommodation lease.
6. A letter of no objection from your employer. This is to be addressed to Dubai Police, Dubai Police General HQ, Dubai - along with a Company stamp and signature.
7.Fee - Dhs150 in cash
8. Copy of your Labour Contract.

9. For renewals you need everything as above and you MUST have your old license. The number and expiry date are put on the form

Your license is valid for one year.

PS If your company is in a "Free Zone" then you also need the no objection letter stamped and signed by the free zone authority as well.

Drinking and Driving
There is one simple drink-drive rule here. Don't. Ever. At all. If you get caught, you go to jail. Even if its only one little drink. And if you have any alcohol in your system at the time of any accident, your insurance will not pay out. Doesn't even matter if it was your fault. If you were drinking alcohol, then that's it. No arguments. Jail for you.

Some would then consider taking a taxi if they get inebriated. If you don't smell of alcohol and don't appear drunk, you're fine. However, if you are tipsy, sloshed or plastered, your taxi driver will probably just drive you to the nearest police station where you will be arrested for public drunkenness.

It's simple. Drink at home if you must. And don't drive anywhere. Or if you plan on going out and having a drink, make sure you have a sober friend to drive you home.

Now I REALLY need a drink!!

No sweat ....!!! No way !!!

Warning! This article contains descriptions of bodily fluid emissions which might upset sensitive readers ….

I don’t sweat. I am lucky – I never have. On really, really, really hot days – or after vigorous aerobically exercising (oh yeah!!), I might perspire a little, perhaps even exude a little moisture on the brow or even glisten slightly.

But no longer, now I sweat, or should I say : SWEAT. Actually, the word sweat should contain an “R” then it would be an anagram of waters – that is more like what I do now – I WATER!! And this despite copious slatherings of Industrial Strength Mum for Active Macho SportsMEN anti-perspirant.

I feel things creeping on my scalp and running over my back – it’s sweat.

I feel drips down my legs – usually it’s sweat.

My knees sweat, my hands sweat, my lips sweat … even my eyelids sweat. DD says even her sweat sweats!

Not even the strongest “Sit Still” hairspray, and gel, and mousse can prevent my hair from sagging from the sweat.

My blusher drips onto my shoulders and my blouses cling like I am in a wet t-shirt competition.

And all that happens on COOL evenings – you just do not want to know what happens on HOT DAYS!!

Man, that saying “Don’t sweat” would have absolutely no meaning here!

And the latest innovation to help you replace lost salts and minerals when you are sweating so much … a delicious drink called Sweat by Pocari!! Now you can drink sweat as well - sounds yummy!!

And, as those of you who also sweat will know – sweating causes rashes – unpleasant rashes in sensitive places. So, imagine how excited I was when I discovered that Johnson’s make a talcum powder here, especially for heat rashes – it is called Prickly Heat Powder. I bought it so everyone in the family could get some relief, and this is how the conversation went :

Dear Me : Look, I found the solution to our problems .. Prickly Heat Powder …

Dear Husband : But, I don’t want my Prickly Heated !!!!

Dear Me : *Sigh!!*

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Did you miss me?

Let me explain ...

After receiving what one could consider a thinly veiled threat, a friendly warning, or an interesting bit of information, with regard to writers not being allowed to "dis" anything Arabic, I got a severe case of the heebie jeebies and, in the interests of me not spending time doing "jail time", have now sanitized my previous entries as much as I could. (I hope you still find them interesting, though!)
Now, I really did not think that my little blog with its fan club of about 3 people could possibly lead to the collapse of the economy, or start a war between currently friendly nations, but then ..... who knows???!!!
I will try really really really hard to be upbeat and positive and glowing and non-judgemental, but please "Dubai Daze" aka Anonymous, remember : I come from a country which tried to deny any problems by refusing to acknowledge them - it didn't work for us - it won't work for you. So before you get your dishcloth in a knot - read the little pink block on the top right side of the page - It says something about MY experiences and not wanting to be disrespectful... etc etc.
But, sometimes, you've just gotta call a spade a fucking spade!!

Friday, July 01, 2005

People are Talking About Me

I am soooo excited ......

People have actually read my blog and have then actually taken the time to comment about it, either in my comments sections, or by personal email or on other sites.

This is a sample of the comments I have received :

"Your blog looks very good"

"what a great site"

"Great Site! I laughed so hard, i had tears running down my always seem to think at times only you notice certain things and if you say anything to anyone, they will think you are MAD! Good to know there are more like me ..:0)"

"OMG this site had me in stitches ... I laughed so hard I almost @$%$%^^* in ....."

"Well done Lulu, you should write a book. Very funny".

"Excellent. This site is very funny and reflects well the life in the UAE. Well done!"

"Good job! I just looked at it in a wizz, but want to take time to read everything. You have done a great job!!!"

"hii have just lookd at this site - brilliant. just love the photos! this website is a great, gives a really good impression of life in AD (says someone who has never been there!!!)"

"i thought this was very, very funny".

"I am at work reading your blog and laughing so hard, coworkers are convinced that I have finally fallen of the deep end. Very funny stuff"

"Hoop jy gaan daai lekker sin vir humor in jou blogs hou - ek geniet dit rerig!"

"All you are doing is writing about some of the quirky things that happen here. I think it makes the country more charming by it's quirkiness! Keep up the good work"

"My goodness THAT is hilarious!!"

"Keep up the good work"

"Hi - I liked reading your blog"

"Your comments are both entertaining and educational. I loved them. I wish I had read them before visiting Abu Dhabi in February (from the USA). My reactions to the life styles were much the same as yours but with less understanding. "

"Enjoying you blog, btw. Thankyou"

"Just found your blog and it is excellent! Please keep up the good work. I have also added it to my lists of links as well as to this short Guide to UAE blogs that I wrote the other day."

"I laughed SOOO hard, i fell outta my seat! Great Job!"

"We all enjoy reading them and have a good laugh at your adventures - you make them so interesting - hope you are keeping copies - you could make some of the experiences into a booklet guide for tourists to "Aby Daby" - what to do and what not to do!"

"very amusing and very interesting - nice to know how the other side think and live."

"certainly hope you are keeping copies of them all and going to publish them when you get back to S.A. You should have been a jounalist -honest Lulu you really write well and everything is so interesting and real - I think everyone who is getting the emails from you are thoroughly enjoying them"

"We all think you must write a book - well, you already have the first chapter done - so now just add to it - it will be a best seller for sure!"

"you have missed your vocation - you should have published a couple of books by now."

I feel amazed, flabbergasted, thrilled, embarassed, proud, anxious, grateful, tickled pink (and blue and purple too!) and tongue-tied (well, pen-tied actually!)

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope that you will find my ramblings interesting enough to come back again and again!. And in appreciation ... a BIG smiley face .........!