Friday, September 30, 2005

Wanna eat ME?

A new shop has opened in the local mall - some kind of artsy fartsy bubblebath and handcream shop, much like the Body Shop. DD andDM of course had to investigate this new kid on our block.

Well, they had all the usual fruity / vegetable facemasks etc - so you can cleanse your face with a cucumber mask, then slather on some basil and papaya cleanser, followed by a refreshing dose of lemon and strawberry toner and finally some kiwi and mango moisturizer. So, all in all you can smell like a fruit salad (or a Caeser salad, it's your choice!)

All well and good, but then we spied something that was strange - even for us!! Tomato flavoured handcream, zucchini flower spritzer and mushroom handbalm. Now, who the hell wants to smell like a freaking tomato - eeww, secondly : what on earth does a bloody zucchini smell like? Does anyone know ... does anyone WANT to smell like that?? Ok, and finally, mushrooms grow in shit and have a musty, rotten, shitty smell - who would want a handbalm that smelt like that?

Wait ... it gets better .... (cue dramatic music .... ta ta ta ta)

DD called DM over to look at a bottle of Hotdog shampoo....

No way !!! You've got to be kidding ... it even has a picture of a dog on a hotdog bun on the bottle. Imagine your lustrous tresses blowing gently in the breeze, and reeking of hotdogs.

But, then they slightly (ever so slightly!) redeemed themselves ... it was actually dog shampoo ... you know, so you can have a "hot" dog!!

Mmmm, methinks the world done gone crazee!!

So, how many DATES have YOU eaten????

Me, well I must admit there are some dates I would not eat : 25th December seems a bit inedible, and 22nd January would probably give you indigestion, but all other dates seem ok, what do you say??

Then, of course I would never eat a date on the first date - convent bred and all that!

But, I do LOVE fruit dates (no, not fruity dates with limp wrists)

What am I going on about ??????


Well, I told you that the date palms here are laden with the most delicious, tempting fruit and I have had to literally slap myself to stop myself from plundering the roadside palms and scoffing their fruits. (Was not, and am still not, sure if one could be arrested/beheaded/deported for such wanton acts of greed and depravity!)

But, then one day, after driving past miles and miles and miles of the golden sun-ripened dates, I threw caution to the wind (ha, what wind?), pulled over, leapt out of the car and grabbed myself a couple of handfuls of the dates. (Who could resist??) I scuttled back into the car and surveyed my treasure - they were about the size of my thumb, golden on top and dark brown on the bottom. Eeww, first problem - the brown bottom bit was all squishy and soft - nice from far, but far from nice. Ok, so I ignored the bottom half and proceeded to munch on the tasty yellow bit at the top. EEWW blechh, second problem - it was hard and crunchy like an apple and tasted like .... well, not sure what....., but definitely NOT GOOD!! I spat out the half chomped bits and hurled the rest out of the car window.

I wondered where I had gone wrong - maybe they need to be processed, like olives, before being edible. I asked one of the local guys the next day. He slowly shook his head and said : "No madam, you not eat dates on side of road, they for camels only!" Yup, I had been munching the inedible dates which they feed to the animals! Of course, DH and DD have had a field day with teasing me about THIS experience!!

Little footnote :
In Islam it is forbidden to eat two dates (or cherries, or similar things) at the same time, and if you do, you must ask permission first!


Sorry fans (er, fan!) have had a severe, non-contagious (I hope) case of Bloggers Block - couldn't think of a single interesting thing to say ... You know, when you begin your blog, you have grandiose visions of millions of readers worldwide glued to the small screen, devouring your every enthralling word - so you ramble on and on and on. The next step is when you realise that nobody really cares what you did on a daily, hourly or nano-secondly basis - in fact, you even bore yourself into a coma.
So, had a small hiatus, gathered myself towards myself and now .... I'M BAAACK!!
Hee hee hee - be warned!!
See ya all soon ................

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Replying to comments

OK guys, if you send me an anonymous comment and ask that I contact you, ummmm please make sure there is an address that I can reply to ... saves me having to sift through the heap of entries in my blog trying to find out which one you commented on! I aint got the time, energy or inclination to do that!!

If you are sending me any kind of advertising in my comments section, take note - I don't want my penis enlarged or my breasts reduced, I don't have acne or any other social disease, I AM NOT GOING TO CONTACT YOU ..... SO PISS OFF !!

Thank you, over and out, and good night!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

DD's value goes up

An article in a recent newspaper regarding a camel auction :

Male camel fetches Dh680,000 at auction THAT'S OVER A MILLION RAND!!

Abu Dhabi: A male camel was yesterday sold for Dh680,000 (US $185,286) in an auction during the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2005.

About a hundred people attended the auction yesterday. Thirty-five camels were sold to traders who saw it as "an opportunity of a lifetime" and a great "bargain".

--- Well, the next wizended up old goatherder who offers me a couple of camels for DD's hand in marriage will be accepted so quickly, his head will spin. Man, are we gonna be RRRRRIIICCCHHH!! DD where are you ....?? DD?? DD??

Disease Toys

Ok, I know this has nothing to do with the UAE, but I was so flabbergasted (!) when I saw this, I just had to share .....

Giant Microbes plush toys. Now available: The Common Cold, The Flu, Sore Throat, Stomach Ache, Cough, Ear Ache, Bad Breath, Kissing Disease, Athlete's Foot, Ulcer, Martian Life, Beer & Bread, Black Death, Ebola, Flesh Eating, Sleeping Sickness, Dust Mite, Bed Bug, H.I.V. and Hepatitis).

You must have a look .... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hinglish strikes again

I drive a hired car and the mileage is almost 35 000 and is starting to make strange engine sounds. DH suggested that I contact the car hire agency and check when it needs to go for a service, which is usually done at 35 000km as you get fined by them if you do not bring it in for service on time - DH also suggested I speak to Mohammed, who is quite clued up. So today I called them :

Morning, xxx car hire
Morning, is that Mohammed?
Yeeees Madam
Mohammed, I have one of your cars and I think it needs a service
This car hire
Ok, but can you tell me if my car needs to go for service
Service, maintenance, fix up
Yes Madam it's fixed up
No, car maybe need fix up
You have smash?
No not smash, need you to look at it
Looking at smash?
No, look at engine
Engine smashed?
No, car make noise, go agh agh agh
Madam, you ok? You need doctor?
Mohammed, can I speak to someone else
No Madam, I not Mohammed, I Ishmael, you want speak to Mohammed?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

All Aboard for Al Ain

Ahh.... Al Ain - going there made me feel homesick for South Africa .....
You know - all those high walls with barbed wire and electric fences.
The question is : are they keeping people OUT or are they keeping people IN??

Friday, September 09, 2005

Culture Shock continues .....

Are you still reading??

So, who gets this disease ?
Not everyone will get it to the same degree, some suffer greatly and some suffer lightly. Some people bounce back and forth between the different stages and some people skip a stage altogether and/or repeat stages later. It is important to remember that different members of your family will be at different stages as well.

But just about anyone who lives for some time outside their own country will experience some of these stages.

What are the symptoms ?
Symptoms are very similar to those of depression :
* Sadness, loneliness, melancholy
* Preoccupation with health
* Insomnia, sleeping to much or too little
* Anger, irritability, resentment, unwillingness to mix with people
* Loss of identity
* Feeling of inadequacy or insecurity
* Trying too hard to absorb the new culture
* Unable to solve simple problems
* Lack of direction, motivation or confidence

When does it start and how long does it last?
The onset can vary from a few weeks to months after arriving in a new country.

Minimizing culture shock :
* Settle down as quickly as possible in your own home. Act as if you were going to live there forever
* Make your new home as homely as possible - photographs, mementos, reminders of home
* Be open to new ways
* Be patient
* Be constructive, try not to compare - criticize - complain
* Keep busy, but take time to relax
* Maintain contact with your home country - newspapers, email, etc. This will give you a feeling of belonging and reduce homesickness
* Increase contact with the new culture. Volunteer for community activities/charities
* Allow yourself to feel sad (grieve) for things that you have left behind - family, friends etc
* Try to join in, do not isolate yourself

So, now that we are all suicidal, I promise a lighterhearted entry tomorrow ....

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Culture REALLY exists!

OMG, I just read an article about culture shock and how they have scientifically proved that it exists. Well, they proved this in 1958 - but I have just found out about it!! (Late learner!!) ... So take your pep pills and your Red Bull and read what I found out ....

Before I impinge any copywright laws, let me tell you that it was Kalvero Oberg who identified five distinct stages of culture shock. He found that it was like a disease - it has a cause, symptoms and (yay) some cures.

I found the five stages very interesting, hope you will too ....

Stage 1 : The Tourist or Honeymoon Stage - Everything is exciting and new and cute and fun. You may have problems, but accept them as part of the new adventure. (Ah, I remember it well) ... I was intrigued by everything Arabic - religion, dress, food, language, history - I hauled tonnes of books home and could almost recite them. I trawled the internet and prepared for the magic carpet ride. When we got here, I saw amazing, interesting people who were even more mysterious because they couldn't speak English - how fascinating.

Stage 2 : Emptiness or Rejection Stage - By now, the fact that shops are closed just when you need to shop, that taxi drivers can't or won't understand you, that your food is considered sinful and only available behind curtains in certain shops is irritating, painful and certainly no longer cute. You no longer try to learn a few Arabic words, insisting instead that "they" should speak English like everyone else. When they don't, you are convinced they are talking ABOUT you, not TO you. You complain more and may even become aggressive. In this stage, expats seriously consider leaving, or resign themselves to staying.

Stage 3 : The Regression Stage - You find yourself going backwards and you spend more time speaking your home language, eating food from home and actively seek out fellow countrymen. You don't want to meet locals and don't care about their customs or heritage. Your home country suddenly seems wonderful and you may find yourself wondering why you ever left.

Stage 4 : The Integration Phase or Complete Adjustment - You have gained some understanding of the new culture or at least you learn to tolerate the cultural differences. You are now more adjusted. You may even find some things preferable to your home country. You have become more comfortable and relaxed about differences. You have learned to adjust, accept and adapt to your new country. You know that if you left, there are things you would miss.

Stage 5 : Reverse Culture Shock Stage or Re-entry Shock - Just when you feel at ease and well-adjusted, you return home and find that you are no longer as comfortable there as you remembered. Many things may have changed and it takes you a while to get used to home again. People have moved on with their lives and had experiences that you have not shared. You are no longer special and different, you are just another face in the crowd.

So, if like me, you feel like you are on a rollercoaster in the pitch dark, at least you know that many, many, many others have felt the same way - I am not going crazy (well, at least, not MORE crazy!!)

Tomorrow, I will go further into the symptoms and treatment of culture shock - (if you really want to know) ... this entry is far too long already .....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sunday, September 04, 2005

..... And also with you

Sometimes you get a bit irritated and frustrated with the customs and way of thinking here on the other side of the world, but sometimes they surprise you and make you long for a gentler time ......

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Business Opportunities #2

Oooohhh wait, wait ... I found some more ....

4) Maid service :
You may have heard that I don't like housekeeping ... (to put it mildly) ... well, I admit it, I am one of those spoilt White South Africans that grew up with a nanny and a housemaid and a gardener etc etc. Cleaning a toilet bowl never did excite me. So, what to do now ......
Well, you are not allowed to hire anyone off the street, or recommended by a friend, or advertising on a Spinney's noticeboard - If you do, you have to register them with the Labour Dept giving reasons and details of their "qualifications" and stand as their sponsor (i.e. be liable for them) and provide airtickets home etc etc. Big palaver. You could try a "housecleaning service" - they will clean your house (for a price!) but their "maids" (who are actually men) may not specifially work for you on a permanent basis. HouseMAID services do not seem to exist here in AD, especially if you want to hire someone who lives in. Can't someone please just act as a kind of labour broker - put us employers in touch with them employees and them we can all be happy (and have clean houses!)

5) Get to know AD Tours :
How about getting someone to take newbies around AD to show them where to buy toilet paper and tomatoes and a hammer and videos, etc etc. Teach them how to get a taxi driver to take them where they want to go. Tell them the rules and rules and rules and rules about visas and blood tests and drivers licences.
Oh wait, that's MY new job ....... so take that one off your list - THAT opportunity has GOOONNNNEE!!!

Business Opportunies

In the past week I have vainly tried to obtain three services, which appear to be non-existent here in Abu Dhabi. So, if you have an entrepeneurial bent, here are some golden opportunities - I will be your first client.

1) Housing :
I have mentioned before that the housing situation in AD is appalling - disgusting hovels which are so in demand that annual rentals are the same as what people in the "normal" world would pay to purchase a decent size house. If you could build some decent sized (in other words - NOT 14 bedrooms, 20 bathrooms, 7 kitchens - who needs that!), decent priced, villa/house type abodes within easy reach of the city and the highway - you would be my hero.

1.1) Residential hotels :
If you can't manage the house thing, please look into building hotels where expats can stay in a home away from home type of accommodation. Hotels (notably, G*lf Hotel) prefer not to accept longterm bookings - opting rather for the short "get-them-in-and-out-asap" approach. Which leaves those who need time to find decent housing with no place to stay while doing so.

2) Limousines :
Ok, so we finally succumbed to the rich and famous lifestyle - looking to hire a limo in AD for an hour or two of site-seeing and having people gawk at us, wondering which famous people are inside. No such luck. In Dubai a limo will cost about Dh250 per hour for 8 people, and it costs the same in AD ... except ... the limo must come from Dubai - at a cost of Dh700. Making the total cost almost Dh1000 per hour!! Come to think of it, I haven't seen many (any!) limos here in AD - now I know why - not even a Sheikh could afford those prices. Man, there must some SAfrican oke who can weld a couple of 4x4's together and make a 16x16 for us to hire ... Com'on Boer ..... maak 'n plan ......

3) Dhow cruise :
Well, if we couldn't drive around AD, we decided we would float around it instead. Found one (the ONLY ONE) company advertised as providing dhow cruises and after searching and searching and searching for it, finally found the (nameless) restaurant outside which the dhow was "parked". Excitedly dashing up to said dhow - we found a motheaten, rickety, ramshackle excuse posing as a seaworthy vessel. The only access over the stagnant green water was along a 6 foot long splintery piece of wood which abutted onto the bottom step of a rotten wooden staircase which was missing at least two steps and part of the balustrade. Once on board, one was greeted with weatherbeaten wooden floorboards which definitely would not taken DM's weight (not that much WOULD, but that is another story!) and grimy plastic chairs which skittered from side to side as the "boat" drifted on the water.
Needless to say, we scampered off - leaving the crew still lying sleeping on the deck.

The alternative dhow cruise - more "upmarket" includes a dinner and waitress service, but for just cruising around looking at the lights, on what should be a tourist attraction - nothing!!