July 24, 2011

My bathroom is sexist

Ok, maybe I am exaggerating but it appears to me my bathroom is sexist. My new house in Dubai has only one electrical plug-in and it says it is for 'Shavers Only' and even shows a simple picture of a man shaving. It isn't even a regular electrical outlet. I don't see any other electrical outlets in the bathroom and I checked with the other two bathrooms, nothing! So I have to blow dry my hair wherever I can find an electrical outlet and plug in the adapter, ahh! Then I have to walk to a mirror to check it out.

July 18, 2011

Eye Spy at the Mall of the Emirates - Dubai Ski and Carrefour - July 10, 2011

You are all getting one of these lovely t-shirts!!

Oh, this is my office and my feeling of being an electrical engineer with all the adapters!

That is a column or tower of hard hats on the side of the road.

"I don't like your attitude!"

I was trying to get another example of Emirati clothing.

Sweepy baby with his pouty lip

You can rent this at Dubai Ski and go down the snow in it!

Buying diapers in a foreign country but there are a lot of the same brands just different marketing.

Ok, I have a problem with this one - They put the Drano and drain cleaner next to the feminine hygiene products. It must make the men just as uncomfortable as the women to be reading product labels next to each other. Really? They couldn't think of a better place to put these? It seems like an abrupt lack of transition.

Just what I wanted! Pancakes in a Flash!

I wanted to look down the aisle and see if there were some x-rated cookies somewhere under the 'Adult cookie' section.


Getting ready for Ramadan

Return Policies - We miss you Costco and Amazon.com!!!

Burak and I got spoiled on awesome American return policies at stores especially when we later decided, we didn't need what we bought or in other cases, one of us (not to name names) thought we didn't need what the other one bought (ah hem).

Now in the UAE, I price shop and price shop and never buy because if I buy something here, like a coffee maker, water kettle, cell phone, etc...I have to keep it forever. The return policies are pathetic. It is like no return or make a store credit return within 7 days. It reminds me of the maternity clothing return policy in Houston and I thought long and hard before I bought. To make things worse, someone told me the prices are fixed so there isn't much to price shopping but I have found that different stores carry different brands so I am like to keep looking before buying.

We love Costco for being Costco but also because they would take stuff back even a year later. (I know that sounds bad) and then we loved Amazon because, for example, many baby items from Amazon directly had 365 day returns. This was awesome because you often buy things or are given things you think you need for a baby and then the baby outgrows it or doesn't need it or you realize it was too much and you can return it!

This post is an ode to Costco and Amazon. With you being far far away from us, I am sure we will pay off our graduate loans a lot sooner than if we were in the US.

Emirati Clothing and Accessories

On the right, you can see samples of traditional Emirati clothing

The Emirati women like their cell phones with a lot of bling- bling

Since we can't take any pictures of the Emiratis without asking and I haven't built up the nerve to ask, I caught this photo of little parade in the mall and you can see some traditional Emirati clothing

Pedicure Finally!

My last pedicure was June 11th, the day I had an awesome 30th birthday party and going away party. I went with my awesome friend, Ann.

I picked up an expensive habit of needing a pedicure once a month. I think it started when I moved to Houston and I wore open-toe shoes year round! But, I also like to go with girlfriends, my sister, and loved to take my mom and grandma as a treat.  My mom would only go when I took her and I was always paying for her get her fake nails off.  mom ( :) )

I remember I was in a nail salon with my mom and grandma in San Antonio when the breaking news was that Sarah Palin was going to be the Vice President candidate for the Republican party back in 2008 I guess.

I have had a pedicure in at least 3 countries that I can remember.  In the US, Turkey, and UAE.

In the UAE, all the nail salons from what I can tell, are Ladies Only and the walls are blocked off so you can't see inside, unlike the US when they are almost always glass walls so you can see what is inside.  I couldn't find my regular color with the brand OPI - 'I am not really a waitress' so I opted for Tito's 'Secret Lover' at the place called Tips and Toes in my neighborhood complex. I am sort of surprised that name is not banned here.  For 70dhs ($18US), I had a pedicure and for 70dhs I had a nice neck, back, and arm massage. It was a nice treat after all of June and Rex was with the nanny so I had a hour to chill out. I feel good now. I got to a point in Houston that I wouldn't feel complete until I had my car cleaned, my toes done and the house cleaned, then I was good.

VIP UAE Immigration

I have a new respect for immigrants to any country and since I am a US immigration attorney, it is sort of refreshing to be an immigrant to another country to help me have a renewed sense of sympathy for my clients.

My husband arrived June 14 and I arrived July 1. Soon after I arrived, Burak had his residency visa based on his work.  He then had this passport tied up because he was obtaining a visa to travel to Saudi Arabia and then was actually going to use his passport to go to Saudi Arabia.  This was going to be an issue because I was only given a 30 days stay in the UAE and had to convert my tourist visa into a resident visa fairly quickly given he was my sponsor had is only in the UAE one business day a week due to work.  We needed his passport and he to put my visa in action.

We also need a car. But we can't get the car until he has a driver's license.  He can't get a driver's license until he has:
- his residency visa
- an eye exam from an optical store
- 2 passport style photos
- money
- letter from his company
- original drivers license 
- copies of most of this
- go submit them to the Govt office

We needed Burak to start the process for my visa so on Sunday he went to an immigration office to sign something to get Rex and my visas started. Today I went to a medical clinic to get my medical exam for my visa. 

For Medical Exams:
The regular process costs approx 310dirhams (less then $100 US) and takes 7 business days
The Urgent Process costs approx 500 dirhams (approx $135 US) and takes 24 hours to process
The VIP process costs approx 690 dirham and take one day to process.  Burak's company paid for this process for him and we paid for this process for me. Rex didn't need an exam because he is younger than 18 years old.

I went to Burak's office and two employees accompanied me through the entire medical exam process. I spent one hour or less taking some blood and getting a chest x-ray. When Burak returns Thursday, he will go finish up the immigration process and then I will have my visa and then go get my driver's license! 

We needed the driver's license to buy the car and get a loan and drive the car. So hopefully we'll have a car this week or early next week and can quit taking cabs everywhere. Just to go from my neighborhood to central Dubai - 20 minutes - it is about $10 US dollars one way.

When both Burak and I have our visas, we can sponsor the maid/nanny. A man alone can't sponsor a maid so he needs for me to have a visa to sponsor her.  She is about to go out of status too so we are trying to get this all done ASAP. 

It is nice for time and peace of mind to have someone helping us through the process.  Burak's company has been guiding us or actually helping us through the process. I have a new respect for my profession.

July 14, 2011

Deep Thinking - Paradigm Shifts

From Wiki:  Paradigm shift (or revolutionary science) is, according to Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science. It is in contrast to his idea of normal science.

I was born in Joplin, MO then grew up between Lexington, MO, Saltillo, Mexico, and San Antonio, TX. I later lived in Verviers, Belgium as a high school exchange student, in Cuernavaca, Mexico as a college exchange student, Turkey with my husband's family, and Barcelona, Spain as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.  I now live in Dubai, UAE as an Expat, which I think is just a grown up exchange student. I was once told I could adapt on Mars since I was so adaptable and quick to adjust to a new environment. Compliment, maybe?

Whenever I lived in foreign countries, I caught myself thinking deep philosophical thoughts, analyzing the surrounding culture and at the same time questioning my home culture, and having major paradigm shifts.  Life was definitely not boring while living abroad. You can't take anything for granted.  I think I sort of like being on my toes and being challenged in this way.  Some of what I have learned this last 2 weeks from my normal way of life include:
- Here the 'weekend' is Friday and Saturday, not Saturday and Sunday like in the US
- My husband has to write a 'no-objection' letter to allow me to obtain my driver's license (what?)
- My husband has to write a 'no-objection' letter to allow me to obtain a liquor license (what?)
- You don't have to turn off your car motor engine off to have your gas pumped into your car here..you can sit in the AC, with the car on, and have it filled.
- Paying a live-in maid room and board and $400 US dollars a month for 6 days a week of 8-12 hours of work is normal
- Ramadan - can't eat or drink in public - sort of scared about this one
-  There are several electrical adapters to this place and they all confuse me. Why can't there be one here?
- Using the bidet or hoses - they are everywhere including in every bathroom in my house - I never had them in the US yet they are everywhere here.
- Being able to buy alcohol only at 1. Duty free at airport, 2. at hotel bars and restaurants, and 3. with a liquor license
- What is my 'good name'? My first name?
- My maid cleans windows with newspaper instead of paper towels or rags
- Living in a conglomerate world between Emirati, Indian, Philipino, US, British, etc. cultures
- Thank you God for the internet, Skype, email, internet (yes, I said it twice), and technology. I would not be so comfortable in my move had it been 5 or more years ago. I sort of feel like inside my house is the US and outside is the UAE.

I need to write these thoughts down now before I just assume them and then I forget that they were 'weird' to me at some point.

At the same time, the more you live abroad, the more things don't seem so weird. I caught myself thinking or saying , 'oh, that reminds me of Spain,' 'that reminds me of how we did it in Mexico,' 'that is what happened in Belgium,', 'oh, I saw that in Turkey,' and before long, things aren't too weird because you might have seen something similar before.

Well that was my philosopher's minute. Hopefully I remember to write about more of them and not take them for granted. If I do take them for granted, I will remember them when I am returning to the US, having reverse culture shock.

Oh joy!

July 12, 2011

Losing Weight in the Desert

Among my goals for our time in Dubai, I thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to lose the baby weight and in my own words, 'get hot,' even though I realize there was no pun intended with that expression but it seems funny now that I am living in the desert and somehow ended up here in the SUMMER!

What I  realized in the first few days was that it was going to be hard to accomplish this goal being that the local population is fighting obesity and diabetes type 2 with modernization of lifestyle and diet, to name a few: having to drive everywhere to get around, being in AC all day, can't go outside much at all, and the plethora of sweets and other great carb. foods. This is an equation for disaster. I guess that sounds like Texas and most of the US. Conclusion, I need to find a near by gym, buy a treadmill, and/or walk/run at ridiculous hours. I am also considering making the spare guest room a workout/baby play room/guest room. I could probably also go early in the AM to Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates with tennis shoes and walk a lot. Another thought.

In my brief attempt to pick up the newspaper at our front door before breaking a sweat, I realized at 6:30am the weather wasn't too bad. My computer read the temp was 95C.  So I decided to take Rex out for a small walk. There are a lot of walking/biking paths in our neighborhood and even a small lake between our neighborhood and the next one. I walked for 25 minutes and and it wasn't bad because of the breeze and the sun hadn't made it too high at the time. I don't know if I got lucky today or it is always like that at 6:30/7:00am.

I will continue to try to find ways to lose weight in the desert...

It is midnight in Dubai and the thermometer reads 102F

July 10, 2011

Burj Khalifa - I love just saying it

Bringing Burj Khalifa to life required a combination of visionary ideals and solid science. In the process, the project amassed an awe-inspiring number of facts, figures, and statistics.

World Records

At over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa holds the following records:
•  Tallest building in the world
•  Tallest free-standing structure in the world
•  Highest number of stories in the world
•  Highest occupied floor in the world
•  Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
•  Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world
•  Tallest service elevator in the world 

Dubai Ski

I love how Dubai doesn't like to be held down by normal conventions like how people would normally believe you can't have snow in a desert, of course you can! 

Ski Dubai is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East and offers an amazing snow setting to enjoy skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing, or just playing in the snow. Young or old, there is something for everyone, from the beginner to the snow sport enthusiast. Ski Dubai is a unique mountain-themed attraction that offers you the opportunity to enjoy real snow in Dubai all year round.

July 10, 2011 - Ruby and Rex at Dubai Ski
Self-Photo - July 10, 2011

I am afraid I will...

A few things I am afraid I will do even though they are cultural or legal faux pas:

- point the bottoms of my feet or shoes at someone here.
I cross my legs a lot and move them a lot so I have to pay attention to this.

- eat or drink in public during Ramadan.
I drink a lot of water because it is the summer in the desert and I am still breastfeeding which means I need water. I heard that you can go to jail for a month in the UAE if you are caught eating or drinking in public during Ramadan, which is most of the month of August this year. I just read today that the police will give non-Muslims one warning but the second time means jail. I think I will just stay home or fly to Europe.

- shake a man's hand.
I am so used to this being an attorney/lawyer and business owner. I shake men's hands all the time but I think that it is considered inappropriate here. I am just going to keep my hands to myself. 
Correction post-posting: Apparently if I offer my hand, it is ok, but if I don't, then they won't shake with me. More to come on this.

- kiss Burak in public.
Apparently, we can hold hands but no kissing. But I think there are so many foreigners here that we usually get the foreigner pass a few times.

International Cable - Lots of channels to watch

In the house subletting for a month has A LOT of channels on the cable package. Burak and I decided 5-6 years ago to not get cable to save money and time from watching TV. We were in graduate school and figured it would help us stay focused.  Now, I just learned how to turn the tv on yesterday (you need to use 3 remote controls!) and I scanned most of the channels so far...wow! There are channels from India, Jordan, Iraq, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Italy, US (MTV, Fox, Style, etc), France, Spain, Germany, etc. I think there are about 800 or so channels. There is even the Future News channel and I am interested if they predict the future or why it is called Future News.

I remember when I first lived abroad extensively, which was in Belgium, I was amazed at the international news coverage available as opposed to what I received in the US. I feel like that right now again, 12 years later. I remember in Texas watching the local news and we would have the 'World Minute' in which all the world news was summed up in a minute. Yep.

I am now watching a channel where they have a live camera on the Ka'bah in Mecca and you can watch the pilgrims walking around the Ka'bah seven times. One of the five pillars of Islam is to perform a pilgrimage to Mecca; the pilgrimage is known as the hajj.  As a non-Muslim, you are not allowed to this site. I can't believe Burak is there right now in Saudi Arabia. I can't wait to hear what his experience is there.

What is crazy is between my 6-month old and my law firm, I don't have time to watch TV but it sort of fun to scan through the channels.

The weekend

I think all my life, just until now, I thought the weekend was the same around the world. I have come to realize that it is different in several countries.

This helps sum up the reasoning behind it: In cultures with a seven-day week, the day of rest derives from the main religious tradition: Sunday (Christian), Saturday (Jewish), or Friday (Muslim).

In the US, we take Saturday and Sunday off and work Monday to Friday.
In the UAE, they take Friday and Saturday off and work Sunday to Thursday. (Hence, although today (Sunday) is a workday in Dubai, my clients are taking a day of rest.)
In Saudi Arabia, they take Thursday and Friday off and work Saturday to Wednesday. (My husband is there now working until Wednesday night.) UAE neighbors Yemen and Oman also use this schedule.

Most Persian Gulf countries follow the Friday-Saturday weekend and UAE only moved from Thursday-Friday to Friday-Saturday in 2006.

More about this at Wikipedia: Weekend and Work week

I was wondering how does a Saudi and an American get any joint work done between the time differences of 8-10 or so hours and the work week only overlapping Mon-Tues-Wed?

Baby Jet Lag (Sucks!)

I am not sure why you would ever take a baby under one or toddler across the ocean for less than 2 weeks and then plan on returning back. It took us exactly one week to adjust my 6-month old son's new time table and I am still trying to get him to bed earlier.  Not only did I feel like I had a newborn all over again with him waking up in the middle of the night and wanting to stay up for a couple of hours at 2, 4, 6am, etc. but my body was still adjusting to the 9-hour time difference and producing milk for breastfeeding at all the wrong times or not at all.  Yep, when my baby was awake, I was trying to sleep but couldn't so I was having a hard time making enough food. He also doesn't like formula much so it was tough on us.  I also started giving him some bottled water just to make sure he wasn't getting dehydrated here in Dubai. I think there was a point where I was up for more than 48 hours between June 30-July 1 but I can't remember.

A friend sent me this and I think it just helped knowing other people went suffered the same ordeal.

That week also made me realize I don't want to go back to the US for less than 2 weeks because it will take a week just to adjust. At least he will be almost a year when we return for Christmas so maybe he'll be better and I won't be breastfeeding.

I survived because my 'job' was to overcome jet-lag my first week and I had a nanny helping me at night so we tag teamed it and I got some sleep which helped me breastfeed.

Side note: One night when he couldn't sleep, I took him down to the lobby of the hotel around 3:30am in his stroller. There were some drunk people around but we focused our attention on the cool water fountains.

July 9, 2011

English and its variations

Signs and Labels
- Instead of the orange juice label calling it 'Pulp,' here it was labelled as 'Bits'
- Instead of using the word 'Any,' signs use the word 'All' For example: "No Parking Except All Buses" I will find more examples of that one. I am bit confused.

More to come...

UAE Population

UAE Population is one of the most diverse in the Middle East:

National population - 22% (Non-UAE sources think it is more like 15%)
Arabs from other nations (about 20 other countries) - 20%
Bangladeshi and Pakistani - 55%
Westerners and East Asians - 10%

The nationality of a person seems to largely be correlated with your position level and job opportunities:

Emirati male and females - Government Employee/White Collar
Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian males etc. - Manual Labor
Westerner - White Collar/Professional positions
Philipino, Ethiopian, Sri Lankan, Indian, Bangladeshi, Indonesian Woman - Housemaid/Nanny

Construction Quality

Here is an excerpt from the book CultureShock: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette UAE by Gina Crocetti Benesh about Construction Quality

"Most of the country's hard labour is carried out by Pakistanis, Afghanis, Indians, and Baluchistanis. What this results in is men doing work for which they many not have much understanding. For example, the man doing the electrical wiring for a newly-constructed building is likely to have lived much of his life without electricity and the man driving a taxi many have never ever been a passenger in a car until he came to this country. Brand new buildings may have satellite reception while cable for telephones might be forgotten. The work must then be redone. While the world is amazed at the marvel of the fast pace of development in the UAE, those within the UAE tend to be astonished instead by the questionable workmanship, oversight and codes."

We shall see. I have only been here a week.

Survival - Quick Thought on Water and Electricity

As we took an unnecessary taxi-driver detour at our expense yesterday I had the time to reflect on the flora and fauna of the region. (There isn't much). It also made me realize that if we were to ever run out of water and/or electricity here, we would most surely die fairly quickly.

Take a moment to appreciate your AC, the electricity, and your fresh water.

Pork Products - Don't kill the little piggies

Muslims don't eat pork or pork products. To accommodate the large expat population, many non-Muslims, grocery stores have sectioned-off, heavily labelled and signed, pork sections in the grocery store. The entrance always reads - For Non-Muslims in English and Arabic. Walking inside you feel like you are doing something forbidden. :)

Burak showed it to me one day and we walked through for a quick tour to see what was on the other side. I was hit with a strong odor of pork and saw all types of bits and parts that were disgusting to me, a vegetarian for about 17 or so years.

My friend said she saw a grocery store's pork section had pictures of sleeping piglets piled together. I am going to take a picture of that when I find it. I mean when I see little piglets together playing or sleeping, I don't want to eat them. Do you?

So, I will be like the locals and advocate for not killing the little piggies.

Geography Lessons and US-UAE Relations

When I agreed to come to Dubai, UAE, it sounded really cool. DUBAI..place of the man-made islands, indoor ski (surrounded by desert), tallest building, only 7-star hotel, etc. I hadn't really studied the geography of Dubai's neighboring countries. When you think about it, it is in the center of the hotbed of the middle east and all that has been going on in the last 6-12 months. Side note: I forgot to mention I flew over Baghdad on my way here. I thought that was so crazy and wouldn't have happened about 6-7 years ago.

UAE shares borders with Oman and Saudi Arabia. Oman seems to be a nice place from what I gather. My neighbor in Houston was from Oman and lots of the fruits and veggies in the store yesterday seem to be from Oman. I hope to go there and check it out.

Saudi Arabia is very strict. Women can't drive. That tells me a lot there. So that is our other neighbor.

I have heard and I can believe it, after 9/11 in the US, many Middle Easterners quit going to the US for tourism and shopping and have diverted their attention and money to Dubai and UAE.

For example, you know how some expats or foreigners travel to shop? Living in San Antonio, we were used to the very wealthy Mexicans coming to North Star Mall (now they go to the newer ones) to shop. When my aunt lived in Venezuela for years, they would always plan shopping trips in Miami, Florida. It is the same for the local countries near UAE to come to Dubai. They have huge malls and lots of stores. Dubai wanted to create another industry besides oil to be diversified when the oil ran out.

Prices: I see the baby items and clothes are more expensive here. The electronics are more expensive here as well. The good thing is that there is no sales tax or else it is included in the price.

But back to the geography..I had a consultation with a Emirati from Dubai when I was in Houston in the last two months. When talking about the country, he said he was concerned about what Iran would do. I haven't talked to any locals about their concerns but I think that is a legitimate concern for most people around the world.

One thing that made me feel more secure about Dubai was the US-UAE relationship.
I found this link - US - UAE Reltations - from both countries' point of view. Here is some of what it says:

Long Term Economic Partners

With one of the most open and innovative economies in the world, the UAE is a dependable and substantial economic partner with the United States.

  • The UAE is the United States’ largest export market in the Arab World, purchasing $11.64 billion in US goods in 2010.
  • US companies have played major roles in the development of UAE energy resources, which represent about 10 percent of global oil reserves.
  • The UAE is the only oil producer in the Gulf to maintain private-sector participation in the oil industry.
  • More than 750 US firms have a presence in the UAE, from Bechtel and ExxonMobil to Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery.
  • UAE investment has been a dependable and long-term engine of growth for the US economy, injecting capital, expanding market access, creating jobs and contributing to mutual prosperity.

So..I will register my family with the US Consulate and hope for the best.

It is a small world

My decision to name my blog Itisasmallworld.blogspot.com 7 years ago stems from all the crazy, movie-like encounters I have around the world with people I know or have met before.

For example:
- I have bumped in to a high school (San Antonio, TX) friend's sister in a bathroom in Sevilla, Spain
- I have met someone in Oxford one weekend and then a few weeks later saw them walking the crowded streets of Venice

Just in the last week:
- A high school friend (San Antonio) told me that her college friend had moved to Dubai and so she introduced us on Facebook. This person is within a year of age of me, has lived in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and now Dubai (we have 4 of the same cities), was living in the Heights in Houston before Dubai (so just a mile or two from my house in Houston), had a baby 2 months ago (I had a baby 6 months ago), her husband's job brought her here to Dubai, they brought almost all their furnishings (we did too), and I almost forgot...she lives in the neighborhood right next to mine! We live in the same large complex but of the 8 or so sub-complexes she lives next to mine.

- Burak and I were shopping in Carrefour in the Mall of the Emirates yesterday (apparently it is next to the Dubai Ski but we didn't think to go find it). We were looking for hand soap and getting the run around and then we bumped into one of Burak's former co-workers at Exxon Mobil who had been relocated to Dubai within the last year. It was sort of weird already bumping into people we know in a new city in a new country but I find that this sort of stuff happens. Anyway, the former co-worker didn't realize Burak had resigned and changed jobs. We briefly caught up and then exchanges cell numbers.

Yep, that is the small world segment of the week.

Liquor License - To Drink or Not to Drink

The UAE is a Muslim country and Muslim's aren't allowed to drink. The UAE has pitty on us non-Muslims and realizes they should give us a way to obtain alcohol in this country. Thank you! You can consume alcohol at hotels or for personal home consumption. For personal home consumption, there is the liquor license.

I went in a window-less backdoor entry only small alcohol store yesterday trying to see if I could buy something without a license using my smile and charm. It didn't work. I asked, how do I apply for a license then? Hoping for pitty.

I could scan and post the application for your viewing pleasure but let me give you the gist of the application process:
- We must complete the form which requests our biographical details: names, address, religion, passport info, telephone, name of spouse (if spouse is authorized to buy liquor), details of employment (name of employer, job title, income per month, required permit limit) and more.
- Copy of passport and residence visa
- Copy of employment contract
- Copy of tenancy contract
- Passport size photo of applicant and spouse (if spouse is authorized by the applicant to buy liquor)
- 160DHS or about $43 USD
- Stamp from applicant's employer

I asked how long it will take after we get all of this...3 weeks he said.

So, our plan is for Burak to buy duty-free alcohol at the airport on his return flight back from Saudi Arabia this week. It will hold us over while we figure this out.

Since it appears most of the expats with jobs are men and can therefore have liquor licenses, I was the only woman in the store. We should send Burak in next time to see if it will work without a license. It sort of felt like I was under 21 in the States and being caught and refused. I am 30 and we live in a capitalist world..Oh well. I appreciate their openness to have this license. Later at the pool on the same day, I spoke with an expat who had lived in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and she said they couldn't drink there at all so....this is a lot better than there.

July 7, 2011

Time and Dates

In Dubai, I am 9 hours ahead of Houston. In UAE, they take off Friday and Saturday for the weekend and work on Sundays. I don't remember what day it is because I am constantly living in Houston and Dubai time and dates at the same time. Sometimes, I am talking on Skype and I am into tomorrow already. I am living in the next day and Houston is in the day I have already been in. :) I've done that a few times and always thought that was super cool.

For my semi-virtual law practice, I have decided to work Houston's 8am-2pm Sunday to Thursday. That way I can sleep normal Dubai hours and spend Friday and Saturday with my husband.

Also, instead of going to church on Sunday in Houston, we are going to go on Friday. So weird. Anyway, I will get used to it.

I really can't tell you what date it is..I have to look at my phone or computer. One laptop has my Houston time and one has Dubai time. I should buy a few clocks and put the different world times. We are doing that in my Houston office.

Ahhh! :)

Dubai and Texas

Similarities between Dubai and Texas

- They are both hot but Dubai is hotter
- There is a lot of diabetes and obesity in both places
- Everyone has to drive to get around.. it is hot, the public transportation is limited
- They have heavily depended on oil and still do
- They both have a 'Big' complex - 'Everything's bigger in Texas' is a typical slogan but I think Dubai probably takes the cake with tallest building in the world, in-door ski slope, man-made islands in the shape of the world and palms, you know.
- They both have a lot of immigrants

I will add to the list as I progress with my time here.

Taxi cab conversation

On my drive from the hotel to the villa, I had to sit up in the passenger seat because the van was full. I had the opportunity to talk with the taxi driver.

He told me he first arrived in 1976, even brought his family one time, had come and gone. Wow, I thought, Dubai was probably all flat and looked like a desert then. Almost all the buildings have been built in the last 20 years. He told me he was on his way out for good this time. I asked why.

"It is getting expensive in Dubai. There are so many fines!" he explained.
What type of fines, what do you mean? I tried to learn more since I just arrived and was hoping for the best.
"There is a fine for not using your turn signal, a fine for not putting on your seat belt, a fine for going over the yellow line (onto the side of the road), fines for speeding, etc." he told me.
I was just laughing inside because those are all nice things to expect drivers to do and maybe a fine would help train them to do it. As we spoke, he went in and out of lanes without using his turn signal. At times, I saw that I was over the white lane divider being in the passenger seat for more than a minute.

Then I heard some beeping sound. I had bought a new phone and had several electronic devices on me. I asked him, was that him or was that me. He explained that the meter box beeps when he goes over 120km/hr. That was the speed limit. But then he told me he could go 140km/hr without a problem. ?? Apparently, since he drives a government taxi, the meter knows how fast he travels and he can get in trouble if he goes over the speed limit.

So, poor guy, he doesn't like the fines but he keeps up his old habits.

Moving from Hotel to Villa - July 6, 2011

Yesterday, July 6th, we moved from our 5-star hotel, courtesy of husband's company where he had lived for 22 days, to our new villa. While my husband took a cab from the hotel to work, I dreaded the fact that I had to MOVE once again. I had moved my office May 24th, moved items to storage and items for lending to my sister on June 10th, moved my household into a container June 22-23, moved my 3 suitcases, 1 bag, 1 box and 1 baby to Dubai June 30th and so, what the heck, why not move once AGAIN from hotel to villa on July 6th.

After once last nice buffet breakfast (120 dirham/ $33) with a latte and special made berry crepe, I began to muster my energy for the next move which was getting close to the last one. The nanny started cleaning and packing and really was the source of energy or fire for the move since she was missing her room and working at the house...I think or maybe just was tired of helping us adjust the baby to the 9-hour time zone difference.

In the end there were 12 bags: 7 suitcases, 2 Big boxes, 3 bags, a flower arrangement..oh and a baby and stroller. I called the concierge for 2 porters and for them to call for 2 van taxis. A few minutes later the door bell rang and I opened the door to one nice porter with one cart. I opened the door wider and looked down the hall both ways. Yep, they sent one guy. Either they didn't understand me or didn't think they needed to send 2 guys. I told him it was a lot and he said he'd try to do it. Then I opened up the door and he glanced inside and saw what I meant. He said he would be back with help.

They had taken it all downstairs and then before I knew it, they were loading it in a van taxi while I rushed to check out at the front desk and to confirm that in fact, nothing was going on our credit card. As I checked out I saw all my prime earthly possessions loaded on a taxi by strangers. I tried to quickly get to the taxi. The porter confidentally told me that everything fit in the van and I could ride in a separate car taxi. No, I told him. I am going with the van because I don't trust just anybody with all my key possessions. So with a little adjusting, I rode with the van and my baby and nanny rode in a separate car.

As I was taking the 20-25 min ride, I realized I should have put the baby with me too. I had only met the nanny 4 days ago or so. But I had no reason not to trust her so I hoped for the best.

Burak found a villa that was going to be available in late July but the current family renting it was going to be on vacation in July. In the end, we rented the house in July furnished and they'll take their things at the end of the month when we have a week before our items arrive via ship container. In the spirit of The Office, I like to call it a win, win, win, win scenario since everybody is happy.

We arrived, after unloading, tipping, and waiting for the AC to kick in, it started to feel good to be in a house..a future home.