Saturday, February 19, 2005

An American in The UAE

More ridiculous and innane obeservations of my short stay in the UAE:

I had what I call an "American Moment" the other night. That's when I forget I'm in "foreign" and think or act like an American... like when I go to the left side of the car and expect to find my steering wheel, or I think a bowler means someone who is bowling, not a cricket playing ball pitcher. My most recient one happened as we were stepping out of a very lovely dinner in Abu Dhabi in a magnificent apartment with a view of the new Corniche (ocean-view drive). I saw a large white lighted building out of the corner of my eye and I thought, "Oh, there's a White Castle restaurant." Well it wasn't a White Castle, it was a sort of castle shaped mosque.

In Pakistan, facial tissues are used as paper dinner napkins in moderate restaurants and homes all across the nation. We've become so accustomed to them that if you ask for a napkin at our house, we'll slide the tissue box closer to you. Here in the UAE, they have taken this practice one step further and various moderate restaurants have tissue boxes printed with their name and logo and placed on the tables as pop-up napkin dispensers. It makes sense since lots of the local food is fingerfood and a ready supply of small napkins is useful.

So far though, this has been a really lovely visit. The more "American moments" I have the better. And the ridiculous ones aren't so bad either and are always good for a laugh.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Quick Notes from the UAE

We've been in the UAE for two days now.

This morning I saw two men touch noses three times as a form of greeting. I found that very funny, but was smart enough to not laugh. Unfortunately, both girls missed it so I'm hoping that the act is repeated again and they witness it before we leave.

This evening when I left the apartment, I noticed a sweet smell wafting through the air. It smelt like cotton candy, very pleasent. It wasn't till we returned home that I noticed the cafe on the cornor and realized the "cotton candy" smell was the scent of flavored and scented tobacco from the shisha (hooka).

Tomorrow we got apartment shopping and meet KNICQ.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Sunshine Crept Softly Though my Window Today

(I want music notes. Why aren't there little music notes on my computer keyboard?)

After 12 straight days of cold and rain and drizzle and more rain, today was finally sunny and warm. All of Pakistan celebrated by doing their laundry and hanging it over the balconies, on Mosque walls, on the fence of Fatima Jinnah Park.... everywhere you looked, there was shelvar-kameze flapping in the breeze. From mansions to mud huts, all were adorned with laundry. I celebrated by removing the sodden floor mats from the car, hosing them down and letting them dry in the sun. A few more sunny days are needed to completely dry the car's saturated carpeting.

We went to Crayons for lunch and she was wild with excitement. She had done lots of laundry and racks of adorable babywear greeted the girlies and I as we arrived on her 2nd floor varanda after our perilous climb up the narrow and rickety spiral staircase. The sunshine had totally lifted her spirits, thrown her into a fit of cleaning frenzy. She excitedly told us she had retired the electric blanket from the bed, thrown opened the windows to air the house and ripped the "fringy thingies" off the curtain valances. She was practically dancing on the ceiling. (Our post-luncheon conversation did include the warning signs of bi-polarism. We each tried to describe our higs and lows and what set them off.)

We all talked about what a long and cold winter we had had in Pakistan this year. Three dams burst from the unusually heavy winter rains, the mountain villages have had 15 feet of snow and now avalanches and mudslides are wiping out roads, bridges and villages. May God bless them all.

Hubby warned us that another rain system is moving in from Iran and our sunny days of 70 degree temps are short lived. I don't care, however. In 36 hours, I'll be in the "Land that Rain Forgot"- The UAE. We are winging it out to the land of sand and sunshine to check out property, conduct some family business.