Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On The Road to Dubai

Dubai - a place that is almost but not quite totally unlike civilization!

Random pictures from Dubai. Not the full monty as it were. I was with mates and they had things to do. So I only saw a part of the city. The pictures were taken from the metro and from the car. A word about the metro... remember when New York City and London first opened their metros ... OH ABOUT A HUNDRED YEARS AGO!!! London - 1863; Paris - July 1900; New York City - October 1904. Yeah.. Dubai September 2009. *sigh* Yeah... I now know what it must have been like to be in those cities at the turn of LAST CENTURY!!!! at a subway opening. The confusion. The chaos. The fear. The technical glitches. "We'll look back on this and laugh." I was told. We weren't laughing yesterday. Oh my no! It was stupid chaos. It was mismanaged. It was FUBAR to the nth degree! First we waited outside the station - yes OUTSIDE the station for almost ten minutes. Why you ask? Well, the man in the suit said it was because it was to crowded downstairs. When we finally got downstairs we entered a large cavernous area.... with very few people.... (compared to leaving the inauguration in DC which had quite a few people in the metro.... or the Central line at Holborn during rush hour.... or the 1 and 9 at Penn Station during rush hour... or Tottanham Court Road stop when half the Victoria line and all the Jubilee line are shut down. Those are CROWDED. This... not so much. Any ways. They had two ticket machines. I kid you not... two. And only two entrances to the trains.... yeppers. Two turn styles. Not kidding. Two. But there were two orderly queues! Until some cop decided he wanted women and children in one line and men in the other. This caused pandemonium as many had been waiting in these two heretofore orderly lines for over ten minutes!!!!! So instead of having two lines you now had a throng of people pushed against each other and no lines! Then this "lovely" cop decided to walk away...... After another five minutes of this chaos, they allowed people thru - while another metro employee took your tube ticket from you and scanned it for you (please don't ask..... ) only for you to be stopped thirty yards beyond at the top of the stairs....... after five minutes you were allowed to walk down the stairs only to be stopped by another employee at .... you guessed it.... the.top.of.another.flight.of.stairs.that.led.to.the.train.tracks........... Yes, Virginia. Idiocy at its best. You'd think that the planners or even the workers would have viewed a video of metro systems that have been running for a hundred plus years to see the natural flow of people. You'd think that wouldn't you. But oh no! This is the UAE. Logic and common sense need not apply! Once we did get on the train it was quite posh. Lovely in fact! We pulled out into the... night. Yep, we started this in broad day light and by the time the train actually pulled out of the station it was quite dark outside. And then the technical problems began. First stop OK! Next stop the doors wouldn't open. Ten minutes later they said forget about it and moved to the next stop. All's well at the next stop. NOT!!! We didn't make it 20 yards past the station! Sat there for a while. Then moved to the next stop. Waited there (with closed doors) for about ten minutes. Moved about the length of a football field and stopped next to an oncoming train. Stayed there for about ten minutes. Big Fun!!! The announcement said the next stop would be the last stop. We pull in, the doors open, stay open for five minutes, people start to get off. The train employees said to disregard that announcement, the train would be going to Mall of the Emerates - some 4 stops away. And sure enough - the train bypassed the rest of the stops to get to Mall of the Emirates. TWO HOURS LATER (mind you the same journey would have taken about fifteen minutes by taxi). Once we got to the mall, we saw the queues for the train.... Easily a thousand people in a line... a very long line... thru the metro.... down the corridor... into the mall...... a good 200 to 250 yards into the mall were people waiting to get on the metro. Good luck to them. We think the metro shut down after we got off. Seriously doubt anyone informed the people in the line. That would require: communication. Something not really found in the UAE. But the metro has only been operational for three weeks. So maybe in a hundred years it will work with "clockwork efficiency" like New York or London or Paris

Eid Mubarak

Musings from the Eid holiday. Please don't ask me what an Eid holiday is. I really don't know. All I can tell you is that it involves people buying new clothes. How this is different from every other day in the UAE, I can't tell yas. But it's some sort of religious thing. That involves sales and clothes. So yeah.....

For "my" Eid, my mates family and I went to a water park. This was actually FUN!!! I mostly played Sudoku in a lounge chair under the shade. Of the five that I played (of various levels: easy, medium, and hard) I 100% completed four of them - it was one of the easy ones that stumped me! LOL

Coming back, we drove thru an emerates called Sharja. There are no women in Sharja. I kid you not. We started playing, for fun, "spot the female". First one spotted "wins" five dhiram. LOL Pretty crazy. It's almost like a Lord of the Flies for grown ups. Bachelors is what they call them. Just hundreds upon hundreds of men. Nothing else. Even where we stayed in Dubai there was nothing but men outside. Hundreds upon hundreds of men.

Now I know you all have the Weathergirls song "It's Raining Men" running thru your head and believe me it's NOTHING like that. It's pretty surreal to see. Very "alien". Not disconcerting but very strange. What must the psyche be of all those men. The only conversations you have are with other men. You socialize with ... other men. You shop, travel, live with .... other men. I was told that some of these men do have wives and children back in their homelands. But they are here for months at a time; sometimes a good year before they see their families. Can you imagine? Not interacting with a member of the opposite sex for months even years? The guys reading this probably yelled out "YES!!!" and may think this is a groovy idea. But really... THINK about this....

When "we" were growing up, we played with both boys and girls. It was the natural way of things. Boys and girls HAD to learn to play together, work together, fight each other, disagree. All those things we learned on the playground... in school... roaming the neighbourhood.... middle school... high school..... college.... all those interactions we learned as a matter of course. This country as a whole segregates boys and girls after kindergarden. Girls go to a girls school even at the university level and boys go to a boys school. They don't play together. They don't learn together. They end up having to work together only when they are adults. So 18-21 years of learning social graces and interactions and social cues are just gone.... not exists ... These people have no idea how to communicate with the opposite sex. So misunderstandings abound. They have no concrete contexts for how the other thinks and behaves so their belief about the other is ... conjecture.... fantasy..... misinformation .... lies! Then think of this... most of the marriages are arranged, so now you marry someone you don't know and don't know how to "get to know". And you now have to live with this alien creature! LOL No wonder the divorce rate in this country is hella high!

I wonder if anyone has ever done a psych profile of these people. What must their minds and outlook be like having missed out on half a life. I know they don't think they've missed out on anything. It's natural for them - this segregation of the sexes. But from the outside looking in.... how fucked up they must really be. It's kinda like a supermax prison on a country wide scale.

Friday, September 4, 2009

On your own in Al Ain, UAE

So it's pretty much official. We got the keys to the flat very late last night. I signed the flat lease tonite and delivered it to the housing dude. So now we are on our own. ^shrugs^ The flats aren't clean, the molding and caulking are atrocious. They were thrown up in a hurry with no rhyme or reason. There is only one person for the housing in Al Ain and there are at least three more groups and families from the first wave he's got to house. . . Good luck with that. So I think I've got off a bit easier than he has. LOL I can hit the ACE hardware store and buy caulking and silicone and recaulk the flat. It needs it!! We are thinking of hiring someone to come and clean the flats. It's pretty bad. LOL It's still construction dirty. A mate called the building supervisor and the supervisor answered in English. As soon as it was clear that it was a new tenant and that stuff needed finishing and fixing - then the dude could no longer understand or speak english. Classic!

Still don't have the passport with the residency visa. So can't hire a car yet. This is the limbo part. The company isn't answering any one's emails or phone calls. I know they are overwhelmed with new hires but dang - get those who have been here out and finished before starting something new. But that's just me. I realize not everyone is blessed with Danish efficiency. It'll get sorted.

Ramadan isn't helping at all. The whole city seems to shut down from like 1pm to 8 pm. All the shoppes are closed and no one is doing any type of work. It's annoying when you have things to do! I'm doing good with the eating. I make sure I have plenty throughout the day and will excuse myself to the lavatory to drink water or eat a nutri-grain bar. Luckily when we have those stupid pointless meetings there is a break room that people can go have lunch in. Not being able to buy a meal until 8pm means that my eating schedule is fubar. I'll sometimes have a meal at like 9 or 10 at night. And won't go to bed until like 2am and not even realize it's that late. Can't wait until Ramadan is over, the flats get clean, I get moved in.

The video is in two parts. There are some specific questions I have about drainage and structure and stuff. If you know the answers please shoot me an email.

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