Tuesday, January 5, 2010
My department at work is going to Chili's for a department "end of the year lunch" kind of thing, so the lady organizing it brings take out menus to work for us to choose what we want, she can send the order in early save time, etc.
I walk by the front desk and there's a group of my three most Indian of Indian colleagues, all crowded around a single menu and scruffling their eyebrows to and fro as if trying to decipher heiroglyphics.
"Vat is thees?" One says.
"Sal-Mon?" The other sounds out.
"Google it!" The third suggests.
They proceed like this all afternoon, poring over the mysterious items listed on the Chili's menu, finally deciding on cajun chicken sandwiches (for the hot peppers) and virgin margharitas. :)
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Went to a Canadian couple's home for Christmas dinner and had a bona-fide de-licious home made turkey and gravy. Mmmm.... went to another friend's house for Christmas lunch and we had Indian food and watched some super tear-jerker 3-hour Hindi movie featuring hunka hunka Aamir Khan. It was a really good movie, but I still can't get into all the singing and dancing in Hindi movies. It's just so weird how they randomly break into large-cast musical ensembles in the middle of like a dialogue.
Went for Christmas-leftovers dinner last night where a whole new leg of lamb was roasted so I'm not sure how THAT was supposed to work.
Have two more social engagements this week (NYE is one) and then I'm starting arabic class twice a week in the evenings. Just finished enrolling... I'm pleased to have discovered on their placement test that I've self-studied my way to the 5th level of study (although I think there are about 10 levels above that.) Work is paying for most of it through professional development fund so that's also a huge perk. But now I'm going to have homework and stuff... eek...
Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
So my Christmas Day so far involves sleeping as long as humanly possible and then making myself a bowl of spaghetti-O's. If it seems like I'm reveling in loneliness and depression, it could be because I'm taking a page out of Charlie Brown:
"This is my depressed stance. When you're depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you'll start to feel better. If you're going to get any joy out of being depressed, you've got to stand like this. "
On the bright side, I've been invited to a wedding in January, so I can at least have a good excuse to buy myself a new dress. Because nothing cures the blues like shopping...
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The other half of us are in Dubai for the holidays, fairly broke, and more recently, sick like the dickens. It ain't pretty. This year, my good friends are either madly in love with someone new (ie; preoccupied), or are away, or are going to very expensive brunches for xmas. So I will probably spend Christmas just calling home and cleaning house. I volunteered to work xmas weekend to let the other people go spend time with their loved ones.
This past weekend it rained heavily - for like 12 hours straight - and caused a lot of crazy flooding and traffic nightmares. People were stuck for 4-5 hours on the freeways around town. Some nice pics here.
I am now on a mission of self-improvement; read more, study arabic more, exercise more, eat better, spend more time with my friends, call home more often. It is a mere 6 months until summer break again.
Thailand was entirely awesome. In the interest of time, I won't go into excessive detail. My two excellent travelling companions and I did manage to fly to the island of Ko Tao (pictured above) after a bit of a hairy spot: one of us (I shant specify who) forgot to bring along the credit card used to purchase the plane tickets to the island in the midst of all that late-to-catch-a-plane rush, meaning we nearly couldn't board the plane. It being my birthday though, a little birthday luck must have kicked in, because our counter lady for Bangkok Air let us make a printout of the credit card statement and use that to check in instead. So we made it. I spent my birthday laying on a beach from paradise and drinking mai tais.
The next day we decided to venture to the other more remote side of the island, and after negotiating some pretty steep hills in a hired truck, made it to a picturesque private cove with a small beach and an awesome garden/bar/restaraunt. I went snorkelling for the first time ever and saw a reef shark.
After 2 days there, we went to Ko Phangan island by ferry, early in the day, to pick up some neon paint and fluorescent bead necklaces for the Dec 2, 2009 full moon party on Hat Rin beach. This, folks, is an event. An all-night crazy dance party on the beach stretching probably a kilometer and a half up and down the sand, absolutely chock full of spoled suburban co-eds delighting in the wild expenditure of their parents' money. There were also a few cool people.
Basically though, my partners in crime and I wandered up and down the beach all night drinking out of buckets (bucket vendors spring up in massive rows along the beach and throughout the town for this event, all the bucket vendors have named their business something vulgar and profane, and they all mix a bottle of alcohol with 2 mixers into a plastic bucket with ice which is distributed with several straws to carry around and share amongst friends.)
We danced, we tired at 3:00am, wandered back, got a cheeseburger on the way and called it a night. The next morning I got up at 8:00am to go open up my safety deposit box and could still hear the party going down on the beach.
All in all an excellent trip. I love Thailand - everything was so clean, and all the people were so friendly. Except for one tuk tuk driver, who Stanley got into a fairly fierce debate with over his knowledge of the location of the real Samboon Seafood.
Stanley: "You know where it is!!! You know!! You know!!!"
Driver: "I no know! I no know!"
Stanley: "You do!! You are a liar!! You know where it is!! You take us to the wrong place because you get commission!! I saw you, you know that man!!!"
Driver: "I see you later! I see you later! I no know that man! You crazy!"
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
We also decided to celebrate my birthday early, since this year it falls during Eid al-Adha and National Day (a week or more of national holidays which will send everybody skittering off out of town), so went out on the 5th to Chi at the Lodge, where we sat in VIP and drank a lot and danced our tooshies off until 3am. It's interesting in this town, that at 3am, they actually turn the music off and turn the lights on, even though the whole floor is still packed with people who seem like they could easily go until 6. I think in the States they usually just stop serving drinks at closing time, and let people dance themselves into a more coherent state for a little while. Am I wrong?
Lastly but not leastly, we are planning a little week-long getaway to Thailand for the above mentioned holidays, which fall from Nov 27-Dec 4. Not sure of all the details yet, but I'm sure it will be fun! More to come.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I'm leaving Thursday afternoon from work - all by myself! - and am looking forward to checking out the city and doing some reading/relaxing/shopping/et cetera.
I also went ahead and signed up for salsa lessons, in an effort to get myself out of the house more often. I'm curious how it will go. :) There is a Cuban guy here in Dubai who gives lessons out of the Community Center.
Other than that, life is normal - except that everybody at work seems to be coming down with swine flu, which an extraordinary pain in the rear. I do not want to get sick!! I do not want to get sick!! I do not!!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Good service at this place as well. Shortly after we arrived and checked in, Stanley realized he had left the iPod in the car, which had been valeted, so he called down to guest service to see if they could retrieve it. Why yes, of course sir. We'll bring it right up sir. And, apon delivery of the iPod; we're very sorry you forgot your iPod in the car, sir. It won't happen again, sir.
We played a little squash, had a great meal in a Thai restaurant, spent waaaaay too much time lounging around drinking, and came back feeling nice and relaxed. Any of y'all who visit us in Dubai will probably spend at least a night or two here.... I'm already looking for excuses to go back. :)
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I finally pulled the trigger about a week before the semester started. I sent a request to HR to approve me for the employee scholarship. The required signatories were on leave. Then they got back and they were busy. Two days into the semester, 6 days after the MBA program stopped accepting applicants I got the signature. But the admissions people know me and wanted to help so the next day I submitted my application, complete with my hastily completed "statement of career goals" and "letters of recommendation" from my bosses. All that was left was the approval of the dean for the School of Business, but on that very day it was announced that he had been fired/resigned/moved on to other opportunities, so we had to submit to a notoriously unsympathetic individual for review. We waited 3 more days. He said no.
But it wasn't over. My boss, in her wonderfulness, was incredulous when I told her this. She sent him an email requesting that he reconsider. We waited another day. He replied, "Two weeks into the semester it would be inappropriate." Another wonderful person from admissions took him the schedule...
"See? He'd only be missing one class! The second class is today!"
He approved. I registered. I'm a student again. It's weird. It's exciting. I'm not sure if I'll be here long enough to finish or if I'll like it. But I'm currently studying for my MBA. And doesn't it sound kind of cool to say that?
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I've been sick, work has been busy. I've been distracted. This weekend I accidentally blew off a friend's holiday dinner and I feel terrible about it. I'm trying to figure out how to make it up to her, but this sort of this is very unusual for me. I'm not quite sure what to do.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Below you can see the bottom third of the burj, along with the world's largest dancing fountains, and Dan looking cute on the patio outside the Address hotel. We had some calamari at this place Calabar, and I have to say, it was some of the most perfectly prepared calamari I've ever had.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Our air conditioning in the car also broke, so Dan took it to the dealership for an estimate. Strangely, an estimate alone costs $100, which I think is pretty much a stupid robbery. Then, the cost to fix it is like, significantly more than the car cost. My theory is that the whole thing can be fixed with 20 dirhams worth of a/c refresher at the gas station. If not, we'll get a new car. :)
Also, we have a new maid coming today, who I must train. This whole thing is very strange. But I'll do my best. She will come over three times a week and do our laundry and ironing and clean our house. We asked her what she wanted for a salary. Name your salary, and we will negotiate on hours from there, I was thinking. Seems she wants $122 a month.... I had to stop myself from telling her that's ridiculous and that she should be asking for more. This kind of thing is dangerous... you could REALLY get used to never doing your own laundry again.
Monday, August 17, 2009
It's almost Ramadan, which I'll get into in a minute. First of all, let me say, that while in Peru, we went to Macchu Picchu, which is similar to the Taj Mahal, in that, pictures don't do it justice. It's really a wild place, and big. I recommend it. You'll really get your exercise hiking all over Incan ruins in Peru, though - we visited a few smaller sites in the days leading up to Macchu Picchu, and by the time we arrived at MP, my calves felt like cement blocks, and every step was like a hammer smashing the cement block into cracked pulverized cement powder. Dan-man gave me the following advice:
1) Stretch thoroughly 2) Keep moving
Bingo. After 20-30 minutes of hiking up and down terraces, the pain had faded...until the next morning.
Back here in the UAE, we are gearing up for Ramadan. "Gearing up" means doing things to prepare for the closures and changes in timings associated with the holy month. For example, taking time to go clean out the liquor store before they close for a month. We drove out on Saturday and procured enough to definitely last us through Ramadan, and maybe through the end of the 2012 Olympics if we're careful. Our most interesting purchase was a 4.5 liter glass bottle of Dewar's white label scotch, which was a screaming deal, since after Dan is finished drinking the scotch, we can re-purpose the bottle as a camping shelter.
I also now have the new espresso machine, which will keep me in lattes while the coffee shop at work is closed. In fact, I'm at home drinking a latte right now, out of a black "Yes We Can" mug with Obama's skyward gaze emblazoned on the side. I like associating Barack Obama with Morning Coffee. It's pleasant. Invigorating. Inspirational. As the caffeine takes effect, the mug is communicating to me subliminally, making me think: maybe today I'll go out and make something of myself, like becoming president of the USA. I'm imbued with get-up-and-go spunk before I'm even out of my pajamas.
I might also be preparing myself some kind of plan for food during the day at work, except that I think I've decided to fast along with a lot of my colleagues and students. I figure, muslims don't have a total monopoly on spiritual renewal. Why not take the opportunity to spend daylight hours focusing on restraint, charity, rejuvenation? Practice asceticism for 15 hours a day, then go home and really enjoy dinner. I can't do a total fast though, I'll have to do a water fast. I can't go all day without drinking water in the middle of summer. I'll dry up into a crunchy pile of sand and blow away.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
This, after imbibing a medicine-y brew of green icky stuff and listening to the chanting and spanish-language catholic-influenced prayers of the shaman for a couple of hours, was perhaps one of the most coherent of my many visions.
It all started on a dark and blustery evening in the Amazon, when the shaman came and told us what to expect. "Bring a blanket," he said. "Bring water. Bring a pillow." Check and check. "When the medicine takes effect, you can expect that maybe the jungle will be talking to you. Or it could be in the form of a small virgin. Whatever it is, don't be scared. I am in control, nothing bad will happen." Okey dokey, shaman. My mind is in your hands.
My two partners in mindbending and I meandered back behind the lodge, into the jungle, over a bridge and up a path of stones lit by torch to an octagonal, screened ceremonial hut, where we took our places on some cushions and settled in for.... well, something.
It started like this: picture several lava lamps and a trippy "seeing eye" poster melting together and spinning rapidly around the room. Then imagine some 60s hippie kids in an electric kool-aid acid test van dumping brightly-colored crazy paint all over the freeway. Then imagine that a swamp/jungle starts growing in the midst of all this. There's some swampy water, and some frogs and toads croaking in the background, and a bunch of vines growing all over everything. It's all happening at very high speed. The whole time, you're looking for your spirit guide so you can ask him/her/it some questions, like how you can be healthy, do better at work, finish your projects, learn arabic more effectively and achieve lasting happiness. But your spirit guide isn't showing up. HELLO! You yell through the crazy paint. ARE YOU MY SPIRIT GUIDE? No answer. You begin to grow increasingly frustrated. You are no longer amused by the colorful geometric patterns whizzing by your head. You keep forgetting you have a body, and when you remember, it annoys you. You are about to ask for your money back due to your spirit guide not showing up, when suddenly it dawns on you: You Are The Spirit Guide. Suddenly you view the earth from space, and it is bursting with light. I Am The Universe. I Am the Light. All Matter and Energy is Together and It Is all God and I Have All the Answers, I Must Simply Think Them. Shortly thereafter, you fall into utter, complete bliss, peace, and happiness, lay down in a field of daisies, and decide that nothing matters except your love for humanity, which nothing can ever destroy or eliminate. You are at complete peace with all things and all people. You are care free. You are a beautiful and unique snowflake. Everything is extraordinarily beautiful and peaceful.
This, in a nutshell, was basically my experience on ayahuasca.
The entire next day, Iwandered around, starstruck at the beauty of the world, the love I felt for my fellow man, and the total weightlessness of having no worries at all.
36 hours later, in the airport, behind some horrid rude woman and her obese, miscreant children, I thought to myself: humanity is a disgusting pile of rotten waste and I hate all of you.
Then I concentrated on my memory of peace, and came to some internal compromise, leading me to conclude that this experience was definitely worth something.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
#1 - I miss my man, pictured below.
...he had to go back early to work. He did get that monkey off his back.
#2 - I want to be able to go to the doctor and not have to pay. I have health insurance EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD except the USA and Canada. Naturally, I'm sick.
#3 - I miss ordering gyros delivery and vegging out on the couch and watching football.
#4 - I haven't studied a lick of Arabic since leaving the UAE, except for while sitting in a jungle lodge in Peru playing with Micah's iPod touch, which has some kind of language quick-reference thingy installed on it. If you're lost in a seedy souq somewhere in the backstreets of Marrakech at night, you can whip out your trusty iPod touch and flip to the arabic pronunciation for "don't come near me, I have leprosy and a pocket full of poisonous spiders," and just put it on repeat, then wander around all night looking for your hotel without fear.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
THEN - another movement to the other side. Another rat! And then... another! As my eyes adjusted to the dark and I started looking at the lawn and the foliage instead of the sidewalk in front of me, I saw probably 7 or 8 different rats scurrying away into the underbrush. Icky icky ick ick ick!!!
Is this something new? Have they always been here? Have I been walking out to the parking lot alone at night in the dark all year long without noticing the vermin at my feet? Ick ick ick!! I told myself this must be a new phenomenon, and I must stick to the dead center of the path and move quickly so that they don't decide to run out and eat my toes for dinner. Iiiiiiiiiick!!!