Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ramadan tents

I used to enjoy checking out some Ramadan tents every once in a while. Last night, I went to one for the first time this year, and the whole experience was a mess. The tent itself had a thick cloud of smoke lingering in it, from all the shisha and cigarette smoking. It was too hot and humid to sit outside so we had to sit inside the tent, which wasn't very well ventilated either.

The service was crappy. The shishas sucked, and we had to wait 15 minutes for our bill to be settled. The staff was inexperienced and all over the place. It's kind of normal. These people are hired on a temporary basis during the month of Ramadan. I'm sure the experience would have been different had we gone to a shisha place that operates year-round.

But worst of all was when I saw a baby, no more than 6-7 months, in his father's arms. Next to him was the daughter, who couldn't have been more than 3 years old. It was 11PM. What on earth are these kids doing up so late to begin with? They should have been in bed hours ago. Secondly, I highly doubt that the smoky, unhealthy environment of a Ramadan tent is really the ideal place for these children to be. Even I felt bothered by the smoke, so it really makes you wonder what was happening to those children's lungs?

I am really apalled by parenting standards sometimes:

I hate seeing kids bouncing up and down in a car. The should be in car seats.

I hate seeing kids being spanked by their parents.

I hate seeing kids out at night past 9PM (heck, even 9PM is too late for a baby to be out!)

And I definitely hate seeing kids in smoky shisha tents.

Friday, September 29, 2006

You know "winter" is coming soon in the UAE when... walk out of the house in the evening and you're pleasantly surprised by how mild the weather is. walk out of the house and your eyeglasses/sunglasses don't fog up because of the humidity. decide that it's OK to keep your car at home and walk to the supermarket that's 3 blocks away. see people sitting outside having dinner at Madinat Jumeirah. decide to drive with your car windows open, instead of blasting the A/C.

Yay! Winter is here ('s on its way at least). Finally!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sad but true

This e-mail has been doing the rounds lately. I just got it now for the third time in as many weeks and figured I'd share it with you. It's funny...but sad at the same time...

Welcome to Dubai:

If your road map is more than a few weeks old, throw it out and get a new one.

If you are in Al Rashidiya and your map is one day old, then it is already obsolete.

Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Dubai has its own version of traffic rules, which can be summarized as "Hold on and pray!"

There is no such thing as a dangerous high-speed chase in Dubai. Everyone drives like that.

The morning rush hour is from 5AM to noon. The evening rush hour is from 1PM to 10PM. Wednesday's rush hour starts Tuesday morning.

If you slow down at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended and then given a ticket by the Dubai Police.

If you are the first one at the intersection, when the light turns green ignore the car honking behind you and count to five to avoid crashing into one of the cars running the red light in cross-traffic.

Construction on all main roads is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment.

All unfamiliar sights are explained by the phrase, "Oh, we must be in Sharjah!"

Car horns are actually toys for big boys.

Anyone in a Land Cruiser or Mercedes with tinted windows has the right of way. Period.

Most roads mysteriously change names as you cross intersections.

To ask directions, you must have knowledge of Urdu.

A trip across town will take a minimum of four hours, although Sheik Zayed Road has an unposted minimum speed of 150 kph.

The minimum acceptable speed on the Emirates Road is 160 kph. Anything less is considered downright sissy. Al Khail Road is Dubai's daily version of NASCAR.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ramadan Kareem

It's Ramadan again. It seems like Ramadan came too fast this year...Maybe because for the past few years, Ramadan fell in the months when the weather had already gotten milder...Right now, with 37 degree temperatures, it still feels too hot to be Ramadan...

I love how the whole rhythm of living changes during Ramadan. In a city where the word "hectic" is an understatement, this month really comes as a breath of fresh air for everyone, whether Muslim or not. Work slows down (I am still keeping my fingers crossed for that one), people spend quality time with family and friends, there's less traffic during the regular rush hour (except if you happen to be on the road anytime between 3 and 5PM, which I was today....AVOID AT ALL COST!), and everyone just seems to be more laid back.

I do have one bone to pick however. What's with every Tom, Dick and Harry using the Holy Month as an excuse to advertise about anything from food to detergent to cars to computers? And why is it that every single ad has to feature a moon crescent, whether relevant or not?

As I was flipping through the newspapers yesterday, I was shocked at the number of Ramadan ads I saw. When did Ramadan become so commercial? It wasn't like that a few years ago...

A post on Campaign's blog summarizes the situation really well: "...once again, we are stuck with the usual cheesy ‘Ramadan Kareem’ messages, alongside images of unfeasibly wholesome-looking families enjoying iftar."

C'mon people! A bit of creativity...PLEASE!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Phone confusion

I've decided it's time to buy myself a new cell phone...The one I currently have is 2 years old, it's big, and it's extremely slow. I want something smaller, faster, and more stylish.

I've owned Nokias, Motorolas and Sony Ericssons in the past, so I don't really have any preferences. I just want something that won't break down 5 months from now.

So, my dear readers, I am asking for your help. What phone would you recommend? I like the Motorola RAZR phones, but I am concerned about quality (I heard the battery life is really bad) and it just seems that EVERYONE has that phone. What about the LG Chocolate phone? Any good? Nokia's designs don't really inspire me, but maybe they have a cool phone that I've missed?

I don't care about having an amazing camera on the phone, I don't care about playing music on it, and I don't care about bluetooth, e-mail, or internet access on it either. I just want something I can use to call and send messages. And that looks really cool (yes, I am superficial like that).

Any suggestions?

Saturday, September 16, 2006


What is it with posts about food today?

I settled down to read my favourite blogs, and this is what happened:

First, I come across Dubai Daily Photo's post about the Dubai fish market, which he ends with a mouth-watering description of his dinner that night (oven roasted fish stuffed with coriander and chilli accompanied with fresh and crunchy bok choy in butter and soy sauce with quick fried julienned courgette)...Did you buy enough fish to invite us all to dinner DXBluey?

Then, I read Secret Dubai's post about the Seven Edible Wonders of Dubai...Thai chicken with cashews....Teryaki Steak Soba...Hammour in Holy Basil....mmmmm...yummy!

And then, I read Jayne with a Why's post about some cakes Grandma decided to buy, and how those cakes were "better than sex" according to Jayne! (Please, do tell us where this Eva Dolce place is in Abu Dhabi Jayne...I am there every weekend and have never even heard of it!)

As a result, I am now hungry, and I am craving fish, chicken, steak, and cake all at the same time!!!!

A celebrity in Abu Dhabi? How could that be?

I saw Jeremy Piven yesterday! I was walking into Emirates Palace, and I saw this guy talking to a couple of people at the entrance. The guy looked familiar, and as I walked past him, I figured out that it was him...
Apparently the show he's currently starring in, Entourage, is getting great reviews, and he's even won an Emmy for best supporting actor. I haven't seen it....I only know Jeremy Piven from the Ellen show.
It seems that Jeremy has been living it up in Abu Dhabi...he was spotted at Sax the night before (the jazz bar/lounge at the Royal Meridien hotel....and the only decent place left in Abu Dhabi).
I really wonder why any celebrity would come to Abu Dhabi? It's not your typical celebrity hotspot. Dubai is usually the city that attracts all the celebrities...Not that there's anything wrong with Abu Dhabi...on the contrary, anyone who reads this blog often enough knows that I prefer calmer, cosier, more charming Abu Dhabi to charmless Dubai.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Slow news day?

Today's front page of Emirates Today is all about "Dubai's most expensive villa", and how it can be yours for Dhs 57 million.

Seriously? Who is the editor of this newspaper? Is this really a front-page kind of story? Yeah fine, it's cool to see pictures of the villa, but this is more of a lifestyle/feature kind of article that I really wouldn't have placed on the front page of a newpaper.

Oh well....there was one piece of good news however: Cirque du Soleil will be heading to Dubai sometime next year! Amazing! I've already seen 2 of their shows and I really hope to be able to catch this one...these shows are really spectacular.

Why am I up so early on a Friday morning after a late night out? Whyyyyy?

Oh, wait....I's because my sister woke me up, invaded my bed, and fell asleep! Thanks Sky!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

20,000 hits!

Back in May, I posted about the 10,000 hit mark on my blog...And now, sometime in the past couple of days, that number doubled! Woohoo!

Thank you to all of you who read my posts on a regular basis...keep coming back...and keep commenting!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


This it too funny! In the latest issue of Communicate, there's an article about how 3 daily newspapers and an online business news site were duped by a fake press release sent by the Communicate team to "test the theory that local journalists will print just about anything":

Four leading UAE publications published a fake press release about a non-existing company that makes non-melting ice in an effort by Communicate to establish just how gullible local newspapers are when it comes to swallowing corporate propaganda.

Yes, you read that correctly. It said non-melting ice.

One online business newsite and three daily newspapers published the dubious press release verbatim - in the case of the English copy, with our typo included. The takers were AME Info, Al Bayan, Al Khaleej and Gulf Today. Only one newspaper successfully sniffed out the hoax and called us out on it.

I wish I could find a copy of the full article online, because really, it's hilarious. These guys sent the press release to 24 publications, and just waited for calls from journalists. AME Info sent an e-mail asking if a logo could be provided. The answer was no. They still published the release. Al Bayan called to ask how much the company cost. The answer was "sorry, we can't provide any info at this time". They published the Arabic version of the press release the next day.

Which newspaper was the only one to call back and check some facts? Gulf News. And that's when Communicate came clean about the hoax.

Well done Gulf News. And while this really did put a smile on my face, it also made me shake my head in disbelief at the sad, sad state of journalism in this country.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


The talk of the town (or the country) these days is the new weekend system that has just been implemented.

The new weekend is now officially Friday-Saturday for all government businesses. The private sector is still a grey area...I had written about this in one of my first posts on this blog. Why is it so hard for everyone to have the same weekend?

OK, fine, this Friday-Saturday thing is already a step in the right direction, but my father for example, who works in the private sector, still only has one day off (Friday). Why? People need 2 days off if only for their physical and mental wellbeing! Are people in the private sector less important than those in the public sector? Why can't the government regulate the private sector weekend as well, since the private sector won't make a decision to unify weekends?

And although in my previous post I was complaining about everyone not having the same weekend, I now wish it would remain that way...I used to enjoy my Saturdays off when the rest of the country was working...I'd be able to shop in peace, I'd get appointments to get my nails done easily, I'd be able to squeeze in my doctor's appointments or bank appointments....

Now, this has all changed...I went shopping yesterday, and the mall was packed! Kids, families, the whole world was there!

Oh, and Keefie, I know what you mean when you say that it doesn't matter to you because you work all the time....Cause where was I yesterday afternoon (a Saturday....until 9PM)? Yep, you guessed it...WORK!

Friday, September 01, 2006

London part 3

I did promise some more London pics, so here they are...I've been lazy about posting them, I admit...It's been 3 weeks since I'm back! But I don't feel so bad...Moryarti has yet to post his New York pics...C'mon Mory, we're still waiting :)

The day before I left, we walked around London for a final day of sightseeing. We checked out the London Eye. I had initially wanted to go up on it, but that day was cloudy and cold, and I didn't want to waste my last day of sightseeing waiting in line to get up on the wheel... so we just saw it from far.

Big Ben...We got to hear the Big Ben bells ring!


Westminster Abbey...very impressive

The Parliament Houses...So huge! The buildings are beautiful, and the architecture is so intricate.

That night, we went out for a lovely dinner at a Spanish restaurant in Clapham (south-east London). The food was good, the wine was good, and the company was great. A perfect ending to my week-long trip.

The next morning I had to wake up early to finish packing and get ready for my flight. I was at the airport 3 hours before my flight and we managed to take off 6 long hours later.

*Sigh*...I wish I could still be on holiday...that London trip already seems like ages ago!