Friday, June 30, 2006

Restless

I've been feeling restless/stressed out/distracted/tired/nervous all day. It's been one hell of a week work-wise, I left late almost every day of the week (including last night), and here's the icing on the cake: I have a full-day meeting tomorrow, and a presentation to work on afterwards! So, again, another working weekend. And another hellish week...which I'm dreading. I want it to be over...I just want to skip it, so it can be the next weekend already...

I really need a break. I am in dire need of some time off....and to think that I was supposed to be on holiday this very week (but I had to cancel the trip because of work constraints). This sucks!

Better head off to bed now, so I can wake up at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Top 50 most expensive cities in the world

Dubai is 25th. Abu Dhabi is 30th.

Pole position goes to Moscow.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Philantropy

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, announced yesterday that he will be donating a whopping 85% of his $44 billion fortune to not-for-profit organisations, with a big chunk of that going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That's $37 billion...and that's friggin impressive!

What's impressive is not only the amount, but also the fact that this man is actually doing something useful with the fortune he has amassed. In a world plagued by corrupt CEOs and doctored numbers, Buffett is a breath of fresh air.

Not that I know much about the guy, but this self-made billionaire has kept a down-to-earth lifestyle: he still lives in the same house in Omaha he bought in 1958 for $31,500 and his annual chairman's salary from Berkshire Hathaway is just $100,000.

I had recently watched an episode of Oprah where she talked to young heirs, and she had Warren Buffett's granddaughter Nicole as one of her guests. Turns out Nicole's grandpa had paid for her education, but once she graduated college, she was on her own. So now she doesn't even have health insurance, and has to work for a living. And she respects her grandfather's decision to not give her or any of his grandchildren any money, based on the premise that everyone needs to work for what they get.

Way to go Warren. The world needs more people like you.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Kill Modhesh


Enough with Modhesh already! You can't drive a kilometer in Dubai these days without seeing a Modhesh staring at you. Everywhere you turn, there he is....this big yellow accordeon-like thing....Arghhhh!

I know that Modhesh is supposed to be the mascot for Dubai Summer Surprises, but don't you think this Modhesh-mania is going a teeny weeny little bit overboard? Please...tell me we won't have to suffer until the end of summer....will we?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The best of youth


I love foreign films! Whenever I am done watching a foreign movie, I always wonder how I can go back to watching those over-rated American Hollywood blockbusters....

OK, ok, fine, there are a few good American movies, but in my opinion, foreign movies are far superior: better acting, better directors, better (more realistic) storylines.... And I think I have now found my favourite foreign movie. It's called The Best of Youth (or La meglio giovent├╣ in Italian).

The movie spans 4 decades, starting in the 1960's, and follows the lives of two brothers whose lives lead them to very different, yet inevitably intertwined paths. We get to experience their lives almost as if we were also going through their ups and downs along the years with them....we go along with them on their travels across Italy, we pass their exams with them, we attend the weddings and the funerals, we feel the political and economical unrest that plagues the country, we suffer with them when they get hurt, and we feel as if we are falling in love when they fall in love.

This movie is 6 hours long (yes, you read right....6 hours!). But it could have lasted another 6 hours and I wouldn't have minded, because it's truly a masterpiece. So, don't be deterred by the fact that it's so long because believe me, you won't even feel it! Go rent it now...you won't regret it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

World Cup fever

I've been rather lazy about blogging lately. The World Cup is taking up most of my time. By the time I finish work, I head home, grab a bite to eat, get changed, and go over to a friend's place to watch the matches. I have managed to watch only one or two full 11PM matches...I usually get so sleepy by halftime, I either go back home or pass out on my friend's couch until the match ends, at which point I peel myself off the couch and drag myself home.

I am not a football fan in general....But the World Cup is a different story. Sure it's exciting to have all those really amazing players gathered in one country. And it's great to partake in the excitement of a really good game. But I think what I love the most about the World Cup is the togetherness: people gathering under one roof to watch the matches and cheer for their favourite teams.

We laugh, we scream, we cheer, we boo, we play, we argue, we debate, we eat, we drink, we snack...and we have a blast!

I am positive I'll go through withdrawal symptoms when the World Cup ends. Everyone will go back living their own lives, dealing with work, and traffic, and high rents, and everyday worries...

I'm really going to miss the World Cup (and those hot players of course!)

....oh Freddie......

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Oh Freddie....

.......


..... you're so hot.....



...... sigh......

Sweden's Freddie Ljungberg. Pictures taken from www.fifaworldcup.com

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Blog bytes & Gulf News

It seems Gulf News has taken over the weekly publishing of a couple of blog posts from Emirates Today. In today's Tabloid section, a couple of blogs from the Middle East and beyond are mentioned. Not sure if this will be a regular, weekly column or not.

Check it out:
http://www.gulfnews.com/tabloid/Society/10048046.html

Friday, June 16, 2006

Women taxi drivers

I rarely take taxis in Dubai. As a matter of fact, my trip to the airport a month ago was only the second time I ever took a taxi in Dubai in the past year. On the way back from the airport, we walked over to an empty taxi, and there was a woman waiting next to the car...turns out she was the driver.

To be quite honest, in my 10 years of living in Canada, I don't recall ever seeing a woman taxi driver, so coming across a lady driver here in Dubai came as both a shock and a pleasant surprise.

In a country where the number of women in the work force is still relatively low compared to some western countries, and where the taxi driver profession is sometimes looked down upon, it's great that women here feel comfortable enough to join any professional environment they want.

Girl power!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cigar


It takes a lot to shock me and to get me upset. But a few days ago, I got shocked and upset at something seemingly silly.

We were sitting at our company cafeteria having lunch, when a client came out of a meeting and decided to take a break in the cafeteria. And he lit a cigar. A CIGAR! In a cafeteria!

Now that's taking it a bit too far don't you think? If you want to smoke your stinky cigar, do it outside, or do it in a cigar lounge, or do it in your own house, but don't smoke it in the middle of a cafeteria at lunchtime! Do you really desperately need to smoke that cigar right then and there?

I don't care who you are or how important you are, but that's just plain disrespectful if you ask me!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Busy

I've been too busy to blog lately....Between work and the World Cup, the only time I have to update my blog, or even check other's blogs is around this time, i.e. 1:15AM....and who has the energy to post at 1:15AM??

Not me! I am falling asleep on the keyboard! It's time for bed!

Oh, and I am liking the Czech Republic team a lot....so it's GO CZECH REPUBLIC... for now....

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I hate A/C

Every since I moved back to the UAE, I have come to hate this thing called air conditioning. Really HATE it! And it's a source of arguments wherever I go.

At work, we are divided into 2 camps: those who turn the A/C on and those who turn it off. Everytime someone touches the thermostat, everyone starts to scream, voicing their opinion about whether we should keep the A/C on or off, or turn it up or down. We just can't seem to come to a consensus. I always show up to work with a pashmina, because I know that at some point during the day, I'll be freezing my butt off and will need to cover up.

At home in Dubai, I sometimes sleep with the A/C turned off, even in the middle of summer! I don't mind it. Our home in Abu Dhabi however is a different story. I'm sure the North Pole is not as cold as it is here. Whenever I am in Abu Dhabi, I am always bundled up in a thick sweater and a nice warm blanket, almost as if it's -20 degrees outside!

I have tried turning the A/C down to a normal level, but that's when those around me start complaining that it's too hot (crazy people, I'm telling you!). I have even begun looking forward to the moment I step out of the house, just so I can thaw in the glorious 40-degree heat!

These days, I am constantly suffering from back pain. And while I know that 50% of that pain probably comes from sitting too long in front of the computer, and sleeping the wrong way, I am convinced that the other 50% comes from the damn A/C!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Oleeee ole ole oleeee


It's that time again! The much awaited 2006 FIFA World Cup is finally upon us. I am not much of a football fan generally, but like many others, I really enjoy watching World Cup matches and try to catch most of the matches whenever I get the chance to.

ART has the exclusivity to air the matches in the region so if you do not have ART at home, or if you do not have any friends who have ART, then you can choose to watch the matches in the many hotels and bars and pubs in the UAE. Plus, this year, there are 2 venues that will accomodate a large number of fans: Media City (not sure if they will have a tent or if it'll be an open air event, but I know there will be bean bags!), and the Convention Center, where some of the sponsors of the World Cup have set up a "Fan Park", with a huge screen, grandstand seating, food, drink, and other activities.

The question on everyone's lips these days is "who are you supporting in the World Cup?". Well, I haven't quite made up my mind yet. I'll decide along the way and when I do find out, I'll let you all know.

In the meantime, here's a cool little tool for all you Outlook users out there, which allows you to download all the World Cup matches into your Outlook directly.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Adieu

Dear Laptop,

We met almost 4 years ago. During that first year, you were my constant companion, day after day. Carrying you around was a hassle at first...you were so heavy! But then I got used to it.

During my university days, you used to keep me entertained during all those dreadful, boring classes. Oh how I enjoyed those moments, chatting with my classmates, exchanging jokes, making fun of professors... And then, we discovered the online version of Risk. Oh joy! Endless hours of fun.

You were my DVD player and my MP3 player...a source of entertainment anytime, anywhere.

But it wasn't all just fun and games. We did end up doing lots of work as well: long nights and numerous assignments, papers, reports, Excel sheets, Powerpoint presentations... I could never have done it without you!

During long flights and endless waits in airports, you kept me company. You've travelled the world with me (well...not the world...a few countries).

Then, you started getting old. You'd just shut off, unexpectedly...You were tired and didn't want to work anymore. At first, I disregarded your problems. But then, when shutting off became a recurring problem, I took you to the doctor. He was able to fix you but you were never quite the same again. Your battery died, and I had to constantly keep you on life support.

And lately, it's all gone downhill. You started shutting off randomly again. I'd get frustrated especially when I'd lose a long post I had just written. A couple of weeks ago, it became really bad...you started making weird noises, you'd freeze....Then came that horrible blue screen with the words "Dumping physical memory" and "Operating system not found".

I went crazy! But now I've come to terms with this. You've served me well along the years. Now, it's time for me to find a new companion.

Thank you dear Laptop. Thank you.

Monday, June 05, 2006

No more maintenance

I renewed my lease the other day. Couldn't do anything about the 15% increase in rent. And there's no point in me looking for something else, because anything else in the vicinity of where I am living is more expensive than what I will be paying for rent this year.

But what upset me was this new clause that the landlord added to my contract: apparently, I am now responsible for all repairs and maintenance in my apartment.

Last year, I could call Emerill, who do maintenance for all Emaar properties, and they would come and fix anything in my place. Now, it seems, the landlord wants to be a stingy bastard, and decided that he did not want to pay the maintenance fee anymore.

Is he allowed to do this? And again, this may seem like a redundant question, but is there no law protecting me, as a tenant? If the fridge stops functioning for example, why should I fix it? It's not my fridge!

In Canada, all repairs and renovations are paid for by the landlors, unless, of course, it's due to damage caused by the tenant. Makes sense, doesn't it?
According to Better Homes, who are the leasing agency, the landlord is trying to do whatever he can to get rid of his tenants so he can re-rent the place at a higher price to a new tenant. This sort of thing is happening everywhere! It's simply ridiculous!

When will Dubai learn that a 15% rent cap is simply not enough? When people stop coming to live here? When there are more people leaving the city than there are coming in? When buildings slowly start emptying out, one after the other? Why doesn't anything make sense in this city?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

You can make a difference - Tip 4


I'm a bit late with my "You can make a difference" tip of the month. And this time around, it's not my friend S.'s fault, it's mine....I confess....What with travelling and work, I didn't get around to posting her tip until now. This month's topic is cigarettes:

This is not a smoking issue, but a litter one!

One of the biggest myths is that cigarette filters are biodegradable. They are made of plastic and as such they can take more than 15 years to decompose.

You all cried about the turtle and the plastic bag. Well, the turtle is back - her name is Mayou - and she is choking on flicked butts. If fish, whales and other marine creatures aren’t choking, they are busy getting poisoned by the chemicals left in the cigarette butts.

Since smoking was banned indoors, smokers have been forced outside, drastically increasing cigarette butt pollution. To counter that, the city of Dublin distributed 20,000 free pocket ashtrays.

Bottom line, the only butt on the beach this summer should be yours!

Pocket ashtray? Sounds cool! I looked it up and found a few sites with some images. Here's one of them.

And although banning smoking indoors hasn't happened here just yet, it's a phenomenon that's been catching on across the world, with Quebec being the latest Canadian province to start enforcing the ban since a couple of days ago.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dubai's finest?

Dubai Police celebrated their 50th anniversary yesterday. And while I am sure the men and women of the police force do an amazing job every day, I got to experience a very disturbing incident today which left me quite upset.

I was walking out of a supermarket with my sister and a friend and we saw a few people gathered around a car. A woman was banging on the window of that car urging her young toddler to press on the key button to open the car.

It seems the toddler (who was no more than a year old I presume) had somehow locked himself inside the car. The keys were inside with him, and the mother was worried sick trying to get her son out of the car. It was 4PM, 38 degrees, and the car was not running which means no air conditioning.

When we walked out of the supermarket, the police were already there. But they were just standing around, doing nothing whatsoever! They did not try to calm the mother down. It did not even seem like they were trying to find a solution.

The woman's husband was bringing the spare set of car keys, but who knew how long that would take?

The only proactive person there was a man who took it upon himself to try to break the back window of the car. The child had already been in the car for about 20 minutes by now, and he was crying so much...it broke my heart! The man even ran into the supermarket to get some towels to shield the child from the scorching sun. He attempted a couple of time to break the back window, in vain. The windows were too sturdy. Again, police were still standing around, doing nothing.

After about 30 minutes of the ordeal, the child was beginning to doze off (or pass out from the heat? Not too sure. Whatever it is, it was scary). Finally, some men got a hammer and banged really hard on the window until it finally shattered. They unlocked the door and took the child out.

I can't believe how passive the policemen were. And it was only as the car window was broken that an ambulance finally showed up. Surely police must have a procedure when it comes to children locked into cars? Especially considering the summer heat in this country?

I'm just glad this whole thing ended safely for the child. What a traumatic ordeal this must have been for him and for his mother.