Friday, March 30, 2007
When we reached Emirates Palace, there was a huge lineup of cars, and in my head, I thought "here we go...this is Shakira all over again!". But with some creative maneuvering from my dad, we managed to find a parking spot rather quickly. But it seems that the parking area and the opera area were not the same...We had to take a bus that would take us to the place where the opera was taking place. So we waited in line, behind a few other people. There was already a bus waiting there, but it was full. The bus left, and we waited for the next one. And waited. And waited.
Fifteen minutes later, we decided to walk, because we heard an Emirates Palace employee telling someone: "it's a 5 minute walk towards the hotel". So a bunch of us start walking, then another employee sees us and says: "what are you doing? The opera is in the opposite direction, and you can't walk there it's too far, you need the bus".
So we head back to the ever-expanding line, and wait, and wait...and wait some more. Finally, 3 buses show up, and they stop towards the middle of the line. People were being disrespectful and rude, with everyone rushing towards the buses, rather than wait calmly in line like civilized people. We were at the front of the line, but by the time we made it to the bus, there were almost no seats left! But thankfully, at the last moment, we managed to make it on the bus.
The bus took us out of the hotel, and back into the traffic jam of people trying to find parking...ridiculous! But we made it through eventually, and reached the opera area.
Once we got there, we made it through security and ticketing quickly, and managed to find our seats. We had to walk through some sandy areas, which is not ideal when you're wearing high-healed sandals, but it was OK (hey, at least it wasn't a new pair of shoes!).
Unfortunately for us, the weather conditions were not ideal for an outdoor opera that involves pyrotechnic effects. Because of the wind, the backdrop could not be lowered, and the special fire effects were cancelled due to security reasons. And it was so windy, that we actually decided to leave halfway through the performance, because we couldn't take the cold anymore.
The show itself was good (well, the first half at least...). I'd never been to an opera before, and I initially throught that I'd be annoyed by all the high-pitched singing, but I wasn't...As a matter of fact, I was really into the whole thing, and the story of star-crossed lovers Aida and Radames was intriguing. The only thing is that our seats were a bit far, and the subtitles on the screens could have been a little bigger to make them easier to read.
I just really wish we could have toughed it out till the end...But I'm glad to see that Abu Dhabi is taking a step in the right direction by bringing some arts and culture to the city. And it was cool to see so many Dubai people coming to Abu Dhabi to attend an event for a change, rather than the other way round!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
300 is the film adaptation of a graphic novel (which is something that's entirely prominent in the movie, as a lot of the settings look like they were taken straight out of a superhero comic book) of a semi-historical account of the Battle of Thermopylae.
What's amazing about this movie is that it was almost entirely shot in front of a blue screen (and sometimes a green screen) in Montreal. While the filming took 60 days, the post-production work took a whole year!
All the actors in the movie had to undergo a strict workout regimen to end up with the bodies we saw on screen. Here's a video showcasing the workout routine. Impressive!
Good entertainment...and finally, a war movie that both men AND women can enjoy :)
Monday, March 26, 2007
Some contractors came, looked into the leak, tried to fix it for about 2 weeks, and then closed the hole.
And then it leaked again. Even more than before. I've slipped once already, and almost slipped another time, because it seems that the concept of putting a bucket under the leak is too foreign for the people who are running my building. So they put a hole in the wall again. A bigger one. It's kinda scary when you know that these hole-making people are Emaar!
What's even scarier was the cockroach I found last week, taking a stroll in the corridor. He greeted me one morning as I was leaving for work. I guess he was feeling adventurous and decided to come out of the hole in the wall and see what's out there. I think he must have been the King of Cockroaches or something like that, because he was really fat, and long, and very scary looking.
I came back from work that evening, and he wasn't there anymore. Someone had gotten rid of him. Or so I thought...
...Turns out His Royal Cockroachness decided to pay me a visit in my apartement. Out of the 20 apartments on my floor, I guess he decided that my apartment was the cosiest, warmest, and most welcoming. Imagine my surprise when I saw him strolling on my living room floor. I panicked. And I sprayed him with everything and anything I could find, from Pledge to Windex (I didn't have any insect spray) until he died (or drowned).
This morning again, I called Emaar to complain (for the 3rd time), and again they took note of my complaint and promised that someone would look into it within 48 hours.
I'm looking forward to the day my wall becomes hole-less...and to the day my life becomes cockroach-less.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Never again will I attend a huge concert in Dubai. Never again will I attend a concert organised by Mirage Promotions. Last night can be described with just one word: DISASTER.
Dubai wants to organise concerts that attract international artists? Dubai wants an event where there are 25,000 people attending? Well Dubai better start setting up a decent infrastructure that will be able handle such a load, before...because the logistics of last night's concert were simply ridiculous!
It took us 2 hours to get to the Dubai Autodrome (from the Greens), because the traffic on Al Khail road was moving at snail pace. When we finally got near the Autodrome, we realised why traffic was so backed up: there was simply one entrance, with one lane (!!) to the parking area of the autodrome. Umm, I may not be an engineer, but HELLOOOO! Don't you think that's a recipe for disaster right there?
We told the cab driver to stop up at the roundabout before the autodrome, and we walked a good 20-30 minutes to get to the ticketing area. And there, we were met by yet another disaster.
Keep in mind that by that time, it was already 9PM and the concert was supposed to be starting. But we heard an announcement saying that the concert would be delayed because people are still coming in. Understandably...HALF the people who were attending this concert were still waiting to go through the security check!
We waited in the blue line (which is the section for which we had bought our tickets), and people started pushing and shoving to get their wristbands. The line was huge and was moving so slowly. At one point, while we were in the middle of the line, we heard someone in the other line saying "please send an ambulance, someone just fainted!". My friend, who's a doctor, ran to the other line to see what was happening. It seems the girl who fainted was drunk, dehydrated, and hyperventilating. Of course, no ambulance showed up, and the promoters barely reacted to this incident.
After 50 minutes of waiting in line, we finally made it through security, at which point the concert had already started. We had to walk another 10 minutes to make it to the concert spot.
By that time, we were thristy, so we had to wait in yet another line to get coupons for drinks. But here's the catch: outside the concert area, you can buy drinks, and they'll give them to you in cans (Pepsi, beer, etc.), BUT, you can't bring them inside the concert area. If you want to bring drinks INSIDE the concert area, you have to buy them from another spot, where they give you your drinks in plastic cups. Go figure!
We finally get our drinks, and got into the concert area. The concert itself was OK, and Shakira entertained the crowd with her dancing for about an hour and a half alltogether (by the time we got in, it seemed like the concert was already ending!).
As she finished her signature "Hips don't lie", we made a mad dash to the exit, trying to beat the crowds. We managed to make it through unscarred, but then we were met by yet another disaster: no taxis! Thank God we hadn't brought our car, because cars were stuck for miles on end trying to get out of there. We decided to keep walking on Al Khail road until we found a taxi. We walked, and walked and walked, for about half an hour if not more....
Taxis were few and far between, and some weren't even stopping! I never thought I'd say this, but at one point, I was walking in the middle of Al Khail road with cars all around me!
I called Dubai Transport asking for a taxi, and the woman at the other end of the line said "I'm sorry we can't send any more. We already sent 200 taxis to the autodrome". I laughed at her. I said: "You have an event with 25,000 people attending, and you send 200 taxis?? Are you kidding me? You're gonna need much more than that!".
The taxi driver we finally found told us that he didn't even know there was an event taking place at the autodrome, and that he was just passing by there by fluke! Imagine!
Let me tell you that we were happy to get home. The concert in itself was OK (not wow, but OK), but the whole pre and post experience made it a very frustrating and horrible event for us. Definitely not worth the Dhs 295 we paid for each ticket!
Friday, March 23, 2007
Tonight, I am going to the Shakira concert. I don't particularly love Shakira (and her voice can becoming annoying after a while)...but I don't hate her either...so I'm looking forward to just having a good time and dancing my hips off :)
And I'm also looking forward to no longer hearing Shakira ads and songs on the radio. I mean, I understand that Mirage Promotions needs to promote the concert, but enough is enough! Radio, TV, newspapers, magazine covers....UGH!
Anyway, back to tonight. After the concert, we're going clubbing to celebrate my friend M.'s birthday (a few days early, but hey, it's never too early to start celebrating, right?).
I'll let you know how the concert went....I know I've been neglecting my blog lately, but hopefully, that's about to change!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I'm just glad to know that there weren't any casualties...the accident could have been so much worse!
Here's the link:
I still can't figure out how to embed my videos...You Tube keeps giving me a "failed to embed" message...
Oh, and I know I haven't been posting actively lately...just a combination of work overload and lack of inspiration. I'll be back in full form soon hopefully!
Thursday, March 01, 2007
A couple of days ago, I wanted to buy tickets to the Russell Peters show in Dubai. Now for those of you who don't know Russell Peters, he's a Canadian stand-up comedian of Indian origin, and he's really funny. You can watch part of his act here.
Anyway, so Russell had a first show planned on March 11, which sold out within hours of tickets going on sale. I had completely forgotten about the show that day and did not buy any tickets. So when I was told that the show had sold out, I was disappointed.
Then, my brother tells me that a second show was added, and that tickets would go on sale at midnight that night. That was a couple of days ago.
So at 11:45, I was ready. I had my laptop in front of me, my credit card ready, I had logged in to itptickets.com, and I was refreshing the page every 5 minutes to make sure I'd be one of the first to buy my tickets.
At 12 o'clock, things went awry. The website started messing up, and it was extremely slow. I tried several times to purchase my tickets but couldn't get through to the payment page. I was trying to get front section tickets, but after 20 minutes of pointless tries, I get a message saying that front section tickets were sold out.
Okay, fine. Let's try back section tickets then. Again, I try, and try, and try some more. Finally, another 20 minutes later, as I was about to fall asleep on my laptop, I succeed in getting to the payment page. Hurrah!
I enter my credit card info, and proceed with the payment. I get a black message box informing me to wait while my credit card is verified, and that if I do not get a confirmation message, I should contact a person from ITP, and that I should NOT attempt to send the order through again.
I knew deep down that my purchase did not go through. But I decided to go to bed that night, with a glimmer of hope that the next day, I would be pleasantly surprised.
So the very next morning, I called ITP ticket's infoline. I call, and call, and call again, and all I get is a voice saying "all our representatives are currently busy, please leave a message and we will call you back"... only to be followed by another message saying "sorry, our mailbox is currently full".
Hmm...Finally, by around 2PM, I manage to speak to a human being. He very grudgingly takes my name and phone number, and says that he will investigate if my payment went through and will call me back.
I decide to call again today, and after several tries, I manage to speak to someone (I think it was the same grumpy person I spoke to the first time), and this time he confirms that my payment did not go through, and that I did not get any tickets.
He said that 8000 people were trying to access the site that day, and there were 1800 tickets on sale only.
He also said that they were trying to book a 3rd show, but that they were awaiting confirmation from Russell Peters, to see if he could do it. And that they would contact me if this was the case.
Anyway, I know that it's not all ITP's fault, and that the number of people trying to access their website at the same time would have wreaked havoc on any website, not just theirs...but still...I really really wanted some Russell Peters tickets :(