Saturday, November 24, 2007

From India With Loot

Today is an eventful day, even though we are in the Middle East. It's Federal Election Day in Australia, the outcome of which could change dramatically the future of our great country; it's our grandson Tory's sixth birthday, and Christina is back from India.
As would be expected (for anyone who knows Chris), she has brought a lot of "loot" back with her. (See photo)
The loot consists mainly of silk and cotton clothing, materials, a few metal bowls, incense, sandal wood scent, a silk tie for me, pashminas, and some small miscellaneous odds and ends. Some of the clothing is for Chris, some other items are for gifts and the rest is stock for us to sell after we return to Alice Springs.
We've decided that, because of the exchange rate between the UAE Dirham and the AUD, we are going to spend as much as we can here rather than bring money home where its relative value will be much less. The cost of living here is very much lower than in Australia. So anything we want, we'll buy before we leave eg, like a flat screen television.
Part of our plan is for us to stock up with some stuff to sell at the Todd Mall Market which runs every second Sunday in the cooler season. We'll have some Arabian and Iranian carpets, Indian clothes, some photo prints of places in the Middle East etc. If it works well, we may even import some of the products or visit annually and buy up ourselves.
Chris says she had a great experience in India and can understand how the many Indian expats living in the UAE, despite very low pay (in comparison with what I earn) and often poor accommodation, consider themselves well off. She saw some examples of extreme poverty in India and said that most of the toilets, showers, kitchens etc, were primitive.
Staying with an Indian family enriched the experience as she got a taste of life in an Indian family, how individuals relate to each other, and other insights that wouldn't have been available had she stayed in a tourist area hotel.
Next week we have National Day holidays and will by flying off to take a look at Damascus in Syria. We'll be there almost four days. It's a tough life, but someone has to live it.
Stay well.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not Out of Africa, But Off to India


Yesterday Christina flew to Bangalore in India with our next door neighbour Kal.

Kal has family members there and, when she asked Chris if she'd like to come over for 10 days, Chris jumped at the opportunity. After all, what is living in the UAE for if it isn't travel?

So, Kal's husband Andrew and I drove to Sharjah up the UAE coast last night and dropped the ladies off at the Sharjah Airport. Sharjah is very traditional Islam; you can't do anything that looks like fun. And the male toilets don't have urinals just in case someone peeks at your you-know-what and gets turned on. It wasn't until after I had kissed my wife of 30 plus years goodbye in public that I realised I could have been arrested, whipped and deported for doing such a lascivious act in public. Filthy beast!

Anyway, once I found that the thought police hadn't seen me, or if they did, didn't take any notice, I saw a female couple holding hands and fondling each other and wondered what type of culture condemns acts of affection among those of us who are heterosexual and married and accepts public affection between same sex people. Have I missed something in my many years, or am I just confused? God knows.

My Domestic Manager and best friend is off on a junket and I'm home alone to fend for myself in the best way I possibly can for the next 10 days. Now, will it be the Horse and Jockey Bar or Pacos at which I dine tonight?

Minnie, meanie, miny, mo ....

Best wishes


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Haloween at Al Andalus Housing Complex


The housing complex in which we live is surrounded by a huge concrete perimeter fence. Our duplex is in a corner of the complex and the roadway outside is a circuit shaped like a "U" thus there isn't much traffic down our end. But there are seemingly dozens of kids ... perhaps indicative of the fertility and age group of most of our neighbours!

Unlike Australia, where we don't celebrate Halloween, here there is a large number of Canadians and fewer Americans who, as well as the Scottish expats, celebrate annually on 31 October. It's been a novel experience for us to be involved in the Halloween tradition with our friends and families and kids we've never met before.

Numbers of people who live elsewhere actually propel themselves to our street to join the celebrations. There was a good number of people this year. Christina went all out and made a fishing pond (hook a fish and get a prize), some suspended sweets people had to eat from the end of string without using their hands to steady the string ... that was interesting. The kids loved Chris's collection of popcorn and sweets and played the fishing game and also some apple bobbing in a water-filled large rubbish bucket. Fortunately none of the kids fell in.

The photo shows our friends Mutlu and Dawn who had both dressed down for the occasion. Muti and I managed to drink some water with grape in it and eat a few snacks including some wonderful quiche Chris had made especially for the occasion. I took a number of photos of the occasion to add to our growing collection of stuff from our Adventures in Arabia.

Stay well.


PS: We have a holiday coming up in December (UAE National Day) ... yes, another one, and will be travelling to Syria with a group of friends. Before that, Christina is off to India with Kal whose photo appeared in a recent blog edition. She's going for about 10 days. It's a great life and someone has to live it.