Thursday, May 29, 2008

... and, Some things I WILL Miss

I thought I'd put a bit of balance into this discussion because I don't want you to think that it's all negative here. Far from it.

I've told you about some of the things I won't miss and now I'll talk about some of the things I will miss.

I'll miss Al Ain city
. It's a lovely city sprawled out across a wide, flat area at the bottom of Jebel Hafeet which divides Oman and the UAE. Most of the main streets are wide, with divided roads whose median strips are populated with palm trees, grasses and small shrubs. They are clean and at any time of the year you can see gardeners tending plants and cleaners picking up any rubbish that's been left on the street.

There are no drunks stumbling about, graffiti is almost unheard of, and nobody here returns to their car to find someone has kicked in the side panels of your car. Vandalism here is very, very scarce as are street offences common in Australia.

We have some lovely friends. We'll certainly miss them although we intend to keep in touch and hope some will visit us from time to time. (There are too many to place their photos here)

Rosie, a lovely lady who cleans our house and irons our clothes will be missed. Not only for the valuable work she does, but because she is a friend.

Our mansion. Although our house at Alice Springs is lovely, we'll miss our Arabic mansion tht has more room than we need, airconditioning that is very effective and cheap to run, and which is rent free. (Can't do much better than that eh?

Food prices and Middle East foods. The price of food, as is the case with most things here, is very much cheaper than in Australia. There's no shortage of anything and there are some lovely foods like date honey that are peculiar to the Middle East that are nice to taste.

Beer, a category of essential food, is not only a little cheaper than in Australia, it also comes in a 500mL can. (Eat your heart out.) Look at this shot of a can in an Aussie stubby holder designed for an Australian 375 mL cans. Now I'm being a bit dishonest here. I will miss the price, but it will be good to get back to light beer and smaller sizes. It's very easy to overdo it here.

No tax on salary. I'll write that again ... NO TAX on salary. Everything you earn you keep. I'll certainly miss that.

Petrol prices. Petrol is so cheap here, you don't even have to bother about how much you put in your tank. 100 AED is roughly $30 AUD and you can fill your tank for 75 AED (60 L tank). Imagine that.

Well, that's just a glimpse. There are many other things I will miss and the misses outweight the won't misses, just to set the record straight.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Some Things I Won't Miss

There are some things I won't miss when I leave the UAE.

For example, I won't miss having to deal with people over the telephone. Here's what happened when I telephoned the only available number I could find for Al Noor Hospital last Thursday:

  • I dial the number 7667666 ...

  • "Yes" says the person at the end

  • "Is that Al Noor Hospital?

  • "Yes"

  • "I'd like to make an appointment to see a doctor"

  • "Wait" Click and then I hear another line calling ...

  • "Yes"

  • "I'd like to make an appoint ..."

  • Click and another line is calling ...

  • "Al Noor Hospital"

  • "I'd like to make an appointment"

  • "What for?"

  • "To see a doctor (I think: what other $&*^%$# types of appointments do you have)?"

  • "You don't need an appointment. Where are you ... just come in?"

  • "Okay, thank you."

This is fairly normal in the UAE, but the Al Noor Hospital is a huge concern with a large complement of well qualified medical people covering almost every discipline; they can do earhole surgery to extract your brain, remove a tumour and push it all back in; they can fix broken hearts etc, and the ENT specialist who fixed my hearing problem was excellent.

My question is: If they can afford to outfit the hospital with the best medical equipment and specialists available on the planet, why can't they hire someone who can design, implement and monitor an appointment system and staff to run it?

Then there's the idiot drivers ... I've mentioned them previously. I won't miss them driving left to right across my path to turn right and all the other ills they perform that are life threatening.

Water wastage is horrifying here and it bothers me every time I see it. When you come from an arid zone like Central Australia, water discipline is second nature. Although we aren't short of water, if we overused the aquifer, we could be, so we look after our water supply. It's also expensive, so it's not good economics to waste it.

Here, I see water wastage every day. Just the automatic taps in washrooms (toilets) must lose hundreds of thousands of kiloLitres every day. Indian expats, who come from a country where water is abundant, leave hoses running and water gardens in the middle of the heat. I see overflowing tanks and water trucks washing footpaths with water.

Given that most of the water at Al Ain is produced in desalination plants up the coast, the consumption here also has a negative affect on such things as salt levels in the landmass and in the sea.

There is a long way to go in sustainable development.

The dusty skies here are quite a contrast to the blue, stark skies of home ... I won't miss them and have often wondered how much sand I have sucked in in three years. It doesn't seem to effect anyone, but I still wonder, given that sand is silica and silica grows crystals. Huuuum.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Remembering Bobby

It occurred to me only an hour or two ago that today, 16 May 08, was the 13th anniversary of my mother Bobby's departure from her worldly shackles.

Death being a normal activity we humans experience, there's no point treating it as though it was a tragedy. Sure, it's sad seeing one of your dearest friends end their life knowing you will never see them again. But by 16 May 1995, Bobby's quality of life was untenable and it was time for her to end what had been a good life.

She ended her journey at our home and managed to just drift off during the evening. We all hope that when our time comes, we will be so fortunate.

Tonight I'll charge a glass with some good Australian red and say, "Goodonyamate" as I remember all the wonderful years we had together.


PS: Unfortunately, I don't have a photo to share, they are all in a cupboard in Alice Springs.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What to do on return to Australia?

Not that we are counting or anything, but I've noticed that there are only six weeks to pass before we leave the UAE via the Abu Dhabi Airport. We fly out just after midday on 20 June 08 and head for Johannesburg and a three week holiday in South Africa.

We arrive at Alice Springs via Perth and Ayres Rock arriving late afternoon on 12 July 08. It will possibly be somewhat of a shock to be surrounded by people who are mostly white and speak a language we understand. We'll have to familiarize ourselves with the currency again and I can imagine that every time we buy something for the first few days we'll convert it into Dirhams to see how much it really is.

Hopefully, Meredith or Dale will meet us at the airport and we can drive home, shower and sit back with a coldie while we contemplate what to have for dinner and what we'll do in the immediate future.

It will be winter in Australia while our Northern Hemisphere friends head off for their "summer" holidays but we will have time to acclimatise in South Africa. By the time we reach Alice Springs, we should be weather hardened and be able to take the relatively colder climate.

Christina hopes to return to work at the Alice Springs Hospital but admitted under my cross examination that her passion for midwifery has faded somewhat after 30 odd years. It's just a job now and she'll do it because she's good at it and doesn't have to worry too much about what to do, when and how. On top of which, it's the one job at which she can earn the most money.

There will be some "settling-in" things to do like some gardening, house maintenance and unpacking and storing our container load of goods that will arrive a few weeks after we do. Meredith has bought a nice house for her and Tory, so we will also have to help them move just a couple of kilometres west of our place.

I'm going to continue work on my online business and hopefully fine tune some things that aren't working as well as they should be. I'm also hoping to do some short term consulting/contracting in a range of areas for which I have the ability. Yesterday I began sending out messages to business acquaintances advising them that I'm going to be available from August 2008.

Before then, we still have a few things to do here before we fly out.

Stay well and some of you we'll see soon.


PS: Our lovely young friend and ex-officio grandson Onat Ustun turned 2 yesterday and I took this photo of him with Christina. Ain't he a cutie?