Arriving in Dubai Novenber 2007 to January 2008

Started around the 23rd November

Hello lads and lasses

Firstly and before I write another word, if anyone wishes to improve my English (and will do so free of charge) you are welcome to mark my letters (or should I say emails, what is the etiquette?) in red, for grammatical errors, but do not on pain of me laying down some pretty powerful curses even mention my spelling. My ego can only take so much. Further, do not think that a spell check automatically saves me from all the spelling mistakes I make. It does not and is unlikely to ever do so. Go on Microsoft I dare to come up with a “Penny proof” spell check!

I am finally here, sitting on our veranda/balcony. I now have to learn a whole new vocabulary. I live in an apartment not a flat. Pray what is the difference… is there one…should I care? Our friends’ Gerhard and Elsa live in a villa not a town house and so it goes on…. I have only been here a few days. Lots to learn sweeties, lots to learn.

Our apartment (every time, I think that word – apartment- I feel so grown up and chic, yes I am weird and silly but it beats being a misery, it is so New York and Paris and like every episode of Sex in the City) is on the stem of the Palm Jumeirah. YES! YES! THAT ONE. Look in your National Geographic magazine. I know you all subscribe to it - go on. We are in block 14 in what are referred to as “sea front” apartments. Actually we are not on the sea front. To one side we have the road up the palm and to the fronds then the proper sea front apartment blocks then the beach. On the other side we have the metro in progress being built and the station being built and then some other new building being built and then the sea. Our block is positioned (at the moment) on a building site (the up side of which is that we do not have blocks of apartments blocking our views on either side. Currently ahead me is the island situated immediately below (refer to your national Geo please) the frond closest to the stem and in between that and the next bit of frond on the far shore is a lovely view of the jolly big rather super duper 7 star Burj Al Arab most famously viewed with Tiger Woods teeing off from the top of this stunning full sail building. Further in the distance is the massive and equally breathtakingly beautiful work in progress Burg Dubai which, when complete will be the worlds tallest structure. It is not near by and it is not complete but I can see it if it is not hazy. Slightly to my right is the “boulevard” down the stem towards the “main land” All newly planted and lit at night with blue and white very pretty street lights , just like a Christmas tree, and at this time of the year too…. and all a work in progress. It is just so bloody cool I can’t tell you. We are on a corner apartment on the fifth floor so if I stand in the turret (yes I have my own turret to hang out on - part of our veranda) I can see the other side of the stem’s sea front and across to the Dubai Marina with its stunning swanky hotels and beaches and behind that the oh so New York style cityscape of Jumeira Beach Residences. I have been watching pleasure and working boats (when does a boat become a ship?) while I type. They are all busy zooting to and fro. It is a bit noisy out here on the balcony (nice size balcony, more than swing a cat size but not quite throw an orgy size) on account of all the building going on but it is a small price to pay for the lovely view, and, once inside the (here I go again) “apartment” with the doors closed you don’t hear a peep from outside. Everything is double glazed to hell and back on account of the devilish heat, which is not in evidence right now. It is not too hot. Gaborone is much hotter this time of the year BUT the humidity is more than I have experienced in a few Durban Decembers. Go on guess how long I can stand the humidity without desperately NEEDING to wash my hair (it’s a girl thing I think) 3 ½ hours. Honestly it a tragedy. I will tell you why….

It’s a long story so get a cup of coffee, or doze off if someone is reading this to you, or skip this bit if you don’t want to read my usual ‘short story made incredibly long’…. I have been encouraged (for this read nagged to within an inch of my vanity) by Gennai (emphatically) my Mother (in a motherly way) and Sharon (with her usual diplomacy) to get my hair cut and “while I am at it get it coloured”. Now, whilst I am as vain as the next gal I am lazy and expect a cheap haircut to last a year in perfect condition and when it does not - get frustrated, but at least not surprised. Additionally, I resent spending more than five minutes on my coiffure on any given day, be it for going to work or for, my not yet received invitation, to the Oscars.

My journey to Dubai had me spending a couple of days in Joburg. A rush of blood to the head and the whole “when a gal gets stressed she cuts her hair thing” had me with free time on my hands and in the vicinity of a hairdressers. “Cut, colour, highlight, lowlight, mousse me up and gel me down before I change my mind” I breezily said to the 11 year old (does everyone one look like they have just been born, or is it just me?) gay as a parade hair stylist. And he did, in between chain smoking outside the back door of the salon - him not me. I did wonder if his smoking was nerves at having to cope with my imposing mass of greying unruly hair. In any case I came out of that hair salon with a chic, edgy new hair do deluxe. Then I woke up the next morning and it was a bit mussed up from my sleeping all over it. Still manageable, then I slept on it again and had to wash it and that was the beginning of the living end. No Armageddon is not worse than the state of my hair. You may recall that I mentioned that I am lazy and don’t spend more time on my hair than a flea does on a single jump. Well I was not in that ruddy hairdresser for close on 4 hours for nothing. I could not reproduce my f-off fancy new hair do. I nearly wept. And that is not the end! I then got on a plane (I will come back to that by the way) and travelled a great distance to find my self plonked in the middle of “Humidity Ville”. Think Amityville Horror…… My hair, darlings, is not straight. It is not curly either and my chic new do was (note past tense) “edgy”. With the humidity as it is I could not reproduce edgy if my life depended on it. What little kink I had has turned bent. I wash my hair, I dry my hair, and it looks great for 5 minutes then it turns in on itself and nothing I can do makes it look anything like it ought. On the up side - the colour is great and if I still had ex my long hair I would probably look like a Wookie right now. So ho hum. That is that and not much can be done.

But, back to our living arrangements. So I have told you about the view bla bla. Now for the extras. I have access to the resident’s beaches across the road and the super duper brand spanking new so impressive gyms that are dotted about the complex together with the dreamy swinging pools. There are also resident lounges dotted about where one can relax in air conditioned comfort and sink into welcoming leather sofas etc etc. I understand these are to encourage us to mingle….. In the foyer of our block( complete with most friendly concierge) there is a notice that says that every Wed evening there is a gathering ( must be booked) of residents who will be taken to a rooftop for a good long show and tell across the palms so that we can see how things are going. There is also a free shuttle service that operates every half an hour up and down the stem ferrying you to the beaches and pools and lounges and cafes ( only one open at the moment) if you can’t be ass-ed to walk!!!!!!!! Taxi services abound and one only has to step outside for a taxi to pull up in minutes. They are new and cheap and reliable. It is like living on the grounds of a bloody hotel complete with marble and brushed steel at every turn.

Now to the apartment itself. Well it is in keeping with the above mentioned. It is just great. It is obviously smaller than what we had in Gaborone but it is a most comfortable size and is fixed and fitted beautifully. I absolutely love it all. Our bathroom is just to die for dolls. A shower from heaven! And you know how important the shower head is right? This one (in fact all the showers in the place) is just perfect. A bath I can sit crossed legged in. And Bryan and I do not have to share basins we each have our own. My side is tidier than your side……. There is a bidet, but we won’t go into that. In the bathrooms without a bidet there is a hand held spray and I REALLY do not want to think about how that works……. The lighting caters for every mood in every room. Do we want it hi, low, or romantic? When one arrives in the foyer of our floor the lights down the passage come on as you walk. Now for the down side. The guest and maids room loos leak. And there is a very bad leak in the maid’s bathroom and the 2nd bathroom with water running down the walls from the ceiling…….. Bit of a worry but that has been added to the snag list handed in today. All the bedrooms are a reasonable size as is the living area, the kitchen and the already mentioned veranda. We even have a dressing room. The passage ways are wider than expected as are the doors so a feeling of space prevails. Sigh. Just wait till I get all my junk in here. I may well be singing a different tune!

So all well on that front.

I have to find a job and quickly. Bryan ’s situation is a bit stressful and I have to contribute to the coffers ASAP. Once that is all settled life will be just about perfect. Oh and our container is nowhere near arriving so we are camping in our home! Friends in the form of the Gerhard and Elsa Roets’ ( ex Gaborone) have very kindly helped out with loans of bits and pieces so that we are not sheet, towel or crockery less. The have also lent us a couple of chairs and tables until our stuff arrives. Bryan cousin Stanly and his wife Tony have also been great and helped out with bedding. I have been window shopping in shopping Mecca for white goods and odds and sods. I refuse to be hurried so we may well be living without a fridge stove etc for some time while I find the right one. Nick and Fiona, we need advice on menu planning without refrigeration or stoves please……. I am doing housework of sorts. Having now acquired an ironing board and iron I am hand washing in the kitchen and ironing in the maid’s room. I have even stretched to mopping and sweeping our empty abode. NOT FUN. I read up on maids rates and had seven kinds of fits but have since discovered that the rates I got come from cloud cuckoo land. Once I am an earner will be able to get help for a couple of hours a day a couple of days a week. THANK THE SUN MOON AND STARS.

The labour force here works long hours mostly in not great conditions and go home to “labour camps” which are pretty much converted containers with a shower, aircon and a TV. They are away from home for years and travel long slow distances to their work places. The traffic is scary and in many places appalling. I did not see the half of it when we came for our look see. Bryan ’s office is not five minutes away and I so very much hope to find work nearby. I really do not want to do the traffic - it is gruesome.

And talking of travel I MUST bore you with details of my trip to get here. So first up. Sharon Dutton and I leave Gaborone bright eyed and bushy tailed only to have fate throw at Sharon ’s car ,at god knows what speed, a licence plate ( yes you read correctly) five minutes into our trip. A bit scary it was too. One minute we were driving along quite happily and the next we were overtaken by a car that must have run over the licence plate and it was thrown up at the bonnet of Sharon ’s car and bounced off the windscreen. All I can say is that I am very glad that Botswana number plates are plastic. I had a lovely few days in Joburg. One night with Sharon and a couple with Julie which gave me time to say bye bye to family and friends there. By now you all know that I do not travel well. Just like a rare and exotic flower………So with this in mind and Julie being organised we planed to leave her house two hours before I had to be at the airport. Just in case. Half an hour before we were due to leave Julie’s house the heavens open up and it hailed down on us. The hail was banking up in her doorway, honest to God! I did not like this. I kept imagining what horrors would befall me if the rain did not stop and I could not leave at 5. What then? Well the rain did stop and we did leave at 5. Which was just as well as it happens as the traffic was a bloody nightmare and we arrived at the airport at just on 7. Which was absolutely no use to man or beast as all the flights were delayed on account of dreadful weather. Which should have been an opportunity for some serious, at the least, window shopping in duty free or ,at best, actual shopping but I was by now in my usual funk at the very thought of leaving home bla boring bla so sat a quiver waiting for my VERY delayed plane. We were to leave at 9.20 we left at closer to 11.30. The flight was particularly good as it was about half full so everyone had plenty of room to stretch out and be comfortable. I watched a couple of movies. Listened to my nearest travelling companion make Wayne Osterbergs snores seem like a purring cat….and generally got myself out of my funk and into a “yippee yippee going to see my man after a very long time without” mode. My flight was to Abu Dhabi where Bryan was driving to pick me up. I had managed to send an SMS or two or three updating him of my progress so he knew the flight was delayed. Once we neared Abu Dhabi we were told that foggy conditions meant that we could not land, at the moment, and we would fly about for a bit and see if things improved. We had enough fuel to fly about for three hours. If the fog did not clear up we would have to fly to Oman as Dubai and the other closer Emirates were all suffering from the same said fog. I was once again not a happy pup. We flew about for quite a bit and then were told that we would go to Dubai as the fog had cleared there. The next thing we were told that actually we could land in Abu Dhabi after all. Jolly good I thought until I watched us descending further and further from lovely bright sunlight into fog. That plane came out of the fog about 5 cm above the runway. And landed. MANY hours later than expected. Sweetie Darling Bryan had been waiting hours and hours for me. I liked the Abu Dhabi airport. It is smaller than the Dubai airport so the customs immigration and collecting of baggage was just a delight. I reckon I was through from getting off the plane to saying hello to Bryan in not more than 20 minutes and this included getting my eyes scanned. Oh so James Bond don’t you know. I liked Abu Dhabi . It is very pretty and has a gentler feel to it. It is the biggest of the emirates and has 10% of the worlds oil reserves I understand. Whatever that means.

So back to where I began. I have been out a couple of times and met a few people. Tomorrow I sort out the telephone and cell phone and internet etc. Then I may as well wait for the weekend and start looking for a job on Sunday ( Dubai ’s Monday). I still have bit and bobs that I have to do for i-Com that I just did not get finished so I will keep out of mischief with that. I have to get back onto Facebook so that I can make comm’ s with Jane Kilalea and Lesely Forshaw who are in Dubai .

So my new life begins. I can’t wait for Philip and Cameron to get here. They are so going to love it. Philip is in the middle of his matric exams so I have been in a panic over that. He does not seem to be in a panic so I get into more of a panic. And that I think just bout sums up motherhood.

I am not thinking about the fact that I am living in a desert that also happens to use more water per capita than anywhere else on the planet. I am comforting myself with the fact that it can’t possibly be domestic use and must be the building trade. My environmental footprint ( not ever that great) is nowhere near being less than it was in Gaborone . But I am trying to buy relatively locally…….

29th November

My phone and email is not installed yet. The phone company promise it will be done on Saturday. Now to explain the days of the week. Friday is Sunday, Saturday is Saturday, and Sunday is Monday. Figure that out.

I have read in the past couple of weeks Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides -same guy who wrote ‘The Virgin Suicides’. Thank you Richard ,so much, for passing on such a great book! Everyone must read it immediately.

Re-read “God is not Great”. I realised as I was trying to rush it finished (to leave in Gaborone for Richard - mentioned above and Graham Philips to read, sorry gents) that I had not remembered much of what I had read. I think I was too busy thinking of leaving to concentrate much. I enjoyed it enormously, but it will have a limited appeal so I don’t recommend it to the faithful. Well I would, if I thought it would not offend but it will so I won’t.

Before I left Gabs I had set aside a little book to read on the plane called “Measuring the World”. I thought it an appropriate title for a long flight. Well I did not get to read it then but have done so since. Written I ( or rather translated) in a similar style to Dr Norrel and Mr Strange but blessedly shorter. I enjoyed it but did not think it lived up to the hype of it being the best book out of Germany since Perfume.

Read “The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick”. It was all very interesting about the history of the myth of the ‘famous” hoax. But really it was way too long for a book. I reckon you could cover the tale in an essay more than that was just too much repeating of a situation over the years for me. What I thought was great about the book is how the author, Peter Lamont, was able to show very clearly how something untrue and made up and proven to be so continued to be believed and grew and grew no matter how often it was proven to be false. It just goes to show that people will believe whatever they want regardless of the facts.

Just been on the veranda. You know those speed boat equivalents of formula one cars? Well now, what looks like three or four of them whizzing around buoys in the “bay” area and around the “islands”. I have found on investigation that it is the World Offshore Power Boat Championships. Boy are they fast and sleek and fast and make a lot of noise and are fast and terribly sexy to look at and fast and it looks like whoever is in them must be having a tonne of fun going very fast.

December 1st

We picked up Philip from Abu Dhabi on Thursday night so our family is almost complete. Cameron is still in Grahamstown taking part in what is known as the "long Walk". Philip tell me that it is pissing down with rain in the eastern cape at the moment and not too hot so I don't think that Cameron is having the time of his life walking in the middle of nowhere for a week. Being the uncaring parent that I am I am sure it is all character building stuff. Then Cameron is off to the SA Debating Champs and then HOME. Yipee.

Went to the Mall of the Emirate yesterday after spending the morning and early afternoon in the gym and on the beach. Went and saw Beowoelff. What a load of old cobblers. Great fun and all that besides. The CGI ( is that what you call the animation?) was impressive. Bumped in to Mario Ludic ex Gaborone. Which was very unlikely on an average day but on the Friday ( being a weekend day) of a long weekend with thousands and thousands of people like ants all over the mall it was quite bizarre to meet up with someone.

I am missing book club and having lunch with Sharon and having work to go to. I am really missing the theatre right now knowing that they are are all at it with the Christmas show and I am not there to be a part of it all. SIGH.....I am missing having my stuff around me. I have mending I could do if only I had my sewing stuff. etc etc etc.

On the up side with all this Gym and change in our eating habits on account of not yet having a fridge and only having a micro wave to cook in and our lack of a booze licence to buy alcohol I should start loosing weight and feeling more healthy. Have not really missed being able to open a fridge and take out a drink ( alcoholic or other wise ) every five minutes. I have not missed wine at all. Which is a very big surprise.

Anyway I have to go and prepare lunch for my starving spouse and offspring. So bye bye everyone.


December 2007 Christmas et al.

Hello Darlings

Put the kettle on get your cup of tea......

I hope you all had the Christmas you wanted. All your dreams came true and world peace arrives tomorrow in a gift wrapped box saying 'lost in the post for the last 3000 years but now found so all will be well'.

Started 30 December.Living in Dubai

The initial excitement is wearing off and in its places is fear ( my fairly constant imaginary companion) and the sense of "oh my giddy aunt what have we done?". Pining for the comfort of the familiar African bush-scape creeps up on me frequently.

Being the late developers, or is it the arse about face-er's that we are when everyone else in our world was rushing about having an adventure and discovering the world Bryan and I were "cozy in the familiar" and now that everyone else is "cozy in the familiar" we are trying out something unfamiliar and different. Not quite rushing about adventurously but that will come I am sure.

Still no container anywhere near Dubai. I am told this is courtesy of a dearth of containers in Gaborone. This does not wash well with me as logically there should be lots of containers about at the end of the year as all the Christmas retail what not's, educational books and 'last things before the year end' deliveries are made by container to Botswana. It's not like there could possibly be a return of containers for goods going out of Botswana. I don't think they ship diamonds by the container load do they? Anyway I am pissed off. Camping is all very well but considering that I packed up around the 25th October and we have not so much as had a weigh bill number yet my generosity of spirit is fast fading. While the removal company owners no doubt had a lovely Christmas sitting on sofas with ,maybe, a coffee table and all their Christmas Decorations flashing and twinkling whilst they felt all gooey and good and full of Christmas Cheer I am miffed as a puffed up, back arched , spiky cat spitting over the fact that I am still sitting in a deck chair.Actually that is not the infuriating bit. The maddening thing is that I really now need stuff out of the container. Stuff like certificates and other rather important doc's which I guess I should have carried as hand luggage but I did not bla bla bla. We have books that we could be reading in that container and I am going stir crazy not being able to do some sort of familiar habitual domestic thing. I.e. my sewing or knitting. My self styled therapy is needle work. When I first moved to Gaborone I finished three projects in as many months and it took me as many years to not finish three others!!! Many, many moons ago when Bryan and I had our "disastrous first pregnancy" he showed me how to work a Tunisian crochet hook and I made two full size blankets in a blur of shock and grief but I learned what worked for me when I am stressed and need comfort and that is it. I NEED to knit and all my stuff is in the mystical container. Are you feeling sorry for me? You should be that is the effect I am going for. Maybe all the pity karma might get the great hunk of metal containing all my stuff to me faster. Spaghetti Monster are you out there?????

OOPS I am really whining now aren't I. Right enough of that.

Okay proper news. December has flown but I still don't have a job. After putting my CV on a few web sites I got a call from an employment agency to go for a pre-interview. When I got there I was asked to do a typing test. I got snitty and said things like I am not applying for a job as a secretary or a copy typist so why do I have to do a typing test. Was told it was the standard thing to do. Then asked if they had read my CV and where on it it suggests that I would be looking for a job where a fast typing speed would be a standard requirement. So in all I pretty much had blown that. I chatted to the Consultant for ages but I thought that I messed that up right royally. It seems that here an office manager manages the fax machine and types letters or something. Anyway I shall go in a little more carefully and get my understanding of job titles sorted out as they are nothing like what I am used to. The next day I sent the consultant an email saying thanks for her time and she replied back saying that she be looking for work for me and that as soon as my permit is through she has temp work for me to do whilst I wait for the right job. I honestly expected to get a big brush off from her so all was not lost, or so I thought. I then got a call asking if I would do a temp job as a receptionist....... I give up. Had another interview set up via Jane Killalie with a friend of a co-worker of hers. I am hitting the job hunting again with vigor in the new year. I have re done my CV to apply for different types of jobs. Will see. Philip and Cameron ,however, are both working!!!!! How fair is that. They are doing some sort of ,Data Capture for some fancy Merchant bank. Bryan got them an introduction. They seem to be enjoying themselves. We had to go out and buy them some proper work shirts and trousers. They look so grown up in the morning going to work.

We went down to the "Theater" and met up with the Dubai Theater Club. All of us went. I think it was one thing that we are all familiar with. Funny that I could not get my sons that interested in the theater but it is such an ingrained part of them that they immediately feel more than at home in one and can get stuck in and know what to do almost instinctively.We landed up having the most hectic few days as we got ourselves involved in the show Guards! Guards! ,a Terry Pratchet adaptation. We were roped into backstage. It was a fun thing to do to keep busy. The Community Theater that they use for productions is lovely. It is not the groups own theater but at least they have a venue that they can use that is fully equipped with everything "singing and dancing" - light, sound and stage that a drama group could ask for, and very central. That is in the Middle of one of the biggest, busiest humminest, Malls in the city.

On Friday 16th we were at the theater from 10 in the morning ( for a last tech run through) till well after 11.30pm after working on two performances. We pretty much stood for all of that time bar an hour and a half break between the shows. My feet were killing me. My nerves shattered from working off sheets with scene headers and notes but no script on a play that we had not seen sort of ONCE. Talk about a baptism by fire.

Sat was a lot less stressful as we knew what we were doing. Left for the Mall an hour or so earlier than required as we wanted to change books at the library. A lovely volunteer run community library called the Dubai Old Library. I have volunteered to help out. Good way to meet people. The library is opposite the Theater. Also in the quad is the Art supplies shop and the Art and Dance studios. So cool. Everything I love in the same place. We also wanted to do our grocery shopping. So we were out from about 11.30pm and got back home the following morning at 2.30am having been to the after show party. This was held on the top floor ( 25th or so) of one of the crew members apartment block. The top floor had a pool deck and disused restaurant that he arranged for us to use. Cameron, unfortunately, got one of his hum dinger headaches so did not have such a great time. Philip was having a blast so we stayed on a bit for him. Some of the cast members brought along their guitars and sang very rude bawdy songs fun fun fun. I got Bryan to promise that if we were not taking a taxi he would not drink so we did not take any alcohol to the party. We went to the supermarket ( at 11.30 at night) and picked a mixture of drinks that we had never heard of before. If there is one thing that you can say for this place it's that if you don't drink alcohol the variety of alternatives is just mind boggling. When we got to the party we were presented with two bottles of Moet Champagne as a thank you for stepping in at the last minute. Which was rather lovely considering that we had a blast and certainly did not expect anything for doing something for fun.....

The cast and crew were as diverse as only Dubai can be. Nationalities represented were British, American, French, Russian, Palestinian, Jordanian, South African, Australian, Lebanese. I think..... I could be wrong I was trying to figure out were people came from without being a nosy cow.

We then had a two day working week as Eid was been declared. Something to do with the Haj ( can't spell) which is the whole Mecca pilgrimage thing celebration. Yipee! Most of the Muslim holidays come upon you all of a sudden as the exact dates depends on "the sighting of the moon". Whatever that means. I have visions of some cleric who is having a bad week saying "I have sighted the moon the holiday starts now". At first I thought it was a bit like Greek Easter but it is much more complicated than that. I shall find out how it works and report back.

The thing that has been stressing us out the most is that Bryan's job has pretty much turned out to be a dud. Mangement by wishfill thinking I think. Consequently Bryan was sort of well not paid properly just a bit here and there for months. This caused considerable marital disharmony as I was a jibbering wreck. Could not believe that this was happening to us. Anyway Bryan, bless his cotton socks ( well cotton polyester mix socks) found another job. The plus on this is that he will be back working with Gerard which I think makes both their hearts sing and with Ellis Perry from way back in Zim and Oracle days. The down side is the redoing of all the paper work. Bryan starts work on the 2nd. His old boss has agreed to let Bryan keep the car he is using until we buy our own car which is great as I really did not fancy having to rush that.

One thing that is good about the current stress levels and simple living and not having a job is that I am ;-
Eating less as we only got a fridge on the 26th December.
Drinking lots of water. Do you know how yuck room temperature sweet drinks are?
Exercising for at least 1 hour 45 hours a day at least 4/5 days a week
Taking long evening walks along the beach front
Doing housework.

All of which has resulted in me loosing ,at a very fast rate, the weight that I have been steadily gaining over the last three years and sped up with gaining over the last 4 months of excessive living. So I have dropped a size in a matter of weeks without really even trying. All I am trying to do is just keep busy. Long may the weight loss continue.Can't believe my luck. Of course Christmas has put a small dent in this but I am confident that I will be back on course on the 2st January. I am feeling physically fitter and stronger and healthier than I have in years. Mentally I am just hanging in there!

Then we had Christmas. This was unlike any Christmas I have ever had. I am the original supporter of having a huge celebration with all the trimming and the ho ho ho ing ( did you read that silly sad story about the father Christmas that was fired for refusing to say hi hi hi ( or something other than Ho Ho Ho as the department store he worked for deemed that ho ho ho was insulting to women. WHORE. Like a 5 year old would know or care. Whatever! So this Christmas was nothing like the big feast day that we usually do. We did go out on Christmas eve to friends of Gerard and Elsa so did have some exposure to small children which is essential over the Christmas season. I had a very quiet Christmas morning on my own champing at the bit while Bryan and Philip and Cameron slept and slept and slept. I paced and looked at the Christmas stockings and the mince pies and sighed and waited and waited a bit more and then when I really could not take any more I woke then all up. We opened gifts. We loafed about. We went to the beach. In the evening we arranged to meet Tim and Fareil Greenwood for our Christmas Dinner. We met up at a lovely Indian Restaurant that Fareil found in the Souk Madinat. Great meal and lovely end to our Christmas Day. Boxing Day was a working day and we were to have lunch with the other Greenwoods that we know in Dubai in the form of Bryan's cousin Stan and his wife Tony and assorted lovely children. BUT the boys finished work much later than we expected. We took longer than we expected to get to Stan and Tony and arrived VERY VERY LATE and forgotten the ice cream! Still after all that a lovely family dinner was had. Other guests included Bryan's other cousin Michelle who had arrived from Australia and Bryan Aunt and Uncle from Zim. Such a treat for us to see them.

We then waited with bated breath for Philip's matric results which came out on the 28th December. Philip's results were better than those he submitted to get his provisional acceptance into UCT so we are pretty sure all is well on that front. Dinner at Elsa and Gerard gave us an opportunity to drink a celebratory bottle of champers.

It has to be said that this point that the Roets' have been great. Elsa gave us a growing Xmas tree and some Christmas lights which really cheered up our empty home. Elsa's commitment to Christmas festive bon homie has been uplifting. Gerard's commitment to braai's has saved us from being too home sick.

New Years eve was a mostly sober affair with us going to the movies grabbing a bite to eat and rushing back to the apartment in time to catch the MAG-BLOODY-NIFICANT fire works displays down both sides of the coast line. This all courtesy of our stunning location on the Palm Stem. We really did have the best view in the whole of Dubai to see ALL the fireworks. For the first time since we moved in we had to show our gate passes as half of Dubai figured out that where we live is the place to be for the fireworks displays so the place was humming. Cars, limousines and hummersines ( got to see them to believe it) trying to stop on our bridge for a good view where chivvied off by security. A pity ,I thought, as it would have been so cool to have the whole road full of cars parked and watching. For heavens sake it only take 10 or 15 minutes. We were like children rushing from one side of our turret to the other to watch both side of the coastline displays. Clutching our Champagne and talking to Sharon, Gennai and Shaun in Gabs.After the fireworks we wandered down to the beach for a look see. There were parties on the beach and lawns and on the balconies overlooking the beach. Perfect start to our New Year and New Life.

We have seen a eyeful of movies. Can recommend Michael Clayton as a must not miss movie. Beowulf for the CGI but frankly the story is "of it's time" and lacks depth. Other movies.... well I am a movie tart so I will tell you to go and see them all but I am trying to be discerning so I will stop here.

Books, well we have read up a storm and because we are all reading each others choices the variety has been eclectic to say the least. Have sort of rediscovered Terry Pratchet for easy reading. Have been reading "A fine Balance" A stunning book but oh my gosh you want to slit your wrists with the sadness of poverty, the caste system and the injustice of living in a very big uncaring world. A beautifully crafted touching empathetic book. Worth reading.

Bryan has found (to his everlasting joy I think) a TV series that he watched as a young teenager that strongly influenced the way he thinks. J Bronowski's "The Ascent of Man". We have been watching it on my computer. Well when I say we I mean Bryan avidly and the rest of us catching a programme here and there.

I am done! I have nothing left to write. Well that is not true I could go on and on and....

Love to all of you

Thursday moan jan 2007

I have been getting really pissed off over loo rolls. How thrilling in my life at the moment...... I feel that I am being conspired against. Bog paper manufacturers have covered every cunning ploy they can to con you out of your value for money. I have seen loo rolls where the inner cardboard roll takes up most of the "space". How rude is that. Bryan has caught me trying to see how big the inners are before I will buy the product. Then to add insult to injury they wind the paper so loosely around the roll that you could probably use them as oxygen masks for all the air they must be carrying. Whatever happened to honest selling. ......Look this loo roll says 1 ply and looks like it would sharpen a parrots beak and guess what it is really cheap. Or this one says three ply (??????) and looks like a princess could sleep on it even with a pea underneath it and oo look it costs a bloody fortune. Now I am one to nit pick, but how low have you sunk as a supplier when you let manufacturers skimp and con on toilet paper.

You can knock the South Africans as much as you like but my goodness they know how to sell to the tight fisted. Ie ME. When I buy from Pick n Pay I can almost always see the price for each item I am buying per kg or per liter. So when faced with several brands of essentially the same thing or several different sizes of the same product I can easily and quickly do a price comparison by volume. This is so consumer friendly. It was so easy that I did not notice that I was doing it until I came here and have found that none of the supermarket do this properly. I could go on and on and on......Actually I will.

I am used to when seeing a display that says special with a big sign and a value and exclamations marks after it knowing that it's a special cheap price not that it is special because the size tin is now different or the product is now in the middle of the check out isle and actually exactly the same price as it was last week when it was back on the shelves.

It's all very silly I know but I feel such a sense of outrage at what feels like supplier bad manners. Is this the first world? Is it really all about cunning and not quality and does quality have to cost so much that in itself it becomes rude?

If a big supermarket chain does not and clearly knows that they do not have to worry about customer loyalty (which I know is a fickle thing) and about just doing things right where one would think it would be in their fiscal good interest to do so ( but clearly not these are big clever businesses) what hope is there for the right thing to be done when there is no visible benefit. People really really don't care.

I have watched in growing disappointment people smoking on the beach and then leaving their butt ends in the sand. Over a day of smoking that is a lot of butt ends. And what happens tomorrow when that same person comes down to the beach? Do they for a moment worry about the rubbish they have left behind. The other day we watched as a black bin bag sort of bobbed along the beach waters. No one at all did anything about it. They swam away as it came past them. As it neared our post I was ( because I can) about to tell Philip and Cameron to go and collect the bag out of the water when both boys got up of their own accord and went into the water and dragged it out. Only then did one of the life guards come and help them. I am becoming one of those revolting people. I have not plucked up the courage to say anything to the smokers but I have picked up rubbish and followed the dropper and said I think this is yours and I think you want to put it in the bin. How "woman with too many cats" is that. I can't help it it makes my blood boil.

I have got to get a job.

Version 1.2 of January 2008
Hello Chums!

I do not know how I did it but after spending the better part of two hours yesterday and an hour today on my monthly catch up email I lost it. "What? The whole thing?" I hear you ask. "Yes the whole thing" I whimper.

And it was good. It was light. It was airy. It was witty. It was even edited ( for a change) and yes long. So I guess you are all sighing with relief? Well don't think your selves lucky just yet. It is not as if I have a job to go to. I will just start again. Of course version two won't be as witty, pretty and bright as version one. Version one has been pumped up to giddy heights of entertainment value on account of it no longer existing and cannot be proved to be anything other than a legend.

Believe this if you can. We still don't have our container. It was put on the sea on the 11th of January. Please remember that "pack up our house day" was 26th October. The container is currently, I suspect, having a Caribbean cruise. Container will be drinking Pina Coladas from sunrise to sunset and will have a bit of Champers when it crosses the equator on its way, finally, with a stunning tan , to Dubai having had a torrid affair with a holidaying rusty old crane with a wife crane and three baby crane's working their bases off on one of the Dubai building sites. When they get here, Container and Crane, will have a lot to answer for.

In the meantime we crack on at a giddy pace with our blow up beds and borrowed camping chairs and tables. We are renting an apartment for airspace and echo value. Oh if I knew then what I know now........

Bryan has just finished the first month of his 2nd job in Dubai and I have not yet found my first! Everyone in our family has earned some dosh except me. Instead I have contributed a new line in "paranoid snappishness" due to an unaccountable possessiveness of every square cm of space I have swept, dusted, ironed or washed. If so much as a spec of dirt appears on a spot I have attended I become a veritable witch. Housework is not good for my mental health. In point of fact it is not good for anyone that I share living space with. As soon as I have a job I will get a maid. This housework lark if for the birds.

In an endeavor to clothe ourselves in a manner that brings Bryan (the last "free of style" man on the planet, morn this passing) and I up to the acceptable work clothes standard of Dubai we have been shopping. I had taken Philip shopping for clothes for varsity the day before so I was pretty clued up on where the mens outfitters were. Off we went and an hour or so later Bryan had 2 new suits, a few new shirts and six ( yes that is right S-I-X) new ties. His old ties were so outdated that they could have been displayed in a fashion museum, apparently. I have this on the very good authority of Philip and Cameron.

The thought of dragging Bryan around while I then looked for clothes was too horrible to contemplate so I left him at the library to read a book or two or three and I squared my shoulders and entered the marbled walkways of the "Mall of the Emirates", biggest Mall outside of North America. We did contemplate going to the "Outlet Mall" on (wait for it) Route 66 where designer labels that are 3 days out of season get sold at a big discounts. But as the fashion followers will tell you if no one wanted them three days ago why would anyone want them now. No. no. no. I am just too village hall for all this so that idea was veto'd. Being easily distracted I stopped to watch a lovely show of bright young beautiful things dancing to finger snapping, foot stomping, smile generating music in Bolly Wood style dance. Sigh. Then back to the task in hand. Many, many hours later I came away with a couple of very edgy suites that make me look like I mean business and look good. I bought a pair of HIGH heeled closed shoes. Well my darlings, I put my shoes on and my feet looked like twin goddesses. All smooth skin and arches in pretty places. They were beautiful. And how did my feet thank me for the great flattering shoes I got for them. They went on strike. My feet are used to walking flat and very close to the ground. On the rare occasions that I have put them into heels I have had sandals that have given them lots of toes wriggling room. My feet do not like what I have done. Now this, you understand, is an all in effort . My mind is in gear. My body is tight enough to wear clothes without lumps and bumps in the wrong places. My hair is cut and dyed. My nails polished and pretty...well sort of considering the housework. All my feet have to do is walk me to and from job interviews. I don't think it is a lot to ask.

And the job hunting process. If I peg myself high I don't get any interviews. If I peg myself a little lower I am told by the interviewers that they are afraid I will be bored. What exactly does that mean? There is only one thing that is boring and that is housework. I would find counting paper clips exciting at this stage.

Now, I like talking about myself as much as the next person, in fact maybe a little bit more, but smiling winningly and selling myself self over and over again is just so not fun. I feel like saying to the next person who interviews me "listen lets cut this crap. Just give me a job. We can surprise each other over the next few months. You will find out that I am a neurotic over compensator and I will find out you are a mini Gengis Khan." But it does not work like that does it.

I have spent some time last month being reminded of what it is like to be a mother of very small people. Our friends have an 11 month old and a sudden arrival in the form of a prem baby last month. I am so done with broody. I think I like newborns up to three months then they should be off limits to me until they are old enough to be bribed. Really I am not patient enough. I forgot how when Philip was three months old I nearly wept with joy at having to go back to work. People kept saying you poor thing you how you must hate being apart bla bla bla and I think I must have bought into the memory of you poor thing etc because until I have had to look after this little thing I had forgotten how bad I was at it. And they cry. And they poo. And this baby is a delight she is really a lovely, lovely creature. And I was not alone I was just the helper. And I did very little. I was shattered. My feet had blisters from talking her for walks. I CANNOT play with babies. I was looking around for the play pen to put ( ie dump) the baby into like I did with my children. Apparently play pens are BAD for BABIES. Who gives a flying rats arse. It is good for mothers and a sane mother is a very good thing for a baby. Ergo play pens must be good for babies. God its a bloody wonder that my children survived. Anyway our friends have a beautiful new baby boy who is just so sweet and oooo everything cute. So that was fun.

We went to the theater on Saturday night to see a play called Sauce for the Goose. A French farce translated into English. Good play, good actors, but dreadful direction. Additionally there was some guy behind me jiggling his legs about so much I thought he must be bloody wanking. So I surreptitiously looked about to see what in heavens name could possibly be going on. He was not, as it were, busy. Just one of those people that could not sit still. It was very, very annoying and of course once you think the thought it won't go away and I felt all yuck just having him behind me. And having moaned like a stuck pig believe it or not I did have a good evening out!

So have I told you about the hairdresser deal I found? Honestly I think it must be cheap even by Joburg standards. I have found a place that you pay a subscription to of Dhs 125 ( just over R250) per month ( for 12 months and in advance) For this you get every month.
1 cut.
1 colour or highlights.
I hair treatment.
4 wash and blow-waves.
2 full manicure and pedicure inc varnish.
Oh my giddy aunt. Once I have earned my first salary I am joining. I went for a cut and blow last week just to make sure it was not some sort of weird dive. All the hair stylist where beautiful Iranian boys and they all looked like they knew what they were doing. Or did they? Maybe I was distracted by their prettiness.....

Bryan got his car a few days ago. 2nd hand Volvo S80. 3 years old with very low mileage. It is silver outside and cream inside. Very Volvo.
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