Thanks to dubizzle.com, Scott and Christie Grisham, and Shabir’s Pickup Truck Service, we now have everything that we could ever need moved into our apartment. Everything. We have a Christmas tree, a polar water cooler with hot and cold dispenser, espresso machine, toaster, rice cooker, router, phone, couch, love seats, dining suite, bookshelves, two beds (one king, one twin), coffee table, work table, bar table with stools, sheets, pillows, etc.
So this means that the end of our stay at the hotel is near. That also means that the internet connection is coming to an end. I’ll only be able to check in and keep in touch at wireless cafes until we can get internet in the apartment. That should be by the middle or the end of next week. We’ll do our best but it will be less frequent than it has been since Monday.
The day started with us sorting out the hotel mix up. It went fairly smoothly after Beth called the school, but when we went to the front desk to confirm everything, the staff insisted on talking to me, despite the fact that it is Beth who is the main guest and it is her job at the University that is arranging the accommodations. The guy at first ignored Beth and shook hands with me and expected me to explain the situation. But because 1. I didn’t really know what the situation was exactly, and 2. Beth was not having it, she did end up getting his attention and resolving the matter without my participation. That was really the only situation today that was so blatantly sexist but it was enlightening in its forcefulness.
Breakfast at the hotel consisted of Fatoosh Salad with Pomegranate for Beth and a Smoked Salmon Sandwich on Wheat Baguette with Horseradish Spread for me. It was great and it came to about $30 (US). Then it was off to the University. We took a cab there and it was about $4 and 10 minutes. Overall, we probably spent about $50 on cabs throughout the day.
Beth met with Yvonne and then Lily at the Human Resources department and Lily gave her the keys to our apartment (a building called “Al Madam” in Al Barsha near the Mall of the Emirates) along with some welcome cash and the money to furnish the apartment. The university is beautiful and the walking around the campus was our first real taste of 110 degree humid heat + intense sunshine. We waited in that sun for a cab to take us to the apartment for what seemed like far too long but was really only about 5 minutes. After about 3 minutes in direct sun your mind starts to wander to thoughts of water and shade and ac and you have to sort of nudge it back to the situation at hand.
The cab driver was not the best. Lily had warned us about that actually as we left her office. You really need to question the cab drivers here before you get in. Some of them may be more new to the city than you are even if you’ve only been her for 24 hours. So we sort of meandered around with the “help” of a pretty poorly conceived of map that was made by someone who had never been to the apartment building themselves since it has only been above grade for a month or two. We gave up and had him drop us near the Mall of the Emirates where we eventually walked around looking for “AL MADAM” on some building until we started seeing fata morgana instead and had to take refuge in the mall itself.
The mall is just huge. It’s the one with the indoor ski slope. We browsed through no less than 6 furniture stores the size of any Weisshouse or Arhaus or whatever. Prices seemed maybe a little up there but not unreasonable. Couches and beds for around 4000dhm and dining room sets around 2000dhm. But we couldn’t start buying stuff until we knew what the apartment looked like so we tried again. This time we got a cab driver who was willing to try and looked a little more competent. Still, we couldn’t find it exactly and we had him drop us off where we thought we were very close. We finally got our lead upon entering a corner grocery store where they have delivery men. They pointed us in the right direction and it wasn’t until we actually got inside and asked someone in the lobby that we knew it was the right place.
The real problem with wayfinding is that there is not a system of street addresses in Dubai. Most places are known of by the building name which sounds ok, but when 10 buildings are newly added every day to the pool of places, it turns out not to be a very good system. So even though our apartment building is on 31st Street in Al Barsha, it has no address number on that street. I’m not sure how mail will get to us but I will figure it out.
The inside of the apartment is a little hard and the design choices are just really bad — there’s no way around it — but it has potential and it is a design opportunity for us. The location is pretty good. It’s a little closer to downtown than the University and the proximity to the mall is convenient. There is a small chance that we will look at another place tomorrow but we’ll be happy there if that is the one.
From there we took another cab to Diera and the old Souks, meandered through the narrow winding streets selling mostly kitch made in China. Every 10th store or so is a beautiful rug shop or a great spice place. We may not have been in the best part since we kind of decided to get out blindly at the place that the cab driver said was “the souk”.
We had dinner at an Iranian restaurant near Dubai Creek. I ordered the “vegetarian platter” which it turns out consists of three kabobs of meat. It’s not “meat” though because one of the kabobs is chicken and it comes with lettuce on the side. There was a washed out photograph of the meal on the menu which after I looked at it again realized that it did look like meat, so it was kind of my fault. But the waitress would not leave the table from the moment we sat down. We said, “we’ll need a little time to look over the menu.” And she said, “ok,” but stayed there looking at us anyway. So I felt that I had to order quickly and didn’t take a good look at the photograph, paying attention to the name of the dish: “vegetables”. But after I explained to the waitress that I don’t eat meat or chicken at all, she really felt bad and said that she would find something for me. Then she kept coming back every 10 took a really strong liking to Beth, introducing herself and talking about how some people are not friendly and you could tell that Beth was a professor or something along those lines. Her English was hard to make out. But her name is Sunshine and she was one of the highlights of our day.
A lot of English is hard to make out in fact. Everyone “speaks” it and no one is shy about using it on you, but in a few cases during the day it really did no good at all.
Back at the hotel now and looking forward to our second day! Beth has a meeting at 10am and then we will probably rent a car which will give us a lot more freedom. It will be 180dhm/day but we spent about that much in cabs today and we have to drive to IKEA which is a bit of a distance.
Tomorrow we will start taking photos…