January 2009

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Foggy Mornings

We woke up to this fog a couple of mornings this week. It turns out that this signaled the end of “Winter”. Since then it has been getting progressively hotter. Today it was 90F (32C).

National ID

On Monday, we took the morning (and afternoon) off to take care of the business of getting our mandatory national ID cards. We got there before 7am, thinking that we were going to be ahead of the game, only to find a line of about 100 people. The parking lot was empty though because the only way to get a car into it would have been with a crane. So everyone had to park in a big ditch next to the beautifully landscaped and empty lot.
They opened the doors at 7:30 and we finally got inside and got our number. Then we waited. And waited. For about 6 hours before we finally were called. Once inside it was smooth for me, but not so smooth for Beth. We had to be separated for the photo and fingerprinting process – men/women. The guy handling my fingerprints was an expert but the woman handling Beth’s was a bit incompetent and it took her 40 minutes longer than it took me. They fingerprinted us in every imaginable way – fingertips, palms, side of the hand, all at once, one at a time.
I felt a little violated and like I had done something wrong to deserve a day wasted to this. But now it’s done and they know absolutely everything about us. They said that they will deliver our cards to us but I don’t think they ever asked us our address.

Absinthe

One of the ironies about living in this particular Muslim country is that you can buy Absinthe. So we did this past weekend. It’s a pretty good authentic Verte with all the herbal flavorings of the greening process. It contains thujone which is says does not exceed 35mg per kg. We were afraid to drink too much, but now that I know the effect I will see if I can reach the next level. As it was I only had flashing and subtle exaltations of genius-awakening which may well have been brought on by the cooler temperatures we’ve been having.

We forgot to pack our absinthe spoon when we moved out here. This worked just as well though and added the right amount of Parmesan flavor.

We had a fabulous weekend two weekends ago. It’s OK that we’re behind on posting things because I made a new years resolution to be more relaxed and less punctual. Anyway, we went to the Garden Center and after a couple of hours and some great brewed-on-site organic coffees there we finally fell in love with the oddest looking plant that we’ve ever seen and decided that we had to take it home with us. Elizabeth named her Gretel which is an onomatopoeic adaptation of her rugged beauty and has nothing to do with abused children left in the woods and seduced with candy by a witch.

That same weekend we decided to finally try Dunkin Donuts coffee as a little taste of home and a break from all of those fancy cappuccinos and lattes. Elizabeth has had a problem ever since we got here in that they do not sell “half and half” at any of the stores. We have tried stuff labeled “full cream milk” and many other things that are just not quite right. So when we were at Dunkin Donuts she asked them if they had American style half and half. They agreed that it can’t be purchased but said that they make their own right there behind the counter with milk and cream. This was a revelation that has allowed us to share our morning coffee in the house together with equal satisfaction by performing our own bit of dairy chemistry in the kitchen. And the coffee that morning at Dunkin Donuts was delicious!

Ruwais

I had the “opportunity” to travel to Ruwais recently. It’s near the Saudi border if you travel along the coast Southwest towards Qatar. You can’t drive from the UAE to Qatar because Saudi Arabia sometime around 1974 got a 15 mile stretch of coast land from Abu Dhabi in return for guarantees that it would not challenge the UAE’s right to the Buryami Oasis, Al Ain and surrounding areas. But once in Ruwais, I was actually closer to Doha than to Dubai if by land. It is a company town and the company is ADNOC, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. It’s one of the world’s largest oil companies and the backbone of the UAE economy. I was there to participate in a design workshop as a representative of Yamasaki. Below are some images of the ADNOC executive retreat and residential compound where I stayed and the oil refinery at night.

Istanbul

Beth and I had a 36 hour layover in Istanbul after the holidays. We forgot our camera back in Dubai so we had to pick up a disposable film camera and this is the best we could do with that. It was fun getting film developed again! Sorry this is over two weeks late…
Istanbul was incredible and we really have to go back – when it is warmer and not raining, and when we are not hungover with head colds. We stayed in a great little bed and breakfast just down the hill from the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia.

Burj Al Arab

Bur Dubai with Connie and Matias!