Tuesday, September 30, 2014

UAE Day 45: So Close...Yet So Far.

Today the folks from the bed shop brough my bedframe by.  
Unfortunately, they didn't have all the obviously necessary pieces, so this is what I got.  

They are supposed to come back another day with the rest (thursday).  

UPDATE:  Thursday came and went, not a peep from the company.  Will have to go to shop on Sunday and have a chat.  :(  

Monday, September 29, 2014

UAE Day 44: afghan baker

I met a kid (don't know his name) in the elevator who spoke English and had fresh naan in his arms.  I said it smelled good and he ripped off a piece for me right before I reached my floor.  He quickly explained directions to the bakery (it doesn't have a name, its just a hole in the wall).  

So I had an adventure finding it and practicing what little language I have left.  Naan was wonderful.  Had a piece and some Ocean Spray cranberry juice for dinner.  Success!
post-bakery expidition

Saturday, September 27, 2014

UAE Day 42: the great flood of 2014

So after the dishwasher debacle, I set about scrubbing my bathroom so that I could shower in the morning in a sanitized loo.  Using copious quantities of bleach, I scoured my walls, bathtub, toilettes  and floor.  LOTS of brown gunk (probably sawdust) came off so it took more than 3 hours to clean.  Then I went to bed, slept for 90 minutes and then took a cold bath.  Of course the hot water heater wasn't working.  So the bath was very short.  Then I made the critical mistake of draining the bath.  The bath water, mixed with all the dirty water from the day the men swished about the saw dust + six years of dirt and then crammed it down the floor drains ALL came up.  At 5 a.m., I had no choice but  to leave the water standing on the floor and go to work.  Ick.  My brand-new bathmats were ruined.  I was cranky and headachy from the lack of sleep and all the stress.  Wrote a nasty email to my apartment management company.  Called.  Hourly.  No Answer.  At 10 am they finally answered and said they saw my email and would forward it to the right department.  Was not a very fun teacher.  So several hours after I got home, they came to service the drains.  At first they said there were rocks in the drains.  I insisted that they do some common acid treatment and after tinkering for a while, they finally agreed.  First, they pumped all the trapped water that had previously washed the floors out of the pipes.  Then they did this acid treatment that snaps, crackles, and pops with puffs of smoke.  Like fireworks fighting grime.  I got them to do it in all my drains.  That made me believe that the problem was solved and I left and slept on a friend's couch to avoid breathing in acid-smoke puffs.  So after waking up the next day and running errands then returning to the apt, I commenced the bleaching-of-all-surfaces, part 2.  Then I filled the tub with water and a quarter bottle of bleach so i could clean that (since it is there that the pumped-water-out-of-drains-that-was-used-to-wash-the-sawdust-into-them went).  I naively pulled the tub plug thinking things would function as they should.  Well, did I think wrong!  This image is the start of the great flood of 2014, part 2.  I called the emergency number for the apts.  After 2 hours, the guy came.  His suggest solution was this:  Madam, you don't need to take showers.  Just use the sink.  I explained once again that I am a crazy american and that we wash ourselves everyday.  Sometimes more than once a day.  And I insisted that the pipes get fixed because drain water should always go down, never never never ever up.  Not exactly how I planned to spend my weekend.  The bright side of not owning a stick of furniture and sleeping on a foam mat is that clean up is manageable-ish.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

UAE Day 41: prejudice & paper towels

All my life, I've only seen white paper towels, the most exciting variant being white with prints.  In diverse Dubai, that's just not how we roll, we don't discriminate.  Paper products can be any color they ever wanted to be.   They also come in orange.  

I have to say, I actually like these better than q-tips.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

UAE Day 39: smoking pipes & dropping acid

So remember how all that saw dust, 6 years of dirt, and the previous tennant's filth all got squished around by men who were "cleaning"?  All that dirty water was forced into floor drains in the bathrooms and kitchen.  This clogged the pipes connected to the drains, which were probably not in good shape anyway.  Turns out the solution to this problem is to pump out all the stagnant water trapped in the pipe system, then drop acid into the pipes.  This sounds like fireworks and smoke billows out of the trains.  It is not safe to breathe.  So, I made a prompt exit and slept on a friend's couch.  

Pumping water before and after various unclogging efforts prior to the acid drop.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

UAE Day 38: the dishwasher debacle

The dishwasher is 3 inches taller than the under clearance of the counter.  

How many men DOES it take to install 1 dishwasher?  

And then there were 7.

In the end, they took the dishwasher and left.  They tried removing the feet and removing the top and nothing worked- and removing the top violates the warranty.  So no dishwasher.  I called the apt management company but no answer.  I emailed them and 3 hours later they called and gave permission to cut a hole in the counter.  Too bad the dishwasher left hours before.  Now I have to go back to the store, return the first dishwasher, then buy the same one again to get the delivery rescheduled.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

UAE Day 37: home sweet home

The unit I am teaching this week is called Home Sweet Home.  Timely, since I just got the keys for my apartment.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

UAE Day 34: the Sharjah corniche at night

This is a park at the Sharjah (my city) corniche (not anywhere near where I live).  It is very lively at night because kids can play and it is less hot.  There's also a water/lights show at the waterfront.  Fun.

UAE Day 34: Apartment Adventures

Living/Dining room area, with balcony


Random guest bath I discovered near the front door.  Its just barely big enough to stand in.  

Master bath

Internet Installation Man


Repairs in the kitchen

So the men working on repairs/cleaning use common methods of cleaning for this part of the world.  Unfortunately for me, this system of cleaning causes a lot of OCD-ish panic.  They fill a bucket with water, add a tiny splash of windex, a spoonful of bleach, and the swish the dirty water about to ensure all the grime is everywhere, then they squeegee it into a bathroom drain.  Gag.  After the poor guys were done "cleaning"  I set about doing what I could to sterilize everything.  Layers of nasty gunk came off nearly every surface and took a lot of scrubbing.  I cleaned for about 4 hours, just attacking the surfaces (inside and out) of the closets and door frames, and my kitchen walls.  I started the kitchen cabinets but didn't finish.  I got distracted with unpacking boxes.  Got 30 unpacked.  The boxes (not collapsed) filled five tashbags.  Still about 15 more to go, but everything takes time.  

spare bedroom

2nd bath, with shower.  

You could awkwardly climb out the spare bedroom's window to get to the balcony

Master bath.  Wondering if they will let me remove the bidet so I have a place to install a clothes washing machine.  Apparently they are not common place in my area, people send their laundry out or wash it in their tubs.  

UAE Day 34: boxes of books

This morning I went to Abu Dhabi  and picked up all my books. It was hot. And humid. Like a jungle. It took 5 hours to drive there, load the vehicle, and drive to my city, unload, and transfer all the boxes  to closets because the floor was still covered in 6 years of sand, sawdust, and dirt.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

120 Books

92 down,  28 to go!

1.  Lipstick Jihad:  A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America by Azadeh Moaveni (Recommend- great exploration of being bi-cultural, not quite fitting in anywhere, and all the issues that plague Iran.)
5.   The Things They Cannot Say by Kevin Sites (Thanks Paul)
6.   The Hiding Place by Elizabeth & John Sherrill (highly recommend)
8.  Sweden- Culture Smart! by Charlotte DeWitt
9.  The Swedish Secret: What the United States Can Learn from Sweden's Story by Earl Gustafson
10.  Culture Shock! Sweden by Charlotte Svensson
11.  Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric by Veronica Buckley (good info, but painfully slow-moving.  First 50 pages were not easy to push through, but it picks up now and again the further along I read.)
12.  What Happened to Sweden?  While American Became the Only Superpower by Ulf Nilson (highly recommend.  honest commentary, great voice- really a pleasant read in terms of a history book.  short, sweet, and informative).
13.  Swedish Lessons:  A Memoir of Sects, Love, and Indentured Servitude. Sort of.  by Natalie Burg (a bit crass, but a funny story)
14.  In Honor of Fadime: Murder and Shame by Unni Wikan (HIGHLY recommend.  Very nice compliment to this book).
15.  Of Swedish Ways by Lily Lorenzen (includes some folk songs and proverbs- nice)
16.  Drinking Camel's Milk in the Yurt: Expat Stories from Kazakhstan by Monica Neboli
17.  Kids of Kabul by Deborah Ellis  (I didn't like this compilation of stories as much as the volume she did for Iraqi children, but still worth reading).
18.  Untold:  A History of the Wives of the Prophet Mohammed by Tamam Kahn (interesting, but a little annoying- includes poetry the author wrote in addition to the biographies of the women)
19.  Favorite Wife: Escape from Polygamy by Susan Ray Schmidt
22.  100 Letters Home: My Two Years in Kyrgystan by Emily Ross
23.  Cannibals and Kings: The Origins of Cultures by Marvin Harris (feels a bit preachy- some interesting ideas but feels very much like an agenda and not so much an honest discussion- Harris is a cultural determinist and makes little effort to balance perspectives)
24.  The Crisis of Zionism by Peter Beinart  (Thanks Yvonne!- Recommend- very clear and thoughtful)
27.  The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History by John S. Major (Thanks Susan & Bri)
28.  Culture Shock!  Belgium by Mark Elliott
29.  Stories from the Silk Road by Cherry Gilcrest (really lovely illustrations, recommend for children)
30.  I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity by Izzeldin Abuelaish (highly recommend for all people)
31.  Quran and Woman: Rereading the Scared Text from a Woman's Perspective by  Amina Wadud (highly recommend for all Mulisms)
32.  Religions of the Silk Road by Richard Foltz (HIGHLY recommend for those interested in the ebb and flow of various religious traditions- Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity)
34.  Strong was her Faith! Women of the New Testament by J. E. Kalas (recommend)
35.  Women in Islam by Nicholas Awade (highly recommend- nicely organized by topic)
36.  The Alevis in Turkey by David Shankland (academic reading,  very  information dense)
38.  The Road From Morocco by Wafa Faith Hallam
39.  Stolen Lives: 20 Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir (recommend)
40.  Journey to Freedom: Moroccan Stories by Sascha von Bornhiem (do not recommend)
41.  Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East by Isobel Coleman (Thanks Amy!- HIGHLY recommend, very informative and compelling)
42.  Culture Shock!  Morocco by Orin Hargraves
43.  Moon Over Marrekech: A Memoir of Loving Too Deeply in a Foreign Land by  Nazneen Shiekh
44.  Hussein & The Nomad by Rahal Eks (very interesting story- slightly graphic- about the gay male experience in Morocco).  
48.  A Year in Marrakesh by Peter Mayne
50.  In Arabian Nights:  A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams by Tahir Shah (recommend- i love both of his books they include pen-sketches he does.  great story teller and amazing life- survived torture in a Pakistani prison and bought/renovated a villa in Morocco.)
51.  Culture Smart! Morocco: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture by Jillian York
53.  Nobel Laureates in Search of Identity & Integrity by Hallengren  (nice overview of this selection of Laureates I mostly knew nothing about, but a bit dry)
54.  Five Chimneys: The Story of Auschwitz by Olga Lengyel  (very highly recommend)
55.  American Sniper by Chris Kyle (recommend)
56.  The Couscous Genie: 3 Tunisian Stories by Mohamed Bacha (interesting folk tales, but poorly translated)
57.  Four Fantastic Tales from Tunisia by Mohamed Bacha (similar to his other book, including some errors-it is a shame, these would make lovely children's books).
58.  Silencing the Past:  The Arab Spring , Israel, & the Tunisian Jews by Rob Boublil (recommend.  informative)
59.  Dreaming of a Mail-Order Husband by Ericka Johnson (recommend- compelling perspectives)
63.  Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism by Karima Bennoune (Highly recommend-insightful)
71.  Sesame Street Unpaved: Scripts, Stories, Secrets, & Songs by David Borgenicht (thanks Mom!)
72.  Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis (thanks mom!)
76.  The Six Great Ideas by Mortimer Adler (layman's philosophy)
77. Night Draws Near:  Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War by Anthony Shadid (recommend- valuable insight into the Iraqi experience of the war)
78.  Eleni by Nicholas Gage (highly recommend- wartime account in the modern history of Greece)
79.  Culture Shock! Greece by Clive L. Rawlins
80.  Bones Washed in Water and Wine by Sydney 
Marangou-White (recommend, short read)
81.  Falling in Honey by Jennifer Barclay (ok, nothing special BUT recipes in the back! )
82.  The Feasts of Memory by Elias Kulikundis
83.  I Was a Child Spy by constantine bouboulis
84.  Culture Smart!  Greece by Constantine Buhayer
85.  After the Rosy-Fingered Dawn: A Memoir of Greece by John Walters (A bit chatty)
86.  Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd (very boring)
87.  Only the Birds are Free: The Story of a War Child in Greeceby Anna Christake Cornwell (worth reading)
88.  North of Ithaka by Eleni Gage
89.  Harlot's Sauce: A Memior of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece by Patricia Volonakis (also worth reading)
90.  Things of the Hidden God by Christopher Merrill
91.  Culture Smart! UAE by John Walsh
97.  Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas (highly recommend- funny and fun)
100.  Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russel Hochschild
101.   Imagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the U.S.by Amira Karmakni
102.   The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World's First Artists by  Gregory Curtis (highly recommend.  Very pleasant and engaging presentation, builds anticipation of seeing the caves).  
103.  Xenophobe's Guide to the French by Nick Yapp & Michel Syrett
106.   Sectarian Gulf by Toby Matthiesen (highly recommend for those interested in understanding straightforward Gulf dynamics post Arab Spring).  
107.  Burqalicious: The Dubai Dairies, A True Story of Sun, Sand, Sex, and Secrecy by Becky Wicks

112.  The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy by Auxier & Seng (recommend)
113.  Church of Lies by Flora Jessop
114.  No Touch Monkey!  And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late by Ayun  Halliday
115.   The Xenophobe's Guide to the Greeks by Alexandra Fiada
116.   Point Your Face at This by Demetri Martin
117. Playing with Words (Greek Idioms) by AIOLOS
118. Greek Proverbs By AIOLOS
119.  Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis & Larry Sloman (honest, raw, but mostly about drugs)
120.  The Holy Quran (in support of my friends during the holy month of Ramadan/fasting)
121.  The Caliphs of Prophet Muhammad by Dr. Muhammad Ali Kossaibati (Thanks Youssra!)
122. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen (Recommend.  Includes recipes and a section after the memoir about the history of Mennonites)
3.   A-Z Guide to the Hadith by Mokhtar Stork (Thanks Faisal!! informative, but so hard to stay awake!)
26.  The Old Testament - KJV
49.  An Introduction to Moroccan Arabic & Culture by Abdellah Chekayri
52.  Moroccan Arabic by Aaron Sakulich

2.   The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin
4.   The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett (fiction)
7.   The Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff & Alex Tresniowski (Thanks Mom)
21.  Kazakhstan: Surprises and Stereotypes 20 Years After Independence by Jonathan Aitken
25.  Polish Customs, Traditions, & Folklore by Knab (Thanks Paul!)
60.  The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M. L. Stedman (thanks mom!)
61.  Cairo: Memoir of a City Transformed by Ahdaf Soueif
62.  State of Failure by Jonathan Schanzer
64.  A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story by Qaid Akbar Omar
66.  Bush Wives and Girl Soldiers by Chris Coulter
68.  Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera
69. Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About  the Jewish Religion, its People, and its History by Telushkin (Thanks Donna!)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

UAE Day 29: the Mall of Dubai

All the street surrounding the mall of Dubai is lined with lit palms

UAE Day 29: unanticipated obstacles

With all things in the Emirates, normally simple tasks and procedures are complicated by an abundance of unanticipated obstacles.  This ranges from fees, to waiting in many lines just to ask questions, to being required to get documents, etc.  Today my obstacle is students.  In a literal way.  Never a dull moment!