Sunday, July 15, 2007

Everything is Inshallah

Q on the phone with mobile support:"So when can I hear from you about the problem we just talked about?" Support staff:"Soon, sir, inshallah." Q again with another question, and support staff again, "Inshallah, sir".

"Inshallah" means "if God's willing" in Arabic. I heard of it long before I arrived. It's really the universal law that things are based on here - from food delivery to visa application, from test drive reservation to newspaper subscription - everything is inshallah, and people use it in daily conversations, all the time.

So it's been a week since I've arrived in the sand pit. What's changed? Well, the weather for an important one. Except for the first day, I haven't found the hot weather to be a problem! I try to avoid going out at noon hours, but more active in the evening and night like other locals. Most of the local businesses close btwn 1-4 pm and stay open till 10 pm. The city becomes a lot more lively at night when it's cooler.

Another thing I've been getting more used to is the address system here. All the major roads are numbered, like 3rd or 6th street, and they are also given a proper name, like "Sheikh Zayed the First Rd" or "Hamdan bin Mohammod Rd", but neither is used in reality, instead their nicknames are used, like "Najdah Rd" or "Passport Rd" - and you don't find these nicks anywhere in the map, Q taught me most of the ones I've managed to memorize so far. :) And when people describes their addresses, it's never number + road name, they are referenced by the major building landmark nearby, like hotels, malls or banks. For example, when I ordered my first food delivery, I gave my address like "the Emirates Bank building next to the Nissan showroom on Najdah Rd (N.B. nickname for the 6th Street), Rm ####" and 20 min later, I had hot food knocking on the apartment door! And it's not just the delivery service, taxi and other locals do the same thing. Of course it gets even more complicated when within each major blocks there are local numbered streets like 3rd or 6th street, but the trick is that they are in green signs, whereas the major roads are in blue! :D The system is so confusing and tricky - we both love it. :)

(P.S. Mailing addresses are different though as apartments don't deliver mail - no, I'm not making this up! Everyone uses PO Box here. Q and I have decided to go with the PO Box from his work for now.)

A couple days ago I made my first official shopping visit to the Abu Dhabi Mall - 15 min easy walk from the apartment. And to my pleasant surprise, I met a fellow Canadian woman in a sweet shop (where else?!?). We only had a quick 5 min conversation, but managed to exchange contact info for a possible future meetup (I hope!). When I tried to describe to her our apartment location - take this - she actually cut me short and asked me which building it was nearby! The moment I mentioned the Nissan showroom on Najdah Rd, she gave me the got-it look. :) Gotta love the system.

Anyway, my first week went by very fast, and everything has been great - even when Q and I had to learn how to share a thing or two around the apartment, like the laptop. ;) We shall manage though, inshallah. :)

N.B. Next time I (or we) should talk about the foods here - just had yummy and cheap filipino dinner in a ghetto neighbourhood joint - LOVE it! :)