Sunday, September 28, 2008

You know you've been in the Middle East too long if...

(and in between a few photos I took recently out and about in Abu)

  • You're not surprised to see a goat in the passenger seat
  • You serve coffee in a thimble
  • You think everyone's first name is Al
  • You need a sweater when it's 25 degrees Celsius
  • You believe that speed limits are only advisory
  • You expect all police to drive BMWs or Merc's
  • You know whether you are within missile range of Iraq

CRW_1504.jpg Man at fish market

  • You believe that the definition of a nanosecond is the time interval between the time the light turns green and the time that the guy behind you begins to blow his horn
  • You have more carpets than floor space
  • You expect all stores to stay open till midnight
  • You understand that 'wadi bashing' isn't a criminal act
  • You make left turns from the far right lane
  • You accept that there is no point in asking why you are not allowed to do something
  • You send friends a map instead of your address
  • You understand why huge 4x4s must slow down to a snail's pace whilst crossing a speed bump yet hurtle through a wadi at 100 km/h

CRW_1494.jpg Some of the older high-risers in Abu Dhabi

  • You think that "howareyou" is one word
  • You never say Saturday instead of Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday
  • When you can tell the time by listening to the local mosque
  • When you expect queues to be 1 person deep and 40 people wide
  • When you overtake a police car at 160 km/h
  • When you realise that the black and white stripes in the road are not a zebra crossing, just bait to get tourists into the firing line
  • When you know what night is ladies night at every bar in town
  • When seeing guys welcome each other with a kiss no longer disgusts you

CRW_1491.jpg Shaun the Sheep keeping a watchful eye in the doctor's waiting room

  • When you carry 12 passport size photos around with you just in case
  • When you think its a good night if there are fewer than 10 men for every woman in a bar
  • When phrases like 'potato peeler', 'dish washer', and 'fly swatter' are no longer household items but are actually Pakistani job titles
  • When you start to say "Insha'allah" when you actually mean "No f**king chance!"
  • When Habibi isn't just the ex-president of Indonesia
  • When you can smoke a shisha in public without expecting to be arrested
  • When you think 10Dhs (approx $2/€2) is expensive for the latest Playstation game

Sorry, it's a cheap shot... I got it from a friend by e-mail. But it made me laugh, so I thought I'd share it with you!

CRW_1501.jpg Fish being cleaned at the Abu Dhabi fish market

Meanwhile. Yes, I know, I haven't blogged in a long while. All is well! We've been travelling around quite a bit. You've read about our trip to Italy/Switzerland, and our trip to Iran. Other than that, I've been back to The Netherlands (to pick up the bike that we used on our Italy/Switzerland-trip). It was the first time since July last year since I was back (and actually leaving the airport, I made a quick stopover going to and coming from The States in June). So it was a good opportunity to meet up with my parents and friends. A few trips are coming up, but I'll blog about that in due time!

Also, Shu is now in Minsk, Belarus. 'Why?', I hear you ask. Well, because it's there! :) well, that, and there was a special offer on by our house airline Etihad Airways since this was a new destination for them. I couldn't come because I have to work. I'll go in November instead! The intention was to go CouchSurfing (hurray!! for being unblocked in UAE!! btw), but the entry process seemed more like old Russia than anything else. To enter, one needs an invitation from a hotel or tour company or private person. The duration of the visa given is exactly the amount of days that the invitation specifies, not a day longer! Not to burden the people on CS, we shelled out to make reservation at a hotel, which ended up costing more than the ticket! But I'm sure it'll be worth it.

And the fish just before putting it in the oven, it was quite delicious!

As a last note, as you can see in the picture above, I've been cooking more lately. And I've really been enjoying it. I was able to try out different cookbooks I hadn't tried before, there is my Spanish one, a Chinese one (approved by Shu!) and a Jamie cookbook. All have been great successes! And that in our tiny kitchen :)

(last, last note, I've made this post with a new piece of software, if formatting seems weird, that'll be the reason!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

My New Desktop Wallpaper

Mark, Q and I, the three of us, rode two motorcycles for one week in northern Italy and Switzerland a week ago. And the things I've done since returning from it?

1) Plotted out the places we've been to and made the map image my new desktop wallpaper.

2) Researched about expats in Italy, and bugged Q about it, repeatedly.

3) Daydreamed and drooled over my remininsense of the crisp fresh cool air after thunderstorms rolling over the the mountains and heavenly pasta from kitchens run by old and tough Italian women.

Sounds familiar? Yes, it seems that I have a case of "love-at-first-sight" with the Italian Alps.

Mark and Q were the superheros for driving the motorcycles from the Netherlands all the way to Zurich to pick me up before we embarked on the journey. Q only tried to 'murder' me on a few occassions, including pulling off 202 km/her on Italian highway - thankfully all attempts failed. Special thanks to the Ziolek family for hosting us in a lovely quaint little Swiss town, and wow, yummy cheesy raclette!

Mark and Q's loyal rides
Another motorcycle passing by us.

A typical Italian small town where the view from a bathroom is wayyy better than our expensive Abu Dhabi downtown apartment. Ahh...

Hair-pin roads of the famous Stelvio Pass, only 50 marked 180-degree turns before reaching the top! ;)
Looking back at the way up Stelvio!

Whatever goes up must come down.

Another pass just south of Stelvio - we liked it even better!

It got so foggy and scary and exciting!

How about soccer practice at a green field surrounded by the Alps?

Dropped (and broke) my camera after I took this photo of the hotel we stayed at, and that was only day 2 of our trip in Italy. :S

* Viva Italia! *