Monthly Archives: December 2012

Community Market Day in Arabian Ranches

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Now this was cool, and I’m glad I was able to make it – advertised as a community family-friendly event held at one of the English speaking schools with entertainment, vendors and public stalls to sell things, like a flea market.  Remember, Arabian Ranches is the mainly-expat compound in which we live – home to approximately 4,000 other families.  It’s a gated, guarded place that’s incredibly beautiful and well-cared-for.  They hold these Market Days a couple times a year I think.  So, we headed over there, and discovered that there were no parking spaces to be had close-by, so we parked a ways away and walked…. And walked and walked and walked – apparently, there are very few entrances, and only one was open for this event.

I sorta wanted to get a bit closer and take closeup photos,.... but was feeling kinda unsure of the protocol.

I sorta wanted to get a bit closer and take closeup photos,…. but was feeling kinda unsure of the protocol.

Inside, there were tables with garage sale items all over, nicely lined up so that I wasn’t going to miss a single one.  The offerings were a mish-mash of well-worn children’s items, household items,  clothing, shoes, books, games and movies.

Stuff for the whole family to enjoy!

Stuff for the whole family to enjoy!

One thing I noticed a lot of was pirated movies…..  Now I’m not making a judgment call about that…. Well, wait.  Yeah I am.  I think it’s wrong, and I wouldn’t buy it.  And frankly, I thought less of the people selling them, even though I didn’t know them, I formed an opinion about them.  And it wasn’t good.

Anyhow, I ended up with a great chair for the back porch, a canvas folding chair that’s sturdy and has leather corners, with a great patina about it.  I pitched a sky-blue pillow on it to reflect the color of the sky, and it looks like it’s been there for forever.

Lovely, sturdy, perfectly serviceable chair for under $3!

Lovely, sturdy, perfectly serviceable chair for under $3!

Also was lucky to find an office chair, and the owner asked for a whopping 80 dirham – my brain was a bit slow in calculating how much that would be in US dollars, (a bit over $20) which I was about to pay, and the owner lowered their asking price to 50 dirham – about  $11 or so….. I said “sold!” and it came home with me as well.

Also found some cork trivets from Ikea, brand new for 5 dirham, got some great travel ideas, saw some fun things for the children of the community to do there, and watch some guys cooking stuff over a portable flat grill.  All in all, it was a nice community event, and a great introduction to what can happen at the Arabian Ranches.  And the evening call to prayers were really haunting as I sat at the curb waiting for TBG to bring the truck and pick up me and the booty……..

Chairs and a bag of loot from tje Arabian Ranches Community Market Day sitting at the curb waiting for TBG to pick us up!

Chairs and a bag of loot from tje Arabian Ranches Community Market Day sitting at the curb waiting for TBG to pick us up!

The sunset and lighting were just perfect…….this was the end to our day there……

Beautifully lit mosque tower.

Beautifully lit mosque tower.

Excess Exposure – Furniture

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OK, this is a collection of photos from one of my first shopping trips with TBG. He was just trying to expose me to some of the various malls here, and there are a TON of malls here. This particular one had a furniture store that captured my attention for a while – I mean, just LOOK at some of this stuff!!
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Looks like a giant birdcage, doesn't it?

Looks like a giant birdcage, doesn’t it?

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Home furnishings seem to be on a HUGE scale here – large, low, and massive. They’re built for lounging, I think…. Not for watching TV or conversation. Now, I’m not a particularly good “lounger” – so these pieces didn’t particularly fit me – except for maybe the “princess” pieces…. I honestly think I’ve seen some of these at Walt Disney World…..lol.

Color seems to be highly saturated, very few pastels or “dusty” colors. Nothing that’s neutral feeling to my eyes, even the tan/camel colored sofa in our living room is pretty dynamic, it’s got some orange in it somehow and has the intensity to stand up to the other black pieces in the house, I think.

And then there’s the accents – sparkle, glass, faceted surfaces all over – anything to reflect…. Silver, shiny, chrome, mirrored, all are very popular surfaces.

I think what TBG was doing was actually exposing me to the excess that I will encounter here. And there is a LOT of excess here…. This was just a bit of excess in furniture.

A guy came with the house, SMS and shopping carts

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Here’s the guy that came with the house……..

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he comes just about every day, as close as we can tell.  He sweeps the walks and steps, cleans up flower petals, branches or leaves that drop, keeps bushes in check, trims anything that needs trimming, waters everything and then rinses down the walks and porches and patios.

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I dunno who he is, he only interacts with Phil….. that’s just the way it is here.  The first week he came, he paid a LOT of attention to the front entrance, steps, bushes….. the second week, he saw TBG and said “Back gate.  No key”……. the back gate was locked, that’s why he hadn’t been doing anything back there.  So, the situation is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before,….. kind of odd, but he’s working.  Steady, too.  DAILY he comes…. Well, six days a week.

December 2nd was National Day, sort of like the UAE Independence Day – it celebrates the union of the 7 Emirates.  Talk about a blowout – holy smokes…. Fireworks like you can’t believe, everyone has their cars decorated up with stickers, magnets and wraps and the UAE flags are everywhere.    Including the malls, restaurants, people’s clothing, cookies, cupcakes, newspapers, decorations up like it’s Mardi Gras – truly awesome display of patriotism….   Err…. Nationalism.   And the Silly String is rampant – remind me to buy stock in the company that produces it next year BEFORE this celebration, there’s that much!

Oh, and TBG personally got a personal text message on his personal cell phone personally from the Prime Minister of the UAE, Sheik of Dubai, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.  First in Arabic, which is a really pretty written language, but makes no sense to me.  Of course, later, he got the translated version you see below.  Pretty cool, huh? Image  I didn’t know TBG had even met the Sheik,  much less was on personal texting terms with him.  I was totally impressed!  <grin>  Now he truly hasn’t met HH, but I thought that it was kind of comforting and spooky at the same time that the ruler of a country could/would have the ability to send you a text message to your personal cell phone.  There are a lot of things here that impress me.  Many others that confound me.

Grocery shopping here is constant and can be quite annoying.  There are no “one stop shopping” places…. No Wal-Mart, no Kroger, no Meijer.  In order to get everything on your list, you may end up shopping at 4-5 different stores, located in 3 different malls.  Driving about a total of 2 hours to get to/from all of them.  And the strangest things are simply not available here, like Crystal Light drink mixes, to which we’re both totally addicted.  So, that particular product deserved a chunk of space in my excess baggage, and will continue to do so on trips back and forth to the US.  But I had a devil of a time finding dry mustard powder, and with ALL the spices available here, I found that odd.  Finally found it in a “UK” section of one of the groceries.  Now dried onion powder?  I’m starting to think it may not be here.   So, you just adapt to not having a specific item for now….lol.

Shopping carts are different too.  In small stores, like a “Dollar Tree” kind of store, you’d kind of expect to have little baskets you put over your arm.  Well, they are here, but if you have more stuff, you put the arm basket into a kind of “frame” cart that will hold one on the top and one on the bottom.  Tons of more space, really.  (/sarcasm off)  I’m intrigued by the shopping cart system, though…. And they’re called different things.  Carts, flats, baskets, trolleys, all sorts of different names.  And most of them are 4-wheel steering….. nice to “drift” around the corners of sharp turns and to slide around hairpin aisles if you’re in a hurry.  😉

Since the malls here are multi floor, if you buy groceries on the 2nd floor, but you parked on the 3rd floor, no problem, there are escalators with no steps so you and your shopping cart go to the floor you parked on.  Image  But wait.  There’s more!  Can’t imagine holding that cart in place on a moving escalator, especially if it’s heavy and headed uphill, right?  I thought TBG was superhuman or something….. turns out there’s some kind of magic force field that puts the brakes on the carts when all 4 wheels are on the escalator surface. Image

I still don’t get it, but I’m sure glad it’s there!  Some kind of weird shopping-cart mojo I suppose,  Who the heck thought of that and have any of my readers encountered it anywhere else??

Christmas Caroling – Dubai Style

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Tonight, the front doorbell rang.  This is odd, because it only rings when there are deliveries – of furniture, stuff the store was out of that we ordered, or food.  We both looked at each other and none of these situations applied…. So  TheBigGuy answered the door.  It was a group of five Christmas Carolers – from the far east.  Three women, a child, and a man with a guitar.  Maybe they were from the Philippines, maybe Thailand, maybe Vietnam or I’m not quite certain because I didn’t ask – because they told TBG “We will sing for you.”

Nonplussed and frankly not knowing exactly what the correct protocol was in this situation, he said “Well allrighty then!”  And motioned for me to “come here”.  I went to the door, and one of the women said “We will sing for you for the flood victims….. the flood, you know??”  and handed  me an envelope.

Ding, ding ding!  OK, I get it.  They’re collecting donations for flood victims somewhere.  Probably the eastern seaboard, because we were from the US.  Or at least that is what I’m guessing.  Anyhow, the singing commenced, and like Andy Griffith said “twere’nt nothing like no game of football I’d of evah seen”  – the tune was vaguely familiar…. Sometimes it was “jingle bells” other times it might have been “jingle bell rock”…. Maybe it was one of those new “mashup” songs…… anyhow, I understood that we were gonna be sung to until we ponied up some cash, so I handed the envelope to TBG.

Bless his heart.  He looked at the empty holiday envelope and said “What’s this for?”  I said, “Honey, they’re collecting donations.”  He said “You’re kidding.”  I turned to him and said “They’re singing for money.  Give them some.”

At this point, I think he understood that they would stand there and sing these sweetly-unrecognizable Christmas Carols which required him to smile entirely too long until he paid up.  The magic words.  “How much?”  were whispered in my ear.  I said “50” which is around $15 or so….. he handed it to me with the envelope to make the transaction…. I put the bill in the envelope, and when the music seemed to be winding down, or getting a bit slower, I smiled broadly, put one hand on the door knob, waved good bye and thanked them profusely while handing the woman the envelope.

They thanked us, the singing stopped at our door, and they left.  TBG went back to whatever he was watching on TV, I think FOX financial or something, and said “Were we just held hostage by carolers??”

*sigh*…. Raised by wolves, I swear that man was raised by wolves………