Tag Archives: shopping

Never did I Imagine

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That I would be living here.  Seeing these sights, living this life.

Never did I imagine that I would entertain myself on longish drives by watching for camels in the desert off the side of the road.  Or that I would be fortunate enough to have a massage therapist actually come to my villa and give me a massage.  Or that I would be shopping for bacon in the back walled-off section of a grocery store, feeling slightly unsettled, or somehow tarnished.  Or that I would learn haggling over prices so quickly, refusing to pay first or second asking price for just about anything.

This is a photo showing an abra crossing Dubai...

This is a photo showing an abra crossing Dubai Creek in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 31 May 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes it hits me that this really *is* unimaginable.  Like the other day, a friend and I were sitting on this incredibly crowded rickety-looking wooden boat thing called an abra.  I was sitting in the back, next to the old rope and decrepit-looking wooden paddle/rudder thing for steering.  It was piloted by a man that didn’t speak any language I could identify, who simply hissed at us to pay the Dirham fee.  This abra had no rails, no ropes, no walls, no hand holds, nothing, just a big platform upon which to sit and smush together.

We were crossing over the Dubai Creek to a souk (market) on the other side….. I looked over at my friend and said “Do you realize that we are in a foreign country, riding an over-loaded boat that OSHA would go freekin carnival-ape-crazy over, to an open-air souk with no controls over what’s sold or how, and we’re not paying any sales taxes??  Did you ever imagine you’d be doing something like this???”  She smiled and said “And the ride’s costing us a whopping 27¢ too!”  Crazy.

Some of the things that we’ve done here, the experiences we’ve had, the stories we’ve heard, they’re like nothing I ever imagined would happen to me.  Please don’t read the way I come across in this blog like this whole adventure is routine for me – there ain’t *nothing* routine about Dubai or the Middle East, far as I can tell.  Not at all.

“CarWash, sir?”

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There are carwash guys in mall parking lots.  And parking garages.  They wear uniforms, carry receipt books pre printed and are very efficient.

They’re all over, they push little carts with I’m not sure what inside them, but lemme tell you, they do a bang-up job of washing your car while you’re shopping!  Cheap too, around $6-8 USD if my conversions are right, and they do it year round!

Communicating with them can be an issue, though.  They seem to recognize a few phrases in English – “How much?” they can answer, and if you hold up fingers “How long?” they can answer.  Outside of that, you’ll hear “yes yes yes” which seems to be the standard service answer.  And it does not necessarily mean “yes” at all.

An SUV costs approximately AED25 ($8) and a sedan AED20 ($6) plus tip.

But it certainly is nice to get out of a dusty, dirty car in the parking garage, and when you return to it (not always as easy as it sounds, BTW!  These parking garages are HUGE, multi-story, multiple entrances to the malls, on multiple levels!) and return to something sparkling and shiny clean.  For cheap.

Planning? We don’t need no stinkin’ Planning!

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One major difference that I’ve noticed between Dubai and the US is a difference in planning.  For example, I wanted to see when a particular TV show would be appearing so I could watch it.  We get a small “TV-guide” type booklet from our satellite provider (providing we go pick one up.  *sigh*) with a listing of times and shows.  Now, shows here aren’t exactly scheduled, they may start at 735, or at 1615, or even 1210.  They don’t start on the hour and half-hour.  But the booklet’s nowhere close to what’s showing up on the TV screen……lol.  So planning your TV viewing is a challenge.

Shopping papers, sales ads, or grocery fliers – you may get one the day the sale begins, or the day before.  Not like in the US, where most of them will appear on a Wednesday, with sales beginning on the weekend.  Gives one time to plan out meals and budget.

Recreation can be dicey too – there’s a really interesting looking entertainment complex called Global Village.  Image

It’s got tons of cultural exhibits, amusement-type rides, shopping, dining and performance venues.  I had read about some cool-sounding dance exhibitions, one Egyptian, one Jordanian.  I wanted to plan a trip to Global Village to see them.  I checked their website, http://www.globalvillage.ae which routed me to their facebook page.  I didn’t find a schedule, but I found a phone number -, so I called to ask when I might be able to see these dancers.  The conversation went something like this…..

“Hello”

“Hello!  I’m trying to find the schedule of entertainment so I can see some dancers from Egypt and Jordan.  Where would I find the schedule for upcoming dancers?”

“Yes, we have dancers from Egypt and Jordan”

“Great.  When do they perform?  When can I see them next?”

“Yes, they may next be dancing from time to time”

“OK.  When next?  Where is the schedule?”

“Schedule posted daily ma’am.  On website.  In the morning.”

“OK. Where is schedule to tell me next time these dancers will perform?”

“Our schedule is posted daily ma’am.  You can check it online.  If not there in the morning, check it on the twitter.”

“So, you cannot tell me the next time the Egyptian or Jordanian dancers perform?”

“Schedule is daily – you can check daily.”

So.  If we want to see these dancers, we have to check their online schedule daily, or “the twitter” to see if they’re performing.  Because they publish the schedule in the morning for that day’s events, “so as not to cause confusion” according to their facebook page.

My solution?  We’ll just pick a day to go.  If the dancers happen to be performing, it’ll be a happy bonus…. If not, no worries!

Crocs to fit

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We’ve always had a time trying to find shoes to fit TBG – he wears a size 15 in the US.  Here in the UAE, it’s like a size 50, I think.  When you go in the stores here and ask for mens shoes in a size 50, the clerk’s eyes IMMEDIATELY slide down to TBG’s feet…. and that likely means they don’t carry his size.

Well, we lucked up on a Crocs shoe store in one of the malls here…. and lo and behold they had Crocs in large sizes!!  Take a look!!

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Milk By Any Other Name

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Should still be milk, right?  But noooooo….. see, I can’t do a lot of dairy.  Without getting truly disgusting and providing way too much information,  dairy products don’t agree with me much.  It’s called being “Lactose Intolerant” – and you’d be amazed at the products that have milk in them.  But, there’s this fabulous thing called “lactose free milk” that has truly been a godsend for me and millions of others like me.  And those around us if we consume lactose-ed milk.

So, anyway, before I got here, TBG had been hunting for lactose-free milk for me…. Hadn’t found any and had laid in a store of those tablets you’re supposed to take BEFORE you consume dairy stuff.  Yes, even though I had explained to him that we’d tried those, multiple kinds and multiple times, with zero results.  So, when I got here, I was still hoping to find some, thinking that perhaps he’d simply overlooked it.

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Yes!  There’s some!!  Oh wait…. That’s rice milk.  And that lactose-free one right next to it?  Soymilk.  And almond milk.  And sesame milk.  Hazelnut milk, coconut milk, goats milk and camel milk.

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CAMEL MILK??  OK, my brain went a little haywire on that one – imagine the camel-milking dairy workers there…. “yeah honey, I had this tough old gal today, that camel didn’t want to give up any milk, but lemme tell you what…..”  so it has been a bit freaky inside my brain shopping for lactose-free milk here.

But guess what I finally found???  Yup, shelf-stable lactose free milk.  Definitely not low-or fat-free, but I can drink it, and it lasts about forever on the shelf!

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Oh wait – you can’t read that??  Silly me…. See, if you can’t read something here, just turn it around, chances are there’s another language on the other side.  <smile>

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Pretty cool, huh?  This is a square liter container… just a bit over a quart, if I remember my US/Metric conversions correctly.  But feel free to wonder right along with me at the closure here…….

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Hmmm…. Interesting looking.  The first one of these I encountered, I pushed, pulled, poked, slid, tried to pry up the white bar thing, snapped it right off.  So, I ended up pushing the blue tab dealie right down into the milk.

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Yeah, go ahead and laugh.  You *know* you have done the exact same thing with a wine-bottle cork before….. sheesh.  Anyhow, I took a closer look at it……..

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AAAAhhhhhhh……. Looky here!  It says “lift” right there, molded right into the plastic.  Guess what happens if you just lift that little tab up??

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Bingo!  Open milk.

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Ha!  Listen, I’ve yet to meet a milk container that can get the best of me!  But this one gave it a try!  For those interested in the costs of things here, this liter was AED 7 here, approximately $1.90 USD.  Just another odd thing I’ve found here…… carry on.