28.4.07

On Legalizing my Alien Status and Such

So the authorities in Dubai are actually going ahead with legalizing my residency here. Now why would any self-respecting region of the world want to do that? I have to admit though, that I have been such a good, obedient boy that I can't think of any reason that they wouldn't do so, subtract the incessant flirting and being the tourist that I am, of course. They drew blood, and x-rayed me then stamped my forehead with the label 'Legal Alien' and booted me back to the workforce where I will resume my duties as a corporate drone.

Now if anyone can be nice enough to give me an Emarati passport?

If there is any high-ranking official reading this now, even though I doubt that I have any audience other than 14-year old girls who got tired from hours of facebooking and decided to randomly scour the blogosphere, will you please consider giving me a passport? I promise to be a loyal, law-abiding citizen. I once saw an accident here and was the first to call 911. Errrr, I mean 999. (Damn, now I understand why they were so late, and the poor dude had to lose a leg) I'll do anything you require from me, I swear it. As a matter of fact, just give me any unlicensed projectile-shooting object, and just throw me at the Al-Wafi mall robbers' nest or Iran or anyone you don't get quite along with (Please choose Iran, there's lots of fiiiine and loose chicks there). I don't require any hardcore training; my dad was a Fedai' freedom fighter (every Palestinian's father was a Fedai') so I think it's inherited in the genes or something. Push comes to shove, I always have my internal, self-destructing mechanism, i.e. terrorist suicide bombing. Now let me check where that button is again (poking my belly button) Oh here it is. Still there. Thank God. Safe for one more day.
So do let me know, I'll be eagerly waiting your response : expated-in-dubai@hotmale.com

(I'm kidding don't take this post seriously. Actually, don't take anything I say seriously. But really, if you want to give me an Emarati passport or an espionage mission with lots of hot chicks and super cars, please notify me 30 days in advance at my real email address: expated-in-dubai@hotmail.com and I'll consider it)

25.4.07

On Amman being a Corridor and Such

Amman corridor.

That's what I always tell my friends. You are sooner or later bound to bump to everyone and anyone, there's nowhere to hide. In Amman, everyone is your best friend's cousin or your cousin's best friend. It is virtually impossible to go out for dinner or the gym with a group of friends and not spend anywhere from 15 to one whole night chatting up with a random ex-coworker or study mate, depending on your social status and your job turn-over rate. If you walk into Tche Tche, the 3rd Jordanian landmark after Petra the pink city, and the Abdoun Bridge, everyone stares at you through dense clouds of shisha smoke and sizes you up and down once you enter the coffee shop. The theory I formulated is, that it's either that everyone checks to see if they know you to initiate conversation, and hence displaying higher social status to their current group or they're simply bored, or that I have one damn good entrance.

Bumping into ex's is the most awkward, especially if they're clinging on to a new hulk, and more especially if you're hanging with the loser coworker you newly met discussing the weather and nonsensical shit, simply because you just didn't want to watch the rerun of 'So you think you can Dance?' on mbc 4 again.

It happens.

(Ex walks by and lowers herself to catch your downward gaze, as you try to bolt out as quick as possible)
Ex (in the highest pitch tone since you first started dating): Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
You: Um, hey.
Ex: How are you, it's been ages! What happened with you? Are you still working with X company? (note the demeaning insinuation)
You: Yeah, I've been promoted to...
Ex (Cuts you off): This is my fiance, he's from [insert respectively according to financial status; Dubai, America, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Kuwait, etc]
Ex throws out her hand and shows you a big, fat-ass diamond ring which you proceed to shake awkwardly.
Ex: Hehehehehe
Fiance (looks you up and down, approaches with the widest grin, and shakes your hand so hard you feel it'll break off): Hi!

At this particular moment in time, for only-God-knows-what reason, Loser Coworker approaches from afar. You make a mental note to never take him out again. Even forced daily 'good mornings' at work will be downgraded to twice a week.
Loser coworker: Hi my name is Loser Coworker!
You: God this isn't happening!
Ex: What did you say? (eyes you suspiciously) Are you still talking to yourself?
You: Umm, no, I'm not. I have to go. Bye!

And you run as quick as your feet can carry you, leaving Loser Coworker, Ex and Mr. Fiance in the bustling cafe chatting and bonding. They hit it off and become instant friends and hang out every weekend for the rest of their brief, married lives at Blue Fig and the Dead Sea. After a few years, you hear that Mr. Fiance breaks up, or shoots Mrs. Ex in an honour crime because he caught her cheating with Loser Coworker.

It happens.

Amman after all, is nothing but a corridor.

17.4.07

On Exhibitionism in Dubai and Such

So the people I work for decided to put my overblown title to actual use. So thinking it would be a good idea on their part(this is where all bad things begin from; assumedly good ideas), they threw me in the first exhibition that came their way. I hooked myself an impromptu tie and plastered the widest and shiniest smile I can muster as random strangers came up to me and asked me the weirdest shit ever.

Random visior: If I go out, can I still come back in?
Me: No, the police of not allowing people to reenter open and free exhibitions will hound and throw you in the first local jail with the gang that stole from Al-Wafi Mall.

I totally feel for zoo animals now; people walking by, pointing fingers, throwing food at them (thank God this didn't happen although our stall was actually like a replacement trash can)

Girl: Look daddy! It's a polar bear!
Dad: Yeah just keep your hands away from the cage sweetie.
Girl: Look daddy it's really white. (pulls a couple of hairs from its nose)
Polar bear shrieks in terror and blinks away tears of pain.

Apart from the beautiful decoration of the stalls and booths and hi-tech LCDs playing the same goddamn songs over and over, there was another beautiful scenery that was not taken note of.

Me (to myself- which by the way I do a lot): All this potential, and no gawking, no staring, no whistling, no animal-like noises, barks and yelps?! This is what not being in Amman really means. Man, I should do something about this. After all, the ladies will be offended if everyone was so polite.

So when I wasn't busy actually working, or daydreaming of little girls with cotton-candy and handul of polar bear whiskers, I would visit the hot, marketing girls in the other booths and put on my best comedy perfomance.

Cute girl(s): Ha ha ha. You're funny.
Me: Yeah I know. Everyone tells me that. Do you have email? (cute girl prompts to write down her email)

I managed to hustle 3 emails and a phone number. Not bad. And no, those don't belong to Ukranian or Ethiopian models who can barely spell their names. By the end of the exhibition I was escaping my booth, to avoid conflict of interests, per se.

Hindu coworker: Man, where are you? Your friend keeps passing by here.
Me: Errr, if anyone asks for me, tell them you don't know where I am.
Hindu coworker sulks away with a head wiggle.

Apart from all of that, there was a separate section for toys. Dancing robots, lego, puppets everything that the 10-year old inside me adores. I would've danced with the robots, but I would've felt alienated.

11.4.07

On Indians in Dubai and Such

If you work in Dubai, chances are that you have more than one Hindustani coworker that you will ultimately and inevitably need to converse with . Here's a brief lapse from one of those many conversations I dread.

Hindi coworker (in the heaviest hindu accent): Where iz da tiff file, maan?
(Pause)
Me: Tiff 3aleik.. (Literally meaning Spit on you in Arabic)
Hindi coworker beams with an ear-to-ear smile and a head wiggle..

If someone can be kind enough to explain to me what that head wiggle means. Is it a yes? Is it a no? Is it a maybe? Is it a maybe yes? Is it a maybe no? Is it my brother? Who is it? .. I'm getting carried away here. So far, whenever I see it, I get this eerie, cold sensation running through my body that something bad will happen now or worse, whatever instructions I have just meticulously given have dissolved into thin air.

While we're at the subject of decoding. I would also very much appreciate it if anyone would offer me the equivalent of "*beep* ukhtak" or "*beep* immak" in hindi. It would very much come in handy. I promise to use it wisely and no more than twice a day. Fingers crossed.

9.4.07

On Missing Things in Amman and Such

Things I’ll miss about Amman
1- My family and friends
2- Shawema Reem, Karam and Fares
3- Chili House
4- The miserably deluded yet nevertheless cute girls of Amman
5- Home-made food

Things I won’t miss about Amman
1- My family and friends (And no this isn’t a misplacement)
2- The bumps and manholes in the road and inside the cars
3- Governmental paperwork and chores
4- End of month paychecks (or middle-of-month for that) and so-called careers
5- Iraqi accents flying here and there

8.4.07

On Being Fresh off the Boat and Such

So here I am. Dubai. Fresh off the boat. Milking the residue salt out of my stagnating shirt. Here goes the story of how I ended up here. I rowed my boat gently down the Dead Sea, through the Rum desert and whatever fresh hell other deserts there is, all the way to the pond that is called Aqaba. I was relieved once I got to Aqaba because rowing in the water is much easier. I then rowed some more past Yemen and Oman where I waved to some dolphins that friendlily splashed me with their tails all the way to the bustling coast of Dubai. I disguised as an Indian fisherman and crawled all the way past the heavily clogged streets, rented a bike to the tall, glass buildings where I am working now. They gave me a bottomless inventory of fresh office supplies that I don’t have to wrestle anyone over to the death nor inherit from anyone more senior than me. I can even switch around the colors of the pens to suit the color of my tie, if I had one that is. They stamped me with a job title I’m still practicing to say in one breath. Parroting it to people is my current favorite pastime.

Person: So what do you do?
Me (excited): I am working as a Blah Blah Blah
(Pause with a brief rolling of the eyes)

Person: How’s the coffee? Pretty good, huh?
Me: Terrific!

There’s a different course rare as it is for this dead-end conversation. Only the extremely lonely and therefore forcedly friendly or incredibly noisy people follow it.

Nicer Person: So what do you do?
Me (excited): I am working as a Blah Blah Blah.
Nicer Person: And what does that do?
Me (more excited): We do (throw in as many cutting-edge, technical terms starting with ‘e’ here and there) because the future and generations and children and investment and yadda yadda.
(Pause with a brief rolling of the eyes)

Nicer Person: How’s the coffee? Pretty good, huh?
Me: Terrific!

I am here reporting to all fellow Ammanites and foreigners the misgivings and blessings of living in a multinational city like Dubai as objectively as Al-Jazeera. And we all know how objective that can be, especially according to Jordanian standards. I am also keeping count of the days till the officials in the city of Dubai realize the grave mistake they have made in allowing me to step on their soil and send their uniformed messengers to pick me up and throw me off at the Saudi border where I plan on erecting a protest tent till they allow me back. If you are one of those uniformed messengers please add me to your MSN contact list at expated-in-dubai@hotmale.com where we can chat about life, the universe and everything.
Cheers.