Obviously this blog hasn’t been updated in a while (hears faint echoes of “Duh!”, “La ya sheikh?”)
But there are good reasons for that, and they do not include me lying in my apartment poking my belly-button for the mere fun of it.
It’s been a hectic, eventful couple of weeks. If not the most eventful ever. Really. There were lots of first times in Dubai in it. (I can see where your thoughts are trailing, and no I’m not talking about that)
1- First traffic ticket. As I arrogantly cut in line in front of tens of cars on a crammed exit, a policeman greeted me by recording my license plate. Thanks man.
2- First guests to crash at my place. I enjoyed your company, wish you stayed a little longer. They also had a synchronized snoring mechanism, in which the first was polite enough not to cut in snoring after the second.
First Dude: SNOOOOOORE
Second Dude: snore
FIRST Dude: SNOOOOOOOORE
Second Dude: snore
You get the picture
3- Going to Wild Wadi water park. Highlights include standing in line for 40 minutes for one ride. I understand the traffic congestions on the road, but in a fucking water park to slide down in less then 20 seconds is just beyond me. A Philiphina girl looked down and was too scared to go for it. So I screamed “Yallaaaaaaaa”. Everyone found that funny and joined me in screaming. However the girl didn’t budge. I got bored again and decided to sing “Heyyy, hey faisali” My friends though I’m embarrassing them. Finally, when I got to ride this was the conversation that went on as I slid down the slide at an astronomical speed.
Me(swallowing massive amounts of chlorine water): Glug glug glug!
Lung(to Brain): Dude, tell the idiot to shut his main orifice. I’m drowning here.
Brain(to Lung): Aye, Aye Captain. Operation Shut Down Orifice in operation now.
Lung (to Brain): I think we already swallowed too much water here.
Brain: What are you saying? Don’t tell me..NO!
Lung: I’m afraid so! initiate Operation Permanent Shut Down..
Brain: No please don’t..
Lung: Just push the damn red button.
Brain: It’s been a pleasure serving with you captain.
Lung: You too
Me: Hey I arrived. I’m still alive. Yay!
4- Going to the Kanye West concert. Highlights include:
Some chick spasming in the middle of the concert.
Nearly getting into a fight with a half-naked dude that turns out was actually hitting on my friend and was asking him to “go out for a talk”.
Kanye’s “Stronger” performance with glow in the dark jacket.
Kanye dancing like a possessed maniac in "Jesus Walks"
5- Next I decided to get in touch with my terrorist roots, so I went shooting and got 3 bull’s eyes which supports my parent’s theory and nullifies mine that I am adopted and am really originally Palestinian. Any terrorist group wanna hire my services? Qaeda, someone? My hourly rate is set to 560 Dhs for the sheer joy of my company, I don't see how being a terrorist should be different.
Errr. We already established that I’m joking before, right? I’m not ready to be shipped to Guantanmo yet and orange doesn't suit my fashion sense.
Me(flailing the gun around): Look at me, take a picture of me with the gun!
Instructor and Friend: GAAAAAAA!
Instructor: Please sir, keep the gun on the platform.
Me: Hehe, don't worry, it's not loaded!
On another note Momo called and is looking to invest 10-20 million in Jordan. Anyone interested?
Obviously this blog hasn’t been updated in a while (hears faint echoes of “Duh!”, “La ya sheikh?”)
[Based on true events.]
"Can I selve you something sil?" Said the tiny Asian waitress trying futilely to phase out the obvious mispronunciations.
"Can I have a menu please?" I asked, fiddling with the ID badge strung around my neck.
The waitress scampered off quickly to fetch a menu. She'll be gone for awhile, I know.
Nobody noticed the brief lapse as the pianist quickly flipped the page, then fleeted her long fingers along the grand keyboard to continue playing the mesmerizing tunes of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. The atmosphere was dampened by the monotonous murmurs broken by an occasional rise and fall of laughter of guests. Glasses clinked against each other, juices were poured lavishly. Arabs wearing head cloths, and dishdashes clear as the finest wine huddled in fours and fives as Indians across from them, listened tentatively, staring away, while suited assistants laughed nervously, or glanced furtively at their master's faces.
I looked back at the newspaper. Where is the damn Appointments section? What is taking them so long?
"May I have a seat?" said a gruff voice
I looked up. A large, black man wearing a similarly black suit, with sunglasses studded with jewels hanging from his unbuttoned shirt stood in front of me. The monotone of blackness was only broken by the glimmering golden watch on his wrist, and a shimmering diamond ring on his pinky and a rare cleavage of sparkling teeth.
"Sure, go ahead" I said.
After a short silence, mounted by the pianist folding her book, standing up, and drifting away with her night dress crawling on the floor..
"How are you?" he asked
"What?" It took me a while to grasp the heavy accent.
"I said how are you?"
"I'm great what about you?" I lied
"Where are you from?" I asked
"Oh I see. Interesting"
"You know Sierra Leone?"
"Yes I heard about it. There are peace-keeping forces there. And I know that Sierra Leone is a main exporter of diamonds". I owe that piece of information to Kanye West.
"Yes that is why all the wars are going on. They have diamonds as big as melons." He said balling his fist "It is peaceful now. Sierra Leone is the number one exporter of diamonds in Africa". He said.
"Yes it is. What about you? Where are you from?"
"Why don't you guess where I'm from?" I said. "I'll give you 3 guesses"
He was taken aback. His penetrating eyes fixated on mine, then darted around the lobby, then looked straight back at me.
It was my turn to be taken aback. My eyes rounded. No one gets it right from the first time. ever.
"You are correct." I said "No one gets it right from the first time." This time, I wasn't lying.
The man boomed a big, hearty laugh, and tapped my extended hand.
"I am good in reading people and understanding their psychology. Jordan, you tell me. I want to visit Jordan"
"You should it's a beautiful country. It has a city carved in stone that was voted recently as a World Wonder."
"That's interesting. I sure will visit soon. What do you do?"
"I'm a consultant here. What about you?" I asked
"I'm a business man" he stuttered. "I'm the son of an ex-leader. How long you been here?"
"Well I've been here for six months. Still pretty new. Fresh off the boat as they say. You live here?"
"No I live in London. Actually I lived in lots of places. London, Africa, Paris. I'm here for a visit. I got a 3-month visa and I only spent a month here. So I can come and leave anytime I want."
"You've been to Cityscape?" I asked
"Yeah actually. " He stuttered again. "Lots of interesting opportunities"
"Yes, it seems the real-estate market is booming. Everyone wants to have a piece of the pie. People say it will slow down but I doubt it."
"Yes, it is interesting"
There were a lot of things that were interesting about this conversation.
"Do they pay you well?"
"I'm okay actually"
"Do you have cars?"
"Yes I do have a car."
"Can I have one?"
I paused. Why would he want my car? Oh I get it. Cards damnit!
I reached to my jacket pocket quickly enough for him not to notice the momentary black out. I fingered the business cards around I took for my meetings.
"Here you go"
He glanced at it, then put it in his jacket pocket.
"I will call you"
"Sure you can call me anytime."
"My name is Momo." he said getting up and shaking my hand.
"And I am Sami. " I said, shaking his.
"Nice to meet you"
"Nice to meet you too, Momo."
PS If found appealing there will be a chapter 2 in which readers might participate in the shaping of fictional events.
PPS I realize this is a scam. Thank you for your concern. However, I can't help but indulge my overactive imagination, if any of it resembled the truth. I know my life will become something like Tom Cruise in The Firm.
Posted by Expated in Dubai at 1:43 PM
This is what a typical Eid back in Jordan would look like for me
9:07 AM Wake up to the sound of endless fireworks whistling into the morning sky, and kids bang-banging each other to their fake deaths with their cheap, plastic gun toys. I fantasize about them using real guns. I yell at them from the warmth of my bed to shut the fuck up and get a life. The bang-bang continues.
9:10 AM I check my mobile and read 6 new messages which I skim through to see who is lifeless enough to send me a message in the brink of morning. Make a mental note to myself note note to hang out with those people.
9:12 AM Sleep
11:00 AM Sibling wakes me up to declare to my ignorance that today is the first day of the Eid. Thanks Dr. Phil. I really needed you to point that out for me. They continue to extort Eediye off of me (Eediye is a an amount of money given to younger members of the family as a present for Eid) I tell them to go away. They pick up my pants and find my wallet and skim through for any notes which they shove down their pockets and run away.
11:02 AM Sleep
12:20 PM Wake up. Mom and Dad eyeball me and await me to say “Happy Eid” to them and kiss their hands. I grumble something that resembles “Happy Eid”
12:25 Search fridge for edible scraps to be called breakfast, when my parents scream to me to close the fridge because we’ll be having a feast. I find leftover corn flakes and wolf it down.
12:30 PM Watch TV
12:32 PM Check email to see who is lifeless enough to send me an email in the brink of morning. Make a mental note to myself not to hang out with those people. (usually they are the same people who SMS'ed me)
12:34 PM Go back to watch TV or any newly bought 2-dollar DVD's from downtown Amman.
1:11 PM Father declares whatever I’m watching as crap and that Hollywood is a zionist institution and Jews control the world as he smokes his strawberry-flavoured shisha, grabs the remote and flips to Al-Jazeera to Abdul Bari Atwan declaring that Arab governments are crap, and that Hollywood is a zionist institution and that Jews control the world.
1:30 PM Feast begins
3:30 PM Feast ends
4:12 PM Family visit time. My parents come searching for me as I hide under my bed or behind a curtain (for real).
5:40 PM At family member's house I am drilled at what university I study in. I tell them I graduated 4 years ago. They ask me if I studied tawjihi (Jordanian high school) I tell them in order to study in university you need to have a tawjihi certificate in which they all respond to with an “ooooooooooooooh, he’s right” look. "That's the difference between people who finished their studies and people who didn't. See Ahmad what it's like to complete your tawjihi" Ahmad shoots me a hateful look from the end of the room. I can see him giving me the finger in his head.
6:52 PM Drill continues. They ask me if I work. In my head I tell them no I beg at the traffic lights, but all I say is “yes” and explain my job to them. They ask me when will I get married. In my head I tell them “tomorrow”. This time I indulge the sound in my head.
8:10 PM Hellish visit ends with shaking of hands and distribution of chocolates. Time to call up some friends who unlike me are free of any family strings and obligations.
9:33 PM Meet friends. Friends don’t know what to do.
11:12 PM Someone suggests ice-cream and for the first time, everyone agrees.
11:42 PM We find that people hiked from every corner of Jordan to eat the mythical 2 dollar ice-cream in Abdoun they heard all about as children. Guys are sulking heavily around like vultures, spitting seeds, gawking at the girls allowed to wear make-up and skirts for their first times since a year ago. Hey, it’s Eid after all.
11:50 PM Friends stare at each other and at the passing girls.
12:19 AM I suggest cards. Venue and participants are discussed.
1:07 AM Cards are shuffled, shishas positioned, embers fanned and juices sipped.
3:14 AM Someone is declared an asshole for dropping the King of Hearts so early within the game. Cards are thrown on his laughing face. Someone else swears by all known and unknown deities that this will be the last time they ever play cards with the group of assholes we are.
3:17 AM Cards are shuffled again as another round starts with unchanged players.
4:21 AM Come back home, draw down the shutters, eat leftover sweets hidden for tomorrow’s visitors. And sleep till mid afternoon the next day
11: 09 AM Sibling wakes me up again to declare that today is the 2nd day of Eid and extort more Eediye off of me. Thanks Dr. Phil. I needed you to point that out for me.
Happy Belated Mushroom Eid everyone
PS I know it's a cheesy joke but it cracks me up everytime. Mushrooms are funny.
Posted by Expated in Dubai at 12:10 AM
Families are complex. Not only that; families are awkward, complex, agitating, irritating and sometimes I wish I could scrap off my family name and live in an island alone with no internet or network coverage, hanging in my bathing suit and flip-flops, drinking coconut milk and working on my tan.
Don’t blame me yet, hear me out.
My family stars a variety of comedy characters that are common within most families, probably yours too.
The over-bearing, lonely relative. This person is above 50 and the family still have hope of hooking him up. He still believes I am a 12-year old who enjoys spending away his coins on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the nearest arcade like there’s no tomorrow.
Over-bearing, lonely relative: Where were you?
Me: Friend (Note that I rarely mouth more than a monosyllable, otherwise the topic sure as hell will propel out of everyone’s control, and I will be declared a Satanist, homosexual, introvert, rude, erm, you get the picture)
Over-bearing relative: What friend?
Sami: The fucking friend I sleep with
Of course all I say is: Friend from Jordan
Half a conversation later conclusions are drawn that my friend is a notorious drug-dealer stashing whores somewhere in his apartment and I should stay away from him.
I must be a more exciting person than I give credit for.
The needy-female. This person needs a companion in whatever she does. God forbid she goes anywhere alone or does anything without stringing an army of hapless bozos along carrying her hefty, brown shopping bags in the faint hope of gaining her acceptance unknowing that she already has a puppet boyfriend and 2 backups eagerly waiting their turn back home. This model comes free with endless shopping sprees, a pink cell phone glued to her ear and long, long waits at the stifling parking.
Needy Female(widely smiling, flicking long eyelashes up and down): Samiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
Me: Akalna khara (we’re screwed)
(Me looking at the ceiling, making a nonchalant whistle): Wow, the painting of the ceiling looks really nice.
Needy Female: Hehe, Sami you silly thing. Listen, can you drive me tomorrow to Sharjah/Abu Dhabi/Al-Ain/ The dresser? The mall? I need to get my nails done/ Shop till I drop.
A loud whisper that evolves to a bellowing echo goes repeatedly "No, no, no" But Needy Female has done her homework and is much smarter and conniving than most people give her credit for. I take a quick peek at the gathering of gossiping moms, girls and men awaiting my repsonse. I mutely whisper..
Me(weeping inside): Sure.
The Godfather. The Godfather comes with an army of teenage, whiskered relatives acting as cocky bodyguards, proving their worth and manhood to the family, and more importantly to the needy females of the family. One is holding his wrinkled hand, slowly marching him above the step of the house, the other swarms inside, dusts the couch, fixes a pillow, opens a window, and happy to bark orders for the first time in the day, demands a cup of cold water.
Godfather: *Cough cough*
All eyes fall on me, especially the two bodyguards who are eagerly salivating for the moment to see me crack under pressure, and hence render me as an uncompeting nuance. My dad eyeballs the kitchen and makes a cup gesture.
Needles to say I am very deft in family politics and my parents are very proud of me.
Parent (irritated to make a long-distance phone call): Sami what the hell did you do? Word reached us that...
Me and Sami: Yeah, whatever. Yawn, toz.
Families are complex. That’s how families are. Yours, mine, everyone else's. Deal with it, get over it, because only God knows that life without them would be an endless, lonesome bore.
Posted by Expated in Dubai at 11:02 PM
It’s been half a year since I set foot into Dubai Airport, carrying 2 overweight suitcases, and 2 hand bags, filled with the remnants of a scrubbed-off past life; books, my favorite DVDs, comics, random collectible toys, Zalatimo sweets, summery adornments, a brown envelope of stamped papers and certificates that define the person I am. I wore a ridiculously out-of-place leather jacket, a scarf wrapped around my neck and winter boots which would be perfectly fine in a jump across the hemisphere.
I stood in line, behind hundreds of people queuing to get their passports stamped; black, white, yellow, short, tall, thin, fat, men, women, beautiful, ugly, sleepy, tired, laughing, smiling, Arabs, Iranians, Russians, Asians, Indians, Brits, Africans. I was awed by the sheer amount of people, and how they all waited patiently in line, tapping their feet, listening to their iPods, holding hands, waiting to pass the gates, beckoning to the unknown.
When it was finally my turn, I approached with a smile. An Emarati officer bid me where my visa is. I confidently displayed the fat, brown envelope I tugged around containing all my important papers. I removed a printed, black and white copy of my work visa with a wacky smile on my face, like a knight unsheathing his sword. He brushed me off, and politely asked me to pick up the original copy from downstairs. I raced downstairs my handbags beating against my waist where I gave them my name; Sami.
And there was actually a pink visa waiting for me top of the pile, regardless of my cynicism. I rushed up, queued again, stamped, walked out to the stifling heat, waved to my receiving relative who completely ignored me expecting that I was still the teenager that he last saw.
So, I’ve been pondering this post in my head since, in my inner-duologues, and private thoughts, I have finally found the opportunity to put it into a written format.
And even though there is a lot of bashing going on for Dubai; the rent prices, paranoiac dangers of deportation, SALIK, traffic jams and others, nonetheless, I always give praise freely and unconditionally when it is due.
(This is not a kissing-ass post for any body, nor is there a gun pointed to my head telling me to write lavish poems; I am expressing myself freely with no strings attached just as I like to.)
This country has made us feel at home more than home itself. The people themselves are warm, hospitable and beautiful. The government officials are always smiling, willing to share a joke or two, helpful and eternally-patient. I remember at the airport when I came back from a business trip, the Passport Control Emarati looked at my passport and said “Welcome back, Abu-Nasab (brother-in-law)” referring to the marriage of Princess Haya of Jordan to Sheikh Mohammed. I was about to jump and give the dude a hug, but I was too tired to do so since the plane arrived at 4 in the morning.
Not to mention national security reasons.
Not so far away, expats are treated very differently. Trust me, I know.
So on behalf of me, Sami, Jordanian, Arab and all expats in the UAE..
Posted by Expated in Dubai at 1:22 AM