March 31, 2012

I wish I could say more, but...

Yesterday I went jet-skiing for the first time in my life. It is the epitome of Abu Dhabi activities.

I cannot tell if the noises I hear outside are coming from a child or a cat. I also just watched a mosquito fly past my face in my room. I have no idea how it got in here. This apartment is such a downgrade from all my previous residences.

Tonight I'm going to a dinner with some friends and a friend's dad. I am petrified of people's parents.

Then, at midnight, I leave for Thailand. Someone should really pack my bag already...

March 25, 2012

Middle Eastern cinema

Yesterday I decided on a whim to watch Sex and the City 2 because it takes place in Abu Dhabi. Or rather, that is the claim. Nothing was filmed here, it was all filmed in Morocco, which I could have easily found out online and saved myself the two and a half hours. But I watched it. I didn't necessarily find it racist, (the girls are too air headed for it to be actually mean-spirited,) but I definitely found it boring. The only enjoyable thing about it was when people around them spoke in Arabic. I still giggle when people say "yalla."

The next movie I'm planning to watch is City of Life, which was actually filmed in Dubai and produced by an Emirati. I wish there were more films here though. I have a friend who watches a ton of movies, but the closest he can get to a portrayal of the Middle East is Don't Mess With the Zohan. (Which was surprisingly not that racist.) They're working on the industry's growth, of course, but I want it now!

March 22, 2012

Overheard in the UAE

Today, I overheard a student saying to her teacher, "Miss, can I go ask the Miss?" (The Miss is a totally normal way to refer to a teacher here.)

The other day, I overheard someone tell a story that included the line, "Karim Shawi was dating Minyawi's sister." (The entire story was about these characters, whom I could not for the life of me keep straight.)

I overhear many things said in theoretically acceptable English that sound extremely strange to my American ears.

March 19, 2012

Western-friendly, I guess

My brother left yesterday. He said that he had a good time. He also said that this city is very "Western-friendly." I wouldn't disagree with that. I hope that he did learn a little bit about the world outside the west though. On his last night, we watched clips where Russel Peters talk about the Middle East and I don't think he would have fully appreciated the jokes if he hadn't been here.

March 11, 2012

Being sick in a foreign country

I have either a massive cold or super allergies. Either way it is massively super lame.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. My senior year of college I was sick for a solid 6 months. (Meaning it was most probably allergies.) The next year that it happened, I went into an intensive dietary fix. There are certain foods that allegedly cure seasonal or environmental allergies. (Including, but not limited to: pumpkin, squash, red onion, apples, spinach, carrots, pine nuts.) I ate them all, at every meal, and I was cured! Whether it was placebo effect or the allergies had run their course, I did it every year around the time I got my allergies and I never saw them again.

Here is what everyone here has told me to do: take medicine.

I hate medicine and much prefer to let my immune system do what it does best. And yet I find myself popping two Panadol each morning. Panadol is not a brand found in America, so that in itself is foreign. Plus I used to avoid all medicines of that pain-relief type; I was staunchly against symptom-medication. But here, no problem, hand me the drugs. I'm also taking a generic antihistamine that may or may not be doing anything. And there's a tea for cold and flu, which contains a drug that I don't even bother to remember. I've also taken four different antibiotics in the past six months, although that's not related to this bout of illness.

Being sick in a foreign country makes me feel incapable of letting my body fix itself. It has enough to deal with to add on whatever actual diseases attack it, right? Right.

March 06, 2012

Russian hospitality

My brother is coming to visit me next week. Previous to this, the only time he left America was to visit Canada. He also currently lives next to a corn field. I'm very excited to show him the wonders of Abu Dhabi.

When I told my Russian roommates that my brother was coming to see me, they seemed very concerned with the idea of him staying in our apartment. "It's not illegal. He's my brother," I insisted before they could even attempt to pull the Tawajed clause card. (On my second day in the apartment, they had informed me that they would be sticking to the shariah law that states that it is illegal to have male guests step foot in the apartment. Lucky for me, there is a clear exception for relatives, such as my brother.)

Eventually, I gathered that their concern was that he might somehow happen to glimpse them in a towel during the half second walk from their bathroom to their rooms. I have no idea how I responded to that without laughing, but apparently I did.

"I guess it's ok..." they eventually acquiesced.

March 03, 2012

Let's give this another go

Earlier today, I watched a video that insinuated that Rick Santorum is gay and heartbroken, so he supports anti-gay marriage politics to express his frustrations with a lover who scorned him. It was ridiculous and obviously satirical and we've all seen a million of those types of videos. But in other countries, where politics and government are taken seriously, that video would be totally taboo. Nobody would ever make a video like that about anyone in the U.A.E., for example. But for Americans, that type of creative political expression is a basic human right and a very important part of free speech.

I deleted my last blog because my definition of free speech was too broad. Nothing was defamation, (by my American standards.) I didn't actually get in trouble for the blog, (as far as I know.) And everything I said was true, (from my perception.) But I need to be more sensitive to the country that I am allowed to live and work in. If there was any chance that anything was remotely defamatory or illegal or untrue, I am responsible for that. I need to be responsible for my words.

I'm still debating what that will mean. Anonymity is no longer under preservation. Perhaps that will be enough to keep me from blabbing away. I'm contemplating not talking about my boyfriend. But that would be strange since he consumes so much of my time. He also happens to be an Arab, thus our issues are often a wonderful microcosm of larger issues. I probably shouldn't talk about my job at all. Which is strange since it's the only reason I am in this country and (theoretically) the only reason I remain. Thus the two biggest things in my life are banned from the list of discussion topics. And what's left?

We shall see. I miss blogging though. So let's give it another go...