boring brown

I've had my indoctrination

Despite there being not one, not two, but three screaming children, all in the same family!! and despite the 15 hour flight, I managed pretty comfortably. One lucky break was that there was no one in the seat next to me so I got to spread out. I managed to sleep for a good portion of the trip.

The plane was a 777-300ER. Fairly new, I think. Something I had not seen before, this being my first overseas flight, was that the cabin lights went down slowly, in tandem with the setting of the sun, and then little pin hole lights appeared in the ceiling, making it look like a starry sky. I thought it was clever.

Another lucky break was that my boss was in the States at the time of my departure and so we flew back together. This saved me a lot of hassle and uncertainty when I arrived at Dubai International.

One thing I wanted to do was have a phone as soon as possible and he pointed me to an Etisalat kiosk in the airport where I bought a sim card. My visa was waiting for me when I arrived. At customs I sent my bag through a scanner at the end of which sat three military types, one with four stripes, one with three stripes, one with two, all sprawled in metal folding chairs. They had some poor schlub with his suitcase open, it's contents, including a prayer rug, spread all over. I stood behind him, my bag at the end of the rolling track until, finally, two stripes said, in a bored yet somhow menacing voice, "You can go."

My boss had already picked up my checked bags from the conveyor when I arrived in baggage claim and so it was into a cab and away to Abu Dhabi.

An hour and a half, and about $80, later, we arrived at the hotel where my company is putting me up. My coworker, with whom I had worked at my previous job, and with whom I am working again, met us at the hotel and gave me some orientation materials to read. After that it was up to my room to rest because my HR office had already scheduled me to come back to their Dubai location to fill out initial paperwork the next morning.

In the morning I jumped into a cab and rode back to Dubai. I arrived 15 minutes early for my 10 am appointment, wearing a suit. I think I made a good impression. Then it was to a mall to buy supplies, including adapters specifically for my MacBook and iPad. I already had general purpose power adapters. I also bought a phone, sacrificing value for convenience.

Now fully communicative again (having data in your pocket is like crack, I tell you!) I learned that my work laptop was ready for pickup so it was back to the office park where I shoved a tiny little Lenovo into my already stuffed computer bag. I had planned to sight-see, perhaps riding up to the top of the Burj Khalifa. But by now I was hot and tired. It was only about 107 degrees outside. So I took another cab back to Abu Dhabi and stayed in my room the rest of the afternoon, configuring phone and computer.

The next day, jet lag caught up to me and I slept right through the night and on until 4 pm the next afternoon. I was annoyed at having lost a day of exploring, but I took my boss's advice and went down the street to the Automatic Restaurant for dinner. Staffed by Arabs, with presumably Arabic style food, kabbabs and the like, and also patronized mostly by Arabic and Filipino men. I was the only Westerner in the place, and I think I got the stink-eye once or twice, but I enjoyed myself nevertheless. I pointed at a dish on the menu. I don't think I got what I ordered, but I enjoyed my meal anyway. Slices of meat and some pickled vegetables, olives, and mildly hot peppers. The waiters wore black vests with the restaurant logo on the breast, and a maitre d' of sorts circled around in a shiny grey suit, like a shark in a fluorescent lit aquarium.

Automatic Restaurant</a>

I walked to a nearby grocery to pick up laundry detergent, shampoo, cereal & milk for breakfast, and to reload my already expired pre-paid phone sim card. One thing I've noticed about all the businesses I've patronized so far is that they all over-staff. Scads of people working in every shop and restaurant. Pakistanis and other nationalities laboring in the streets, Filipinos in every shop and restaurant, Indians driving cabs, and so forth. Everyone speaks English with varying degrees of fluency and everyone I've met, so far, has been very polite.

Emirates Grocery

Hamdan St.

Despite the fact that I was up most of the night with jet lag, I set my alarm and got up this morning to see a bit more of Abu Dhabi. My boss recommended a restaurant called Shakespeare & Co, near the end of the Corniche, in the Central Market on the west side of town. The decor was interesting. The food, average. The clientèle, a mixed bag. Italians next to me, English down the way, Emirates here and there. I relaxed and read the paper over tea.

New Souk at Central Market

Shakespeare & Co

Shakespeare & Co

Breakfast finished, I walked down to the Corniche and out to the water. The sun was blazing and I was soon soaked through. Mad dogs and Englishmen. No one else was around which was a sure clue that I didn't need to be walking around in the daylight. Again the temperature hit 107.



Underpass to water side



I walked back into the city and hailed a cab. I went to another mall where I dried off while drinking tea in a Starbucks, followed by a Subway sandwich. Malls in the UAE are exactly like malls in the United States, including food courts with all the usual suspects.

Though it seems that credit cards are more and more readily accepted, I've been paying with cash. Of course, I still haven't set up a bank account here in the UAE. That will happen upon receipt of my first paycheck. A side benefit: I can now read the Eastern Arabic numerals for 0, 1, 2 and 5. Yes, they're different from your standard Arabic numerals.

Tomorrow is my first day of work on my new job. I'm told everyone wears suits. The dress code is Business. Good thing I bought some suits before I came out here. I'm eager to get started. I can only take so much sight-seeing.
Unfortunately it is not a dry heat. Because we're on the water, and because of all the irrigation that they do to keep the greenery alive, it's muggy as all get out.