Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The New Blog

Well exactly 3 months since the last post!

Yes, we are all still alive and well!!!!

With just over a week until the summer break is over I am finally going to get the new UAE blog up and running (it keeps on slipping down the list list of things to do - procrastination is a great trait). Obviously lots of photos to share and posts to complete, and I will try to keep it all as short as I can and backdate them for the past 4 months where possible.

Watch this spot -

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Has been a bit too quiet don't you think?

Hi all,
Just to let you know we are alive and well. I have been busy getting used to the new job, city, country... and K & A have been busy getting through the remains of the last job, city and country. As of this Thursday night we will all be back together again to start the Middle Eastern experience Part 2.

Can tell you the new location is rather nice and already settling in to the job quite well... rather different than what I am used to but has many positives that make the days pass without too many dramas. I have actually been here for a month already and there are many things here that are different and that includes what we have been used to in Qatar.

Obviously we have quite a bit to share and other bits and pieces of news. Maybe I can start getting K to post next week while I am at work, but I have a feeling she will be busy recovering from the past 10 months!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Not in Kansas anymore Toto!

Well not only are we not in Kansas, but we sure aren't in Qatar either! What a contrast.

Anyway just thought I would upload a couple of photos to let you all know we are still alive and kicking. This is our 5th night in Al Ain and we are doing ok... although a bit tired and worn out. It is not an easy life staying in the Intercontinental Hotel trying to get some furniture for our new home before I actually have to start living there.

Al Ain is as green as we were told... and it is far more peaceful than Doha. It really does have a nice atmosphere about it. I have already been to the college a couple of times, sat in on some classes and met some of my future students. I have also already finished my Residence Permit process, which should come through next week sometime (VERY quick).

What to say about Al Ain! The scenery is different... the people are different... and there are A LOT of date palms... everywhere! The added bonus is Oman is just out the window (well from the hotel anyway) and we are really looking forward to exploring when K and A come back for good. They are flying back on Saturday... and no one is looking forward to that!

I suppose one of the major surprises for me anyway is just how big our new home actually is! It just makes our place in Doha look like a shoe box! Actually make that a shoe box that has been left out in the rain for a month! Added to the size of the place is the fact it is right behind the biggest mall in Al Ain... anyway no doubt we will have much more to say about the 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, the far too many doors and lights, as well as the funny little maid's quarters in the future!
We will get around to telling all, but for now we are pretty sure that the Qatar and UAE experiences will be worlds apart! So that should make for interesting reading hopefully.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Impending Travels

Well it is under a week until we head over to the UAE. We are all going over on Sunday, but unfortunately K and A will have to return the following Saturday until a replacement actually takes over from her at work, or her notice period is up (whichever comes first). I am very happy they are coming over with me, but just really wish they didn’t have to come back!

As well as being flown over to Abu Dhabi, collected from the airport and driven out to Al Ain, we are also put up in a hotel for the first 6 nights and provided a “meal allowance”. During this first week I will be taken through the Residents Permit process along with the whole settling in thing. As accommodation is more or less provided as a shell, it is up to us to go around and purchase the furnishings and electrical stuff during this first week to make it habitable. This is all done with the “relocation allowance” provided… will be nice to go on a shopping spree at someone else’s expense! After that first 6 days is up I have just over a week to prepare for the 4 courses I am taking over… SCARY!

I must say I have been impressed by HCT thus far (I know… I am not even there yet). Everything has just seemed far more organised and professional than what we experience here. Right from the time I was contacted last December when I couldn’t make it over for an interview to now, a week before departure, it has been a good experience.

Although the initial offer they made was good, I wasn’t overjoyed with my starting salary. I was informed last week that my monthly salary has already been increased two pay increments… and you have to be happy with a substantial pay rise before you even start work! At the most I know I will be working as hard as K does here, and for the higher salary, better living conditions, and environment/lifestyle we are hoping Al Ain provides, I can handle that. Even the flexibility of HCT with my start date has been good. Originally my offer was for commencement on March 11th and I really didn’t think I would be able to make it over until the beginning of the 2007/2008 academic year in August. With not much negotiation at all, we worked out a mid-semester starting date that tied in perfectly with the term break at school here in Doha. I am sure my future colleagues will be happy to pass over their increased teaching load to me when I arrive!

I don't know if I am feeling stress or excitment yet, but I am looking forward to experiencing the Emirates and actually working (... as I am sure K is). It will be good to have some sort of routine as it is far too easy fall into a rountine of not doing very much at all (but I have discovered Civilization IV can easily kill numerous hours here and there)! I think the last 7 months has made me dumb down a bit, although the Qatar experience has been very worthwhile I am pretty sure work would have made it better.

Anyway fingers crossed everything goes smoothly, and in the not too distant future there is going to be a whole other experience to share with you all! I will be starting up a UAE blog and then when we are all over in the UAE we will just leave this one as it is, but link back and forth between them. I am sure we have several thoughts and things we will want to say once removed from this environment, but that is in the future.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cruising the ‘burbs

Language is a funny thing, and translation is never as easy as it first looks. With direct translation from one language into another there are so many aspects of meaning that can be lost. The names of the suburbs (zones or whatever you actually want to refer to them as here) are a good example. As you drive around you may go through Father Fish, New Salad or Old Salad among others (these are just the ones that come to mind). Of course these are direct translations of the words and more than likely have very little to do with the meaning of the place name … this makes me wonder how strange something like New Farm or Slade Point might sound when translating those words directly rather than the actual name.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Zig Zag Towers getting more zig-zaggy

Came home the long way to check out the progress on the Zig Zag Towers today. Can’t work out if they look impressive or just strange as yet!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


"But Ma! Do we have to move up to the top floor????"
OK... it was funny in my head for a split second! To be honest I think they are knocking it down, but around here who knows!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Parties and such…

"A" was invited to a party a Jungle Zone the other day (indoor amusement centre at Hyatt Plaza). So for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon we entered a weird little alternative reality. The reason I say this is because it was the Birthday party you have when you are not having a Birthday party (a bit like Claytons for anyone out there that remembers that).

It gets a little confusing, but it was a Birthday party for a brother and sister, but it was neither of their Birthdays. We sang Happy Birthday several times, there were party games, and there was a huge cake… but the fact is the children spent a reasonable amount of time looking a little confused by the whole proceedings (probably because they had already had their respective Birthday parties in another time and space!

The best part was the “entertainment”, although I do use the term lightly. I am sure it has been said that one mans entertainment is another mans purgatory! As "K" has stated to various people, it resembled some weird and seedy Philippino nightclub. Proceedings began with someone in a lion suit (the Jungle Zone mascot so to speak) dancing with the children to very bad and very loud dance music (actually the same irritating song about 4 or 5 times). Next was a juggler who really was a cocktail waiter, and his act resembled the movie Cocktail complete with cocktail shakers and pretend bottles of Champagne. The “cocktail waiter” was followed by another juggler who I think was a circus performer in a previous life; he insisted on doing handstands, flips and summersaults between each bought of juggling prowess (he was actually quite good). His act was complete with a performing midget (I suppose I am suppose to say “little person” to be politically correct) who as you would imagine was the comic-relief sidekick (‘tis all a little sad if you ask me). Next was the magician who kept making one or two pigeons (I believe I counted 2, but then again I possibly was so amazed I wasn’t paying close enough attention) appear/disappear and lighting stuff on fire and turning fire into other stuff. I think he bought a good magic kit and is getting better at using it with every performance. The magician was also the DJ so by this point I was more than hoping he would make both himself and the sound system disappear!

Finally the female MC took over proceedings to host a couple of children’s games. One made sense as two kids were made to run up and down and fill a bucket with balls… simple! The next lead to a large amount of confusion as it consisted of children having to form groups of a given number on the MC’s command. Over half the kids sort of stood there and were “helped” into groups by the “cocktail waiter”, “juggler” and “bat painter”. I haven’t mentioned the “bat painter” yet, but the face painter did a little bat on the boy’s cheeks… I also think he was the guy dancing around in the lion suit earlier! Finally was a dancing competition… firstly the girls who seemed to be trying to dance and then the boys who followed each others lead and ended up standing facing the crowd of nannies (and some parents) clapping nearly in time with the music.

After all this excitement things slowed down a little with the appearance of CAKE (the big one), more renditions of Happy Birthday, Burger King for the kids, pieces of cake for all, the handing out of the gift bags, and the my favourite part… the disappearance of the sound system as everything was shuffled into the next party room ready for another “performance”; another term I use lightly!
As a side note the best part of the afternoon was seeing a woman in the full black Abaya and veil come down the flume ride alone and get wet… not because she got wet, but it looked like she was having a lot of fun… I think we did too, but our fun was far more obscure…

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Kittens Arrive…

Must be that time of the year as various cats have been getting a little on the big size lately. We have been trying to keep all the cats outside and cutting down on their food leading up to our move, but on Friday night “Kitten” snuck into a box inside the house and had 3 rather cute little furry friends… We did well to keep Big Moza outside but she ended up having hers under one of our hedges! Who knows how many other kittens are around at the moment in and under things around the compound, but most of the cats are looking a little smaller than a week ago!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wind Storm

Had the weirdest storm last night… bit of thunder, bit of lightning, and bit of rain… and for a little while HUGE winds! We awoke to various bits of roof in our and the next-door neighbours back yards! We think it has come over the back fence, but could really have come from anywhere… no one has come looking for his or her roof yet!