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Month: March, 2013

28/03/2013 – Day 54

In a few days I will own a visa, not a visitor visa, but an actual visa that allows me to stay in Dubai! I had to go for some medical tests, when they clear my visa will be issued. For the tests I went to Zayed University with Mum, I joined some of the staff members of ZU and the university’s staff drove us to get blood samples for the tests and for ID photos. I was unaware of the photo part and I didn’t get to pull myself together before the camera clicked.

Today I lost my wallet! I paid for oats at Zoom, walked home and in the lobby I realised I didn’t have it with me. I walked back to Zoom, but they hadn’t seen it. Luckily there was little money in it and only my metro card is of value here. The bank card in it link to empty bank accounts in SA. Well, now I have a good excuse to get a new, pretty wallet.

When I got home I intended to bake rusks. I opened the cupboard to get everything I needed and found a leak on the bottom shelf. Down in the lobby I filled out a form and came home to wait for the workers.

My morning in the souqs paid off well and I am now the proud owner of a homemade duvet cover. It’s really nice to be able to go and explore places like the souqs. Sometimes when I look out my window it seems that I’m looking at an oil painting, but then just as in Narnia book 6 I get to step into the painting and have some wonderful adventures in it.

I’m currently busy with like spiritual cleansing. I’m listening to the New Testament on my mp3 and working through some old conference stuff. It’s kind of fun actually. I go to the beach or the park and just take like 2hours and soak. I’m also trying to fast from some things. The people around me might have another god, but they have a much better sense of honouring him than I sometimes do…

Spring break is starting today. A two week holiday for my mum, maybe we’ll go on holiday, but we do live in a tourist destination, so… After Spring Break I might enrol for a short course, something that I’ll work on 2 days a week. I’m fortunate enough to say “I’m tired” and have some chance of rest at the moment, I don’t want to waste that or trade it in for “studying”, but I do want to do something.

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22/03/2013 – Day 48

As I type the date I realize its been a month since my birthday and, like Bilbo Baggins, I forgot about it on the day. The days all seem rolled up into one and Dubai doesn’t feel entirely real. I look up sometimes and it feels like I’m on holiday, renting a hotel apartment for. Some mornings when I wake up it takes a few seconds to remember I’m not “home”.

What is a “big” moment? Is it when you stand at the top of the Burj Kalifah or is it when you stumble into a tiny restaurant that sells coffee and samosas for AED2 each? What defines a moment? I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

I still don’t have a duvet cover, and when I looked at the prices in store I decided to pick up a needle and some thread it’s time to have some fun! I’m making my own duvet cover and if it doesn’t work THEN I’ll hit the mall and buy a ridiculously expensive duvet cover… So I went to the textile souq for material.

Wednesday morning came with the sun, I met a friend at the train station and we headed out in search of the textile souq. It was fantastic to giggle with somebody when getting lost. I hope me and this girl get to know each other better. Friendship can be forged without words and need non. We found the textile souq, a sea of material and colours. Tiny ally ways and old buildings. Workers sitting with a cigarette waiting for the labour of the day to find them. It’s a place where you can’t get lost. Around every corner is another shop, if you go right or left it doesn’t matter you always find something, but you’re bound to lose your way, don’t try to hold on to it. I bought some material and we went in search of a place to find a drink. We where standing outside a small place with a sign saying Restaurant wondering whether we should go in when the owner and some of the people in the street told us “Come in” “It’s OK to go in”, etc. After leaving we turned around to see a man running to us “miss! Miss! Miss!” I finally looked around “you forgot your bags”. My newly bought material had been left behind. I enjoyed my day, but I don’t think my friend or my face knew it, I got so caught up in the where and what to enjoy it.

The Arab people eat a lot of their food with pita next to it. They’ll order a salad and have some pita next to it. Then it seems there’s an option of eating the salad and pita separately, or you can take the pita and either use it as a spoon or use it to grab the food with and eat it all together.

I started working on my duvet cover today and realized that I had bought to little material. I love the idea of going back the the textile souq, but for the time being I just went to the famous supermarket down the road and bought a sheet with some flowery patterns on it. So one side will be my morning in the souq and the other will be MY supermarket memory.

My ears are getting use to the strange names, like Etisalat, Asam, Ahmed, Saed, Helas. These are all names of people and places that when I first heard them they sounded strange and “wrong”, but now they’re the names of my friends.

It seems that in Dubai they aren’t very good with thinking of new names. There’s Jumeirah, it’s like a suburb, but it carries on for miles and miles, so they made it into jumeirah 1, jumeirah 2, it goes up to Jumeirah 7 and then there’s JBR (Jumeirah beach residence). There’s Jebel Ali, when you go to the end of the metro it stops in Jebel Ali Free zone with is businesses and factories. Then there’s jebel ali gardens and jebel ali village. It’s like once they get hold of a name they over use it!

I have some sewing waiting for me and I’m enjoying One Tree Hill immensely. No idea what I’m doing tomorrow, but on Sunday I’m starting a new Bible study thing. I’m thinking of going to the beach with my bible and just zoning out there with some worship music in my ears.

17/03/2013 – Day 43

As I get settled in (now owning 2sets of sheets and a trashcan) there seems to be less and less I want to record daily. I only want to blog about the big things. The interesting little things, but not about the day to day living here. I guess I’ll someday write one post on “A day in my Dubai life” maybe I’ll do that tomorrow, but after that I’m only blogging about a ton of small, yet exotic moments or the big moments.

Note: I went to the Dubai Mall today and for the first time I didn’t get completely lost! Big improvement, since any time I go out I seem to lose not only my direction, but myself.

The women here are extremely protected. In the metro and on the bus there is a separate cabin for woman and children to ride in. In Bloem I heard about this and scoffed, “Why was that even necessary?” It’s strange to see how quickly it is to adapt. I almost always ride in the woman cabin, but today I got on the bus and sat next to a man, the strangest thing is that I noticed it and it felt different than what I was use to. There’s something nice of sometimes having some privacy and not always being between guys. I can’t explain exactly why though.

There are also Pink Taxis. The drivers are woman and you can order them special if you are a lady who doesn’t want to even be in the same car as a man. The Muslim woman are so protected in this way. They don’t shake hands with men, they don’t ride with them. Eye contact between a girl and a guy isn’t really allowed; I heard that it could mean you’re slutty! If you start putting up boundaries, not walls, but boundaries this early, with a handshake, doesn’t it help stop other things?

The girls here are all so well groomed and taken care of. I haven’t seen a fat person yet. Some people are big, some are chubby, but none are fat. The idea of casual dressing here is what I use to think semi-formal is, the security guard wears a suit with a coat and tie… It makes me want to take better care of myself; you don’t feel pretty if you’re the one without a pedicure whilst everybody else is perfected from head to toe.

The strange thing is that among all these well groomed people there are some manners that I was brought up to think is rude. Mum and I went out to a fancy Italian restaurant and there were two men sitting at a table, eating with their mouths open, elbows on the table, waving cutlery while talking… Men who had the money to eat there. You see girls with perfect lipstick yawn without putting their hands in front of their mouth, to me that’s rude, I mean they took all the time to look nice, and then they do that? Oh, and people, especially the men, walk down the street and just spit, so when you walk on the side walk there are there little blobs of slime just lying there!

The strange thing is that everything is so clean, so safe, so well taken care of, but manners that I think are rude are accepted by the country and I am merely a visitor.

12/03/2013 – Day 38

I’m actually cold! The windows of our apartment are double glazed and from outside they appear dark, so they don’t let in the heat from the sun. In the summer this will be fantastic, but currently it results in me looking at the Weather Channel and getting dressed for a day of 35C outside and then spending my time under a blanket at home since I’m cold. I live in long jeans and T-shirts with shawls, the air-con is always a little cold in the malls and then a light shawl helps. I think it’s based upon the clothes of the Muslim girls; the long black Abayas are probably warmer than my clothes, since they cover you from head to toe.

Yesterday in the metro I didn’t have my shawl with me and I got goose bumps from the cold. It’s really strange being in a place where the temperature outside doesn’t have that big an impact on the clothes I wear indoors. I went to the mall with flip-flops and my feet where icy when I left, so now I’m looking to buy new tekkies…

So yesterday I rode with the metro till the last station, Rashidiya, to hand in my Emirates ID application. I’ve already been approved to stay in the country, but the final paperwork just needs to be finished. I spent almost an hour waiting to be helped, but I had my headphones in so I was happy. I’m currently listening to Lord of the Rings audio book and as the stations flit by Frodo and Sam carry on with their journey, while waiting for my turn at the counter Pippen rides with Gandalf and then when I get back on the metro the nazgul is slaughtered, so I’m not bored. Next week I’ll be starting on Huck Finn and I’m really looking forward to it. Audio books and teachings are a blessing to me with all the hours spent on travelling and walking I love that I can still create my own bubble.

I finally found a nice trash can for the kitchen. This meant that the pretty trash can I had bought for my room but placed in the kitchen could at long last come to its true home. I have now discarded the duvet box which had been my trash can till now. I also bought a new dish rack. In my first days of shopping for our apartment I bought a drip rack in the form of a butterfly, you could stack the plates along the middle (the body) and place the cups and glasses on the sides (the wings), it was an annoying little thing that didn’t bring joy to work with and that has now been replaced and discarded. I found a steel one that is much nicer. I dragged the new trash can and drip rack home at 10pm yesterday and it was quite a mission, the streets where filled with people and I was carrying two rather bulky bags.

I went to art class and it was a total bust! I was so disappointed, but I truly didn’t enjoy that class. I love doing art and enjoy painting immensely, but not Sunday. I paid for 3weeks when I walked in on Sunday morning and 3hours later ran back to the desk for a refund on the next two weeks. The silver lining is that I now own decent brushes and a few sheets of really nice paper, so now I just need to make time, sit down and zone out with colours at home.

Oh, the wind blows! When you walk down the street you’re completely fine until you pass a gap where there are no buildings on your one side, then you feel the wind blowing very strong. Some evenings, when the wind is really strong, it carries desert sand and all the people walking in the streets just try to cover their faces, cause it hurts and feels like a slap in the face when it hits you. If you have wet hair just walk out, within 5min the wind will have blow-dried it or the sun will have heated it, or maybe a combo.

07/03/2013 – Day 33

Moving here is like going through a break-up and already being with a new guy. I miss home and my friends very much, but at the same time I’m falling in love with this city and its culture.

I’ve located a park very close to our home. It’s been a month since I’ve last walked on grass! I found the park and nothing green had ever looked so beautiful. I took off my shoes and strolled around. Yesterday morning I went back, but at 11:30am it’s very warm, even in the shade it’s too warm to be outside. It was only 34C, but the air here is humid, so the heat seems to cling to your body and when I got home I saw that my nose had started peeling from only an hour in the sun! The park stays open till 11pm, so I think I’ll hang out there in the evenings.

There’s a surrealism here – having a lush green park in the middle of the desert is so abnormal, though in Dubai it seems suited and not at all unexpected.

I live just minutes from the biggest mall in the world, the highest building in the world and a well known park; we might not have been able to pick our apartment or location, but we did pray and this place is perfect.

I can’t believe another week has come and gone. I tried installing Skype, but it’s a blocked site here in Dubai! I’m trying to find a substitute for Skype or to get around the governmental block on the site, but I don’t know if it’s possible.

Art classes start on Sunday! I’m going to take up painting; I’m really excited having a place where I can live out some creativity and work with colours will be fantastic. I really hope I make some friends in the class.

I also have to report that the prayer call in the morning has no exact time, it’s before sunrise… But then also very luckily I have started sleeping through it and so it no longer matters what time it starts.

I’m learning that just because I could stay out till, well, any time, doesn’t mean I should. The city doesn’t sleep, but that only mean I need stronger boundaries to live in it. I could stay out all night, I could eat take-away food all day, I could have desert with every meal, but I shouldn’t, at least not every day. I also want to embrace the fact that I now live in a big city. A city that people from all over the world travel to see is the place that I call home.

05/03/2013 – Day 31

I enjoyed Life Group last night, got home at 11:15pm and the whole city around me was still awake. In Bloem I didn’t go for a walk after sunset, because it was too quiet and dodgy! I think for now I’ll commit myself to this Life Group, they have a nice vibe and everybody is very friendly. Nancy’s message seemed to be just for me and it felt like God was speaking directly to me through her.

I took a taxi to life group, now the people here have very interesting driving skills. They love speed and I pray for a safe taxi every time. Mum made contact with a taxi driver and now whenever she wants to go somewhere she calls him in advance and he picks her up, but he only works in the morning. So last night I had his friend, Helas’s number and organised that Helas would pick me up and drive me. It’s nice to have somebody who you build a tiny relationship with and who you know drives safely.

Curtains have been ordered! Ahmed will install them tomorrow and so tomorrow night will be the first night of decent, deep sleep. The curtains are a lovely dark brown colour and our walls are white, so it’ll look quite pretty and also the cupboards and doors are dark brown so it fits right in.

Central Park in New York suddenly makes so much sense. Living in an apartment and having a place outside with grass and trees and birds is something I’m starting to crave. I always marvelled at Central Park and the way the people of NY seem to be so fond of it, I mean that whole park stays clean because of volunteer workers… Now it makes much more sense! I haven’t been on grass or next to a tree since I’ve arrived here. Apparently there are some parks near my home, I just need to find them. Maybe later today I’ll venture out to do that.

Ordinary things seem difficult to do. I bought headphones yesterday, but they’re not what I want so I have to return them. This seems like a mission to me, I’m usually confident and exchanging something is easy but currently organising something on the phone is hard. I’m not sure of my language and if the people around me understand me correctly. In a couple of months things will be easier I hope. It’s good to have some acquaintances at last.

04/03/2013 – Day 30

Life here has begun to have a routine. I gym at 6am and by 9am I’m ready to leave the house and the dishes are washed. Today I went yet again to an art school, if I join this school my classes will start on Sunday. The picking process is taking longer than I ever intended!

I walked to the supermarket the other evening. It felt strange to be out in the streets at 8pm, feeling safe and not being alone. I passed by a restaurant and there where two TV screens with volume turned up quite a bit screening Cricket, I’m use to it being rugby, but here cricket is the local sport. As always the restaurant was packed with men watching the game, but the place is located in an ally and on the side walk the workers sat, tired from the days work, but completely caught up in the game.

Seeing men wear what I always called “dresses” no longer looks strange or unknown. I’ve grown accustom to seeing men with white “dresses” and sandals pass me by. Only seeing the faces of the women around me is also something that I no longer realize is different. The different head scarves amaze me. The way the woman wear them varies so much. Some are colourful, some are black, some are tight others aren’t.

I have a coffee date with a french speaking girl, let’s hope she’ll be a decent friend! And tonight I’m meeting with a Life Group to see if I like them and if they like me. Having a new Christian spiritual family away from home is becoming very necessary.

03/03/2013 – Day 29

I baked today, for the first time. The rusks turned out, well, some are entirely horrible and inedible but others are delicious! I used new ingredients that I didn’t know and it seems the baking powder didn’t exactly spread equally.

My body is so exhausted just from being here. I’m starting to learn that doing ONE thing everyday is enough. Things take more time then you can ever imagine, for example today I wanted to gym, bake and sign up for art classes. Back home this would have been achieved in a day, but there I know where everything is and how long it takes to get somewhere! I spent 35min on the metro and 10min on a bus to get to the art classes and when I got there I realised that this wasn’t the place for me. I think it must be a great art school with really good classes, but I just didn’t get that nice, relaxed vibe when I’m comfy with a place.

On my way back the metro was so full, that by the time I was in the middle of the cabin the doors closed and I squeezed through the other half at the next station to get off. I’m listening to Lord of the Rings audio book and like a good hobbit I had to do something to feel better after the 90min of searching and riding so I had a doughnut *hehe*

The foreign-ness is fading quickly and already I’m overlooking things that use to be interesting.