Yesterday I woke up relatively late, about 8:30 a.m. and the first thing I did is look outside my bedroom windows. As has been the case every day since I arrived, I saw a cloudless sky. When I looked down to the street, I could not see anyone walking outside. There were a few cars driving by, but nobody on the sidewalks. I knew that it was already probably 35 degrees Celsius, and there is a perfectly good reason for people to say indoors, but it does drive me crazy to see all this beautiful weather without being able to take advantage of it.
I didn’t really have a plan for the day. I knew that Friday morning was a bit of a a write off in terms of getting out to do something. Since this is the holy day of the week, the metro wouldn’t open until 1:00 p.m. and the local shopping centre would close at noon for an hour for prayers. After breakfast I decided to get some groceries, and I headed towards the shopping centre. This is about a five minute walk, just across the street from the hotel and down about a half a block. I literally cannot cross the street without getting honked at. The drivers in Dubai, including everyone who have driven me, are not shy about using their horns to get other people’s and drivers’ attention. The first few times I heard the horns as I crossed the street, it seemed strange to me because there were not really any other cars around. After awhile, I realized that he honks were coming from taxi cabs. They saw me walking, and assumed that I wanted/needed a ride. In the trip to and from the store, heard a taxi cab horn at least five times.
I was much more prepared for shopping today. I knew the store layout better, and the routines. There were still a few things I needed to set up the apartment more comfortably. I needed clothespins, hangars, and some more cookware. The hotel supplied me with a small frying pan, a sauce pan, and a large pot with a lid; that is it. So far I have done all of my cooking in the small frying pan – I needed some more options. The local supermarket includes food, and some other aisles full of household items, but there were many fewer options than the Carrefour Ilham had driven us to in the Emirates Mall last Friday. I did manage to find clothespins though. I also found a large frying pan. I think I have found my first Dubai bargain. I had heard that some things here are much less expensive than at home. I really don’t know anything about good cookware, but the frying pan I bought is a 12 inch stainless steel pan made by Prestige. It has a very nice weight, and to me it looked like good quality. It cost me less than $20 Cdn. When I got home I tried to look up the price in Canada, but the best I could find is a set of four pots and one frying pan (http://www.sears.ca/catalog/prestige/12969-100002550) for $600.
After finishing my shopping, I tried to buy a SIM card for my cell phone at the booth outside the grocery store. The attendant told me that I needed to show my passport in order to buy a SIM card. I said I didn’t have my passport, and he asked me if I had any other ID. I told him I had my driver’s license from Canada, and showed it to him. He said he needed my passport. Currently the University of Waterloo staff have my passport to arrange my residence visa. I guess I won’t be able to get a SIM card until I get my passport back. I don’t understand the philosophy behind requiring the passport; I will ask someone about that later.
By 3:00 p.m. I was restless again, and really wanting to spend some time outside. I noticed a nice breeze in the morning when I walked to the supermarket. I had been longingly looking at the small park that was just down the street – currently completely abandoned. I thought that at least I could walk there and sit in the shade to read a book. After a five minute walk, I was at the park. It is quite small, I would say about the size of a couple of football fields. I did sit down on a bench in the shade, and the temperature was tolerable. However, I felt very conspicuous sitting there alone. As it turns out, the park was not completely empty. There was a woman who seemed to be setting up a concession stand who was in and out of a small building. There was a maintenance worker who was using a leaf blower to clean the park, and there was a security person wandering the grounds.
I can see why Dubai is considered such a safe city. From my experience, there are security people everywhere – the metro station, the mall, and the parks apparently. I decided to take a few pictures of the park. It is immaculate, with a cushioned track on the outside edge. As I wandered to take pictures, the security guard gave me a funny look. I asked him if it was ok for me to be there; I thought there was a chance that the park was actually closed during the heat of the day. He approached me and said it was fine. We had a ten minute conversation. His name is Isaac (although he said his real name was too hard for me to pronounce), and he is from Pakistan. He wanted to know where I was from and I told him. He said that his English wasn’t very good, but I told him I thought it was fine. I told him that I was working in Dubai for four months. He asked me if I had any children, and I told him no. He asked me if I was married and I told him no. He asked me why, and I didn’t really know how to answer that. He was very puzzled about the fact I wasn’t married; he kept asking me why. Then he said I must have a boyfriend at home, and I said no. That puzzled him even more. Finally I said I wanted to take some more pictures, and continued around the park.
One thing I noticed was the posted signs. There were rules for the park and for the adjacent basketball court. There also was a sign that stated the park was for residents only. Finally, there was a sign that was moveable that declared the park was available for women and children only. I know that some parks and beaches will set aside one day a week for women and children.
Not feeling comfortable sitting alone in the park to read, I decided to head back to the metro. I thought I might take a trip to the Gold Souk. When I got to the station, I found out that the new metro line was going to open the next day. It was going to be a better way to get to the Souk. I changed my mind and decided to head to the Emirates Mall. I still needed to get a couple of things I couldn’t get at the local grocery store. The trip was very easy; the metro station station is adjacent to the Emirates Mall. I also figured out a little more about how the fares work. You do have to swipe your card every time you get on and off a train or a bus, but the amount you are charged is calculated for your total trip. It actually makes sense. I think there is probably an assignment question or two based on the metro rates I can use in my computer science classes this term.
Let me say clearly, I HATE GOING TO THE MALL. Anyone who knows me, knows that. Now I had been to two malls in two days. The Emirates Mall was busy again, and I really hate going to the mall when it is busy. I decided to scout out Ski Dubai, so I crossed to the far end. I am not sure what I find more bizarre, the fact that there is an indoor ski hill built in the middle of the desert, or the fact that you can stand in the mall and look through windows to watch people skiing indoors. From what I could see, the hill itself is small and gentle. For my friends who have skied in Huntsville, I would describe it as about the same slope as 5th Avenue at Hidden Valley, but about half the length. I probably will go to ski it at some point and I will give a better description then.
After taking a couple of pictures of Ski Dubai and collecting a brochure, I headed towards the Carrefour supermarket. On my way I saw arrows to the cinema. With no better plans, I thought I might try to watch a movie. The signage and help in Emirates Mall was not as good as in the Dubai Mall. It took me longer to find the cinema than I expected. I decided to see “Crazy, Stupid, Love” which started in a half an hour. There was a pretty big crowd that was arranged (and I use that term loosely) in several lines. I stood in a line with about eight people in front of me. It took 20 minutes for me to get to the front of the line. There seemed be four choices for tickets prices, including a “gold level” that cost four times the regular ticket fee. I wasn’t given a choice when I got to the front of the line. I did, however, have to select my seat before purchasing the ticket. The seat number was printed on the ticket. Since I had not had dinner at it was almost 6:30, I needed to get popcorn and a drink. After another frustratingly long lineup to get food, I finally headed to the theatre. The way queuing is handled here is definitely frustrating. By the time I sat down to watch the movie, it felt like home, except for the Arabic subtitles. The movie was good, probably better than I expected, although predictable. The cast was excellent, although I personally think every movie could use more Kevin Bacon screen time.
After the movie I headed back to the Carrefour. I really wanted to get some hangars, and I had decided to get an electric grill. I waffled on that decision a bit, but I know that the purchase will make my life in the kitchen much easier. They did have a George Foreman grill, which is what I had used at home. However, I just threw out my grill at home because the Teflon finish was flaking. I thought I would try a different brand. I bought a Kenmore grill that seems to be a bit better in quality for about $50 Cdn. The Carrefour was very crowded, and it was hard to get around. I got the rest of my groceries and headed to the checkout. I know this happens at home too, but I had to smile at the family in front of me who had a cart that included a bunch of grapes and a large, flat screen television. After getting a bit turned around as I tried to leave the mall, I headed back to the metro station, and had an uneventful trip home.