Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Observations - Day 9

Sports Page: The sports page on most days is filled with cricket, soccer, horseracing, tennis, golf and once in a while, there will be a small article in the middle about basketball. I haven't seen a single word about American football. Lucky we're not really sports fans! :)

Television: I know I'll have more on this subject when we need to set up service in our permanent housing, but in the hotel apartment, TV is just fine. There are about 4-5 channels in English and they offer a small selection of relatively current US TV programs (Ghost Whisperer, CSI: Miami, LV & NY, Scrubs, Private Practice, The Simpsons, Martha Stewart, Bones ...) There are also 2 movie channels with movies running all day - these are a bit older, but not too bad. The other channels are in Arabic. Radio is the same way - current pop stations in English and Arabic stations as well. And, I just found out we'll have American Idol starting Feb. 2nd. :)

Washing Clothes: Because space is at a premium in the big city, the washer and dryer unit is all-in-one, so if you can figure out the controls, you set it to wash your load and then dry it right after. The challenges with the unit in our apartment is that 1) I couldn't figure out the controls, and 2) each cycle takes 2-3 hours! Laundry becomes an all day affair! Here are some pics of the unit.
This is the whole unit - washes and then dries your clothes

The controls are all in pictures, which is great for a multi-language area except that I couldn't figure out what the pictures meant! About 3 loads later, I think I've got it (and I called the front desk for a manual) ! :)
Tipping: From what we have heard, you're not expected to tip much if at all. For taxi drivers, you simply round up to the next durim, which is sometimes only a few cents. At restaurants it's about 10% and other service people don't expect anything, so it's completely up to you.

Arabic Coffee ServiceIn many of the nicer establishments they offer an Arabic coffee service. The coffee is a very strong brew of coffee with a little cardamon spice in it and is served in very small china cups without handles. Sometimes you are offered coffee or you can just ask for some. The coffee server (always male from what I've seen) will pour your coffee and hand it to your right hand with his right hand. When he comes around again, if you want more, you hold the cup up and if you don't want more you wiggle it back and forth. It's also customary to serve the coffee with a sugared date or sometimes a small sweet cookie. The coffee is very strong and this isn't a situation where you can ask for decaf, cream or sugar. The sweet sugary date, however, cuts the bite of the coffee and it's actually quite good.

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