Monday, May 2, 2011

Observations - day 107

Seemed like a good day for a few more observations ...

Forget that electric toothbrush as there are no outlets in any of the bathrooms. I didn't even notice this until we moved in, although I had experienced the same thing in our temp hotel, but thought it was just a quirk of the hotel. Nope, no outlets in any bathrooms. Rumor has it it's a building code/regulation and that I won't ever find an outlet in any bathroom. I'm also told that's a very good thing given the quality (meaning lack there of) of electrical workmanship here. Faulty wiring and running water do seem like two things to keep far away from each other. :)

On a related note, I read a chat room post that said this woman had called in an electrician to install an outlet so she could plug in her washer/dryer unit. Apparently, the wiring was there, but not an actual outlet. She assumed the electrician would instal an outlet and then plug in the unit. It seems she hasn't lived in UAE long enough to have learned the lesson not to assume anything. The electrician proceeded to cut off the plug on the washer/dryer unit, strip the wires, connect them to the wires coming out of the wall and wrap the whole mess up in electrical tape! (note to self - never hire an electrician)

Speaking of bathrooms and actually kitchens for that matter. Here in UAE, they all have drains in the floors. All floors here are tile and get washed quite frequently, so our best guess is that these drains allow the maids to really wash down the bathroom without worrying about having any standing water on the floors - everything just drains down as they clean. I've been using a damp mop myself so can't speak to the value of these drains. And, our apartment has nice metal covers on them so no creepy crawlies use them as an entrance into the place.

And one more note about bathrooms this time the public kind. First restrooms are much more hidden than in the states. They are discreetly tucked away down long hallways or in very back corners of the malls and sometimes tricky to locate. Nice for the esthetics, but a pain when you really have to go! Also, you almost always find a women in the restroom cleaning up after everyone ... and I mean everyone. After EACH person uses the stall, the woman goes in, hoses down the place (remember those drains? - yep, in here too), squeegees the floor and then lets you in. Luckily, I've never really had to wait, but it does make me wonder if the process is different if there's a long line waiting. And when I say she hoses down the bathroom, I'm not joking. All bathrooms have a small hose and sprayer nozzle right next to the toilet bowl - usually on the opposite side of the toilet paper roll (all bathrooms have this here). My only guess is that it's for the folks who like to be a little cleaner than toilet paper gets you. ;)

And speaking of waste composting would be a really good idea here if I had a place to put it after collection as there are no garbage disposals in the kitchens. I've even looked in some of the appliance stores just to see if they exist, but can't find any. So, I don't think it's just that our apartment doesn't have one, I don't think this invention has made it all the way to Abu Dhabi yet. Not such a bad thing except that the drains are pretty open here so they aren't catching a lot of the smaller food particles - here's hoping our plumbing is in good shape!

So how will they keep the flowers growing when the temps go well over 110? I think I may have mentioned this before, but there are water irrigation systems everywhere you see any plants or trees. Small rubber tubing lines every garden area and delivers water through a drip irrigation system. We have this on our patio and the water comes on twice a day for about 30 minutes to keep everything moist. Even so, half of our impatiens are dying out - not sure if it's the sand, not enough water, the sun ... or the few cats in the neighborhood using our patio as a litter box! :)

Today's final observation is around coffee. I've mentioned before that it's difficult to find plain brewed decaf even when it's listed on their menu, as I found out today at Caribou Coffee. In addition, there is no 1/2 & 1/2 at the little coffee station like you'd find back home - in fact, there is no milk of any kind. To get milk in your coffee, you have to order a latte or cappuccino or ask for a small cold milk on the side and then add it yourself. A little more trouble than ordering a decaf with cream like I would at Victor Allen's.

So that's it for today except to answer a couple of questions that have come up from folks about past posts. (Please send any questions or comments to - I'd love to hear from you and answer any questions you have from what you've read!!)

How much was the speeding ticket?
300 dirhams each, which is about $81 USD if you paid them right away. If you wait, they double in price!

Do the speeding tickets affect your insurance rates like back home?
Not that we can tell, although we won't be sure on this one until we renew our insurance next year. Our insurance rate is actually a percentage of the cost of the car and the percentage is based on the class of car. For example, our car was something like 5% of our purchase price, but had we bought a newer model with a sports package, the percentage would have been higher. This leads us to think that your driving record has no bearing on your insurance costs, but time will tell.

Oh, and don't think this means you can drive like a crazy person and only get fined. They also have black points - like our system, but you "earn" points for bad behavior and after you accumulate a certain number your license is revoked. A few weeks ago, we heard about a man in Dubai who had received 150 driving citations in a 2 month period! His license was revoked FOR LIFE and his car was impounded. This man can never again drive legally in UAE ... EVER. Serves him right, I say!!

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