Thursday, June 2, 2011

Random Observations - day 139

The high for today is forecast to be 115 degrees with very high humidity ... and so Summer begins in the UAE. I've put off writing about the heat, and will for a bit longer yet as it still hasn't gotten 'really bad'. No use complaining until I really have something to complain about, right? :) So instead, here are a few more random observations about life in Abu Dhabi.

Heating, Cooling & Electricity: 
Things are set up a bit differently here than in the US. First off, each bathroom and the kitchen have a separate water heater, which you can turn on and off with a wall switch. Kind of nice, actually. I have the spare bathroom water heater turned off because we rarely use it and I'll be able to turn them all off when we are on vacation. There are also on/off switches for EACH outlet in the apartment. Seems a little excessive to me, but I suppose if you had children it would be much appreciated. Finally, we have separate air conditioner systems for each room of the apartment, with separate controls. This is really nice too as we can keep one room cooler than another as needed.

We haven't actually been to the movies yet, not sure why, but what I've noticed from outside observation is that first there are a variety of US, European, Indian and Arab movies, so you get quite a mix to choose from. The challenge is that many movies are around for a very short period of time. Water for Elephants only showed for a week at one of the theaters in town. Not sure if that's based on how long the theatre signs up for the movie, or how well it does at the box office?? Most of the theaters are located in malls, but there are a few stand alone theaters as well. Most show between 4-8 movies at a time. Tickets are about $7-10 and you can buy popcorn and all kinds of snacks just like in the states. I'll have to report on the inside experience once we finally get to a movie.

Censorship on TV:
Speaking of entertainment, I just have to share this funny story about censored TV. We've gotten used to the censoring and it's really not that big of a deal. I'm sure there are many shows or movies that aren't shown at all in UAE due to content, but the only one I've heard of so far is Black Swan. Occasionally, you'll see an entire scene cut from a movie due to nudity or drug use, but they don't censor language too much. And that's what made me chuckle over this experience. I've become a HUGE fan of Masterchef Australia, which is a reality TV show where amateur chefs cook dishes each week, get judged and then someone is sent home. This week was the finals for the 2010 season and it was down to Alan and Callum. For his signature dish, Alan decided to do a medley of pork belly dishes.  As you may know, pork is strictly forbidden in Islam so Muslims won't go near it. Well, apparently, they can't even hear the word pork because it was censored out of the program. At first I couldn't figure out what was going on. It almost sounded like Alan was stuttering or something (the censoring is simply silence, no beeps or anything, the word is just edited out). "today, I'm going to made a medley of ... belly. My first ... dish will have braised ... belly with a " Once I finally figured out what was going on, I laughed out loud.

Working Rules in the Heat:
Abu Dhabi has a lot of laborers who work outside year round. The construction projects alone probably employ half the residents of AD. In an effort to make things at least a little more humane for these poor workers, the government has an ordinance that from June 15 until September 15, all workers who spend the majority of their workday outside must have a 12:30 - 3:00pm break, have access to air conditioning, and plenty of water available. Companies who don't comply with these regulations face huge fines. 

Rugrats & Ankle Biters:
At first I thought it was just me, but I've heard others agree that the kids in UAE behave like monsters. A few months ago we were in Carrefour, which is one of the hypermarkets where we do our grocery shopping. The market is two floors with most of the food on the first floor and household items, appliances, etc on the second. While shopping on the first floor, we noticed a man with a kids' bike that he must have got from upstairs. I turned to Brian and said, I'm surprised some evil child isn't riding that around the store. A few minutes later we headed upstairs and there were THREE kids riding bikes around the store!!! And that's just one example. Every time we're out on the weekend in a mall or the hypermarket, kids are running, screaming, chasing each other, yelling, you name it around the store. And where are the parents? Calming shopping away, oblivious to the havoc their children are creating for the rest of us.  I was driving downtown a few weeks ago and was stopped at a light behind a school bus. The kids were running around, jumping up and down and a few had their heads and arms out the windows. All I could think was "that poor driver".

And I know what you're all thinking ... 'just one more reason Renee doesn't have kids' ... and you're right! :)

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