Thursday, July 19, 2007

Follow up to rant

Okay, okay, after all my grousing in the last post, I feel inclined to mention the multiple things about the place that are both fascinating and wonderful. Some of these things are the exact same things I was complaining about earlier today.

Bur first, let's begin with a confession, shall we? Today I fear I became the very same "ugly American" that I have always loathed the many times I have observed them in their native habitat, the foreign country. It all started with some laundry that was supposed to have been done in the morning. This morning. Long story short, it was not ready when I went to pick it up at noon today. The clerk told me in very poor, virtually nonexistent English that it would not be ready until tomorrow evening. I am supposed to be on an airplane to Oman tomorrow evening, and the thought of spending any more time than absolutely necessary in Sharjah was actually physically painful. So we went back and forth, which is never good between 2 people who literally do not speak one another's language. I yelled, I cursed, I cried, and eventually I hauled out my sketchbook and made a little comic strip of what I was trying to communicate (it was a tremendous failure, and I think it made me look a little bit insane.) Finally, he got someone on the phone (who I also yelled at) who agreed to give me my dirty clothes in a few hours. You see, I succumbed to the age-old conventional wisdom of the tourist that if you speak loudly and slowly, they will understand you. This is never, ever true. Deep down, we all know that.

In the end, I got my laundry, perfectly clean, folded & on hangers as well as lovingly wrapped in plastic. Maybe I should have my good friend Jen write them an apology for me in Arabic, because I really was a jerk.

So. The good things about this place:

1) Safety. I stopped locking the door to my rental car after the 2nd day of driving when I realized, there is nothing to worry about. Crime here is as nonexistent as my laundry man's English.
2) Dates. No, not the ones where you have long awkward pauses and wonder if some creep is going to try to kiss you when he drops you off after dinner. The kind that grow on palm trees. I watched more than one worker today throw a stick up into the fronds to loosen up some ripe dates. There are dozens of varieties. I had a stick-throwing walking tour around the lagoon in Sharjah today myself, and ate so many dates that I couldn't bring myself to eat lunch.
3) Food. All of the food here is top notch. And yes, in spite of the language barriers, this diversity brings great Lebanese, Pakistani, Egyptian, Indian, Thai, Philippine and Chinese food to the UAE.
4) Islam. That's right, I said it. Forget what you hear on the news...Those crazy jihadists are no different than our own abortion clinic bombers and shooters! Muslims are some of the most decent people around. Also, the call to prayer is a haunting and beautiful thing that wafts over the city 5 times a day like exotic incense pouring out from the countless minarets rising out of the mosques.
5) Taxes. Yeah, there aren't any. I'm pretty sure there is nothing not to like about that! I don't know how many double negatives I just used to describe something that is overwhelmingly positive... And the lack of representation? Well, at least when your government royally (no pun intended) screws things up, you can't blame yourself for voting in the wrong guy.
6) Dress Code. You know, I kind of like the fact that I haven't seen any little sorostitutes lately wearing barely-there tops and teensy tiny shorts with clever things written across the butt cheeks. In fact, I don't miss the general slutting up of my country's youth culture at all. These women in abayas are certainly showing off their most telling feature: the eyes. A little dignity and mystery go a long way.

In answer to Granddad's query: I have mixed feelings about this place. I love Abu Dhabi. I am interested in perhaps seeking work here after I graduate next year. For those of you who don't know, my champion amongst champions boyfriend Chip will be joining me here on Sunday! I guarantee you that I will enjoy this place even more with him at my side.

Viva Arabia!


Kathy Hernandez said...

While its true things are different in other countries, and much of it is like a breath of fresh air, there will always be frustrations where language stands in the way. You did the right thing by weeping-it got their attention and got your laundry done prompty. Smart move. Used to work for me every time I got pulled over for traffic violations in Mexico. Men just don't know what to do with weepy women. I tried it when I got up here only to find it didn't work.

amycue said...

Learned a new word reading your blog today - sorostitutes - never heard it and enjoyed looking it up. Seems like both cultures are extreme - our slutty looking young girls and their women not having a choice many times to chose their attire and punished or even killed if so much as an ankle shows.