Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ramadan 18, 1431--cont'd --Final Chapter

9:39 pm: Home again. Full. Watered. I'm still thirsty though!!
We broke the fast at 6:49 with everyone, first with a date (as Mohammed did) and water (YES!!). And then we had wonderful Arabic dishes--soup with barley and chicken, kibbe, aubergine and mince and yogurt, grape leaves wrapped around squash--so many things. And many many glasses of water. It wasn't a heavy meal. But there were lots of different dishes. I can only imagine the hours in the kitchen.

Words from Julian:
I was so hungry and thirsty that I got bored of video games. And another part is that I can't believe Dad broke his fast in the first hour. Then I ate and I was like woo-hoo. Soon I was full and couldn't even finish what was on my plate (although I left a small space for those two pieces of chocolate cake which I devoured. mmmm).
I ate the cake so fast no one even noticed I had seconds. That about covers it. Until next time. JJ

Ramadan 18, 1431--cont'd

By the way the title of this post is the date today on the muslim calendar.

4:44: Two hours to go. I slept for an hour (thanks to staying up so late last night) and got going on my Arabic homework. Cordelia is back and still in the fast. The girls are ice skating and at the word how they're doing. Julian is still in it. He's tough. The more I think about the way some people stay up late (lots of shops are open until 1am all through Ramadan) and eat and then sleep all makes very little sense. Why not just fast during the night like we usually do if you're going to flip flop the days and nights. Water is still the problem.

6:03: Less than an hour to go. Paulina has fasted all day and Remy has only had a cup of coffee and a piece of gum (she was confused by Manuel eating this morning...) I'm still wanting water.

Ramadan 18, 1431

Tonight we're going to an Iftar dinner to break the fast with our Jordanian friends. So for once we decided to try the Ramadan thing to have some understanding of how our friends will feel at 18:48 tonight when it's time to eat.

It actually helped that last night we were out with our new neighbors until 3 am and we probably consumed a bit more than we should have. It helped in that I didn't get up until 8:45 (fewer hours to fast!) AND I wasn't in the least thirsty or hungry.

I walked the dogs and when I came back I went upstairs to wake Cordelia. Two minutes later I came down and Manuel had already caved. He NEEDED water (apparently he subsequently needed a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and a cup of coffee). Also at the table was Julian's friend, Jackson, eating cereal. But not Julian. He stayed strong.

Remy caved next...she had coffee.

It's now 11:30 and I'm not hungry but I'm VERY thirsty. Maybe I'll just drink some water....

2:14: I now understand why the emiratis sleep all day during Ramadan. It would certainly pass the hours. I'm really thirsty, but not hungry at all. Julian is still standing strong (playing WII) and his buddy left an ice cold glass of water on the table (on a coaster don't worry :) It's mocking me. Cordelia is at a meeting at school with no food or drink and the other girls are next door....probably drinking water...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The new kid in town

As many of you know my niece is living with us this year and attending school with my kids. We've only been in Abu Dhabi a year, so we're not exactly seasoned veterans of the Middle East (although people here consider a year a long time), but it's interesting to see how the new guys cope. We're surrounding by a lot of "I want to go home" mantras, and very few "I'm embracing the change" mottos. Maybe that's teendom.

Luckily, my newbie is embracing the change and making some very astute observations while doing so. On the first day in Arabic 101 the teacher asked, 'if you could make a wish what would it be'? The new kids all (save one) said they wanted to go home. My new kid said, 'I'd like to be able to breathe underwater.' You've got to love that!

Tonight the kids were discussing class elections. When I asked my niece who she voted for she said, "I got really confused with all the Ahmeds. And I never knew there were so many Alis in the world!"

We went out to the beach tonight to take a swim before dinner and I told the kids they could wear shorts to the club. My niece said, 'I feel naked.'

It's nice to see things with fresh eyes....and it's wonderful to have a pair of fresh eyes spending the year with us.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

While the cat's away...

I have to say that I had plenty of time to think on the 13 + hour-journey back to Abu Dhabi last week. I was getting excited about digging into year 2. I still have lots of places I'd like to visit (Al Ain, Qasr al Sarab, Lebanon, Jordan, India, Sri Lanka-- to name a few) and I'd like to settle in more here, improve my rudimentary Arabic, meet some more people, etc.
I was pretty happy as we left the airport which is still small enough that you feel calm there. It's warm and it's Ramadam so people are a little persnickety, but I quite liked Ramadan last year and even if it's 105 degrees -- it's August. Plus it's 68 degrees in Paris which I moaned about for years (11 to be exact). I can't very well moan when it's hot and sunny.

Off we went into the city. It seems the government has been very busy while everyone's been away. First of all, I'm quite sure the government has plastered the city with cctv cameras. They're on every street. And most likely, while they were up there, they also installed more traffic cameras. So the Emirati government will be a whole lot richer when those traffic fines start rolling in. Just what they need. Now they can buy big screen tvs to watch us sneaking tic tacs in our cars (not allowed during Ramadan) at the Corniche and 32nd street.

Finally, we turned onto our street where the government really had a lot of fun. (See photos). They tore up one side of an entire block. People left for vacation with their cars in their garages and when they get back, it will be a LONG time before that car comes out of the garage (as happened to our neighbor in front). The street has apparently been torn up for about a month already. I haven't seen anyone working there after 10 am in the morning and most mornings they're gone by 7:30 (they start around 5:30). So I don't see how they'll be done before Ramadan ends and the rest of the city's inhabitants return.
The real question is what are they doing????
It's clearly city property, but (after a careful poll of the resident experts--various watchmen, maids, waitresses and neighbors--the actual workers don't speak any language I understand) the current theory is that they're going to privatize the parking on that side of the street for the exclusive use of those villas (conveniently owned by a powerful sheikh). This would do away with the one bit of commerce on the street--La Brioche Restaurant. They had a lovely terrace that was always bustling. There was plenty of parking but the locals don't like to walk even ten meters so they'd all double and triple park in front of the terrace. I agree that it was dangerous and annoying. But how about, I don't know, a valet attendant or traffic cop ticketing each night--maybe one of those new cameras could do the work? Surely this wasn't necessary. Anyway there's nothing to be done (there never is). There are no straight answers, no one in charge, no one to voice an opinion to.
I'm just glad I can get my car out of my garage.
Ramadam Kareem.