Archive for May, 2007

Possessed by Jinn

27/05/2007

These two entries by ‘e3ashig online’ about his grandfather’s possession by a jinn make fascinating reading.
It’s easy for those who are relatively new to Dubai, such as myself, to forget that the modern city around us isn’t that old at all. The events eashig describes probably happened only around 20 years ago, if I’ve judged his age right.
I like the fact that eashig, who is a practising doctor in the UK, reserves his judgement on the medicine used to treat his grandfather and the process he went through to heal this particular illness. Traditional medicine works for some – although I can’t see exorcisms being available on the NHS any time soon.

Memories of Wimbledon McDonald’s

27/05/2007

I spotted a can of (diet) root beer in the supermarket today and bought it on a whim. The taste brought back memories of going to the McDonald’s in nearby Wimbledon after Sunday school in the late 70s/early 80s.
Going to McDonald’s was very exciting. In those there weren’t that many of them in London, so it was still a ‘special’ thing to do. I vividly remember the first time I managed to eat a whole hamburger by myself. My sister would sit in a highchair surrounded by half eaten chips and I would always have root beer.
The best trip of all was when my father spilt his apple pie down his tie after squeezing the packet too hard. How exciting! Daddy had spilt something instead of me. The Sauls still laugh about this event, 27 years later.

Dress crackdown in Iran

25/05/2007

Reading these kinds of reports about Iran’s crackdown on what men and women are wearing in the street make me wonder whether the same rules apply to the men’s national football team.
I shared a flight with the team the other week, flying to Amman. Most of the players had the kind of gelled, trendy haircuts that are getting people arrested in Tehran.

Chris poisons himself

24/05/2007

Three years ago I discovered a delicious brand of sparkling mineral water in my local supermarket here. It was strong tasting and had an amazing effect on me – I found drinking it gave me a real boost. I drank lots of it, told my friends how good it was and they did the same.
No sooner had I come across it, it disappeared from my supermarket’s shelves. I searched various other shops here but was disappointed not to find it on sale again anywhere.
Apparently it was still being sold somewhere in Dubai though, but I’m glad I didn’t find out where. This article explains why.

The many handshakes of the world

23/05/2007

In front of me in the queue for my flight to New York last week were two Dawoodi Bohra men. They both looked younger than me and were dressed fairly traditionally – their conversation was completely American though. “Dude! I’m like totally in trouble ‘cos tomorrow’s Mothers’ Day and I’ve, like, totally forgotten to buy something for mom!”
Their handshake interested me. It started like a normal handshake, then each pulled the other’s hand in turn to his chest, holding it briefly against the heart. I wonder whether this was a traditional Dawoodi Bohra handshake or an American style gesture to match the accent?
The Gulf has some interesting greetings. Lots of Emirati men will shake hands and touch their noses together. I’ve seen men in Qatar bump noses together three times. This kind of greeting probably works best if you have a large nose. My stubby nose wouldn’t be very practical. Maintaining sweet smelling breath is doubtless advisable.
The coolest handshake I’ve seen was used by some of the guys at the Sun partner I visited Ghana. You shake normally but when you pull your hand back you extend your middle finger and thumb and each person clicks his fingers together, launching the ‘click’ from the other person’s fingers. Hard to describe but quite fun to do. The guys showed me how to do it and I managed to get the hang of it, much to their amusement.
I’ve learnt to be careful when greeting muslim women in the region. Some don’t want to shake hands with a man, but feel obliged to if I extend mine, which might make them uncomfortable. Just to be sure I usually nod a polite greeting, arms by my sides, only shaking their hand if it’s offered.
Kissing on the cheeks as a greeting and goodbye between men and women seems to be all the rage with Western expat community. I find it a bit ridiculous when Brits do it. Call me boring and stuffy, but what’s wrong with the traditional standing there not being sure what to do exactly, then awkwardly saying goodbye and shuffling off before any danger of physical contact raises its head? Cheek kissing is for those flamboyant and slightly suspicious Southern European types, not us.

Why does Jane look so young?

23/05/2007

I caught a trailer for an interview with Jane Fonda last week. The interviewer asks her how she manages to look so fa bulous at 70 and Jane proudly answers ‘sex, lots of it!’ and looks saucily at the camera.
Having walked through certain areas of Amsterdam and Hamburg and seen the ladies that work there, I don’t think that Jane’s being very honest with us, unless she’s actually a haggard 40 and not a supposedly young looking 70. I think that the combination of good genes, the ability to afford a dietician and to control what she eats have more to do with how she looks like she does, along with a plastic surgeon. And filters on camera lenses.

Why does Jane look so young?

23/05/2007

I caught a trailer for an interview with Jane Fonda last week. The interviewer asks her how she manages to look so fa bulous at 70 and Jane proudly answers ‘sex, lots of it!’ and looks saucily at the camera.
Having walked through certain areas of Amsterdam and Hamburg and seen the ladies that work there, I don’t think that Jane’s being very honest with us, unless she’s actually a haggard 40 and not a supposedly young looking 70. I think that the combination of good genes, the ability to afford a dietician and to control what she eats have more to do with how she looks like she does, along with a plastic surgeon. And filters on camera lenses.

How old do I really look?

23/05/2007

I got asked for ID twice in restaurants in Palo Alto last week. Do I really look under 21 or are the laws there so strict that it’s simply not worth taking the tiniest chance?
I admit that I am youthful and incredibly good-looking, but do I really look under 21?

Useless phones

23/05/2007

This article on what handset vendors are doing wrong is excellent.
I’m enjoying using my Sony Ericsson 610i – Sony managed to realise that their useless joysticks weren’t very good, so this model has a keypad instead for navigation. I have trouble sending mails unless I’ve done a ‘send and receive’ and battery life is a bit disappointing, but other than that I’m pretty pleased with it. Some people have commented that the red case is girly. My personal feeling is that it’s incredibly manly – the sort of phone a rugged, toughl, no-nonsense man’s man would own.
That said, it’s the first phone I’ve had for a while that comes close to the classic Nokia 6310i I first got in 2001. It’s a bit pathetic that a 7 year old model is what most customers still whistfully think of, despite all the bells and whistles on the new models.
Providing battery life makes it practical, I’d love to have a GPS in my next phone. There are two reasons for this. Firstly it’d be very useful when travelling, obviously. Secondly, the populariy of these new GPS phones are introducing a bit more competition into the market, which means Garmin ought to lower the exorbitant cost of their maps. I have no intention of getting rid of my super rugged Garmin eTrex as it’s perfect for driving and hiking. I just wish it weren’t so ridiculously expensive to buy additional maps for it.

Useless phones

23/05/2007

This article on what handset vendors are doing wrong is excellent.
I’m enjoying using my Sony Ericsson 610i – Sony managed to realise that their useless joysticks weren’t very good, so this model has a keypad instead for navigation. I have trouble sending mails unless I’ve done a ‘send and receive’ and battery life is a bit disappointing, but other than that I’m pretty pleased with it. Some people have commented that the red case is girly. My personal feeling is that it’s incredibly manly – the sort of phone a rugged, toughl, no-nonsense man’s man would own.
That said, it’s the first phone I’ve had for a while that comes close to the classic Nokia 6310i I first got in 2001. It’s a bit pathetic that a 7 year old model is what most customers still whistfully think of, despite all the bells and whistles on the new models.
Providing battery life makes it practical, I’d love to have a GPS in my next phone. There are two reasons for this. Firstly it’d be very useful when travelling, obviously. Secondly, the populariy of these new GPS phones are introducing a bit more competition into the market, which means Garmin ought to lower the exorbitant cost of their maps. I have no intention of getting rid of my super rugged Garmin eTrex as it’s perfect for driving and hiking. I just wish it weren’t so ridiculously expensive to buy additional maps for it.