With a new venture in the kitchen and many projects on the stove, the past three weeks have not left much room for contemplation. That said, I often think of you all as I jaunt through the Gulf via desert, air and sea. Consider the following excerpts personal post cards. With xoxo, A (P.S. F stands for family, friend or fancier.)
Late January 2009
Jebel Ali (via desert)
As per the UAE government’s request, today I went for another HIV test. Tell me, do other governments make such requests of their residents?!
As to avoid the mid-day rush, at sunrise I filled the tank of my Thrifty Civic and headed for the desert. Goodbye Dubai skyscrapers. Hello sand, power lines and import/exports! When I arrive at my destination—a small German hospital nestled where desert meets port—I gave myself a mental pat on the back. 20 minutes early! Not bad for a girl ¼ Latina by blood!
Upon arrive at the hospital entrance, I noticed that the doors were sealed shut. Without much thought, I stood outside the door amongst my fellow early-risers. Within 30 seconds a hush fell over the crowd. Wondering why, I took a pause from my text messaging and was greeted by about three-dozen male stares—mainly Indian, Pakistani and likely Bengali laborers. To be an object of a crowd’s fascination is accompanied by a rather bizarre feeling of self-consciousness! What, is there something between my teeth? Could it be my curly hair?!
Soon after the doors opened, a doctor greeted me and laughed. He escorted me to the “nicer” side of the hospital to proceed with my “test.”
Visions of 1960s America filled my mind. How can separate be equal?
PS The test results turned out fine!
Late February 2009
Bahrain (via air)
What a day! I am currently in Bahrain to attend a meeting between the Ministry of Education and UNESCO to discuss a strategy and plan for the creation of an ICT education and research center to service the whole of the Gulf. Since this is my first time visiting the Kingdom, I decided to come a day early to experience the wonders of this little Gulf Island.
Lucky for me, the exuberant hotel bellhop was more than happy to carry my small bag to my room. “Tea madame?” “Dates madame?” I thanked him, over tipped him and then asked if he could find me a guide for the day. “No problem madame!”
Thirty minutes later, I found myself hopping in the car with Karala’s version of John Travolta! Think tight white jeans, orange polyester on top, popped collar! “Call me Nice!” the driver said as he handed me a make shift business card with the word “Nice” on the name line. I quickly text messaged my husband the car’s license plate number and hopped in!
One fort, Shia farmland, Saudi border patrol tower, pottery and National Museum later, I requested a stop off at the Manama Suq. While my driver snored loudly in the car, I roamed the streets for fresh local bread. Score! Clay oven and 10 cent naan! Delish!
Thinking of you from the Kingdom,
P.S. To see additional Bahrain photos, check out my Flickr site!
February 27, 2009
Off the Dubai Coast
The sea is the most peaceful place in the world until you lose your wedding ring while dropping an anchor in the vast Gulf!
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