Shopping, driving, ogling

August 25, 2008

Saturday, August 16th – We experienced “weekend shopping” yesterday. We had been warned about it, but we had to check out of the hotel, so we needed things like sheets, towels, pots, pans, dishes, etc., in order to begin living in our new apartment. So, we had no choice. We took a taxi to Deira City Center, which is a large mall a short distance from here. Most of the things we needed could be purchased in Carrefour, a large (and I mean LARGE) store not unlike a super Walmart. I don’t think I have ever seen so many people in a mall or store at one time. It was a mad house, not unlike the old jokes about the JC Penney white sales. AND people here drive shopping carts like they drive cars.

We purchased our refrigerator (only appliance not provided with our apartment). If you are wondering about prices here, we got a large side by side with ice maker in the door (656 liter capacity – don’t know what that is in cubit feet) for approximately $1,300.00. Try that in the States! For the most part, prices are comparable or lower for most goods. The rents are sky high, but we don’t have to worry about that.

Gary B. asked what I would miss and I haven’t figured that out, yet. I have found many things that I am delighted are available, however. Fruit juice, REAL fruit juice is cheap and easy to come by. We can buy bottled lemonade that is actually made with lemons and tastes like lemons. Yummy! There are also many other fruit juices available – Mango, Orange, Apple, etc. I have yet to see CranApple, CranGrape, or CranWhatever. The juices aren’t all apple, pear, or white grape base with a little of the titled juice thrown in either. In fact, you can go to a food court restaurant and order fresh squeezed orange juice with your entree.

Our first load of laundry is running right now. The “directions” on the machine are all in symbols, so I hope I have guessed right. I thought the swirly symbol meant wash, but it turned out to mean spin, this lead to the discovery that I should read the symbols from the right to the left, not the left to the right.

It is interesting being out in public and discovering that you are some kind of oddity. The East Indian men “check me out” when I walk by, which wasn’t too unexpected, except that I am old, grey and overweight, so really didn’t expect to get ogled. On other occasions, though, women have given me a thorough look up and down, so I am not sure what that is about. My clothes are not unusual, so maybe it is my grey hair (which I have not seen much of on other people) or my weight (not many overweight people here either) or my pale skin (not much of that in the crowds where we’ve been shopping either). The cab driver, yesterday, seemed very interested in Paul’s appearance and asked us what country we were from. Perhaps he hasn’t seen a ruddy, red bearded guy before.

So, let’s talk about driving/traffic. The only thing I miss at this point is the freedom of having personal transportation. However, we are not in any hurry to start driving here. Lane markings are apparently only suggestions. You don’t actually have to stay in the lane as you round corners or even when driving straight. Changing lanes is done simply by nosing your car into the other lane. You can signal after the fact to let them know what you did. There is NO patience at a stop signal. If the light turns green and the first car does not immediately move forward, horns honk. No dilly dallying allowed. Construction is in progress everywhere, so detours are everywhere also. New buildings are going up everywhere, but infrastructure is not necessarily keeping up. There are plenty of main arterials, but the commute traffic problem is, in part, due to the lack of side street alternatives. No one has laid out a grid of streets, things just sprout up wherever and however large they want to. This plus the total lack of street addresses makes getting around a major challenge. Neither one of us is eager to join the chaos that is traffic.

The rapid transport train that is currently under construction will run right in front of our apartment building. I don’t know where the nearest station will be, but hope that it will be within walking distance. The train does not go right by the college, but will be a short walk (again depending on where the station is placed), although there is talk of a shuttle bus from the train to the college. It is scheduled to be completed in Fall 2009, so my hope is to hold out and taxi/carpool until then.

Sunday (tomorrow) is my first day of orientation/work. I’ll be glad to have something other than shopping to do and to be around others who are new and as bewildered as I. Will let you know how it goes.



  1. On a forum I visit, many guys in the military in the mid east have to relearn driving when they get home. It sounds very scary!

  2. Whatever you do when the men are looking, don’t make anymore eye contact than necessary to walk by. Otherwise, it will be taken as a sign that you’re interested…and you don’t want that.

  3. I find it funny that the thing that caught my eye in this post was the price of the refridgerator. What you described fits a couple models at Home Depot and those are both between 2000 and 2500 dollars so you got a really good deal. You guys gotta visit the giant water park AND tell me if the Amazing Race ever comes near where you guys are!

  4. Thanks, John! I had a hunch it would cost about that much in the states! Hope your new school year is starting out great!

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