Archive for the ‘taxis’ Category

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I’m Not a Tourist Here

June 4, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

So, we have completed a marathon travel experience to reach North Carolina for our daughter’s one and only high school graduation.

It began like this…

[Dubai] At about 11 pm we dragged our suitcases out to the curb to begin the process of flagging down a taxi. DaddyBird remembers suddenly that he forgot the money that others have given him to buy a few things (iTunes cards and barbecue sauce), so he runs back to the apartment and I am left standing on the curb with three large suitcases and two smaller bags looking for a taxi.

A taxi pulls over almost immediately. The driver gets out and comes over to me. He begins telling me that it is a busy night. It is difficult to get into and out of the airport. I have a lot of bags. And then a sentence that I think was supposed to be along the lines of what was I willing to pay for this service, but ended with something along the lines of  “how much give to you?” I needed to stall anyway, until DaddyBird had time to return. So, I made this guy repeat his request several times, saying that I didn’t understand what he was asking, which technically is the truth since his grammar was all backwards. He gave up just as DaddyBird appeared around the corner, got in his taxi and went away.

We got in another taxi soon thereafter. There was no discussion. The driver helped get the bags into the car quickly and away we went. He got us to the airport quickly. We paid the fare and tipped him well. That is how it should be.

The first driver must have seen a white woman standing near a hotel with a ridiculous amount of luggage and thought “here’s a tourist I can scam.” Sorry buddy, I’m not a tourist here anymore. I know I don’t have to haggle for a taxi ride.

As for the rest of the trip, our first flight via British Airways to Heathrow Airport was a little taste of hell. There were no vents above the seats to blow cool air and it was horribly hot the entire flight. We desperately needed to sleep, but could not. Second leg of the flight from London to Raleigh/Durham North Carolina was better temperature-wise, but sleeping was not easy or very satisfactory due to the discomfort of economy class seats. This flight was operated by American Airlines and I will say that the food was good.

We changed our currency and ended up with quite a wad of bills because about half of what she gave us was in $5 bills. Thankfully, she didn’t resort to giving it to us in ones.

Anyway, we landed safely, although exhausted and a bit smelly. We checked into the hotel and went immediately to sleep.  It’s about 3 am local time now, so I should try to get a little more sleep and try to adjust to the new time zone. Jet lag is a cruel mistress.

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Signs from the ‘Hood

June 24, 2010

Posted by Kanga.
Fresh Fish Restaurant sign

A creatively named restaurant. Hmm… wonder what they serve here.

Little Princess Cafe and Cafeteria sign

Now you know what the royalty is up to.

Spur Steak restaurant advertisement

Here’s an image I never expected to see in the Middle East. (This is actually in a mall not in the neighborhood.)

Spur Steak restaurant advertisement

“Spur People – People with a Taste for Life”

Sign showing a chicken holding a drumstick

Chicken Tikke so good even a chicken will eat it!

Sign with the word Chinese misspelled

Chinees Food, speaks for itself.

Tuna advertisement on a taxi

We first saw Rio More tuna in a commercial during the previews at a movie theatre. Then I saw it plastered all over this taxi. The image of tuna in olive oil (greenish goo) is not very appetizing.

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Settling in

August 15, 2009

Oliver2Oliver seems to be settling in. He was rather wild the first few nights, keeping us awake by pouncing on our heads, all teeth and claws. He’s discovered “under the covers” where it is nice and warm and has slept longer hours allowing us to sleep longer, too.

I bought him some plastic balls which he is very good at losing under the furniture. I’ll have to get a bigger size, I think.

It is the height of the summer heat and we won’t have a car until next month, so I doubt that I will be having too many adventures outside the walls of our apartment. So Oliver just may be the height of entertainment for a while.

I am riding the bus to work which is much, MUCH easier than this time last year. They put many new double decker buses on the line that I ride and they come fairly regularly, close to the schedule. Last year, I could wait for an hour or more and not see a 13A bus. They are nicely air conditioned, too. The taxi companies have added many new taxis also, which is evident now as I stand at the bus stop and there is long string of empty taxis driving by, looking and honking to see if anyone at the bus stop wants a taxi. This is the complete opposite of last year when the buses were running very badly and there was stiff competition for any empty taxi that might drive by, which was very rare.

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Driver’s licenses

November 18, 2008

We were at the bus stop at 8 am to begin our journey to get our driver’s licenses. We had our licenses in our hands by 9:14 am and I was to work by 9:40 am. I wish everything was this easy.

After we got our licenses, we were standing at a bus stop waiting for either a bus that would take me close to the college or a taxi. Traffic was quite thick. A taxi driver in the far lane saw us and signaled, so I signaled back. He crossed four lanes of traffic to come over and pick us up. Typical Dubai taxi driving. Needless to say that we had to run a little way to get to where he had pulled over (blocking the right lane) and the driver behind him was honking madly.

Now that we are licensed, the search for a car to lease begins in earnest. Hopefully, we will have wheels soon! Then watch out. We will be making the best of our weekends.

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Taxi fun

October 31, 2008

Last Tuesday night we had another fun taxi experience. This time is wasn’t because it was difficult to get a taxi, although it was. We did finally get a taxi. We told the driver where we wanted to go. He said he was new and asked if we knew how to get there. He asked us where we were from. We told him United States of America. He grinned very big and said “US Amrika?!” We said, yes. He was apparently really pleased and kept grinning and laughing. Paul asked him where he was from. He told us Pakistan. He said – “President Bush…good…no good?” You probably know what our answer to that was. He told us Benazir Bhutto was good. He asked all kinds of other questions — was our whole family here? was I Paul’s wife? did we have children? would Barack Obama be a good president? etc.

We could tell he was a new taxi driver because he hadn’t learned the bad habits, yet. He only honked at another driver once. He was cautious and polite when changing lanes. He didn’t tailgate the car in front of him. He’ll learn eventually.

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GITEX

October 24, 2008

GITEX was this week. A whole week of a technology conference, Sunday through Thursday. Being a member of Emirates Mac (the local Mac users group), Paul got in as an exhibitor and volunteered at their booth.

Monday night was a dinner put on by ABM (Arab Business Machines – the local Apple affiliate). Paul went directly to the dinner from the convention. I tried to catch a taxi to take me there and had very little success. I was going to cash it in and go back to the apartment, but Paul didn’t have enough money on him to get home, so I had to go, if I wanted to retrieve my husband. Luckily, I did finally get a taxi. (We SO need a car.) By the time I arrived at the dinner (in one of the poshest hotels) my dogs were not just barking, they were howling. The doors to the dining room were closed and there was a gathering area where one could meet and greet, etc. WITH NO CHAIRS! There was a musician performing background music and my feet hurt so bad I was tempted to sit in her chair when she took a break. I was even considering just sitting on the floor. After standing there waiting for a chance to sit down and being in extreme pain, I finally gave up and went out to a lobby area that did have chairs.

When dinner was finally served it was a buffet with lots of sushi, so it eased my pain a little. We sat with other Mac users, including a guy crazier about Macs than Paul. He collects them. If only we hadn’t disposed of Paul’s collection, we could have made a little money selling them to this guy. The Mac users group has been our best opportunity, so far, to meet Arabic speakers.

Paul had more adventures at GITEX, but I will let him tell the stories himself.

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Directions and Corrections

September 5, 2008

Well it turns out that buildings in Dubai will be getting street addresses! The Roads and Transport Autority (RTA) announced that a pilot program is underway to assign addresses to all building and roadways That will- hopefully- make it easier to find your destination, get deliveries and, most importantly, tell your taxi driver where you want to go!
It will, however, take away the satisfaction feels when successfully having managed to get the taxi driver to understand where you want to go without an address!
We don’t know yet how well this will work and how quickly they can implement it, but they are pretty good at getting things done here and improving things when necessary so I expect it won’t take too long.

In related news in my previous post titled “Where are we??” I included a map with some notes on it. One of the note stated that I didn’t think that the numbers given to the side streets were official. It turns out they are official. And there are even street sign to prove it!
Still, I don’t know who uses these to refer to the streets or to give directions. My only guess about them, besides being a bureaucratic reference, is that they may be used by emergency personnel. Perhaps they will be used in the upcoming addressing system. With the streets named, or at least numbered, all that has to be done is to give the buildings their own numbers. One problem with that is that it’s not obvious that the street number assignments is unique, that is, there may be a “4th street” in more than one area of town, which will require that the district name still be used to distinguish which 4th street you’re referring to. But that’s not a big problem, and it’s still easier than verbally guided navigation by landmarks.

If a lot less satisfying.