Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I had planned to write about the fact that it was St. Andrew's Day today - the patron saint of Scotland and all that jazz. A glowing reposte of the motherland. That though will not now happen because on one incident on the way home from work. The incident, to me, just sums Dubai up. It took place over the course of about a minute but says it all.

I had just driven out of the car park at work. To do that, I need to take a left turn. On this short stretch of 2 lane road there is a smaller road that feeds on to it perhaps 30 metres ahead of where I turned on to it. Literally right after where the smaller road joins 'my road', is a sharp right turn. The road then becomes 4 lane. At the end of this stretch of road are traffic lights. Th traffic lights are only about 20 metres from the sharp right turn.

So, I had just turned left and I was in the left lane of the 2. Ahead - but not that far ahead - a big fat 4x4 car pulled out in to my road. Because he had a big fat car, he took up half of my lane as well. This bloke had the windows down, arm out, smoking. Smug looking. I had to slow down for this. He made for the right of the 2 lanes. I stayed left.

As we turned the sharp right, he was a car length ahead on the right. I remained in my lane. Without warning, on the bend this bloke cut across into my lane. No indicator, clearly didn't look in his mirrors, just went for it. I had to slam the brakes on and I stopped less than a foot away from him, horn blaring. Did he flinch? Did he stop? No. He kept going and crossed to the next again lane. I got moving again and just as I did the green lights came on. I managed to get level with this idiot and stared over to him. He was turning left, me straight on. He just gave a look of 'so what' as if it's something that he does all the time. 'So what, I've got a big car. I can do what I want'.

That's not an isolated incident. It happens all the time. That's the mentality here. No thought for anything or anyone. Me, me, me. Big car. I own the road. It's a horrible thing to say but I hope that bloke crashes. That's the only why he will take notice. I hope that he doesn't injure someone in the process.

Happy St. Andrew's Day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Long weekend. A bonus. The occasion is Islamic New Year. So Happy New Year. The only down side, if that all the pubs and clubs are closed and no alcohol can be served. Puts a bit of a dampener on things really. To be honest, I didn't see much celebrating. No late night parties or anything. Instead, it hardly caused a ripple. I couldn't even tell you what 'year' it is. Poor show, old boy.

On bright side, a day off. That's always welcome.

It's funny because for the first 6 or 7 months of the year, there are about 2 Public holidays. Then, for the remainder of the year there is literally one every month. Indeed, the UAE National day is penciled in for 2nd December. It's a Friday which means we'll get a day off either on the Thursday before or the Sunday. I hope it's the Sunday rather than the Thursday. If we get Thursday off then we'll only have 3 working days this week. If it's the Sunday then we'll have 2 back to back 4 day working weeks. Nice.

For this long weekend though, it's all about getting set for Christmas - yeah, Christmas. Believe it or not, all the big supermarkets have Christmas decorations on sale along with most of the large shops. It really is just like being at home. In fact, we went to ACE Hardware (B and Q to us Brits) and they are selling not just artificial Christmas trees but real ones! I don't think we'll be getting a real one though.

On top of that, the in-laws are flying over for Christmas, so we need to get the house looking spic and span. Actually, we have a large balcony that we tend not to use but we're thinking of having Christmas dinner on it this year. We'll need to brighten it up though with plants and stuff. Let's see what happens there!

Then there is the small matter of what to get people for Christmas. That's a headache in itself.

Friday, November 25, 2011


The joy of going on holiday is always offset with the sense of dread of returning to work. You just know that there will be a 100 e-mails to wade through and 2 weeks of 'action' to catch up on. It's not always pleasant. In saying that, it means your first day back is pretty much taken up with replying to messages aka sitting at your desk drinking tea.

And that is how it happened. The first day back.

Not only that but my beautiful wife was flying off to Nepal on a business trip. A day after getting back from honeymoon. Talk about being 'dumped'! But, it gave me a chance to unpack and get my washing sorted out. Another negative when returning from holiday. It has to be done though.

When's the next holiday?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Yes, a suite. There, I've said it.

It's hard to condense 2 weeks worth of 'activities' into a posting or 2 so I think I'll just list the main things we did in Mauritius and be done with.

Week 1.

Pointe aux Piment with a stop at the Aquarium.
Bus ride to and from the capital Port Louis. The afternoon spent visiting the water front area, followed by the markets and Chinatown.
Bus up the coast to Grande Baie along with visiting temples.
Glass bottom board ride.
Day trip to a colonial house, tea plantation, botanic garden, rum factory, crocodile park followed by a visit to an old 'fort' on the coast.
Drunken night out to Grande Baie!

Week 2.

Sunday market in Grande Baie.
Catamaran day trip down the East coast followed by a trip to Ile aux Cerf.
Bus trip to the next village up, Triolet. Then to the botanic gardens at Pamplemousses then to the Sugar Museum up the road from that.
Candle light dinner on the beach at the hotel.
More beach.
More Jacuzzi!
Afternoon in Grande Baie for touristy stuff.
Fight with the check-in agent at the airport on the way home. On-line check-in counter in which we waited 35 minutes in. What was the purpose of checking in online if you have to wait 35 minutes?! Pointless. And he was told so.
Flew home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The 'little surprise' that was waiting was a big fat, suite!

I've never had a suite before and hell, I've stayed at some fairly rank hotels in my time but a suite. Fantastic. Massive bed, massive balcony massive bathroom - 2 sinks and the best bit, a massive jacuzzi. What else could you ask for. Well, the bed to be decked out with flowers and in the jacuzzi filled with warm bubble bath and petals with a bottle of sparkling stuff and chocolates along side. Nice.

The view wasn't all that shabby either. The Indian Ocean and a Western aspect. Sunsets!

We were a bit knackered so the afternoon we didn't do much other than relax with the bubbly and the chocolates. And the jacuzzi of course.

At night we headed off for dinner. We had breakfast and dinner included so we didn't need to worry about heading out and finding places to eat. Sometimes it can be a bit hit and miss. Instead, it was a buffet everyday and with that, 2 weeks later, was a couple of Kg on the waist line. I wonder if that weight will ever come off? After dinner had a bit of a wander around the resort. Beach on one side, sugar cane fields on the other. Not really much else. A shop 5 minutes away and beyond that a little village called Pointe aux Piment. Sleepy would be one way to describe it. There was a bar at the hotel so we ventured there and tried the local beer. Hmm, could be better. There was a band playing but to be honest, it was all very quiet. Indeed, it was for the remainder of the honeymoon. Not much nightlife.

The next day was on the beach, then a trip to Pointe aux Piment and the aquarium. We also met the holiday rep and arranged a trip to the central plateau to see how tea is made! We also arranged a trip to an island off the main island called Ile aux Serf.

That was about it for the first couple of day. Relaxing was the name of the game.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Where to start with the Honeymoon?

At the start, of course.

We flew out of Dubai at the ungodly hour of 3am. It's been a long, long time since I've take a night flight. Certainly, all the Emirates flights from Glasgow or indeed the flights to and from Korea where daytime ones which turned into night flights, but this was the first seriously late flight.

The flight itself was packed. Really packed. It wasn't a bad flight exactly, not bumpy at least but 2 unusual things happened. The first, and avert your eyes now if you are queasy, if that I actually had to go for a - how can I put it - a 'sit down' on the toilet during the flight itself. That has never ever happened before. I held 2 things sacred. Never do a number 2 in a bar or on a plane. Whoosh. I broke that duck. Scary. I think my body just wasn't sure what was happening. The second unusual thing was that when the plane landed it came to the end of the runway. Nothing strange there. Generally planes then head for the adjoining taxiway and head to the terminal. Not this one. We actually came to a complete halt at the end of the runway, then did a U-Turn then headed back up the runway, then to the terminal!

Needless to say, MRU is not a busy airport.

We were then picked up at arrivals and driven to the North West of the Island to our hotel. The drive took about an hour and a bit. Not a bad drive but could feel myself nodding off. After all, we had been up for 24 hours by this stage i.e. work on the Thursday, flew out at 3am Friday morning.

We then got to the hotel - Le Meridien Ile Maurice in Pointe aux Piment. And a little surprise was waiting.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Been on my Honeymoon!

Let's just say, it was totally fantastic - Mauritius, we love you and thank you. Temples, beaches, tea, rum, sugar cane, palm trees and more beaches. Alas, no dodos. More to follow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


I was walking around on the many shopping malls here in Dubai the other day. I was minding my own business just thinking about where I was going and what I had to do. But then I started noticing things. At first I was like 'Oh'. I kept walking and the 'oh's' started to increase in frequency and with it, my alarm. Finally I managed to get it out of my mind and the 'oh's' disappeared.

I had to go to another shopping mall yesterday near my place. Again, I was walking to my destination and again I started noticing things. The same things that I noticed the last time I was in a shopping mall. The thought had come back and once again I started to get alarmed.

The thing that has got me so alarmed is the fact that there are so many - how can I put this in a polite way?

O.K. I'll just come out and say it. There so many fatties here in Dubai. Males fatties. It's not limited to a particular nationality. There are just a lot of fatties. Now, I realise that this may not just be something that is found in Dubai. But it might be. The reason this alarms me is that one day, that might be me. A fatty and I don't want that. I already know that if I do become a fatty, I'll put it all on right on my belly. Everything else will be 'as normal'. That thought occurred to me on the way to work. There was an Indian bloke standing with his back to me. He looked totally normal, yet, as he turned around he wasn't. It outted itself. His belly that is.

That can't be me. I'm at the age that things like that stick and don't budge. The lifestyle here in Dubai does centre around food and restaurants. It's quick and easy to phone out or go round the corner for a curry or something. It's actually harder to go about cooking.

That is a warning. That won't be me!