September, 2009

Sensing

Sensing

I do not know how to describe it now,

Beautiful nature limitless that night;
The cascading gold at the mountain peak;
The shimmering silvers against the stars;
Emanating emeralds ethereal
Blessing the sights whose eyes lay upon them;
A ruby cave silent, but whispering
“Forever I seek you, Purple Iris”.

Moonflowers sway in the caressing wind
Chanting the whisper across silent lands.
Lavender buds scenting the atmosphere;
The Wild Roses hear the Moonflowers’ chant,
They channel the message to the river
To carry it where winds would never reach.
The ruby cave awoken; now humming
“Forever I seek you, Purple Iris”.

A humming bird quenches from the river,
Took off to relay the message across
This distant, foreign land where trees swing free.
From a flowering tree, the bird seeps his
Nectar, humming a song to the trees’ veins.
The trees listen, and swing to call new winds.
The ruby cave hopeful; deep in prayer;
“Forever I seek you, Purple Iris”.

Above the woods, a mountain rises tall.
An olive tree grows at its dark-rocked peak
Protecting a treasure only one seeks.
The other mountain, its soul channeled through
The vast lands of nature, always seeking,
To give up all the treasures it contains.
The ruby cave, silent, no more longing;
“Eternally bonding, Purple Iris”.

Dubai Metro Hits #1 Spot on Twitter

Dubai Metro Hits #1 Spot on Twitter

Yesterday, over a great Iftar prepared by non other than revered chef in Dubai moryarti, I discussed with a friend of his the power of social media and how it’s slowly phasing out conventional media as a mechanism of delivering news to people locally or around the world.

The Iftar, by the way, was absolutely fantastic. If you’re desperately hungry, moryarti won’t disappoint (except that he didn’t prepare chocolate shots and is currently holding my camera hostage).

Anyhow, for those not in the know, today marks the historic opening of the troubled Dubai Metro. Though metros are nothing new in other places of the world, it has been the talk of residents here for 4 years – not in a good way most of the time. Laying out the infrastructure led to often catastrophic temporary (as in 1-2 year) diversions and new road layouts. Trips into the heart of the city (Deira and Bur Dubai) have become a daily nightmare – and if it were not for God’s gift of patience to me I would have left the country a long time ago. 24/7 construction next to residential and commercial areas didn’t help either, nor did the protests and numerous Dubai Bashing articles highlighting the cheap labor, the ridiculous traffic congestion, and of course the ever increasing doubts that Dubai Metro won’t function as planned nor on time.

Though only partially functional (10 of 50-something stations are operational), the 09/09/09 grand ceremony is still to take place a few hours from now. So this morning I woke up, did my business in the loo, didn’t prepare breakfast, opened my Management book to read and signed into twitter to check something. Then I was sucked into what I would call the New Opium of the Masses – the trending topic that is Dubai Metro.

Within a couple of hours, as Dubai residents woke up, smelled the coffee they wouldn’t have, got on with their business at work and read the local papers, everyone started tweeting their excitement (and of course a “bit” of spamming) over the grand opening of the metro. I joined in, my excitement driven by the bandwagon effect, and within a couple of hours lo and behold – the metro went from a blip outside the radar to the number one trending topic on twitter, leaving Apple’s and the Beatles’ also historic announcements “less important” in twitter terms.

Picture 2009-09-09 14_06_53

And of course I took the screenshot for this historical feat achieved by none other than Dubai residents! So yes, a small group of people can actually outdo continents (though, to be fair, they’re probably sleeping now). Now that we KNOW we can do it, maybe we can use this power to bring forward other important social/political/humanitarian topics to light.

Don’t you think?

A Bad Day at the Airport

Airport woes are nothing new to anyone who’s traveled, and frequent fliers are always susceptible to baggage losses, canceled flights, wailing kids and the Bitch at Passport Control. Like my management professor says, they’re commercial smiles, nothing is for free. Apparently Passport Control Bitch (PCB for short) doesn’t get paid particularly well.

PCB reject

fig 1.2.3 – PCB concept art v1

Mom’s been over for a month long visit, feeding me a generous amount of yummy noms, and if  you’ve been following me on twitter or Facebook or marginally know me then you know food is the only thing I love unconditionally (third to mom and granny). Except eggplants and hideous fruits (tart and blueberries on cheesecakes exempted). But more on mom’s visit in another post.

Yesterday, we bid a teary farewell to mom at the airport, but only after I made sure she finished cooking wara2 3enab (stuffed grape leaves) before dropping her off there. 30 minutes later of driving back home and depressing music, mom calls me and tells me that the flight has been rescheduled till later that evening. Apparently the clause where flights may be rescheduled and/or canceled without prior notice has been placed there for a reason. But come on, people! It’s 2009. We book and give out contact details – emails, phone numbers, underwear size – and what does the PCB tell mom? You should have checked our website before coming to the airport.

Right. Cuz I am flying Syrian Airlines in the 1980s. Except Internet didn’t exist in Syria back then (there are rumors we have internet now, can anyone confirm please?)

SYRIAN.VIE

إيه اهلا وسهلا فيكون عالسورية تابشوني

But it was a good thing. Mom can have iftar with us and I can drop her at the airport later. So I picked her up, we had a nice final iftar, then took her back to the airport again. This time, I made sure I washed my car in the nearby gas station, you know, just in case the flight was canceled without prior notice.

Mom calls back and tells me that she was charged 300 AED for overstaying. WTF!

For those not in the know, if you’re here for a visit and overstay beyond the visa allowance you’re charged 100 AED per day. Maybe it’s now 150.

BUT!

I triple checked mom’s passport when she first arrived – the visa is for 30 days and it is explicitly stated that she leaves “by September 7″, which according to my atomic clock is tomorrow.

The PCB explained to mom why she was charged: “Well, you arrived on August 5, and August is 31 days, and today is September 5 and you’re travelling on it’s 32 days.”

Ok, fine, she’s a smart ass PCB. I counted the days manually and indeed, between August 5 and September 5 (both inclusive) is 32 days. But on the passport it was written she should leave by 7th. It’s a friggin official statement, imprinted on an official document (thereafter referred to as The Passport), written by a friggin official official (referred to as The Company).

So not only have I not checked if the flight schedule has been changed without prior notice, but I also failed to do simple math and took the word of The Company. Mom was upset because if I knew the flight was postponed I would have finished the ironing. I was upset because I have a creased blue shirt which would probably stay that way till I get invited to a wedding, not to mention mom would have had more time to do a cake.

The PCB made me feel like the most horrible, starving son in the world with a creased shirt. I hate her. I hope she eats eggplants with a fruit salad for iftar. BITCH!

eggplant

fig 1.3.4 – PCB concept art v6