Friday, May 30, 2014

Abu Dhabi: Happy Friday!

Hey ya'all! Happy Friday! Yesterday was Thursday, my I was at...yep, you guessed!

Today is Friday (my Saturday) and likely my last day off for the duration of my visit -- Day Off No. 3 for those of you counting. I am off to adventure a bit after a visit to the spa this morning. 

Happy Friday! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Abu Dhabi: Feels Like 110

It’s hot here. Crazy hot. Melt your face off hot. Can-only-be-out-in-it-for-12-minutes-or-I’m-going-to-suffer-heat-exhaustion hot. You basically have to either be acclimated to it – which I can do, with some training – or you basically have to run from air conditioned building/car/store to air conditioned building/car/store. My sweet husband warned me, “It’s hot. Hot like you’ve never known.” Come on honey, I like it warm! I like the humidity! It’ll be fun!!


As such, you’d think there would be ice and icy drinks everywhere. Nope. I can’t find a cube to save my soul. Even at the mall I have to strongly coerce them to give me more than 3 pathetic cubes, and then they laugh like I’ve asked them to put ketchup in my soda. The hotel has no ice machines. Is that legal? But hilariously, I have been provided both gin and tonic in my minibar. WITH NO ICE? Puh-leeze.

I went without for the first week, then while grousing to Rahul, he said “Uh, there’s an ice machine on the 6th floor.” YESSSS!! Then my coworkers all remarked that my drink (in swanky reusable glass from Ikea) was more ice than drink! Hahahah! This is about as hilarious as “Uhm…do you own any clothes that aren’t black?” #realoriginal #neverheardthatonebefore #youwouldntaskverawangthat

My beloved ice machine broke 3 days later. And 4 days later, there it remains, sadly disconnected from any water source.

One room-temperature water for me, please.

Trust me, it doesn't feel like 110, it feels like 100 million.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Abu Dhabi: Enjoyed your Lobster? Here's Some Dental Floss!

So Andrew and I flew in the same flight from Frankfurt, and we both work at CH, and his birthday was Friday. We shared a driver from the hotel. So since we'd spent approximately 45 minutes together, and know almost no one else in the country, and my husband and his girlfriend are halfway around the world, I offered to help celebrate his birthday. Plus, a civilized meal out that isn't room service would be welcomed. To the Jumeirah Towers...
For a drink at Ray's the top (62nd floor) and then dinner. Guess what -- in Abu Dhabi when you ask for French 75, the server says "coming right up, ma'am!" Take that, Brickhouse.
The view was spectacular, though I only had my little camera, so spotty photography.
Then to Li Beirut for dinner! We were seated outside by this pool and the waterfront, but think there was A/C blown on us or something, because it wasn't unbearable. The view to the left.
The view to the right. Looks like something from the Jetsons.
I got seafood, so got these implements. Andrew leaned over and said "I hope you don't go all Dexter on us." Bahahah. We talked TV a lot. 
He got lamb chops, so got this little silver rest for his steak knife. So fancified.
OMG, so delish. Lobster, mussels, salmon, whitefish, giant shrimp, and clams. I might have to go back before I leave.
This is Andrew. He's from the Spartanburg, South Carolina office, and turned 29. He mentioned that his all-time fave TV show was Arrested Development. And as I was about to say it he said, "And people usually tell me i bear a striking resemblance to Michael Cera." Yep. 
After our swanky waitstaff cleared our knife rests and had zambonied the crumbs from our table, this was placed in the middle of the table. A candle? Sugar for post-dinner decaf? A lighter for a cigar?
Nope, tiny packets of dental floss. Wait. After this ridiculously formal and fancy meal, i'm gonna floss my teeth at the table? What now??? What am I, a heathen? Please. 
Not up to my normal caliber of dinner date, by any stretch of the imagination, but nice to chat with another American for a bit! 

Abu Dhabi: More Mall-ery

 So as I've outlined, I'm not a big mall person. But a coworker explained that malls are restaurant-heavy here, and that you have to go to the mall, its too hot to do anything else. Oh right. Got it. 
 There are a lot of reflective surfaces in Abu Dhabi.
This one has an ice rink AND a bowling alley! It looks reasonably sized, but is pretty small. 
Paris has her own store here. Well sure.
The escalators are pretty cool -- they use motion-sensing technology and start running when you approach them, and stop when no one is riding. Such a smart escalator!
Yes, no, and maybe hangars in the dressing room!?! These should be regulation in America.
That's Emirates Palace in back there. More on that at a later time.
And then, another taxi ride back to my hotel for a nap.

So much construction everywhere.

Abu Dhabi: Marina Mall and Tower!

So with my big day off, I cabbed it down to the Marina Mall and Observation Tower.
On the waterfront. Well, I mean obviously a marina is on the waterfront.
And has all the trappings of a tourism destination. Lovely fountains...
Rows of trimmed palm trees. You know the deal.
Then up in the elevator to the 100 meter-high observation tower. That's 328 to you Americans.
 The top floor is a swanky restaurant, the second to the top floor is a coffee shop. I have coffee shop written all over me, don't I? Iced coffee with milk. Cow's milk please, no camel milk. Goat's milk would also be accepted, incidentally. 
I asked the English-speaking folks at the table next to me to take my picture, only to discover they were from Whitefish, Montana! She had been asked to come speak on bullying in the schools at some conference. 
The marina and water was just lovely.
 The view back at the city. 
There's always this socked-in fuzziness in the air. Like the Oregon Coast except about 80 million degrees. And July is their hottest month! Yikes! 

Abu Dhabi: The National Art

Abu Dhabi: War Room

Work continues in the war room. Mostly 11-12 hour days six days a week. Doesn't leave time for much else outside of working, sleeping, trying to hail a taxi, dining, and managing my laundry. Folks in the office have been asking me if its weird or different or what.
I've been telling them it's very strange. Outside the front door, its another country. Inside the doors, I might as well be in Seattle or Tampa. It's standard protocol that most offices in the firm are designed to all feel the same. Same layouts, same furniture, same colors. Partially so that when you travel to other offices, you feel comfortable and are thus more efficient. 
I learned today from the Brits that nearly everything in the office here was shipped over, presumably at considerable cost, for just this reason. This makes much more sense. I couldn't imagine that giving it this feel over here would be easy.
I'm in the "Howland" Conference room. Howland was one of the 2 H's in our name, and the last survivor of the Corvallis foursome. It makes me giggle when I see the nameplate on the glass.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Abu Dhabi: What's for Eats?

Mostly I'm a cheap date, stopping by the buffet or just having a couple of things from the snackbar. But a couple times i've gotten room service. This is the caprese salad. I neglected to shoot the individual pizza in the warmer below. It was olive, mushroom, artichoke heart, and tomato. But oddly, each piece had only one item on it. Two slices of olive pie. Two slices of mushroom pie. It was delish, but odd.
Room service always seems to be GOBS of food. I don't know how they made this sandwich so big, but it was huge, I barely ate half of it. 
 For lunch I usually walk through the pedestrian underpass to the shopping center across the street. Here's what happens to my camera when i leave 50 degrees and enter 97 degrees and try to shoot. Yeah. 
My kingdom for a cup of ice. There's no ice anywhere. Not even in the hotel. 
I've had more Indian food here than i've had my entire life. It's fine, its just not really my thing. I got this pizza at Pizza Amor, which of course came with ketchup. I get ketchup with everything. I'm not sure if only because i look American, or if everyone wants ketchup with their pizza. I went simple here. "The tre fromaggio please, thank you." Mozzarella, gorgonzola, and parmesan. Perfect.

Wait...gorgonzola? WHAT? 
Today I tried Subway. (Foot-long -- half for lunch, half for dinner!) The bread was spot-on, but there was something off about the mayo. A little hard to see, but these are "Tomato Ketchup" flavored Lay's potato chips. They were weird. They also have something called "picked barbecue," that aren't bad! ;)

Abu Dhabi: Compare and Contrast

There are so many things that are exactly the same as they are at home. Like being frozen to death at the office, which I just love. Instead of project number (PN), which we use to bill our time, they say charge code (CC). But you still need one to get paid. ;) 
Different from any hotel room I've ever stayed in is the Qibla on the ceiling just above my bed, pointing the direction towards Mecca. 
Different from any non-residential building in America, the WINDOW OPENS! Imagine! I love it. I'm on the 11th floor. I leave it open to escape the non-stop AC an listen to the beeps and honks of traffic. 
I've gotten into a taxi near this bright fountain 12 times and never noticed it featured colored lights! 
 Google finally figured out that I'm an English user in the UAE. For a long time it said Google, and then under it something like: دعوة لحضور معرض سيتي. What now?
Yahoo! Now gives me all UAE news. Maktoob must mean mail?
And exactly the same is working with technical staff who make messy, incomprehensible chicken-scratch markups and expect you can read their minds.