First Days in Abu Dhabi

On Thursday, by the time I arrived at the villas, there were not too many people around because Friday and Saturday is the weekend. The workweek is Sunday to Thursday, something that really takes getting used to.  I ended up watching a movie from someone’s laptop (the TVs and internet aren’t hooked up yet) with several students from Palestine, Pakistan, and Jordan.  We got through about 30 minutes of an old Woody Allen movie before it got really awkward and quiet.  I guess the Brooklyn and Jewish jokes didn’t really hit home. Anyway, we switched to a more contemporary movie called Little Manhattan, much to my chagrin, a quasi heartwarming love story that takes place in New York City. Of course, this is right after I had finished telling people that that was where I was from. Fortunately we got through this movie, albeit with some awkward moments. Most notably was when the movie character said something to the effect of, “It’s easier to get an appointment for peace talks with Israel in the Middle East…” [Awkward silence/deep breath].

I woke up at around 11 am on Friday, remarkably hungry.  Thankfully, Andrea, always gastronomically prepared, snuck several assorted snacks into my bag before I left, which I happily chowed down.  I met several other students, mostly Europeans (Dutch, Italian, English, German, and two Icelanders) and Americans.  We took a taxi into the city to go to a strip mall, which was closed. We then took it upon ourselves to try to walk to a Crown Plaza hotel “right around the corner.” After several wrong turns, about the time my skin started melting off from the scorching heat, we made it to the hotel bar to watch some cricket and had a few beers (woohoo!).  Afterwards, we went to the Marina Mall, the biggest mall in the city, where we ate dinner and did some shopping. My first full meal in Abu Dhabi ended up being at a Burger King in the food court.  So much for cultural revelation. The nearest to anything Arabic that I had was some thick, dark, grainy, and strong Turkish coffee. It sure did help with the jet lag. Afterwards, I was able to pick up some necessities, including soap, shampoo, and, most importantly, food.  With Ramadan coming up the next day, I didn’t want to take any chances of going hungry.  So I did what any logical student would do; I bought plenty of Ramen noodles, a loaf of bread, Nutella, and corn flakes, knowing that my other staples, milk and eggs, were already available in the villa kitchen. 

A few notes on the Marina Mall: It is quite a remarkable mall, with over 400 stores, from KFC to Versace, playing host to over 1.2 million visitors each month.  In also includes a small rollercoaster, arcade, ice skating rink, and a small indoor ski slope.  There’s also a massive grocery store called Carrefour on the bottom floor which has pretty much anything one could ever need, from cellphones to Chex Mix.  Of course I did not realize this earlier when people were telling me where to go to for groceries. Even though everyone speaks and understands English, their accents are often thick and distracting.  And, with my poor English vocabulary that is based primarily around abbreviated words and phrases (“yeah, I’m down” or “aight”), made up words (“phat”), slang (“That’s sick!”), and Seinfeld references, I ended up spending quite a bit of time looking around the mall for Darfur.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alan & Shelley on September 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Brian. By way of introduction, we are friends of your fantastic parents here in Tucson. We were with them in New Mexico during your ordeal…err…I mean trip to Abu Dhabi! Glad you made it ok. Really enjoy you blog and we are very impressed that you have been chosen for this adventure in education. From your first few posts, it seems to me that you have (or will have shortly) the situation under control. And your writing style is very entertaining. Lot’s of luck going forward. We look forward to following your blog. Alan & Shelley.

    Reply

  2. Posted by AUNT ARLENE on September 19, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    HI BRIAN…..
    FIRST OF ALL, HOW ARE YOU DOING? YOUR DAD GAVE ME YOUR ADDRESS AND SO HERE I AM. IT WAS WONDERFUL SEEING YOU AND YOU’RE STILL AS HANDSOME AS EVER…….AND SMART TOO. HOPE THIS FINDS YOU HAVING FUN, ENJOYING YOUR NEW VENTURE AND SURVEYING ABU DHABI. I’M SURE YOU MADE FRIENDS AND HAVING A FUN TIME DESPITE THE HARD WORK REQUIRED. WHEN YOU GET A CHANCE, I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. SIGNING OFF WITH ALL MY LOVE…..AUNT ARLENE.

    Reply

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