Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Keef hakum? Ana zaina, shukran! Al hamdilaila!

These are some of the phrases I learnt in my first Arabic language lesson today. I've been really looking forward to learning another new language but couldn't help being a little worried that I was going to be lost and left behind as I'm enrolling a week late into the course.

The administrator tried to reassure me with comments like "yes, it'll be fine" and that "the teacher will help you catch up", but the minute I entered the classroom full of white expat women stressing over not remembering what they'd learnt in the previous week's class, all 3 ounces of confidence and optimism I had in being able to catch up disappeared.

It seemed that my small stress attack was short-lived as the ladies in the class were really lovely and showed me some of their notes from the lesson I'd missed last week. I managed to photocopy the notes and caught up fine in the end.

Our teacher, Mohammed, is the only male in the class and he is really laid back and takes the class at a slow-ish pace. Mohammed doesn't write anything up during the lesson, nor does he have any preparation notes! I found this approach to language teaching really fascinating as I've never seen it before in all the seven languages I've studied. Mohammed's emphasis is on repetition and class participation.

I'm naturally an audio-visual learner with most of my preferred learning style being visual so at first, I found not seeing words and patterns a little challenging but soon got into the hang of listening carefully and repeating.

All in all, it was fun and I'm so happy to be learning a new language again. I'm already looking forward to next week's lesson!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Crappy Chilli Crab.

The ads and promos looked so good and the 5-star venue is just a stone's throw away from where we live at the Madinat Jumeirah. We both love and miss chilli crabs, so when we heard about the Singapore Chilli Crab Festival we were very much looking forward to a gastronomic weekend.

Advertised as being held from 1pm-10pm on Friday and Saturday, the weekend here in the UAE, we arrived at 1.30pm only to be turned away and advised it will start from 2pm. We decided to grab a quick lunch at the mall instead before going back to try again.

Low and behold, at 4pm we were turned away again to say that it was closed and would reopen at 6pm. We didn't want to hang around, so we decided to come back later and returned at 7.30pm. Of course this time, no tables were available and a shabby line had formed. We decided to wait for a table and were finally given one after 30 minutes. Although we were hungry, the wait was not too bad as there was a great jazz band playing live and so we sat back and enjoyed the music and atmosphere.

After 15 minutes of waiting however for a waiter we had to flag down and ask for a menu, let alone get someone to take our order or serve us, we decided we would go somewhere else and get some real food and service!

I was surprised when the following day, Gypsy Boy suggested we go back and try again! Off we went and it looked like overnight, they had gotten some of their act together. There were 2 queues, one where you place your order and pay for your meal in exchange for tickets and the second line where you take your ticket and pick up your meal.

Of course, it was a little too good to be true. We were quickly disappointed when we saw how just how much crab we got for our money. 100 AED (27 USD or 42 SGD) got us 1 tiger beer, a crab shell filled with shredded crab meat in more of a sweet tomato-based sauce [than a chilli sauce]! We were really glad we didn't get the satay, even though I was eyeing it up on the menu, when we found out that 35 AED (10 USD or 15 SGD) only would've got us 3 measly sticks!

What I don't understand is, why pour so much money into promoting such an event when there isn't anyone prepared to put a little effort into organising it. The worst thing is many people felt ripped off. One thing's for sure, if this is an annual event as they say it is, we definitely won't be going back next year.

Oh and the picture posted above is the one shown in one of the promotional ads for the event, the actual crab we got at the event looked nothing like this.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Big clean up.

Gypsy Boy's brother left Dubai last Friday after a 2-week stay with us. The last six weeks or so have been an extremely busy one for us, with the festive season, entertaining visitors, and farewelling friends. During this time, we've had the foldable beds out in the lounge and some of the furniture rearranged to accommodate.

...aboard an abra...

We've also had friends leave Dubai and thus, inherited an array of household goods, food, and pot plants! I haven't really had the chance to sort through all these treasures so they've been sitting in a big pile in a corner. Add to this another pile of 'stuff' that we're storing for another friend, and you can imagine why our place looks like a tornado has just been through it!

...Farewell Joy & James...

At times like these, I really wish I have access to an online auction system like TradeMe. Of course, then we'd also need a reliable and efficient postal system as well. So it looks like I'll most likely resort to putting up a classified ad on an expat forum and giving the rest of the stuff we don't need or want to a friend who is in the process of setting up home here.

There you have it, my list of what's been keeping me busy, excuses for why I haven't been posting on here and why I haven't been replying to [m]any emails. I promise I'll try to get to emails this week in between cleaning, laundry and sorting out stuff. In the meantime, here are some of the latest photos. Hatta... Hatta Fort Hotel...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007!

It's been a rather relaxing first day of the year for us. We spent the day talking to family on the phone and online, watching a bit of tele, attending mass and finally doing a spot of shopping.

New Year's Eve for us this year was also extremely low-key. Plans to spend the night camping out in the desert with friends were foiled due to a miscommunication between Gypsy Boy and I. Gypsy Boy failed to mention that we were actually staying the night and I thought we were just going for the evening and welcoming in the New Year. By the time we got our act together, it was just too late to organise a kennel for Gypsy Dog.

Instead, we had our own little private celebration at home where we cracked open our favourite bottle of merlot from NZ - Church Road, and made a wonderful chocolate fondue with pineapples and strawberries! Yum!

Happy New Year everyone, may it be a fabulous year for us all.