Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Great Move, episode II

You see those little square buildings at the base of the Burj Tower? That's the new agency.

Not too shabby, eh?

These shots are from the early post-move-chaos. The agency's cleaning up nicely though. Everyone found their precious boxes of stuff, and things are looking more like a respectable agency than what you see here.

It's an indoor, fake garden. Sadly, the windows don't open. But it's a good effort and when the rumored hammocks show up it'll be even better. I
hope we get a hammock or two.

Raj takes a moment to contemplate the patch of fake grass in the lobby.

The fetal basketball court. It's looking much better now. Stay tuned for picts from the current spiffy clean agency, complete with my favorite: The Fat Boy beanbag chairs. Oh yeah.

Some views of Business Bay. Somewhere in this big desolate pit of sand and construction, a bay will be born, and a few high rises, and a business or two.

I never thought construction cranes could be beautiful. But then again, I've never been surrounded by an entire herd.

Construction at night=trippy awesome. It looks like an underwater sci-fi film. Better in 360, real-life, swivel-on-your-heels-panoramic view, but this gives you a glimmer. I'll post a series of night shots a little bit later when the work chaos settles down.

Kites are pretty!

Sometimes when the wind kicks up, the sand stays put and the kiteboarders come out to play. Awesome to watch. Probably even better to be out there.

You can't really tell when the kites are swirling through the air above you, but they pump air into the frame tubes. So I guess if one hits you, it can't be the end of the world. It just might give you a friendly little tap, strong enough to nail you into the sand. However I'd rather not tangle with the lines when they're taught enough to drag overgrown adults through the water at breakneck speed.

Is my beach pretty or what?

So learning how isn't all that easy. I stupidly sat a little ways away from these three. I thought it was a safe distance, and promptly buried my face in my book. But only one of them knew how to fly the thing properly. When he had the controls, the bugger behaved. When this other kid took the reigns that kite turned into a rabid dive-bombing ferret with wings. All beach loungers, take cover. The novice is at the wheel and the kite's driving. At one point I had to drop my book to dive out of the way, while the monster kite ate sand inches from where I was happily devouring Rushdie. POW! Quite a show. And really, it's a lot more fun watching some poor kid getting his ass hauled down the beach, stuffing his wetsuit with a couple tons of sand, than just seeing the pros skim the water and kick up yet another rooster tail.

A proper ass-hauling and heading right towards me.

Thou shalt control your kite, and not let the kite control you, or at least teach it how to play nice. I guess sometimes free will is up for negotiation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Rated G for Gluttony

Holy hummus I'm behind. I got all wrapped up in work chaos, and then BAM. there goes a whole month. Wow I have some ground to cover.

So we had a serious windstorm a couple weeks ago.
Actually it might have been a wimpy sandstorm, seeing as I have nothing to compare it to. But it was gross enough to count in my book. I didn't take pictures, cause I like my camera and there wasn't much to see. It looked kinda hazy and felt gross. The cool part, was driving around in the cabs and watching sand swirl and blow across the streets like snow, especially along Jumeriah Beach Road where I live. The wind and swirling sand is a wee-bit more aggressive right off the beach for obvious reasons. If I was wind, I'd be all about playing on the beach too.

The mostest decedantest brunch ever. No, I'm not exaggerating.
That same day I went to what will probably be the most decadent buffet of my life at a resort called Al Qasr. I'm not saying "most decadent" just because I'm in Dubai where the "" seems to hop on the end of everything, like biggest or bestest or fattest or sandiest or hairiest. (Hopefully not hairiest.) This little nibble simply blew away all preconceived notions of gluttony. So, naturally, (again) my camera battery died. Don't be sad for him. He came back to life later. The camera just missed out on a gastronomically orga$mic 4 hours. Maybe in a few months I'll be ready to blow the bank and indulge again. We'll see. But for now, I'll just have to tell you about it, and you can flex your drooling imagination and pretend the camera was happily flashing away.

I borrowed these off the internet. I hope the internet doesn't mind, but this at least gives you a glimpse of the place. These gold stallions that line the entry drive into the resort are all anatomically correct. Surprising in a place thats all censor-happy. I guess it's okay for animal art to show off their enormous sculpted nuts.

I don't know where to start. Lets see, I started with Champagne at the bottom of those steps, with some sort of fruit juice at the bottom. You grab that on your way to your table. There is an odd assortment of ex-pats that attend these Friday brunches regularly. Somehow, they're not fat. The Brits tend to dominate, as does the male hair gel. No comment there. I know amongst the Arabs, it's all about the slick hair. But it makes the westerners seem excessively pretentious and self-important. But that's Dubai for you. If hair gel spins your buttons go for it. But beware, I will make fun, given the chance.

These things are open bar. If you're a British dude with 5 livers tucked discreetly inside you gut, this means you keep about 4 different drinks in front of you at a time. If you're me, it means champagne and reserve wine I'd never normally order for myself. Yum.

Then there's the food. This spread wanders through multiple rooms. Okay, it covers the entire lower level of this hotel. It's a world tour of everything gourmet and gourmet versions of ordinary, from the bangers and mashed peas at the British table, to a full Mexican fiesta, all of southeast Asia, the middle eastern spread that's still a blur to me, a taste of India, sushi, a nod to Spain and the rest of western Europe, 1 whole section dedicated to cheese, continental deliciousness and naturally, snob food. I tried my first Foie Gras moose and didn't hate it. It was actually really good, despite the texture. Lets not even talk about how many plates of dessert I went through. I'll just say it was 4 hours of shameful gluttony and I got my money's worth.

These epic brunches start at noon, and everyone stays till they stop serving around 4 in the afternoon. You have to pace yourself, nibble, sip your wine, talk for a bit and eat your way around the world. In the bathroom you find the shamelessly pretentious and primpy ex-pats who wonder if I'd been transported back to South Beach. The group Deger and I were with hadn't had enough after 4 hours of this, so we headed to a bar upstairs when the brunch shut down. I ventured out to the hotel balcony overlooking the resort grounds and the ocean. The waves were huge for a change and I nearly got my overstuffed face blown off in the wind. Yes, this is still sandstorm day.

This little group proceeded to drink more while I secretly launched peanuts across the table at my unsuspecting targets, then tried to act innocent if I made a basket in someone's beer or cleavage. I am very mature. It's also easier to appear innocent when you're targets are happily drunk. From there, that same crowd headed to a karaoke bar and kept going late into the night.

I went to Borders instead, which was disappointing at best. Not only did they not have the Ellen Degeneres book I needed, the guy I asked didn't even know who she was. This would be fine, if they didn't have two shelves full of those bound pieces of crap, commonly know as "Chicken Soup for the Soul of Everything with a Pulse."

And yes, the sand was still blowing. And yes, I'd forgotten to grab my laundry off the drying rack that morning. When I got home, it was all miraculously still on the drying rack in the garden, and I now have a new respect for the high compound walls that surround these villas. It keeps more than just strangers out. It keeps the wind out on those rare days that it kicks up. More importantly, it keeps Cindy's laundry in.