Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eid Mubarak y'all!

Eid ended the month long Ramadan fast a day sooner than we expected! Woot! The moon did its lunar thing, and the guy who goes and looks at the moon did his thing, and bam, I get a text message from work last night at ten with the joyous news that Eid's begun. It's a great festivus of eating! No work! It's like a snow day, only longer, and no snow, with an Islamic backstory I understand better than I did, say, a year ago, but still don't know nearly enough about it. What I do know, is the crazy shop hours, and all the closed cafes, and perpetual fear that I'll forget about Ramadan and take a swig of water on the street, is over. Sidewalk cafes are open during daylight hours agian! We can eat lunch IN the restaurants, as opposed to mandatory takeout.

Among the ex-pats, it seems like there's some mixed feelings about the Ramadan thing here. If so many people in Dubai are not practicing Muslims, then why should we be subjected to the closed restaurants etc? Isn't the point of fasting during the daylight hours, to test your willpower, and deny yourself temptation until sunset? So then if there's no temptation, what's the point? While I get this school of thought, I don't agree with it.

I don't care how much you stuff your face when you get up for the 4am prayer. After that, no food or drink till sunset is brutal. There's a reason they shorten the hours of work. Even when I eat breakfast, if I don't eat lunch, the talons come out by 2. You don't need other people wafting their butter chicken in your face. Not to mention, we're all guests in an Islamic nation. And the place is super liberal, with the bars, and the clubs, and an open minded attitude that lets me feel comfortable wearing a strappy tanktop to work and a bikini on the beach. The least we can do is endure a month of slight inconvenience during their holy month. I mean, it's sacred, and if it's not your style of sacredness, fine. Appreciate the nice tax break. We have very little to complain about. But I AM glad it's over, so I can coffee shop my heart out night AND day. Yay Eid!

I moved. It was a villa thing.

It was a co-habitation thing. Another hiccup from the conservative side of Dubai. The villa-shares in Jumeirah are complicated. Otherwise known as illegal, as they're making Jumeriah a family place, and "letting" the single debaucherous ex-pats migrate to Marina, or the Greens. And I don't think it's so much that they want Jumeirah to be family only, or that they're really so concerned about single people of the opposite sex living under one roof to save money. I think it may be more an effort to get the ex-pats to bring these newer areas to life. Fill 'em up fast, get retail business rolling. But this is all theory. Either way, the police are laying down the smack, shutting the share's down, and while there are a few folks in my villa who blew the lid off awesomeness, everything happens for a reason. 'Cause now I have MARINA to explore, complete with a GORGEOUS beach, little restaurants and shopping plazas, an Italian coffee shop with an ocean view (YUM) all in walking distance, not to mention the 5 swimming pools within a 3 minute walk. If I wasn't working my ass off, I'd consider myself officially spoiled.

The new backyard.

Jumeriah Beach Residence is big. It's not just one tower, it's many. It's not just one plaza with towers surrounding it, there are a lot of those too. I fondly call it Gotham City. When you catch the lighting right, these towers feel cartoonishly foreboding, looming overhead. Yes, this WHOLE thing is part of the same complex. It's huge, it's beige, and the longer I live here, the more it grows on me, in an UN-mildewy sort of way.

Just one piece of JBR = the tall beige towers behind the palm trees. The squarish hotel isn't that old, but they're tearing it down anyway, so they can put something glam up in its place.

The contrast between finished spaces filling up with life and the raw manic construction still impresses me. This is a fountain on the second floor plaza level of JBR, looking across the beach towards The Palm. Just to the left of this photo is a Krispy Kreme, which requires a double dose of will power. So far we're batting a 50 percent average, and during Ramadan, when everything but the grocery store was closed all day long, a dark KK was just depressing. I'm much happier using my own willpower than Islam's. But seeing that I'm a guest in an Islamic country, who am I to complain? At least my God wants me to eat :) When the sky isn't so hazy, you can easily see the Atlantis at the end of The Palm, from this fountain, (or Krispy Kreme's delicious windows).

If you turn around from this little fountain, head across the plaza, you'll cross a road and a bridge over the marina channel, and end up at Marina Walk: plenty of coffee, overpriced restaurants, pretty views of yachts, sweet jumpy fountain you can play in and get drenched, some nice walk-side shesha places, and of course...Johnny Rockets. Oh, sweet succulent chocolate malts, how I love thee. AND I just found out the legendary Fudruckers of my childhood just opened up a mere five minute walk from my front door. For those of you un-familiar with the best hamburgers in the world, familiarize yourself. You won't regret it. I just hope this one lives up to my nostalgic standard, but on the other side of the planet you never can tell. KFC here?...lets just say the Colonel would roll over in his grave.

Marina Walk
I ended up here the other day, lost, trying to find the one coffee shop in Marina that was supposedly open during daylight hours during the holy month of Ramadan. They all fast like manics. I found it in time for it to be...closed for a couple hours before they opened again at 6 pm. Oh Iftar.

And then one morning in the midst of the late summer heat, came the haze.

When the breeze kicks up and the sky turns an opaque haze, blurring the distinction between the skyscrapers and the skies they scrape, Timeout Dubai says the sun is hiding. The shadows are there, but dim. And while it’s technically sunny out, the odd glowing coin in the sky looks more like a paper cut out pasted against a set backdrop to the stage that is Dubai.
In the spring, the windstorms bring a shift in weather. With each storm comes a new wave of heat. But now in mid-September, there aren’t any drifts of beach sand piling across Jumeirah Beach Road. The sun just gets a little bit shy, and the mornings wake up a little bit cooler. The nights though are heavy with water, so my jeans stick to my legs as we go swimming through the humidity. Sweat beads in my cleavage, but it’s finally just cool enough that I don’t mind. I don’t mind a bit because I can finally sit outside all evening with friends over Moroccan green tea and Krispy Kreme donuts (talk about a brilliant mashing of cultures) and welcome the condensation on your skin because the breeze that comes with it, is finally just cool enough to wish the heat away.

A sea plane! just like Seattle, only not at all like Seattle in so many ways.

work hard play hard, and scribble like a maniac
Ramadan makes everyone a little crazy. Those who are fasting, are, well, hungry-crazy till sunset. Then after Iftar, they're crazy-full. the post-fast belly, is truly "tight like a drum" and it reverberates like any decent timpani. And then the happy person said tummy's attached to, falls asleep in a happy little ball of digestion.

Those who are not fasting go a little stir-crazy. In my case I had "sympathy hunger." I've never been so hungry at around 4 pm, as I was during Ramadan. I blame the fasters in our office. They couldn't eat or drink, but shared their parched hunger with me via osmosis. I had to go stuff my face on their behalf. Lasagna with your tea? Yes please, and I'll take that side salad too.
Then there's the stir-crazy rebellion. This time it involved a house party, some fruit punch, and....MAGIC MARKERS! If I'd understood the full potential of these magic wands of color as a kid, I'm sure I would have turned out about the same, but with a little more trouble mixed in. Lucky for my parents, I'm a late bloomer, so now they get to endure images of me with some orange cock n' balls scribbled across my forehead floating about on the internets. All of them. Good thing I was coloring inside the lines at the time, and good thing we know to color outside the lines now. Sadly, the camera didn't come out till we hit the elevator on our way out around 4 am.

Rad friends + magic markers = tomfoolery of awesomeness.
(The fact that my spell-check just fixed how I spelled awesomeness, is awesome.)

1 comment:

Shelley said...

Miss you guys... Kind of wish that I had stayed longer. :(

There's always next time!