Business hours in Ramadan are amazing. As an indication the Post Office (Emirates Post) is open from 9 am to 1 pm and 9 pm to 1 am! Is there really someone who is going to go and buy a stamp to post a letter at one o’clock in the morning? Apparently so as the shops also stay open until 1 am. It is assumed no one will go shopping between 1 pm and 9 pm – that is a time to sleep and pray and, when the sun goes down, to eat.
The water from the cold water tap is actually really HOT. It is stored in large tanks on the roof – so after about 9 am it is approaching a rolling boil. To get cold water you use the hot water tap because that water is stored in an insulated tank – so don’t turn the hot water heater on and you have cool water stored in the insulated tank. Not sure when this will change over again but I am keeping an eye on the weather……..
The greater majority of cars here are four wheel drives. Believe me they are SERIOUS four wheel drives. They are the size of tanks but move like cruise missiles. I think most of them are actually mobile homes for families of six, used for overnight stays in the desert. They probably have a full size refrigerator and separate bedrooms and bathrooms in them.
Parking in the carparks is totally random. There are lines marked but no one takes note of them. Cars do not park in any orderly fashion and the locals will park as close as possible to the shops without regard to space, traffic flow or pedestrian safety.
Speaking of pedestrian safety. Where I come from a pedestrian crossing is a place where people can rest assured they can cross safely. The traffic is compelled to stop for people using the crossings. In the UAE pedestrians must be constantly on the alert. Crossings mean nothing to drivers and nobody enforces their safe use. You take your life in your hands at every crossing of the road whether there is a pedestrian crossing or not. I think their meaning here is “this is probably the safest place to cross because you can see the cruise missiles approaching from here”.
Emerati men, particularly the younger ones, have a mobile phone earpiece in their ear on a permanent basis. It appears they are never off the phone and will be constantly talking while walking, driving, sitting having coffee, in the movie theatre and even in school. Mobile phones are not banned in the classroom and the students take calls at random.
Occupation Health and Safety (OHS as we know it) is virtually non-existent. Construction sites are the most amazing examples with men precariously perched on multi storey buildings, undertaking concrete work and engineering. However even in a shop such as a picture framing shop, there are bits and pieces everywhere and trip hazards and sharps such as glass on the floor.
And now just a funny story to wind this all up!
I took some laundry to the cleaners last week - 5 shirts (3 white, 1 blue and 1 cream) and a pair of brown trousers. Went to collect them yesterday and there were five shirts (3 white, 1 pink and 1 cream!). I said to the Indian/Pakistani guy "My husband doesn't own a pink shirt and so that shirt does not belong to us" He was keen that I just take it and accept it as Ron's shirt. I said that someone else would then be missing a shirt and that would mean they would be upset. I also said that Ron does not wear pink and I would appreciate it if he could please find the blue one I left with him. I even rang Ron to make sure I hadn't been delusional at the time. He said "the last time you bought me a pink shirt I gave it to Daniel (my son) - so there is no way I own one now!" When I got home I started hanging up the laundry and I noticed a splodge of greasy stain on the trousers, which I am sure was not there when I dropped them off. Waited till Ron was home and he said he didn't remember doing the splodge and that even if he did it should have been cleaned out anyway. We both traced back to the laundry where we were offered apologies and told that the splodge would be treated and come back tomorrow. I asked if they had been able to find the blue shirt. The answer was "Inshallah, in 2-3 days I hope, Inshallah, Inshallah". Well I decided that was probably the last I would see of that shirt! I hoped the trousers would make it through, so I wrote Ron's name and phone number on them in permanent pen. Anyway we stopped in to the laundry tonight on our way home from dinner - and there was the blue shirt, nicely pressed and clean and I am told the trousers will be back tomorrow. It appears Allah was shining down on us after all......I think I will take a little packet of date sweets in to them tomorrow to say thanks - but they only get them if I get Ron's trousers back clean!