I survived my second week in the job, and joined a few Aussies at Irish Village for more than a few pints of Guinness. Until then I have been on a real health kick, and avoiding alcohol.
The Irish Village is a nice pub, in a semi-secluded spot. It’s near a couple of our offices, and the tennis courts where the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships will be played later this month.
At the pub there was yet another case of, it’s a small world afterall. Initially there was just four of us at the pub, and my boss mentioned to one of the other guys, I should tell you, Ryan’s wife is from Tasmania. I thought this was a bit abstract, but the guy made a bit of a joke, so I figured he may have been to Tasmania, or something. But no! It turns out he’s from Ulverstone – the same town as my wife’s family. A town of less than 10,000 people. Now that’s getting a little freaky.
Ulverstone seems like one of those places though, like Toowoomba. If you’re having a chat with a certain number of Australians, you’re more than likely to find someone with a connection to the place. I remember Elle was working in a Brisbane bar a number of years ago, where she happened to work alongside someone also from Ulverstone – whom she had never met before. What are the chances.
But anyway, The Irish Village was a nice place. When I was in Australia considering whether to take the job or not, I did a fair bit of Google-ing to suss the country out. One of my questions was whether they had anywhere that cooks some decent fish & chips. There seemed to be more than a couple of favourable references to the fish & chips at Irish Village.
It was funny how no matter what I searched for – no matter how obscure – there was always more than one web forum, or site where someone had asked the question previously. I can’t think of all the questions now off the top of my head, but there were plenty of things like whether they had baby formula, childhood panadol, and things of that nature.
Google also helped me identify the sex of a person when I couldn’t discern it from the Indian, or Arabic name. All you do is an image search on the name, and each and every time it displays dozens of images of people by that name. Presto.
Earlier in the day I did a fair bit of running around, finalising the joining stuff, such as attesting my marriage certificate. I caught a taxi from the Consulate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the guy was an absolute madman. Everyone on the roads here are obviously a bit crazy, but this guy took it to a whole new level. He actually had great skill with the way he could drive up to 100km/hr within 10 cm from the car in front, and stop suddenly at the lights. I was wondering why he was in so much of a hurry, and the only thing I could come up with was he going that fast to give him more time to watch himself in the rear vision mirros as he brushed his hands through his thick head of hair, and polish and straighten his shiny Ray Bans sunglasses. It was a bit compulsive. But he wasn’t just the king of speeding, he was also quite an expert at shepherding the other cars out of the lanes around him, and his use of the horn was quite special also.
In Dubai, people use their horns more than anywhere else I know. I would say on any built-up stretch of road, you’d hear a horn go off every 3 – 4 seconds. Most of the time, there are multiple horns going at once. There seems to be a number of contexts for people’s horning, and more than a few meanings attributed to it. Yes, the humble car horn is a multi-faceted communication tool.
From what I’ve seen, people use their horns to say:
- look out
- hurry up
- slow down
- don’t cross there
- hey, I’m driving here
- LOOK OUT!
- are you f-in crazy?
- you’re a mere pedestrian, don’t tempt me
- this is your last warning. Grrrr; and
- hey, it’s been quiet for three seconds – my turn.
The road rage statistics are actually quite low – if you believe the newspaper reports (which some have told me I shouldn’t do!)
We drove past some of the frantic construction of the Metro (Dubai’s first train system – expected to be running in Sept this yr). A sign on their wall caught my eye, “Know safety, no pain. No safety, Know Pain”. I thought this was quite insightful. Unfortunately it seems not everyone across the country has the same thinking. I was walking on a footpath, and at random intervals there were large and sudden drop-offs at least three feet in depth. I’d hate to be walking past there at night.
The night ended up going back to a birthday party of one of the expat gang. It was a pizza and trivia night party, where they used the Play Station 3 Buzz game. I was initially cynical, but it was extremely entertaining! Particularly when the teams were split into guys and girls, and the guys would only take points from the girls – to ensure their demise.