Thursday, October 20, 2005

Out And About

I have given myself 'a day off' today, because it's Twisted's birthday. Oh, and mine, of course. And Tom Petty, Snoop Dogg, Jelly Roll Morton and Sir Christopher Wren. They're all coming round to partaaaay later I expect. BetterArf's in charge of the evening's entertainment so I don't really know what might happen.

BetterArf presented me with a beautiful radio/CD player to go in the big red Beemer, and at about 10 am we set off in the direction of Satwa with the ultimate goal of finding someone who could install the thing. On the way we had to stop at my office in Media City to pick up BetterArf's passport with its shiny new visa in it and also my card and prezzie from Offspring (which unfortunately seems to be 'lost in the post'). Then a brief stop at my bank (not the gorgeous HSBC, the other one) to see if they felt like giving me any money. They didn't. Then a stop at Spinney's Centre in Umm Suqeim where BetterArf had to do some extended business with her 'bank'. And finally to Satwa Racetrack, the home of all things car.

By the way, I was shocked and surprised to see a whole bunch of Ramadan violations both at Media City and Spinneys. I saw people variously smoking, eating sandwiches and drinking stuff. In public. In my 12 years in Dubai, I have never seen this happen before. During Ramadan us non-Muslims are expected to show a bit of respect to the fasting ones, and not eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours. In fact I think it may be the law. But we can usually do these things in screened-off restaurants or cafes, so it's not exactly a hardship. And of course what you do in your own home is your own business.

Anyhoo, I felt uncomfortable seeing these folks blatantly ignoring the rules, and if it hadn't been my birthday I might well have approached them and asked them what on earth they thought they were doing. But I didn't because I don't want to get my head kicked in and have to spend a few days in hospital and miss the strippergram.

We arrive at Satwa Racetrack, find a car accessories shop (Quite Easily Done), and get a guy to rip out the old and plop in the new. Except it isn't as simple as that - he wants to sell us new speakers. That's ok, not a problem, and we think we've agreed on a price. But he doesn't. He thinks he has to wire the radio into the old speakers so we can hear how bad they sound. This takes him about an hour, during which time BetterArf and I take it in turns to wander around Satwa, soaking up the authentic atmosphere of Old Dubai. (We used to live in Satwa and loved it to bits). He switches on the radio and it sounds like poo and we ask him when he's gonna put the new speakers in. Oh, you want the new speakers? Yesssss. So he sets about ripping out the old speakers and threading new cables around the place. Eventually he's done, and we are somewhat dehydrated.

I haven't mentioned up til now that the air conditioning in the Beemer has not worked properly throughout the entire week that I've owned it. I mean, it does work, but it needed some magic gas to make it blow cold. And where do you get a/c gas? Satwa Racetrack! We move on and get all gassed up, and then we head off for home.

We are both desperately thirsty, so we stop at a petrol station and get a couple of Pocari Sweats (I still don't know what kind of animal a Pocari is, nor how you harvest the sweat from it). We drink it all there and then in the car on the station forecourt, reckoning that we fall into the category of bona fide travellers - we've travelled 40 km without a/c and been out in the sun for two hours.

Time for a wee snooze before the evening's revels...