Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Fixing Stuff

It is often said that when things go wrong, they do so in groups of three. I’ve had three things to deal with in the last two days – not things that have gone wrong, necessarily, but stuff that I would have preferred to have dealt with one at a time.

Thing 1) My Trade Licence. You may or may not know that to do business in the UAE, you have to have a Trade Licence. It’s best to think of this as tax in advance for the coming year: the cost of a licence varies depending on how big your company is, what business you are in, etc. My licence is done through Dubai Media City, and it was due for renewal four months ago but we’ve been having a bit of a dispute over how much I should actually pay. It has been quite hard to resolve but for the first time ever I have a client who actually wants to see a valid Trade Licence before releasing payment, and that brought the issue to a head. So I spent the whole of yesterday morning getting the licence sorted out.

Thing 2) In connection with the above, I noticed that my passport had expired the previous day. Thank God I noticed it then and not at an airport check-in counter! First thing to do, organize photos. I checked out the requirements on the British Embassy website – light background, no smiling, no masks etc. And also they are now doing biometric passports and iris-scans, fingerprints or DNA may be required. OK, I lied about the DNA, but it meant that BetterArf’s offer to whizz down to the Embassy and do the job on my behalf could not be accepted.

Anyhoo, BetterArf took a picture of me looking glum (proper Brit-style), I Photoshopped it a bit, and then attempted to print it on our Sony photo-printer: no dice (no ribbon). Huh.

Plan B: take the file on a chip and get it printed at the fag kiosk outside building 2 at DMC. No dice: they no longer offer a passport photo service (translation, the guy on duty didn't know how to work the kit - he let me have a go myself, but the ancient laptop they use refused to recognise my chip and wanted a driver).

Plan C: have a fresh photo taken at the photo shop in building 8. This I did, but they were hugely busy and it took an hour to get the job jobbed. Back to my building: no Brits around to countersign the back of one photo saying 'I know this geezer'. So I finished off the stuff with DMC - the important bit, giving them money, and went home. I called an old friend who lives nearby to get him to countersign the photo and complete a part of the form. Sorted.

Up bright and early this morning to get to the Embassy. I hand over the form, the photos and the fee (dhs 640, if you're interested), and they give me a receipt and send me on my way. 'What about the biometric doodad?' I ask. 'Oh, we do that by scanning the photo'. No way! You can barely tell what colour my eyes are, never mind anything else! Whatever, new passport ready in two weeks, offers invited for old one (joking!).

Thing 3) Now this is a killer. I confess that I have not been to a dentist for treatment for an obscenely long time. Although I do have two clients who are dental clinics and I've seen their charges. Which is why I don't go! But for the last month or so, one of my molars has been a bit iffy, to the extent that I've had to avoid eating with that side of my mouth. Two days ago I happened to chomp down on the offending molar, and the pain was agonising and lasted about an hour. Some time later it happened again. Clearly this was not going to go away, and something had to be done.

A friend recommended a new and reasonably-priced clinic in Satwa, and I called them to make an appointment for this morning. The clinic was pleasant, the doctor very professional and anxious to avoid unnecessary pain. The equipment was state-of-the-art - the chair has an x-ray machine and a video screen attached (I was watching 'Hitch' when my eyes weren't screwed shut in pain). But the job is a root canal. Ow, ow, ow! I'll spare you the details, but one of the nerves was inflamed, and I had about 45 minutes of intermittent pain as the doctor tried to numb the nerve and then work on it. Finally it was done and a temporary filling bunged in. I have to have two more treatments for this, the next one is next Saturday when I'm expecting more agony, but the one after that will be ok - that's when they nail a crown onto the remains of the teeth. And after that I guess I'll have my other two amalgam fillings replaced with nice shiny whitish ones.

BetterArf had heroically gone with me to hold my hand (ie make sure I didn't bottle out) and we went for lunch when it was all over. I had lentil soup. How's your soup? 'Tastes like lidocaine' How's your bread? 'Tastes like lidocaine'. Etc.

Hours later, everything still has that antiseptic dental flavour, but I don't have toothache anymore. Yeehaa!