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27.1.09

Observations...

I have been here for 3 weeks and 3 days as of this evening... I have to say that making this change has been surprisingly easy for me (so I think). Maybe I haven't gotten to the part of it being hard, but I have not had a good cry or regretted coming.

Things are very different here than what I thought it would be. I had done a lot of research on the area, and a lot of what I was able to find was about Dubai. Well that is another place all together. Where Dubai is glitz and glamor, Abu Dhabi is more down to earth and ordinary.

Sure there is the glitz, but then right next door there is the ordinary. Just like in any big city there is a wide range of incomes and people. And as in each city there are the problems and language barriers that come with the territory. There are all income levels, from those that make just 300 SD to those that make thousands per month. And, of course there are the problems that come with those lower income levels.

Mostly what I have seen so far is flat sharing with more people in the flat than we as western thinking people feel should be in one. Where we think maybe 2 or 3, there may be 8. Of course, when you think of that, you need to realize that those people are probably working here to send money home to their families and so all they really want is a place to sleep and a roof over their heads. They are happy with the basic needs and while they may have wants, it is not a ruling factor in their lives like it is for so many of us westerners.

When we were at the Hilton, we met several of the staff there. I got to talking with one of them and asked if he had a family. He said yes, they were back in Sri Lanka, he has a wife, and 2 daughters. He brought in some pictures for me to see. He has a lovely house of which he is very proud of, a beautiful wife, two adorable girls, a beautiful German Shepherd dog. Another one we met, has been here for 16 years, he is also from Sri Lanka and will be going back to visit in April. He is a fortunate one here, he has a vehicle that he drives to work.

As in every case, there is the good along with the bad. I just read a story in Emerites Woman last night that detailed some of the horrendous living conditions and working conditions that the beauty industry workers live in. They are practially slaves to their empoers whims and if the miss an hour of work, they loose the whole days pay. On the other hand, there ae some spas and treatment centers who are trying to reverse that and they take care of their staff wonderfully.

Every one that I have met has been absolutely wonderful. They have been most kind in helping me outi n learning to navigate the bus system and in giving directions. I have never felt un safe in any of the areas I went... maybe a bit uncomfortable, but not un safe. The people here are very kind and generous.

On a closing note...

I just finished an awesome book last night. If you can find it, it is a must read. The book is called Rags to Riches by Mohammed Al Fahim. It details the account of the Abu Dhabi area and the incredible hjourney the Emiraties have been on over the last 60 years. It is absolutely and incredible journey.