Friday, sorry I mean Thursday, was undeniably the hottest day I have experienced here so far. Stu picked me up to go for lunch, and the walk from the office to the car (probably only a couple hundred meters) was literally hell. I could feel the heat radiating off the paving and tar, and baking down on my head all at once. When I got into the car, happily very air-conditioned, the dash read 47!! Thats a record, well for me at least. We went to the Wafi Mall, which is part of Wafi City (an Egyptian themed complex) for a bite to eat at Wafi Gourmet. What an exquisite shop. Its a large deli-style restaurant laid out around a central counter laden with pre-prepared meals, cheeses and various meat dishes; and around the perimeter are baskets of fresh fruit and veg, olives, nuts, dates and other counters displaying sweets and pastries galore! Its a treasure trove.. Sadly I was not allowed to take a picture of the inside of the shop so you will just have to imagine the nicest deli you can and you will be close.
According to Wikipedia Ramadan is "a Muslim religious observance that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, believed to be the month in which the Qur'an began to be revealed. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which Muslims don't EAT or DRINK anything from sunrise 'til sunset."
Apparently what this means in reality is; that office hours are shorter (we will work a 9-3 day) to allow people to get home in time for sunset and the iftar meal which breaks the fast; that the roads are filled with hungry thirsty cranky people, with impaired abilities to concentrate, operating vehicles at great speed in enormous haste; that I will have to dress more conservatively, probably long sleeves and trousers; that you cannot eat or drink in public, this would include tea or coffee at your desk, and even chewing gum; that you should not be loud or play loud music; and that most restaurants will be shut during the day. Ramadan has been decreed to start on the 1st of September and runs for a month I understand. So, in preparation for this Stu and I made another run to the Cuda on Friday, as it will be shut for the duration of Ramadan, and we certainly do not want to run out of whiskey over this rather trying period. So call us alcoholics if you must but it really is a necessity this time, I'm sure you will agree!
Stu had read about a French themed brunch, or "Frunch" that they do at a hotel in the city center, and we had decided to give this a try for a change on Friday for lunch. What a fantastic meal we had. The restaurant was an oasis of calm and decorum, no kids screaming around the place and no hordes fighting for a spot at the buffet. The starters were miniature works of gastronomic art, almost too good to eat, and we literally gorged ourselves to a standstill. The bread, cheese and desserts were heavenly. We almost rolled out of there at 4pm when they closed, what a find!
Incidentally I have now been in Dubai a month, well 4 weeks and a handful of days to be exact, if you can believe it. It obviously doesn't feel like home yet, whenever I think of home I do think of JHB. Most of all I am missing my friends terribly, but mostly we are making steady progress and settling in. This week we joined the gym, and happily I have made a new friend or two here which has really helped. All our stuff is unpacked now, well that is the stuff that I didn't put into storage by mistake, and we have all the furniture sorted. I am noticing how much freer I feel living here, not having this constant background thought process running wondering when I will be robbed or hijacked. I am sure this has added 10 years to my life at least. I just wish the grey hairs would stop growing now!! :-)