Thursday, May 21, 2009

Adventures in the friendly skies

I am having a sneeze attack today. When I woke up this morning I was fine. I was OK during my shower too. But when I went to brush my teeth it started, the tingling in my nose, and then I exploded into non stop sneezing fit, spewing tooth paste foam all over the place. I think I have sneezed at least 300 times since morning and I look like Santa's favorite reindeer.

I am in a bad mood too, which is being made worse by our travel agent. We used to have another agency here; the lady doing the bookings was very accommodating and we could reach her any time and bug her for last minute changes - which are always necessary because my boss always changes his flight about 20 times at the last minute before he goes anywhere. But she was slowly going mad from the pressure of her job and started having paranoid persecution fantasies - that people were going to her home and disconnecting her internet, that her phone was bugged. Poor lady, I really wished I could do something for her. Anyway, now she is gone, and I am not happy with this new company or more accurately the agent they have assigned to deal exclusively with us.

I have been waiting for three days for information - forget an actual booking - about flights to the Czech Republic. First, after I explicitly told him that I didn't want any booking on any weird unknown Eastern European budget airlines and only wanted to hear about flights with airlines like Emirates, British Airways, Swiss Air or Lufthansa, and that I want to see a variety of options (carriers and timings) he sends me - after a day and a half - information about one single option on some Russian Airline that I have never heard of in my life. So I called him, and he tells me that, oh, because the final destination is Zlin and there aren't any of those major airlines going to the airport closest to Zlin (they only go to Prague) he took the liberty of making the bookings on some airline called Aerosvit or something like that. Now, no offense to Aero-Whatever or the country it belongs to, It might be a wonderful airline, a little known gem of the friendly skies, but if I haven't heard of it before, I am not that eager to discover what kind of service it has - and this is a sentiment my boss shares.

This is especially true for me, since the time I flew to Kish 10 years ago for my first visa change when I got here.

For those of you who have never lived in the UAE and don't have the pleasure of being acquainted with its ever-changing immigration laws, a visa change is when someone has to go out of the country to come back on a new visa. This was true for people on visit visas who needed to change to residence visas as well as for people on visit visas wanting to get a new visit visa. They have changed the laws a bit since then - and made them even more vague, so I wont bother to bore you with them in this post.

In my case, we had just arrived in the UAE to live. My husband had been transferred by Uncle Scrooge, from his Zanzibar operations to the Dubai side of the business. He had been in the UAE for a few months, setting things up, finding us an apartment that was cheap enough for Uncle to agree to pay the rent, etc. and I had gone home to the US for Christmas and stayed a few months longer than I expected to, partly due to delays caused by the UAE immigration authorities who kept botching my visit visa - misspelling my name, wrong nationality (they put my nationality as United Nations on one of them) etc. Once I arrived in the UAE, my husband applied for my and Salman's residence visas, and then we had to leave the country and come back in on those visas.

In order to cut down on the expense of visa changes, people would fly to the closest possible destinations and come right back on the next flight. So certain travel agencies developed quite a little business, in connection with budget airlines from neighboring countries to cater to this demand. My husband booked us on some little airline that flew to Kish and back.

I had no idea where Kish was. Until I got my ticket, I had never heard of it before. When I demanded that my husband tell me where it is located he shrugged his shoulders and told me he didn't know. I think he did, but he was afraid to tell me because I had told him I would go anywhere except Iran. (Nothing against Iranians, but as an American, I don't like going to places that have cheery popular slogans like "Death to America")

So I got on the plane, having no idea where I was even going. From the moment I entered, I began to suspect that I was risking my life. The plane was a small and quite old craft with dingy worn out seats. After everyone was seated two guys, in drab colored "western" style street clothes styled in a way that no western man would wear then (tan pants pulled up and belted a little too high, olivey brown button up shirt with a too thin gray shiny tie and a grayish-brown football jersey cut jacket on top of it), and not any sort of uniform that would identify that they actually worked for the "airline" (this is a term that I feel must be used quite loosely in connection with this particular company since I strongly suspect it only had one plane to its name) closed the plane's door, propped a metal folding chair under its handle and sat, on either side of the door glaring at me from under their uni-brows.

The chair alarmed me the most, I wondered the whole time what purpose it served. It seemed to be placed as some sort of latch for the door. I started to pray while the men's angry eyes stayed fixed on me. The plane bumped around a lot and roared suspiciously, even for a small plane. I was used to small planes. When we had lived in Zanzibar, we routinely had to take small passenger planes to get to mainland Africa. In comparison to this "airline" Kenya Airways seemed like a Luxury carrier.

When we landed in Kish, all women on board who were not already wearing abayas were handed one to put on over their clothes. This included me. I had my own abaya that I wore to Uncle Scrooge's Mom's funeral and my own scarf, I would have been happy to wear my own had someone let me know that I was going to Iran. But somebody (that somebody being my husband) hadn't told me, so I had to wear this ugly and very short abaya that god knows how many other women had worn before. My head started to itch at the thought of it.

We got off the plane and shuffled into the airport. Some official took an extra long time scrutinizing my American Passport and look from it to me to Salman to my husband.

The whole time I sat in the airport waiting to board the return flight I was thinking "my God, I am in Iran, if my parents only knew where I am now." I also started wondering what all the smug Presbyterian kids from my highschool would think if they knew I was wearing an Abaya and headscarf and sitting in an airport in Iran.... or the fact that I was married to someone whose official first name is Mohamed.

I managed to survive my first and only trip to Iran on an ancient airplane, but others weren't so lucky, some time after that a flight carrying visa change passengers between Kish and Dubai crashed.

The smallest plane I ever went up in was with my husband as pilot. He was building up hours on his pilot license so we went up in a 4 seater (including the seats for the Pilot and Copilot). We took off from Nairobi's Wilson Airport on the outskirts of the city bordering on South B and other newer residential areas. We flew out over the game parks, and landed on a small airstrip of one of the safari lodges (the same one where I found out later he had spent the night only a few weeks before with Nimisha, the first - but not last - Indian girl with whom he cheated on me during our engagement and marriage). We had a coke at the empty open air bar by the river. I can still remember the way the air smelled out there, so fresh, and the way the sun shone in the special way that it only shines out of a big African sky, and I still remember how alive and happy I felt, and how I loved him so much it felt like my heart would burst: I was about to be married; I was in Africa - Kenya - the place I will love most of all to my dying day: I thought all my dreams had come true. On the way back, we swooped down and flew over a herd of elephants. It was glorious. Even though the plane was really small, and it was quite windy, so we bounced all over the place, I never felt scared. My love was the pilot, and I knew he would take care of me and never let us crash, but if we did, I thought "at least I will die happy with my love by my side." Sometimes, in my darker hours, I wish we had died then - or I had - so I never had to see all of my dreams crumble, but then I would never have met my wonderful beautiful little boys, and that would be a much bigger loss than that of my dreams.

By the way, I am home now. I took a Clarinase tablet and my sneezing stopped, so it must have been some kind of allergic reaction, but my nose feels like it has been through a war.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Great way to end a week and six very good reasons why I should not have bothered to come to work today.

I had an absolutely splendid weekend.

That was sarcastic, it was actually pretty dull, except for some drama and a bit of blood and gore on Friday evening.

On Friday morning I drove to Oman. That went fine, no holiday this weekend so the border was pretty much empty. Only snag was when the Omani Immigration official somehow didn't notice my UAE visa and tried to charge me 60 dirhams, oh, and when a goat just stood there in the middle of the road in front of my car refusing to let me pass through the checkpoint gate. The goats, who hang out at the border (such a happening place) are used to cars honking at them, which means they are aren't bothered by the sound of honking at all. Coming back, the drive was fine, thankfully, I didn't almost plow down any Pakistanis this time - I was a little later than last time, so I think I missed the after-prayers road-side assembly.

I stopped at McDonalds and got food for the kids and the maid - myself too if you count a salad as food. My maid told me she wanted to go see her sister in Dubai and would come back on Saturday.

In the evening I took my kids to see the Star Trek Movie, which rekindled my childhood crush on Spock, though I have to admit I found the bad guy attractive too - then I remembered that Romulins (don't know if I spelled that right) and Vulcans are supposed to be related to each other. Also, though I didn't realize it at the time - what with the shaved head and the pointing eyebrows - the Bad Guy was played by Eric Bana, so I think that is reason enough to find him attractive. Spock's father also looked familiar but I just couldn't place him... now I realize that he is Ben Cross - (Harold Abrams - Chariots of Fire and the vampire, Barnabas - Dark Shadows).

When I got home, the kids started their usual rough play and were taking fly leaps from my bed straight at my wardrobe. When they do this, as they crash into it, just barely managing to grab the top edge, and then pull themselves and scramble up to the top, where they proceed to take flying leaps off onto my bed. Of course, this elicited yells and threats from me, so they settled for just wrestling on my bed, which ended up with Little Guy hitting his head against the night stand and howling. Salman looking guilty immediately started with the "well, he was on top of me and I was just trying to get him off"

I put my hand on his head and it felt wet so it was bleeding. I showed Salman, and he looked quite alarmed. "I didn't push him THAT hard!" he said. "Then why is his head bleeding?" At this point at the mention of blood Little Guy started to howl even louder. I took him to the bathroom to hose off his head so I could see the cut and if it required a trip to the ER - which I was praying it would not (though I know it sounds like great fun, a trip to the ER at 9:30 PM was not something I was looking forward to). When Little Guy saw the bloody water washing off of his head he wailed "Now you have killed me Salman! Salman is a KILLER!" and the howled in anguish some more. The cut wasn't the smallest one, but it wasn't quite what I thought needed stitches and the bleeding seemed to subside a bit after I washed it. So I put a towel on his head and said we would wait a little bit and see. Salman was crying at this point. I could tell he felt really bad, so I told him that if he wanted to help out he could go get ice from the outside freezer and put it in a plastic bag and hold it on his brother's head. Fortunately, there wasn't too much blood after that, so a trip to the ER for stitches was not required and Salman spent the rest of the evening trying to take care of his little brother.

Then we just sat quietly in my bed and watched Survivor Tocantins until we fell asleep. Finally they voted that weirdo "Coach" out. He didn't see it coming, of course, and referred to Stephen the geeky (but clever) Jewish guy as an "evil wizard" for voting against him.

The next day the only "big thing" we did was give the dog a bath. He didn't want one, so we had to drag him over to the hose, but once we got started he didn't fight too much. Of course he did do the doggy shake a couple of times and spray doggy water all over me - yay! Now he looks extra fluffy and smells nice too.

Now it's back to work, and I can't say it has started on the greatest note. I hope this isn't an indication of how "great' the rest of the week is going to be.

First I have big zit under my lip. It looks horrible and concealer doesn't really conceal anything.

Second, the driver showed up early and started honking wildly. That always makes me nervous; so I was rushing around to get out the door and forgot to pack myself something to eat for a snack or for lunch

Third, I could only find one of the pair of shoes I had planned to wear so I was forced to wear a pair that looks absolutely stupid with what I am wearing because I did not have any time to change into a different outfit. At times like this I can see the appeal of wearing an Abaya.

Fourth, I got in to work only to discover my desk covered in dirty water dripping from the A/C on the wall above my desk. This is the same A/C that drips water EVERY TIME IT IS TURNED ON and has been doing so for the almost one year I have worked here. In spite of the fact that the office has central A/C and this unit is not necessary - unless the central A/C is off - someone keeps turning the d*** thing on so I come and find my papers in my out tray and in tray covered with brown splotchy water stains and the carpet around my desk soaked so I then have to keep my purse and lap top bag on my desk all day and have no room to do anything else.

I have complained about this A/C repeatedly and the facility (maintenance) department always sends someone to "fix" it. Which for them just means sending one guy who stands there for a minute switching it on and off a couple of times and pressing some buttons and then leaving it telling me it will be "OK" now and then sending another guy about 10 minutes later when I call again because it has started spraying dirty water on my head. The second guy will watch it drip scratch his head, push a few more buttons and then switch it off again and tell me that it is dripping because ice built up inside, as if that is some sort of "excuse". I don't think they actually ever fix it, because it does the same thing every time it is switched on, unless they think turning it off = fixing it. In which case, I should be promoted to head technician since I can take those technical skills one step further and propose that we NEVER SWITCH IT ON to begin with. I don't know who keeps using it, but I swear if I ever find out, they are going to find me sitting at their desk when they come in next time.

I am beginning to understand why my boss says I need to stop being nice to people and should raise my voice more. Because, today I lost it, and for the first time, the technician who came said something different than what they usually say: "maybe we should remove this A/C"

Really you think so?!!

Hallelujah, finally! At last we are getting somewhere! Of course, I know that is is only the first baby step in what is sure to be a long and tedious process of me nagging them and reminding them to remove / replace it, which will probably involve:

More than one passive agressive email from me clearly and firmly stating the problem, then sarcastically refering to how "i know how busy they have been for the past year" and hinting at their incompetence, then descending into whining, and finishing off by an apologetic, thanks for your assistance and sorry for nagging so much, which I will throw in after I start to worry that maybe I sound too bitchy, and if I do, the next time the water pump shorts out at my home, the maintenance staff wont be so eager to assist me.

Several phone calls where I berate the helpless operations department receptionist and make her listen to all of my problems, which again will end with me suddenly feeling guilty, apologizing for getting too worked up, and thanking her for helping me.

Finally losing it at least one more time

Fifth, since my day was already going so well, I found out someone had also messed with the power supply so my printer was off and I could not plug in my lap top, so I also had a temper tantrum about that, and FINALLY someone agreed to replace the long white thing with multiple sockets in it (I can't remember the word for it at the moment).

Sixth, the icing on my cake, the IT department came and asked me to give them my "old computer"
"Excuse me, you mean the one I am using right now?"
"no the one you were carrying around"
"you took the one I was carrying around last week"
"no, we have the new one"
"that is the one I was carrying around"
"well we need your old one"
"well then I need the new one back"
"you will get it back"
"this evening"
"then you can have this one this evening"
"but we need to do a backup"
"then what am I supposed to use all day?" .... silence

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Invasion of the Giant Cockroaches round 2

Well, I am sitting in my room smothering in toxic fumes. because I just dispensed an entire can of roach spray on a two inch monster that was making a break across my hall from the bathroom for the kitchen.

I was sitting in my room minding my business, when Salman popped his head in the door with a terrified look on his face "Mommy!",
"What?!" I said, frightened by the look on his face.
"Mommy" he just said and start making gestures with his hand which I totally misinterpreted to mean something was terribly wrong with his little brother. I probably thought that because I was in the middle of watching a particulary heart rending episode of Ghost Whisperer - what a corny show - where the ghost was a kid who got run over by a lawn mower and it was his brother's fault because they were fooling around on the riding mower.

I harbor a secret fear that, in one of their many sessions of play that erupt into fist fights and slapping and kicking and punching, one of them is going to accidentally, but seriously, hurt the other one. Of course, when I tell them that when they are still mad and I say something like "don't ever kick your brother in the stomach, you could damage his internal organs and kill him" the offending child will say things like "good, I hope so, I hope he DIES! I wish I didn't have a brother!". The only one that seems to get upset by them saying things like that is me, and I say things like "don't you EVER say that you would feel TERRIBLE if something happened to him and it was your fault". I say such boring and predictable stereotypical mom things. I wish I could come up with something better than that, because that stuff doesn't catch their attention at all.

I vaguely remember saying similar things about hating one of my numerous siblings and having them say the same about me as well, but I never realized at the time how stressful it must have been for my Mom to hear it.

So anyway, I was imagining Little Guy in pool of blood in the hall, so I hauled my big butt off the bed and into the hall as fast as I could carry myself.

By the way .... even as I am writing this they have just fallen off the bed in a tussle and one of them has banged their head on the floor and is now slapping the other one.... and I am yelling and telling them to knock it off, and they are barely taking notice and I feel completely ineffective - at times like this I really wonder what it would be like to have daughters. When I came home from work today, I found Little Guy on top of my cupboard about to jump off....

Ok ...I am back (bet you didn't know I was gone); my shreiking, flailing of arms and threatening them with punisments I am currently too weak and tired to enforce (I am very sick with a bad cold or flu or whatever and worked 12 hours straight today) has made them quiet down for a couple minutes, so let's see... where was I...

Ah yes - the cockroach... so I ran into the hall and there I saw it. Now, on the one hand I was relieved that my youngest one had not lost any blood and was safely perched on top of the sofa in the family room; but, on the other hand I was horrified by the sight of the hefty insect that was hauling ass towards my kitchen ,where it no doubt had plans to deposit its huge egg sac so its little babies couldn't infiltrate and infect all of my food and cupboards. I screamed at the top of my lungs, and I guess it heard me because it stopped and turned towards me.

My poor maid, Sablah, who already thinks I am a psycho, came running wondering what nonsense I was up to. I was happy that this time she could see I had good reason for making a scene. She looked startled at the sight of the giant bug too, which just goes to show how big the damn thing was, because she is from Africa, and I know from personal experience just how big the roaches can get there. But at least she had the presence of mind to actually move (the kids and I were all frozen in our tracks) and run to the kitchen and fetch the can which had handy illustrations of dead roaches on it - she can barely speak English so I am pretty sure she can't read it at all. She was about to spray, but I was afraid she would just annoy it with a small spray that would send it running around in a frenzy that would scare the pants off of me. So I took the can from her and then pointed it at the roach and sprayed with all my might and didn't stop for a full two minutes.

Ok, the boys are at it again, one is being dragged off the bed by his leg by the other one and is hanging on for dear life to the bed spread which is slowing coming unanchored and sliding off with him... why did God give me boys?!!

Back to the roach.... By the time I stopped spraying, I had pretty much emptied the entire can on the creature, which was now lying on its back with its legs weakly waving around in the air. (Why do bugs always turn on their backs to die?) It was still way too alive for me to consider touching it, plus I was having a coughing fit, brought on by the fact that I already am sick and had inhaled about as much of the poison gas as the roach had. Luckily, Sablah is a lot braver than I am, because it was dead enough for her to pick it up with paper towel and dispose of it.

Now my little one (and I) are afraid to use that bathroom. I think they somehow get in through the pipes, because its not like I am breeding giant roaches IN my house, at least I hope I am not... obviously it is time to call the exterminator again. When we first moved in we called him and he sprayed everywhere inside and out and giant roaches were oozing out of the drains outside to die...

Sadly, this is probably the most action I am going to see all weekend, except I have to drive to Oman again tomorrow for the monthly visa change for the kids and you never know what might happen there - I don't know why I am saying that, it is never eventful... the closest our last trip got to excitement was when I was flying down the highway on my way back and I almost hit a bunch of Pakistanis who for some reason thought that the fast lane of the highway - right after a bend in the road - would be a good place to gather for their Friday after prayers meet and greet.
Apparently the side of the road isn't happening enough for them so they have to crowd on the median strip that is only one foot wide and has a cement barrier jutting out of it - which means they are actually standing in the road. I don't know what genius thought up that arrangement but I almost killed a bunch of them. Luckily no one else was in the other lane so I swerved. The best part was when I honked wildly at them and they all looked at me like I was out of my mind.

Sometimes what appears to be the total lack (or use) of common sense just astounds me. Yes perhaps the middle of a raod is normal place to gather when you live in a little village and the fastest thing passing by is a mule cart, but this was a goddamned multi lane highway where car and trucks fly by at 140+

Every time I drive somewhere and get home safely in this country, I feel the smug satisfacton that I have cheated death yet another time. God help me...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Max and Me

Salman is sick with some kind of bad flu or cold.

Yesterday "A" took him to the doctor for me. He came home with about 7 different kinds of medicine, and we had to make a chart to keep track of when he should take what, because it was too confusing to just remember. It turns out, after charting it all out, that the poor kid will be taking some medicine or another every two hours, which means of course I will be sleep deprived - luckily the antibiotic needs to be taken at times when I should be awake, and that is the most important of his medicines so if I accidentally snooze through some doses of calpol and nasal spray it might be OK.

Now, I think I am getting the flu/cold/whatever too. Lucky me, since I don't feel like I have the option to call in sick. I mean, when I am sick and I want to leave work at 4 PM - which is supposed to be closing time and when everybody else goes home - I feel guilty for leaving and find myself standing in front of my boss' desk red faced rambling on nervously about how ill I feel, and feeling like I am lying even though I am not.

Because Salman was sick, I had to take Max out for a walk all by myself yesterday evening. He was all eager and waiting when I got home from work and yelped in disappointment when I entered the gate and closed it behind me instead of taking him out. He probably had to relieve himself. I noticed he gets extra wild when he has to do those things and he does a weird little dance - the dog version I guess of the pee dance that little kids - and I - sometimes do when they have to go really badly and are kept waiting. Billy never did that, but that's because she had no qualms about pooping / peeing right in the front court yard if we did not manage to anticipate the exact moment in which she had to do her business. She was just starting to learn where such things should and should not be done when she had her accident. Poor Billy :(

Max is really smart; when he sees me holding my sneakers, he knows I am about to go for a walk, and he gets really excited. He is a really sweet dog, but he scares me a little when he gets excited. I am not really a dog person so they spook me easily. But he scares me, because after we got him, I was trying to figure out what kind of mutt he is, so I posted his picture on Facebook to see what my friends and family had to say, and most of them said he looks part Chow... So then I went and read about Chows, and I got freaked out because they are one of those breeds, like Pit Bulls, that are bred for agressiveness and have been known to turn on their masters and try to eat them - nice! I can't really imagine Max doing that, because he seems to make a conscious effort to be a "good boy" most of the time, but when he is hungry or has to "go" he acts a little weird sometimes.

Anyway, yesterday Max and I went for a really long walk - two times around an extremely big block - about an hour. When we first start out on our walks, he is always bursting with energy and has to inspect and then pee on every clump of grass, mound of dirt/sand, bush, tree or garbage heap we pass. That's kind of annoying when I am trying to keep up the pace of the walk so I can tell myself it was a "good enough" work out and not use my machine at home.

I don't know how I got to be so lazy. Just two years ago, I used to spend 2-3 hours at the gym - one hour of that on the stair mill. I used to have an awesome ass, which I didn't realize of course and only realize now after looking at old photos of myself in a bathing suit, which my mother took on the sly because I never was the sort to prance Bay Watch style on the beach in my bikini. Now my lower portions resemble dimpled bread dough, it's really rather frightening and depressing.

I watched Dr. 90210 do a "Brazilian Butt Augmentation" on some woman the other night. They suck fat out of the rest of your body and then pour it into some vat and stir it around - it looks like tomato sauce - and then pass it through a seive and collect the pure fat and inject it back in your butt so you get a popping round behind. I also saw them suck the fat out of some woman's knees and inject it into her hands so they would look younger. It's kind of tempting in concept ... to suck fat out of where you don't want it and inject it where you need it and are losing it... That's really one of the saddest ironies of life - that as you get older you find it easier and easier to store fat in all the wrong places while you keep losing it in all the places you need it - like your checks and lips and boobs. One thing I don't understand is how they can make the injections of liquid fat stay where they want it to... I mean, why doesn't the butt flatten out when you sit on it? I wonder is that a possible complicaton of such a procedure. If it is, I am sure that is what would happen to me... all the fat would be squeezed from behind and migrate to my thighs. God has a way of teaching me a lesson when I make any attempt to be vain at all.

One weird thing about that show, when they are doing a breast augmentation they blur out just the nipple - but since that is where they are working, I don't know why they bother to show the procedure at all. When they do a tummy tuck - by far one of the most disturbing things to watch (the way they cut of the big slab of fat and skin like it is a steak) - the don't blur anything, but when they were doing some nose surgery they blurred that completely - I can't understand why. I mean the nose is by far the least obscene part of the body of all those that they show - boobs, stomach, hips, butts...

That was kind of a tangent.... back to my walk.

Every time we get near a dumpster - which seem to be everywhere here teaming and overflowing with foul smelling garbage - he starts dragging me towards them - that's because they are hangouts for gangs of cats. Sometimes we will be walking peacefully and suddenly my shoulder is almost yanked out of its socket and I find myself hurtling at top speed towards a cat in the middle of a mountain of old decomposing food and soggy paper bits. The cats have quite an attitude and I think they enjoy it. They will stand there just staring at Max as he rockets towards them and then, just before he reaches, they shoot off and disappear into some corner or bush where he can't follow them. Others lay low in patches of weeds like tiny little lions hiding from their prey, watching in amusement as he wimpers and barks because he knows they are somewhere nearby but just can't quite make out where. Sometimes, when he is out on the courtyard, they get up on the wall and calmly parade back and forth in front of him, enjoying his frustration at not being able to reach them.

Max is quite a beautiful dog I guess, because every time we walk several people stop their cars to look at him, and children come out to ask me if they can pet him. Luckily, he is not a racist. My South African former co-worker had a racist dog. She only liked white people. Max doesn't seem to mind any skin color, maybe because my maid is black, my kids are brown and I am white. I've noticed, though, that white people seem to be the least afraid of him. A lot of Indian and African people especially look scared when we walk by and ask me if he is going to bite them. I tell them "no" but I sometimes have the urge to say "yes" just to see what their reaction will be. I guess I find the question kind of dumb, since you can kind of tell the type of dog that doesn't like strangers and will bite anyone it can, because they let you know by growling first, baring their teeth and barking at you. Max pretty much ignores most people and just acknowledges them with an absent minded wag of the tail; when he is out on his walks he is far more concerned with making sure every bush that Nelson (another dog in the neighborhood) has peed on is peed on by him too and chasing cats.

The thing I like about taking walks with Max is that I feel safe. Sometimes I get kind of creeped out if I walk alone. Max is a sweet heart and wouldn't hurt anyone, but he is big enough to look scary - he has fur like a lion's mane - so to strangers he looks quite formidable

I think Max has a cold too because he sneezed several times and his energy was low on our second time around the block. When a cat ran in front of him on our second round, he made a half-hearted lung towards it and then stopped, let out a wimper, and continued walking and towards the end, when a whole gang of the exploded out of a dumpster near us, he didn't even bother to do that. When I reached the front of our gate again, I decided to tease him and pretend I was passing it again for a third round. He stopped dead in his tracks in front of the gate and looked at me. "Come on Max" I said and tugged at the leash. He sat down and wimpered.

Dogs may not be able to "talk" but they can sure get their message across when necessary.

This is Max by the way....

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ye cannot serve both God and Mammon

I am really struggling with rage these past few days. I just don't know how to forgive my husband and my in laws. I guess part of me doesn't want to forgive them, because I feel like if I do, they will "get away" with everything they have done and not have to pay for it or own up to it some day. So most of the time, I try not to think about any of them so that I can move past it and let it all go, but somehow or another something comes up that brings all the pain to the surface again.

This time it's a wedding.

My sister-in-law got married a week ago. Normally a wedding is not an occasion that brings about feelings of rage; but you see, I found out about the wedding a few days later from my friend in Nairobi, a Hindu woman, whose daughter was invited because she is the step daughter of my cousin-in-law - which apparently is a more important relative to invite than the bride's brother's sons. Not that I have anything against my friend's daughter being invited, I just find it sad that my son's were left off the guest list. Yes, I know that they live here and probably wouldn't have been able to attend, but they still should have been invited the same way I am sure all other relatives living abroad were.

I dislike my in-laws for the way they have treated me, but I despise them for the way they have treated my sons - for the way they have erased them from their family so they could make way for my husband's illegitimate daughter and her useless mother who seems to have accomplished nothing since highschool except get pregnant out of wedlock, not once, but twice. Her first child is a 15 year old boy - I don't know who his father is.

From what I know, she never attended university and never worked for any extended period of time or in any sort of job worth mentioning. What she has done in the 17 years since she graduated highschool is gamble frequently enough to be known for having a gambling habit or problem, sit on her ass, and get pregnant by two different men, neither of whom were / are her husband, one of whom however was my husband at the time she slept first slept with him and unfortunately still is.

My husband likes to exaggerate and brag if there is anything at all that he thinks he can exaggerate or brag about, for example how "fair" his daughter is (whoop dee doo! forgive me for not being duly impressed) Now don't get me wrong, I don't think being white is better than being black, brown or tan. I don't think that possessing the ability to age and sunburn faster than other people is a great accomplishment (in fact I feel quite the opposite, and I prefer darker skin tones than my own), but being mixed race people (African and Indian )who are trying to pretend they are "pure" Punjabis, I realized not long into my marriage that being fair is a big deal for him and his family. Actually, let me correct that, being a fair skinned Indian is something to be proud of, but being a white person of European origin is something to be ashamed of. So, when he was crowing about his daughter's fairness, I knew he was boasting.

Anyway, whatever the case, the point is that he brags if he can, and when I asked him about his girlfriend, the most he could come up with was she has "worked a little bit" in her life time, and the way he audibly gulped and forced that admission out of his mouth told me a lot, namely that there isn't much to brag about as far as her accomplishments are concerned.

I suppose it seems as though I look down on her, and I suppose if I were to be honest I would have to admit that I do, as wrong as that may be, I just can't seem to help it. I am not inclined to like her anyway, all things considered, and I am even less inclined to do so after she casually informed me that my husband is "too busy" to talk to his sons so that is why he never calls them.

But what I am feeling right now, after hearing about this wedding, is partly due to the fact that it is stirring up lots of bad memories. You see, I found out about my sister in law's wedding almost the same exact way I found out about my husband's double life. The same friend's same daughter attended her father's engagement to my cousin-in -law a year ago and and, when telling her mother about it afterward, mentioned that my husband was there with his wife, which caught her mother's attention, since she knew that I am his wife and was fairly certain I was in Dubai at the time. So she asked her daughter "his wife? who do you mean?" to which her daughter replied with a shrug "I don't know, some big fat lady." My friend was then kind enough to tell me what she heard and what his cousin's mother (my children's great aunt) who live's here in Dubai was not kind enough to tell me - exactly how rotten my husband really is.

The news, though shocking and sickening, wasn't as surprising as it would have been if I had not already heard (from another Hindu girl who used to be his neighbor and whose sister is married to the brother in law of another of my husband's cousin) that her boyfriend had seen him out and about holding hands with "very fat muslim woman"(to quote him exactly) and shortly after that another rumor (from her sister's / his cousin's mother-in-law) that he had remarried and his wife had delivered a baby boy. When I first got wind of those stories, I called him and asked him about them, and he had denied them by mournfully stating in his best "poor lonely me" voice that he would never dream of marrying again and that he did not have a son, indignantly asking why I would believe the word of "troublemakers" and "gossips" such as his former neighbor and her sister and wondering out loud why people have nothing better to do than come up with such stories.

As soon as I heard what my friend's daughter reported, I knew it was true and that he had been lying. Aside from the fact that my daughter's friend and his former neighbor who do not know each other at all had both described this other woman as "very fat" (which seemed like more than coincidence), there was also no reason to doubt the word of my friend's 12 year old daughter who has no reason to lie or "make trouble." I then ambushed his Auntie here in Dubai with the news, and she denied up and down that she knew about it; she even swore, but I knew she was lying. How could she not know that her nephew attended her own daughter's engagement party with another woman everyone was calling his wife? I realized at that point that everyone that I had considered family and trusted had been lying to me all along.

Angry and hurt as hell, I confronted his cousin. Caught off guard, she caved, admitting everything, including the bit about the daughter and the added bonus, that he wasn't actually married to the woman in question but that they were just saying they were married so "the community wouldn't look down on them."

By the time I actually spoke to him about it, he had been warned by his family that I already knew everything. He was quite resentful, and his tone was oddly accusing, as if to say "how dare you find out that I am a cheating bastard and ask me to explain myself." He confirmed that they were not married and that he had no plans to marry again - a bit of information that he said in voice that seemed as if I was supposed to feel sorry for him. He told me his daughter was 5 months old and that she looks just like Salman. I told him that I found that highly unlikely considering that not only does she not have the same mother as Salman, but her mother and I are also of completely different races and Salman doesn't look exactly like him, and in fact has a lot of traits from my family. He completely ignored this and went on about how "fair" her mother is as if that was supposed to prove something, as if all fair skinned people are physically identical to each other.

His excuse for lying to me earlier, was that he had not in fact lied since he is not married and his child is not a son. I am sure God is impressed with his truthfulness.

So now here I am one year later, still married to someone who parades around in public with another woman who is not his wife and their daughter, who does not provide for me or his sons. All attempts to get a divorce so far have failed due to one legal technicality or another because we are in two different countries. From his side it would be easy enough, but he told me he doesn't have the money to pay the 2,000 dirhams ( about 600 US dollars) for court fees to process it. Meanwhile he bought a new car, and his girlfriend's facebook shows lovely picturees of them on an extended holiday at a hotel on the coast.

Oh, his sister married a Hindu man. This is the same girl who informed me on more than one occasion how it was such a disgrace that I am Christian and how ashamed the family is that I am Christian... Of course religion is only a consideration when the person is also the wrong race and not wealthy, so it seems that it doesn't actually matter at all. In fact they were also ashamed of his cousin marrying a poor half African Muslim Girl and another Cousin marrying a White revert. But they don't seem to have any problem with her marrying a Hindu or her cousins marrying Sikhs.

But her husband and her cousins husbands are RICH and "pure" Indians.

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (wealth)."

It seems obvious which one they serve.