Friday, July 31, 2009

Cost of Living in Abu Dhabi?

By the way, as I mentioned below, I was offered the job in Abu Dhabi. Can anyone familiar with Abu Dhabi tell me how much a person needs to earn to be able to live in a 2 bedroom apartment there, send two kids to an OK school, pay a maid's salary, and hopefully save a little bit each month?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Max is BACK!! and Update # 2

First of all thanks to all again, and for those of you who were concerned about Max, he finally came home! A lovely British family found him. Thank God it was a British family - Brits tend to be dog lovers - at least that is what I have observed from the ones I have seen / met here. At the very least they aren't dog haters.

At work on Monday I told them that I really don't want to come in anymore since I don't see why I need to be there, and I had nothing to do. I had been helping the PR lady with the newsletter - by proof reading and editing all of the different articles for the columns in it and that was finished so I didn't see the need to be hanging around.

They asked me about the offer they had given me and I told them, excuse me I only got it on Thursday afternoon and I asked for more information and for them to increase it and they haven't got back to me on that, so how can I answer them? I also told them that I can't give them an answer on it right away because I haven't had the time to go out and see if I can find any other accommodation that will fit into my new greatly decreased budget.

Now here is what they are offering me - pretending to be magnanimous - termination - plus the new crappy pay or termination plus one more month pay off. They will also pay me off for my leave days that I have built up and not used. They will not however give me my return tickets for me and my boys that are part of my contract with one year of work (I have worked more than one year) They told me because I am terminated they only need to give me one way tickets but the cheapos are not giving me the actual cost of one way tickets - which cost almost the same as return tickets - they are halving the price of a return ticket which is completely wrong. I told them that I don't see what the hell my annual ticket which is one of the benefits offered in my contract has to do with me being terminted, the reason I hadn't taken my leave yet was that Fatema had been on the verge of quitting since January, and I couldn't leave her alone in the office because I was afraid of what they would to to her. THEY were the ones who refused to find a replacement for her and took advantage of her good nature (she was waiting train her replacement) to force her to stay there 6 months longer than she wanted to stay. So now they are cheating me out of the tickets that I was planning to use to send my kids home and hopefully bring them back again once I got things sorted out (God willing). Furthermore they told me I don't get my gratuity - gratuity is a payment equal to one month's basic salary provided you have worked for a company at least one year - this is mandated in the labor law and yet they told me "you haven't worked here three years yet so you don't get it". I also found out that according to labor law if they terminate me illegally, without any prior warning letter, I am entitled to three months pay off (it is like a fine they have to pay for doing that.) So they aren't being magnanimous in what they are offering they are being cheap and dishonest. And technically, since they are still treating my case as a termination and rehire, if I take the new job with them, I would be entitled to all of those things anyway.

Anyway, back to Max.

I was really worried about him - especially after the Russian lady who owns the hair salon nearby called some of her friends who live in the area and asked if they had seen him. She is married to a local and knows many people who live around there. One of them, who knows what Max looks like said she had seen him on the corniche roaming with two other dogs on the loose. This really worried me since the corniche is across a rather busy road. I know he is smart, but Billy was smart too, and she got hit by a car. So Salman and I dashed over to the corniche and walked the entire length of it and back again calling "Max!" at the top of our lungs. People were looking at us like we were a couple of weirdos. I asked some of the people walking there - ones who look like they might be people who exercise there regularly if they had seen him, both of them said they had seen a dog lying in the grass and one of them said she saw a kid kicking it. This really upset me, because it made me wonder if he was hurt that he would just lay there while some kid kicked him.

Anyway, in spite of walking for almost 2 hours - we still hadn't found him. Salman was really upset and said he was angry at the maid. (I suppose anonymous will accuse him of abusing her too now based on that bit of information.)

Someone I met on my walk suggested I call the municipality in the morning to see if they found him, so that is what I planned to do. I was really hoping they did have him, because I was beginning to lose hope.

The next morning I had to wake up bright and early to leave for my interview in Abu Dhabi. "A" called and said he was on his way from Dubai to pick us up and take us (God love him). I had decided to let the maid go to Dubai for a few days to visit her sister and told her the evening before to be ready by 7 AM or "se-ven morning time" in maid speak (yeah that's right anonymous). She was really happy about that. So of course at 7:05 AM, the kids and I were showered dressed and ready with our things in the hall and the maid was nowhere to be seen, so Salman went and knocked on the door to her room. At 7;15 AM she showed up in kitchen in her pyjama's. I asked her "why aren't you ready?" and when she stared at me blankly, I followed that by "why you no take shower and wear your clothes - you go like this?" her answer "I make breakfast for you" - this she is saying while looking at the cup with eggshells in it from the breakfast that I had already made and that we had just finished eating. Since when does she make my breakfast? I would like to know. Luckily "A" was late - usually he isn't and he doesn't like for people not to be ready when he shows up so she managed to get ready before he arrived. If she hadn't been, I wouldn't be surprised if he had left her or told her to take a bus to Dubai. I KNOW anonymous - the horror of it! I am such a horrible person for wanting to get to my job interview on time!!

Anyway the job interview went really well , they offered me the job right on the spot! The pay wouldn't be bad either if it was in Dubai or here, but for Abu Dhabi it isn't so good because of the cost of housing - really, it is insane there and this job has long hours and only Fridays off. Plus almost all of the staff are men - so its not like I would even be able to make friends on the job. So, I am going to be barely scraping by, I might as well be doing it here in a bigger house and coming home at 4 PM every day instead of 7 PM. But still it felt really good to be offered - and on the spot too! Especially since the Deputy Director at my current place of employment told me "you should just take our new offer, you wont get offered anything anywhere else" Since in money terms this AD offer is substantially higher (though not in real terms in view of the hours and cost of living), I feel like going into the office and waving it in her face. God the way they undervalue people and drag them down is really something!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Missing Dog - Max is gone :(

Well, as if I didn't have enough to deal with at the moment. My dog Max is missing - either someone stole him or he is dead somewhere.

I got a nasty message from some anonymous freak earlier - who flipped out at me for saying that it bothered me that my maid was chatting on the phone with local boys and I find her a little strange. Apparently the ranting anonymous knows SO much more about my maid and my life than I do.

So, for my anonymous "fan" (ha!), if you read this, you are going to love this one, I wonder what you will write in response. My maid let the dog out of the courtyard and into the street. I have a feeling she did it on purpose, because she is incredibly stubborn and thinks she knows everything better than I do, but she might have done it on accident (when taking out the trash) - whatever the case, either way I am pretty sure she knew what she had done and instead of letting us know, she went and took and nap and then two hours later "innocently" alerted us to the fact that he was missing.

I got home at around 5. Max was in the hallway of the house as he always is during daylight hours because his fur is too thick, and I am afraid he will get overheated. We have a tall wall around the house and big black iron gate, so there is no way for him to get out of the house unless someone opens the door to the house and then opens the gate. as well He can't do either of these things himself as he lacks the necessary appendages. The last time I saw Max, he was lying in the hallway staring at me as helped myself to a mouthful of chocolate whipped cream. Then I went into my bedroom with my boys. They were with me the whole time, so I know they are not responsible for letting him out.

Next thing I knew, I was getting ready to take Max for his evening walk, and he wasn't anywhere to be found. Of course the maid, did the usual - blame the kids routine - she lies a lot and blames the kids for it. Like the time she called Ethiopia from my phone - she said my six year old did it. That was just plain stupid for her to even try to convince me that it was him. As if I can't tell who is responsible - the six year old boy or the ETHIOPIAN adult. I was more mad about her lying than I was about her making the phone call. Best part of it all was that she had a received call from the SAME number on her mobile phone.

Now there are a couple of reasons why I am certain it was the maid who let (threw) Max out. The first one being that kids were with me, so there is no way they could have done it. The second being that she has tried to do it before because she stubbornly insisted that he would come back on his own, and I had told her not to do it several times. The third one being that Max hates going out in the heat and only goes out if someone deliberately makes him go out / or takes him out for a walk. Even if he is not on his leash and the gate is open he doesn't go outside unless someone makes him do it. And the fourth one being that when The kids and I went out to run look for him, she suggested we look in certain direction - one that would have actually been the last place I would assume he would have gone (I was looking behind our street in the neighborhood where we usually walk him.) But lo and behold, after not finding him anywhere behind the house, we went in the direction she said and we asked one of the shop people if they saw him and they said they had seen him walking that way a couple hours before. So I think she let him out - maybe even took him out on his leash and then loosed him, saw which way he went, took her nap, and when she woke up, was surprised to see that he hadn't returned on his own and then tried to cover her ass.

But it's not like I am stupid. because, unless we have a ghost in the house who can open the doors, she did it, there really isn't any other explanation. Plus now she is walking around looking guilty - I don't think she meant to harm him; she just thought she knew that he would come back
We looked everywhere we could thnk of for him and asked people we saw on the road, but aside from the shop attendant, none of the people we spoke to had seen him. I hoped that he would wander back at night, but he never came. I am so worried about him. I hope he didn't get hit by a car. I wonder if he is out there somewhere and is hot and hungry and doesn't have water. I couldn't sleep half the night, and then when I did, I dreamt that I was looking for him and I found him and I was so happy, and then I woke up. He really was the sweetest dog, and I miss him terribly.

Salman is really upset, and he was more upset when the maid tried to accuse him of doing it...

I hope someone found Max and is taking good care of him. One thing that makes me feel better is that I know he is a beautiful dog and that people used to stop and ask me for what amount I would sell him. I hope one of them found him.

If anyone reading this lives in Ras Al Khaimah and has seen him, please let me know... you can see his photograph in my earlier post "Max and me."

Saturday, July 25, 2009


First I want to say thank you to everyone who responded to my last post. I honestly didn't expect anyone to read it, much less really care what is happening in my life over here in this little corner of the world. You all have given me a fresh outlook on humanity.

I was raised in a conservative family, with nice honest, God fearing, and quite frankly, naive parents, who sheltered me from a lot of crap. Growing up and living in the real world has at times been quite tough and shocking. I had just naively expected that things like hard work, honesty, being a real friend, etc. would be appreciated, but I had found that it was often quite the opposite, that many people look for those traits, not because they appreciate them, but so that they can exploit them. So I have had many rude awakenings in my life.

My circumstances since my husband left have not helped. I have realized that being a single mother who is just desperate to care for her children is something that many people will try to exploit - particularly employers. They think "oh she can't lose her job so we can treat her as badly as we want." I don't think it is a coincidence that I have had mostly bad employers since my husband left and mostly nice ones before he left / before I knew he wasn't returning.

Anyway, once again thank you all for letting me see a kinder and better side of humanity again.

As for an overview of my situation and an update:

Well as you all know, I was forced to go into work so I could make sure that everything is smooth sailing for my replacement. Any little question she has, any little thing she is trying to find, she comes running over to my desk to get the answer and 99% of the time I have the answer for her. This is not how it was for me when I joined. Because my boss is habitually monstrous to the person in that position, most people haven't stayed more than 6 months and the longest has been a year - or two years if you count Fatema, but she as not working directly with him the whole time. Because of people leaving, quitting, being sacked abruptly, there was never any proper hand over from person to person, the newcomer was always saddled with piles of crap -with no explanation as to its relevance and sorting through it became secondary to current crap that was being piled on daily, so often it remained untouched, until they like their predecessors were sacked and so the mess remained and grew. Because I managed to last a year, I did manage to sort through quite a bit of it and get the junior office staff to clean up a lot of the mess.

When I joined, the shelf in our office area was literally exploding with junk - old newpapers, magazines, company profiles, random documents, you name it - it was all jammed on that shelf, and I being new wasn't sure of the relevance of many of the things on it. I went through some things, and threw away what I could tell was not necessary, filed some things that looked important and I nagged Fatema until finally, when we got the trainee in to help us with a lot the daily and petty takss, they got the rest done.

There were stacks and stacks of unfiled business cards. There wasn't anyone to give me a frame of reference for the old ones that were collected before my time, but I did manage to make a shared contacts folder in Outlook that he could access with the cards from the past year - or the important looking ones - less important cards were given to the trainee to enter into a more general database. Because he was always bleating about how he is "visually oriented" I even made the online cards look like the original ones so that when he looked at them they would look familiar, when possible we also saved photographs of the person the card corresponded to (to jog his visual memory).

Before I came, they were not using the Outlook to manage calendars, I made it so that I and Fatema and his deputy had direct access to his calendar, and we could makes changes to it as necessary - and since he is constantly cancelling and postponing and double booking himself, this was necessary. It also made it so that everyone who needed to could see what was going on in the office by way of meetings. I also got access to most of the directors' calendars so that, when scheduling meetings that required the presence of many of them, it was easier to schedule a time that was convenient for all.

When this lady came, I gave her a detailed description of projects currently underway and briefed her on their history and what is the expected next step - no one did this for me. Everything I learned on my own. Fatema was as helpful as she could be, but since she hadn't been handling his emails or projects and had only been assisting with a few things, she couldn't really help me with the sea of unfiled e-mails floating in his inbox. But I filed literally thousands upon thousands of unfiled e-mails so that they would be easier for him to find and, now, her. All of these were huge and ongoing processes that were constantly being interrupted by the daily stuff.

But I got credit for none of the above. Instead I was blamed for things like the time he forgot to pick up his own wife and son - which I described in an earlier post; Or for Fatema's sudden quitting; Or for the fact that he would completely forget something about which I had spoken with him in detail - sometimes on more than one occasion; or for the time one of his big shot directors was with him in London and had behind my back gone and cancelled and rearranged his meetings there and then forgotten to tell him or me about it - (for that I got a phone call where he screamed at me about how incompetent I am); or the time the same director called from overseas and said he needed to talk to him about something and he said he would call him as soon as he got in the office and so when I reminded him about it when he got in the office he screamed at me for what I still don't know; or the time HE gave Fatema the wrong address for his grandmother and then his mother told them she would pick it up from the office herself (instead of giving the right address) and then didn't for a couple weeks; and countless other inane things like these.

So now, miss replacement gets to come and sit at the nice clean desk - which I did her the favor of leaving in an orderly condition (unlike my predecessor who left me with drawers, in and out boxes full of miscellaneous crap of unknown importance or significance. If she needs something from the shelves, it is right there where she can find it, because the shelves are labeled nicely. There are also soft copies of many important things stored online on the shared folder that was created while Fatema and I were there. And of course, I made sure I showed her how to access them - while explaining how to use a calendar notification and how to put her phone on silent!

Anyway, the past few days I have been sitting at some desk loaded with crap from God Knows Who back the corner near the PR officer and the Technical and Legal Advisors. He doesn't usually wander back that way and that is fine by me, since the sound of his voice makes me cringe.

I read through my employment contract and noticed the termination clauses, and sure enough, they have fired me illegally since there is supposed to be an investigation and review period followed by a warning period, before termination. I also read that since company provided accommodation is part of my contract, I should have at least one month still after termination in my house. So I called up the Accounts and HR and blasted them about the situation with my landlord and housing. So they sorted that out and I now have housing for a few more weeks at least. Though not much, it is better than nothing. Then I made sure to tell a few key people, who would run to him with everything I said, that I know my termination was in violation of my contract AND labor law because there was no cause for the termination - according to the termination clauses - and because there was no reason for termination mentioned on the termination letter - not mention that it isn't actually my name at the top of the letter, since they mispelled it horrendously.

So on Wednesday, Miss Replacement comes stomping over to my desk and summons me into his office. So I made sure I rolled my eyes visibly - they told me not to SAY anything but no one mentioned facial expressions.

Then I went in there. I was wearing 3 inch heels - so he made me sit down in the boardroom. I realized later he was using his classic intimidation method on me. He always makes you sit down - especially if you are taller - so he can feel big - and then he sits too close and having his ugly face so horrifyingly close is enough to make people like me panic and just want to get the hell out of there. Anyway, he then says to me "where's M" (HR coordinator). And I am like "how should I know?" Then he says to me " So what can we do for you?" and said "I didn't ask to come in here - you called me in" then he went on about how they are thinking of giving me a new position within the organization - editing - and would I take it? And I said "how can I tell you if I would take some offer I haven't seen and a job that hasn't been described to me yet?" then Miss Nosey Pants Replacement butts in and he carried on with his conversation in her presence which I thought was highly inappropriate and she sat their nodding as he started (showing off for her) asking me if really think I can manage the new position and do a good job (the implication being that he highly doubts I am capable of doing anything well) and she sat there nodding and clicking in agreement, and I wanted to smack both of them.

Of course, I know he is covering his ass. Obviously, if I had committed some kind of infraction or done something illegal or wrong that was truly worthy of termination, they wouldn't need to offer me anything else, but he knows that I know that my termination was illegal. So he has come up with a clever way to cover his ass AND humiliate me at the same time - offer me a lower paying job.

Anyway, on Thursday, I was sitting at my desk again. And he came back that way looking for the Legal advisor, and then popped over into the accounts sections and then he came over to my desk - which he didn't even need to do - and asked me how I am doing and I didn't even look up at him - I said fine in a very unfriendly voice and didn't greet him or ask him how he is in return. I hate how pleased and satisfied he is that he has gotten away with being a jerk yet again.

Towards the end of the day, HR called me to come up and they gave me this shit offer of less than I was making before I took this job, with a basic salary lower than I have EVER got before. So, having not slept at all the night before, and being in a pretty crappy mood, I flipped out and told them to they can keep their crappy offer since I can't really provide for my kids on it and that I am SICK of their games and that since they have pretty much messed up my life and I have nothing to lose I am going to make sure I take the company and my boss down with me if I can and I won't give up until I do. Then they got all concerned trying to calm me down and I told them, are you people sick, deceiving someone into giving up their stability in Dubai to come up to this place and then doing this to them? And the the HR manager - it was her last day of work incidentally - said, well you didn't have to take the job and come here, And I said, "well I wouldn't have if you people hadn't lied about the position and the boss." I said, "when a boss has a history of doing this kind of thing to people, you have an obligation to let them know this - and if the person is a mother with children who depend on her, you shouldn't even bother trying to recruit her - you all KNOW what a jerk he is, so everytime you recruit someone you know that he will do this and you KNEW my situation, so you should have realized that something like this might very well destroy my life or cause me severe hardship. Now I am stuck up here in the middle of no where with no where to go!" I was yelling. Then I told them that since he is an employee too, he should be subject to rules and restrictions on his behavior and not be allowed to just abuse his power at will.

So now they are going to ask him if they can at least make it as much as I was earning before I came here, which really won't help since my rent there was very cheap, my kids' school was 1/3 cheapers and the Water and electricity bills and other expenses were much cheaper in Dubai too. But maybe I might be able to squeak by on it until I find something else. But I don't know if he will agree to it or not anyway, probably won't knowing him.

Then in the afternoon, Miss Replacement very condescendingly asks me "did you have time to consider what Mr .. talked to you about yesterday?" and I looked at her and said "I am not allowed to discuss this issue with you" and then I said "or rather, I am not allowed to discuss my true feelings regarding this situation with you" and her eyes got all wide and she said "oh!"

Now I still don't know where I stand or what to do. I don't know if I should take the job just to hang on for now - but I am afraid it will put me in more debt to live here when I can't really afford to. .. I think every month I will use all of what I earn plus a bit of the paltry settlement they give me for my old position.

I have been thinking about how I want to change my life for good. For a long time, I have wanted to become certified to teach English as a second / foreign language, but I never had the time or money for it. I still don't have the money, but I can't shake the idea. Being a teacher would be great - I could sponsor my kids easily - no questions, no leaving it up to the whim of some official or another and If I could get a job at a school, I could get discounted tuition, and hours that are great for a working mom. I have been looking for online courses that I might be able to take gradually, but I haven't found anything for sure yet.

Oh I have a job interview in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, I have no idea if it will be a good job or not, I certainly hope so, because if they drag me all the way there and then tell me that they are looking to pay 2,000 dirhams, I am going to be pretty upset. I told them what I was making here though, and they still called me back about the interview, so I am hoping that means they are willing to pay close to that at least! So if you all could please pray for me, though I don't want to have another bad job, so please pray for me that if I do get any future job offers they aren't from monsters in disguise like this last one.

And that's the latest with me... In short, I'm still alive and trying to figure this out...

OH and I peeped in my boss' webmail and lo and behold the HR has sent him templates for NEW contracts which make it easier for him to do this to people (meaning they can't accuse him of illegal termination with this new contract). Nice how they are facilitating his behavior.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

God Help Me I feel like I am dying

This might be my last post for a while. Quite frankly, I don't know what is going to happen to me. I have lost everything.

I was fired from my job suddenly and for no reason. After one year of working enough overtime (without compensation) to amount to a whole half year extra of work and being verbally abused and degraded on a regular basis by my employer. I have now been terminated.

In the UAE in July it is next to impossible to find another job - I know because I have been jobless at this time of year before. And this time it is worse because the economy is bad. I gave up everything in Dubai - including my super cheap apartment - and moved to Ras Al Khaimah. My boss was such a hugely nasty man that I actually hung onto the other apartment as long as I could, but the company confirmed me, so I let my guard down and let my apartment there go.

Now I am living in company paid accommodation, so I have nowhere to go after this. Without an employment / residence visa, it will be impossible for me to find another place to live, plus my home computer just broke so I have no way to apply to jobs easily - or find them online (I am writing this from my work computer)... not that there is much on offer - there wont be until after Ramadan. By that time, the shitty little pay out I will get from this job will be long gone. I don't have enough money to get back home. I have two little boys to support. When I think about it, I feel like I am going to have a heart attack. I have a loan I have to pay back, without a job and no money they will throw me in prison because this places operates like it is in the Middle Ages when it comes to things like debt. So I have to send my boys away from me for a very very long time and try to pay off my debt or sit in jail - either way they will lose their mother and I will lose the only things in this world that have kept me going all this time.

I tried to stay here in this country so that they could learn Arabic and that they would be able to take Islam in school. I even have asked Muslims friends to take them to the mosque from time to time. I am not a Muslim, after their no good father deserted us, I didn't have any obligation to teach them Islam - at least not according to my religion. But I wanted them to learn what they could so at least when they grow up, whatever they choose to be, they can't say I kept them away from their father's religion and culture.

I don't know as much about Islam as Muslims do, but I am pretty sure that it tells Muslims to look out for orphans and widows. My bosses' are all Muslim, but they are knowingly causing harm to two little boys. They are turning them into orphans basically - their father is gone and they will now lose thier mother. They knew my whole story and they used it to their advantage this whole year, they abused me, overworked me, knowing that I needed my job for my boys' sake and then they went looking for someone else because My boss is too arrogant to admit to his own shortcomings and mistakes and needs someone to blame for it and he is firing me because I defended myself when blamed for things that were in no way shape or form my fault.

I lost my eyesight as well because of this job - there is something in the air here that severely irritates my eyes and as soon as I moved here I started getting red, swollen and even infected eyes. Whatever is causing it, seems to be worse in the office - and yet they would keep me there 12 hours a day using a computer no less. My right eye got so bad that my retina ended up detaching and I lost the vision in that eye. Surgery was only able to partially restore it. I haven't painted since I lost my vision in that eye.

It is amazing how much I have changed in this past year - in spite of all that my husband had put me through and the hard times, I still looked very young for my age and was what some would call pretty. Now I look haggard and worn and there are permanent dark dark circles under my eyes.

I have no friends and no one to turn to. I wish I had never come to this country - it has taken everything from me. My children were the last thing I had and now in a couple weeks, they will be gone too. I don't know if I can go on anymore. I think of ending it after they leave. I don't want to wake up and not see their faces. I don't think I could bear it, one way or another I am afraid this will kill me.

I keep praying for a miracle but things only get worse. They often say that God only helps those who help themselves, but I have been trying and struggling all this time to help myself and this is what comes of it?

Today the landlord came by the house and told me that we will have to get out if we don't renew. They were supposed to renew my accommodation last month, but because they were plotting against me, they just let it hang. So now I don't even know where I am supposed to be staying right now.

I don't have time to pack up or to look for another job because they still expect me to come in to work by the way, to "train" the idiot they hired to replace me.

I shouldn't call her that, it isn't nice and she doesn't seem like a bad person. But I feel so damn angry and she must have lied in her interview or on her CV because she doesn't know how to use her computer except for the most BASIC things. I resent having to tell someone who is supposedly "so much more qualified" than I am how to send a message from her account instead of the boss', how to send a meeting request, how to turn up the volume on the desk phone, how to put her own PERSONAL CELL PHONE on silent... and hand over all the knowledge about projects and companies that I built up over one year with no help from anyone - because when I joined no one showed me anything or told me anything about what was going on but he pretty much started yelling at me from day two expecting me to somehow miraculously know. With all I have taught her, she gets to pretend she is all switched on, when in reality she doesn't have a clue about anything - just has a loud voice (yeah, apparently another reason I wasn't OK for the job is because I am "nice" and I speak softly) and such a heavy tread when she walks that I can hear her coming from a mile away. She hasn't checked his email for one week since she started - he used to yell at me because sometimes I would be in his office with him and an email would come in while I was in there, and he would ask me about it, and I wouldn't know because I hadn't seen it yet - or he would delete it from his blackberry after reading it there - which deletes it in the whole system - and then accuse me of being incompetent because I couldn't find it. I have no idea why she isn't checking it, for the first few days I forwarded them to her mail directly, but I have stopped doing it, she should check it herself, since she is the one who is so qualified. No one had to tell me to do that, I did it without being told. I am sure, though, that when I go back in to work tomorrow he is going to blame ME for why she isn't checking it. As long as I am there, he will blame me for everything, because he doesn't want to admit that anything is his fault and if he blames the new lady then again it will make him look stupid since he maintains that the only thing wrong was with me.

She told me "he seems very intense, but he is really great isn't he?" I almost choked when she said that. I looked away and mumbled and answer because at the same time they terminated me my boss threatened me that I had to train her and I had better not tell her anything about him. Funny, if he thinks he is so great and not to blame, why would he need to do that? I mean if I was fired for doing something wrong then why would he care about that anyway But of course he knows what I know about him - that he has mistreated every person who has been in my position and that some of them who are now in other positions in the company can vouch for how horrible he is and will once they trust you.

According to company procedure, they are supposed to first give an employee a warning and a chance to improve before firing them. They do this for all the other confirmed employees, even the ones who come in late and leave early every blessed day or don't bother to show up for work half the time. But I received no such warning, so they violated the procedure and the terms of my agreement, but its not like anyone will care if I complain. Anyway, what were they going to warn me for? For working overtime? Any other thing he blamed me for, he would need to actually prove it was my fault and that I had committed some grievous error or mistake or violated my contact - none of which I did. But I am certain that if I took it to the labor court they would manufacture some case against me, with witnesses and all - nobody wants to lose their job right now and so many of their employees are not competent enough to get work anywhere else and know it. They are completely immoral and I have seen how other workers have been destroyed by them to know that there is no limit they wont go to.

I don't know what to do. I have no one to help me. I am willing to move anywhere in the UAE to work, but I just need to keep my children. I am afraid to send them to America without me. I am afraid to have them live there with no health insurance. What if they get sick? My little one is only 6, he needs me. My parents are old and don't have much money; they can't really afford to take care of them for me. I have never been so scared, distraught, or angry in all my life.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Just another day at the movies...

What is it with the rude people here who go movie theaters only to talk on their phones, talk to to each other, switch seats twenty times, yell, let their kids run up and down the aisles, and throw food all over their seats and the floor?

Yesterday, I went with one of my coworkers and my kids to see the latest Harry Potter movie at the mall here. Unlike Dubai, there is only one mall with one movie theater in it. In Dubai I used to go see movies at the theater in the Mercato mall because it was less busy than other theaters. But here I have no choice.

Harry Potter was showing in the large theater with a balcony. I picked seats down because less people sit down, but since this was such a popular movie, there were plenty of people down too.

There was a bit of shuffling around as people got settled into their seats, but it was about half way into the movie that all hell seemed to break lose. One local guy suddenly decided to switch to the seat in front of us and then get up from there about 5 times. Further down his row, a man and his wife were talking on the respective cells phones loudly. A group of obese children started running up and down the aisles yelling and a whole large row of people got up and moved.

I started to get really annoyed, but there wasn't much I could do because my little one had fallen asleep on my lap and I couldn't really move. My coworker shouted "can you shut your children up" to the aisle of noisy kids next to us, and I tried to kick at the seat of the man blabbing away on his cell phone but he was too far over.

When the movie was over and the lights came on, I looked at the aisle where the family with the obese children had been sitting. It literally looked like some animals had got loose in there; the entire aisle was covered with smashed popcorn and nachos and spilled sodas.

The movie was good - as they always are - but the experience was really ruined by the ignorant crowd with which I watched it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What does Camel taste like?

After I wrote the rant below yesterday, H.H. the Chairman showed up with a huge platter of roasted camel and rice for all of the staff. I had heard that camel was a local delicacy - heard and shuddered at the thought to be honest. They also sell camel milk in the grocery store and I almost brought myself to buy a small one, but then thought better of it since my gag reflex started at the thought of it.

Anyway, H.H. ordered a camel (with rice) and all staff were expected to show up and eat (I am not sure what the Vegetarians did). I temporarily thought of pretending I was Jewish to avoid eating it (everyone knows I am not vegetarian). Actually, I might not be pretending if I said that, my German Great Grandfather's last name was Lehr which is common among Jewish people especially in the area of Nebraska where he lived; and he had black hair and eyes and was as dark as a medium complected Arab, so though he kept mum on the subject of his origins, there is a good chance he was either a German Jew or a German Gypsy; whatever he was, he certainly didn't look Teutonic.

For those who are wondering / don't know what eating Camel meat or rather NOT eating it has to do with being Jewish, Camel meat is not kosher, for the same reason pork is not, or rather it does not pass because of the same rule that prevents pork from being acceptable. There are two criteria that an animal had to meet to be acceptable as food for the Children of Israel.

In the book of Leviticus (3rd book of the Old Testament - part of the Torah)
Lev 11:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
Lev 11:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Lev 11:3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Lev 11:4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. Lev 11:5 And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. Lev 11:6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. Lev 11:7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Lev 11:8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Sorry for the "eths" and all that, but the only copy of the Bible I have is in King James English - plus it was what my Dad always read, so I actually prefer the sound of it. Anyway, for those who got lost in all the ethththths, basically, the rule was they were only supposed to eat animals that have cloven hoofs AND chew the cud and not animals that did not fit both categories.
*Coney, a translation of the Hebrew Bible word שָּׁפָן (shaphan), in modern Engilsh "rock hyrax" (a rodent-like member of the order Hyracoidea)

Anyway, walking over to the other building where that camel fest was set up, we were speculating what it tastes like. My guess was that it would taste like beef - everything that doesn't taste like Chicken pretty much tastes like beef - including giraffe and zebra.
Yes, I have eaten giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, cape buffalo, antelope, ostrich, and crocodile too!

There is a restaurant / nightclub in Nairobi called The Carnivore Simba Saloon. It is a big, open air African style structure (with Makuti (grass) roof). During the day it is just Restaurant, and these days I don't know how popluar it is, but back in the day when I was just a wee lass of 20 it was quite the happening spot for night-life that was popular among Nairobi's middle and upper classes - which meant it was frequented by a lot of Kenyans of South Asian origin. They used to play a nice mix of Western, Arabic, African and Indian - especially Punjabi (Bhangra) dance music. My husband was the Bhangra king of Nairobi (as in dancer - he was tone deaf and couldn't sing to save his own life) - which should have been a warning sign but I was too naive to know better. Anyway, one of the specialties in the restaurant was the all you can eat barbecue - the waiters would come around with roasted meat of various game animals on a spit and carve it right onto the plates of anyone who wanted a taste. My husband and I tried pretty much everything except for Wild Boar. It ALL tasted like beef, except for the crocodile which was sort of like chicken and sort of the like fish (white meat).

So, once I rembered that giraffe and zebra taste like beef, I got over my fear of trying camel meat, though the huge carcass looked kind of scary and off-putting and there was a huge thick layer of fat between the skin and the meat that was kind of disturbing looking - or maybe that was the hump? I don't know because by the time I got there is was already split open and half finished. Most of the employees, including the local ones, had never tried camel meat before and were kind of hesitant. Fatema and I got Abdul from accounts to taste it first and tell us how it was, once he said it was OK, we tried it, and sure enough, it tastes just like beef.

For anyone else interested in what the Bible has to say about what critters are permissible for the Children of Israel to eat, see Leviticus Chapter 11.

Basically Kosher is similar to Halal in many ways but has more restrictions. Muslims eat some animals (like camels) that God (through Moses) told the Hebrews not to eat.

Meat Grilling at the
Carnivore Simba Saloon Nairobi (Pictures not my own)