March 27th, 2002

krazy kat

Well, THAT was interesting.

In my quest for mo' money (in other words, a summer job to be able to cover the extra Dhs 1800/term that the university will charge next year), I went to an interview last night for some small company looking for someone to do back-end website-to-database stuff. Well, whatever. The interview went well enough, I guess; afterwards the guy asked me to hang around for a while, showing me into a sitting area with the two other guys interviewed last night. The claim being that he wanted us to participate in a "discussion" with him and "some other people from the company"... there would be food and stuff served.

Oh, ok. I didn't have anywhere to go, so I'm game.

Well, anyways, 15 minutes later he comes to collect us, and we follow him out of the building and down this path. "This is interesting," thinks I. Presently, I notice we are approaching this big-ass mosque, and it quickly becomes obvious that this is our destination. Okay. I make a quick aside to our host that while I have no problems with any of this, I am not Muslim, in case it should be a consideration. I am assured that this is not an issue, and shortly thereafter, we enter the mosque.

Well. It seems that the job interviews have been scheduled to co-incide with an annual discussion (organized by the mosque) on issues of Islam and Technology... specifically, how to adapt technology in the UAE (and the Muslim world in general) to harmonize better with the tenets of Islam... and also how to adapt some of Islam's teachings that were originally made in the absence of modern technology, so that they make sense in this new context.

It was interesting. There was about half an hour of lectures and Qur'an readings to start off, then an hour-long discussion (in both English and Arabic), where my opinion (being the only caucasian and I'm sure the only non-Muslim in the group) was often asked on this, that and the other idea. There were a good 100 to 150 people in attendance, making it hard for me to follow most of the discussions (my poor Arabic was also likely at issue), and it was interesting. Maybe I'll recap some of the discussion here, if I get around to it and if anyone's interested. Then we took 20 minutes off for prayer, and finally the promised food, basically a huge banquet-type deal, very informal. So about 3 hours in total.

Most assuredly a unique experience.

So what else? Well, not much. It's still nice and warm (like that's any surprise), although it hasn't broken 40 yet according to the papers, but I'm a bit sceptical of that. It feels like it has. I got my Arabic midterm back the other day, and as expected did horribly. I got 50%, which around here is a failing mark. Compared to the weekly quizzes, my mark is even lower and I'm pretty much sure I'm not gonna pass this course. Which sucks ass but I'm pretty resigned to it.

My dad's birthday was earlier this month... I haven't had the chance to get to Abu Dhabi to see him, what with extra classes being scheduled on the weekends to make up for some missed days last month, plus the programming contest a couple weeks ago, etc. So next week, we're going to celebrate his birthday along with my brother's at the same time. Problem being that I have no idea what to get him (and have a pretty modest budget to boot). My mom says he wants some gadget to plug into the car's CD player to change CD's on the fly, but unfortunately she's not very clear as to exactly what he wants (there are several devices in the stores that roughly meet the description she makes, so I dunno).

Hmmm... it's the end of March, meaning the Dubai Shopping Festival is coming to a close. Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like. Move over Christmas, the ultimate celebration of materialism has arrived. Right there in the name. Shopping Festival. It's a huge deal over here... sales all over the place, advertising like crazy, on a global scale. The airlines run extra flights in from the Indian subcontinent, Russia, Europe and so on for people to fly in specifically to take advantage of the low prices. Come! Shop! Spend money! Be happy! They don't even try to disguise it. Hotel occupancy rates run at pretty much 100% for the whole month, up from an average of more like 60%. Absolutely insane. Traffic in Dubai doubles -- it's almost impossible to move around. Fireworks, etc. every night. Curfew at the dorms is increased by an hour for the whole month specifically so people can attend the DSF. Sigh.

Tonight the Pakistani club ran a pirated-from-the-net-special of Ocean's Eleven down at the student center. More really really bad Hong-Kong rips blown up to the big screen. Ugly. But somewhat entertaining. And it's not like I was about to pay the $30 to see it in the theater anyway. I went down with Nausheen. She really liked it; I was entertained, but found it ultimately rather forgettable. Dammit, why can't they play any GOOD movies here?

In Public Speaking class, we've been -- in lieu of midterms -- doing individual presentations for the last week; The Persuasive Speech. Which is not worth mentioning except for the fact that one of the girls was so into her presentation that her Hejjab (the scarf over the head) fell off halfway through without her noticing it.


It's amazing how something so simple like that can be so captivating. It's not like I've never seen a girl's hair before, but the "forbidden fruit" aspect of it made the sight so enchanting, I couldn't take my eyes off her hair for the rest of the speech. I just realized that I've never seen Nausheen's hair before, except for that stray tuft that keeps falling out of her hejjab and across her face that she's always pushing back up -- a simple action that I find so amazing. Hell, I don't even know how long her hair is. I'm debating whether I could ask her to see it tomorrow.
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