Archive for the 'Middle East' Category

You can’t park your ass here, so much for wifi, 38 hours…

The Wandering Nerd December 4th, 2007

I’m outta’ Turkey, thankfully. The Michigan crew I met seemed to love it, but I’m over it. The people we met, with only one or two exceptions and the hostel staff were always trying to mark me for something. Even waiting on my damn flight some guy hit me with the typical ‘My Friend!’ and then tried to get me to sell my laptop to him for 150 Lira - $125 - and wouldn’t leave me alone after it. I don’t know if they actually think that shit works, or they just do it to mess with tourists, either way they come off as assholes. Coming from me, that means something too.

So by the time this gets posted I’ll - hopefully - be in Kathmandu, Nepal. The only way I can get into India is to go there for a week while they process my visa application. I hadn’t really even considered going there originally so the randomness of it was perfect. I flew from Istanbul to a city in UAE called Sharjah - it’s north of Dubai. From there I flew to Nepal, one day later. My flight from Istanbul landed at 0720 and the one to Katmandu had just left at 0715 so I got to burn off a little under 24 hours in the UAE.

As to the flight on Air Arabia, I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the first thing that the captain says over the intercom is a prayer. That’s a bald faced lie actually, I know exactly how I feel about it. “Allah u Ackbar. Allah u Ackbar…” does not need instill confidence in me. I don’t want him counting on his imaginary friend to keep that plane up in the air while we’re over Saudi. I’ll stand with rigorous scientific principle, quality engineering, and sufficient practical experience, thanks. Imagine that shit in the States. Getting on a plane from Dallas to Seattle and the first thing you hear is your down home Texas boy captain say, “Dear Lord, thank you for sending your angels to hold the wings of our unworthy plane into the heavens. By your mercy see us safely take off and land. But if it is your will Lord take us into your heavenly bosom. Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts and prepare for revelations.” *Twitch* Then they have the audacity to not let you drink on the plane. After hearing that I was up for a few stiff scotches. To top it off they still have the whole ‘turn off your cell phones now so as not to interfere with the communications and navigation system.’ Apparently deities are over everything except GSM.

The Sharjah airport is pretty trashy, looks like they’re remodeling the inside completely. I grabbed the shuttel to Sharjah itself and was equally unimpressed. Then a shuttle to Dubai and just didn’t see the places that get touted as so beautiful. I’ve seen satellite photos of some really interesting stuff, but from the ground it looks like a big city with a lot of pollution. Some of the funniest signs, products and kids rides I’ve seen though.

Arabians seem much more genuine and friendly. While walking through the markets I did get a couple ‘My Friend!’ lines, but they were the exception, not the rule this time. Some of the muslim women here wear hijab that complete black drape that leaves only their eyes exposed. It’s odd to see them in packs, they look like the Emperor’s Royal Guard from Star Wars in black. You’re not allowed to take photos of them, or you go to jail. You’re not allowed to touch them, or you go to jail. I don’t even think you’re allowed to speak to them, or you go to jail. I learned all of this informationally, not experimentally. Though I did open the door for one of them and go the strangest look…er…eyes. I think it was a smile, or she bared her teeth at me. Either way I just walked on.  I was sorely tempted to talk to some of them just to hear their views on everything.

From what little I know, they have some strange rules about them. I think they get married off by their parents in arranged circumstances, and she becomes pretty much property. Sounds great. Where’s the fun in a timid, meek woman? *shrug* I bet the romantic comedy movies here suck, or are at least very short. Credits. ‘You’re marrying Sahim.’ ‘Yes father.’ Fin. Laugh riot.


Strangely I’ve seen a number of men here holding hands. I’m not really sure if that means what I think it means. I can’t see how it would. I was pretty much under the impression that Homosexuality was expressly and violently prohibited in the Muslim world. Then I saw this sign. I don’t know what it’s saying, but from the looks and the cloud background, I don’t think it’s a boxing match…closer to, uhm…wrestling.

Speaking of sticking it to someone - I had to - the weather here is fantabulous. It was in the 80s (26C) today and when the sun went down it turned to a pleasantly neutral temp. I actually laid out on the grass in front of the airport and took me a little snooze. Not bad to nap outside on December 3rd. How’s the weather where you are? :)

More on the Kathmandu front when I can, but for the time being here’s a little gallery from the UAE.

no, i gotta’ go
-violent femmes