Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 19, 2016 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

The Corniche – Abu Dhabi UAE

Let me get this out of the way quickly. I do not DESERVE a one week vacation in Abu Dhabi. While I appreciate the sentiments of many of you ( and the cheap shots for me posting that picture of the 7th. floor pool and hot tub! ), I certainly haven’t done anything in India to merit this brief hiatus. The people who really deserve a break and never get one, are the poor… in India and everywhere else on this planet. Many of us are just plain lucky that an “ accident of birth” gave us the lifestyle we enjoy including plentiful water, clean air, good food and security.

I’m like many of you. I cringe ( too polite a word?! ) sometimes when I see pictures that people send back home from vacations and exotic destinations… especially in winter.  Very often the inclination is to tell them to go and pound sand. The images that I have been sending the last few days from Abu Dhabi are not to evoke envy. They are simply to show the stark and shocking contrast between a fabulously rich country and one that is still an emerging economy.  

When I planned this little mini vacation, I went to one of those discount brokers and booked three legs of the trip at once. The first leg, from Hyderabad to Abu Dhabi was with Etihad Airlines. Of course, having never travelled in this part of the world, I had never seen the name before. Well, ignorance is bliss, as they say. My first thought was that this was a small regional carrier and that as long as I arrived safely, then I would tolerate any hiccups. Excuse me. This is THE airlines of the United Arab Emirates.

The four hour flight was hands down, the best flying experience… ever. This could very well have been this airplane’s  ( Airbus 320  ) inaugural flight. The interior was spotless and the flight attendants were simply glamorous. An hour into the flight, the passengers were presented with a menu card for a hot meal. I kept looking for the price. Everything on the flight was free. Headsets ( high quality ), food and beverages were all included in the price. My guess is that the plane was only a third full and I had no one beside me, in front of me, behind me or across the aisle. It was like having my own plane. The movie selection was amazing. If you ever have a chance to fly Etihad, I highly recommend it.

Many of you know Matt MacDonald ( We Move This Town ). He has been living in Abu Dhabi for a few years and invited me to come and hang out with him for a week. He and his friend live in this amazing apartment complex. The owner of this building ( and many others ) , keeps part of his “fleet “ of vehicles outside the front door… two Rolls Royce and a Bentley. I don’t think our Yaris would fit in very well over here! Lo and behold, one of Matt’s neighbors is a Nova Scotian who just happened to be leaving for home when I arrived. She graciously gave me the use of her 39th. floor apartment. After the constant din of India, the silence was deafening when I crawled into bed the first night of my stay. Thanks so much, Pauline for the use of your place!

There is an amazing walkway along the waterfront. The Corniche is 8 kilometers ( one way ) and I plan to do a return trip every day of my stay.

On Saturday, Matt showed me around the city. It is spotlessly clean and you can almost taste the wealth. We went to a fruit and vegetable market that was simply gargantuan. We loaded up on persimmons, dates and bananas. You would not believe how many different varieties of dates that are grown in the Middle East and how many vendors sell them. There are even chocolate covered dates which the owner of one shop insisted that we sample. We complied! We also bought some freshly ground Turkish coffee at this wonderful coffee emporium. I hurried home and made some in Pauline’s French press. After drinking mediocre coffee for the better part of two months in India, this was a real treat.

Late in the afternoon, we went for a walk. On our way home, we took a short cut through a parking lot. I looked at some people exiting their vehicle and did a double take. In a city of 2.5 million people, in a random parking lot, I was facing Danny and Pat Berry, their two daughters and a friend. Before we sold our house on Ross Street a year and a half ago, we lived about 150 yards away from the Berrys  whose  home is on Whidden Street. What are the statistical odds of meeting friends from home, in a parking lot half way around the world?  If Matt and I hadn’t stopped at a Mall and posed for a picture with Santa ( photo coming !), we would have missed this chance encounter. Those of you are friends of Danny and Pat know that they recently relocated to Abu Dhabi after three years in China.

It’s a small world after all.

Oh yes, the ATM’s in Abu Dhabi work just fine. It felt amazing to simply walk up to an ATM and 1) not see a two hour lineup or 2) see a sign that says “ no cash.”  I have switched from rupees to dirhams. One dirham is the equivalent to .36 cents Canadian.

As you scurry around this week leading up to Christmas, take a moment to ponder your good fortune.

Have a great week. Easy on the eggnog!

P.S. Look for my very first podcast coming soon.



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