Saturday, April 28, 2012

is "hi! how are you?" the newest pick-up line?

it is really a crazy world out there um no scratch that - people are really crazy out there or maybe it's just me?...

while walking home from the office today I saw one of our company's client. I normally choose to ignore clients I meet outside work frankly because I want to avoid the awkward small talk but we came face to face and I knew this client recognized me and so I smiled and said "hi sir how are you?" he said hi back and said "you are from *company name*?" I answered in the affirmative while taking mini steps in an attempt to show that I want to go on my way when he began asking for my number, I told him for any inquiries he can call the the office trunkline anytime, he began waving his mobile and again asked for my number agian saying he needed a girl friend, I abruptly turned around and walked as fast as my heeled shoes would permit. sheesh here am I thinking I was just being polite not knowing a simple "hi" would be taken as a pick up line *sigh in disbelief*

from now on I would stick to my rule of feigning ignorance whenever I see office clients out of work... I don't want to be accused of picking people up, no sirreeeee!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

the (un)Lucky one


I have never been lucky in raffles and games of chance. During Christmas parties and other events people in my table would get their names and or raffle numbers called one by one except for me. I never really have won anything in raffles not even the ubiquitous mug or scented candle… so imagine my shock when I received a call saying I have just won 2 million dirhams in a raffle draw by Etisalat which is the foremost telecommunication company here in the UAE.

What should have been dead giveaways to alert me that this was some kind of scam was lost to my overwhelming feeling of shock. The fact that the call came from an unregistered/unknown personal number and that I could barely understand the person on the other line – I asked him to repeat what he was saying a couple times over which should have made me realize that he was NOT from a telecommunications company – did not register immediately. I really did feel overwhelmed by the (false) information that I have won something – well not just something but 2 million dirhams!

I felt my hand begin to shake and sweat and start to imagine finally going to that dream vacation in Europe as the person explained how my unique sim card bar code number or something was entered into an electronic raffle and drawn as the grand prize winner – he quoted a number that was really embossed in my sim card, this turned out to be same in all cards. It was only when he began to instruct me to go to an exchange center to make a transfer that it dawned to me that this is a scam. So I tried to keep him on the phone, telling him I will be at the exchange center in five minutes. When he called back I asked my Arab office mate to talk to him and tell him that we will be giving the number to the police – he put the phone down immediately.

We never really did get to report the incident but as I was reading  Gulf news today I read that the Sharjah police has apprehended an 18-member phone scam gang. Their modus operandi is to call random numbers and quote that sim card code for ‘authenticity’ and instruct the ‘winner’ to transfer money into their accounts via exchange centers to complete the ‘transaction’ after which they go kaput and the winner is left with nothing but a feeling of frustration at being duped, dismay at what could have been and worse a lot less (not more) in their bank accounts.

In the past I have been one of those persons who might have said people who get duped with scams like these are stupid but now as someone who got to experience it first hand I say that sometimes you just get so overwhelmed that your wits go out the window and its all you can do to scramble after it and come to your senses before you become a victim.



image from www.williamson.edu
Well I still have not won any raffles with all the online and grocery contests I join but I still consider my self lucky not to have fallen victim to scammers and I pray to never be.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

oh shoe you!!!




If there is one trait both admirable and distasteful in my fellow Filipinos – it is their ability to turn any situation into a business opportunity.

A vacant parking lot – not necessarily owned by the attendee can be a paid parking space.

A bucket of soapy water and small rag can be all you need to venture into a carwash business – no need for permits or premises, just go ahead and clean car windows and demand for payment.

Even the simplest thing of backing your car and easing it onto traffic can cost you as there are people lurking behind your car to ‘guide’ you for a fee whether you need it or not.

There are times when you marvel at their ingenuity and admire their determination to make something out of nothing like turning scraps of fabric into woven doormats and pot holders and times when you just cant help but shake your head in disbelief as you take your wallet out to pay for something that should be free like using a toilet (in a mall) for example.

Sometimes at work or outside we can’t help but say ‘kung sa Pinas yan ginawa na yan negosyo’ (if this was the Philippines, that would be business). Like the endless need for coins for the parking meter for example – in the Philippines you can get you money changed from that street cigarette vendor no problem, your 50 dirham bill can get you 40 dirham in coins and ensure you of a problem free parking for days.

Now it seems Pinoys are given a run (or runners for that matter) for their money. At the Philippine Embassy in Dubai, Filipinos who are unaware of the dress code and come wearing flip flops are forced to 'hire' shoes just so they could get in the embassy and finish their business instead of wasting time, money and effort going to and from home to trade their flipflops to shoes.


Imagine that - somebody else has beaten a kabayan in coming up with that unique shoes for hire business.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

rain on my parade

I had just cozied into bed with the AC turned on a comfortable temperature with only a reading lamp for some good read before going to bed when I heard some 'noise' coming from my window - it sounded like there was something out there trying to get in.

I am a scaredy cat I admit, and it doesn't help that I opened the book I was reading on a chapter that referenced ghost stories nor that my room is quite dark. I would have ignored the sounds I heard but something inside told me to brave it out and check - so I did but not before turning on all the lights first.

Well... it was nothing scary really, it had just started to rain and the sound I heard was the wind banging against the window - whew!!!

Rains are are a rare occurence here as we all know and it is really a treat fro people in the middle east. I remember one time a few years ago while at work - my co workers one by one stood up went outside or gazed out the window, I thought there was an accident or something but no, it had just started raining and everybody just went out to watch. I though it was funny at first for them to be amazed by something as simple as the rain when back home in the Philippines frequent rain showers become a nuisance specially when you take the public transport, but then again I think it's quite amazing really, amazing enough to be sang about... did you just sing a few lines of "I'm singing in the rain..." in your head??!!

Everytime it rains here I am reminded of an old friend who likes to drive out into the rain, I wonder if that person it out driving right now...

can you see that drop of rain on my window pane??

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic

I confess. I was one of the millions who swooned over Leonardo Di Caprio's Jack, felt for Kate Winslet's Rose and sang Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On' with deepest of emotions while in the shower. I was a Titanic head - and admit it or not I think you were too...

Well before the movie came out, I had read about the Titanic from an old issue of national Geographic Magazine that I got from one of my favorite second hand bookshops and it was (I guess) because of this that I delayed watching the movie thinking it is a love story set in some documentary-type movie.

I think it was a month before I finally went and watched the movie out of curiosity what with all the talk between my friends about how crazy old Rose it for doing that thing she did at the end. I walked out that cinema thinking to my self it was the best movie ever, and no I did not think old Rose was crazy - I though she was romantic...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mo Money, No Problem!!!

When I first started working I can't believe I get my salary every two weeks - payday in the Philippines being the 15th and 30th. I used to find it overwhelming to have more money credited to my payroll account when I have not even gone thru spending the first half of my monthly salary - that feeling lasted for about three months I think. In the next months - because I 'began' learning about the joys of spending on a whim telling my self "I earned it, so I have the right to enjoy it" - I wail a day or two after payday because my bank account is almost already depleted. Thus is the payday cycle of an average employee.

Imagine then the adjustment I had to make when told that here in the Emirates, salaries are given only at the end of each month - which means I have to budget and stop myself from compulsive spending lest I run out of cash well before the month end comes along. In time I learned how to budget and pay my bills early on, thank goodness we have a very good payroll system - imagine how hard it is for other people who have to scrimp and pinch even more to make ends meet becaue of delayed salary.

Bless the government/UAE central bank for improving and mandating the UAE Fund Transfer System wherein salary transfers using the WPS (Wages Protection System) and other fund transfer transactions within UAE can be proccessed in real time and even after banking hours if they can find an open FTS-link center.

Hooorraaaay!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

oh crepe!!!

I have tried my hand at baking cakes, cupcakes, bars and cookies - I have even attempted to make my own bread, but I have never tried making crepes. While most think that it is just thinned out pancake batter it can be very difficult to handle because of its delicacy thus I'd rather eat my crepes with all the fixins rather than attempt to make it at home.

I have heard my friend rave about the Crepe Cafe in Central Market and being a sucker for sweet treats I told my self I have to try it someday and it was luck that I found a half off deal for the cafe on the internet.
The cafe had a number of sweet and savory crepe, pancake and waffle selection. The savory items looked and read tempting (the menu had a brief description of the item) but I am determined to try out sweet crepes and waffles so we ordered the Strawberry delight crepe and Mixed Berry waffle to share.

When our orders came I like how it was plated, perfect arrangement with a drizzling of chocolate sauce and a dusting of powdered sugar. I took only 2 photos because I can't wait to dig in and so we attacked!

Both were really good. The waffle is perfectly cooked and with a slight crunch to it. The crepe was as it should be - delicate, thin and soft but not soggy. Both topped with berries with a scoop of chocolate ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream on the side we enjoyed every mouthful. With my sweet tooth satisfied we left smiling and joking how many hours of walking it would take to burn of those calories.




Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Beautiful Ones

Beauty Pageants sure are glamorous. The gowns, the make up, the hairstyle, the costumes and specially the crown. Oh my! I am sure every girl has dreamed of becoming a princess one day and because we can not all be Kate Middleton and capture the heart of royalty, I guess the next best thing to get that crown is to join a beauty contest. A few weeks back I was asked to assist a photographer friend in covering a school beauty and talent show.

Like a real beauty contest - there are the parade of the candidates in their national costumes, talent show, long gown competition, sportswear competition and question and answer portion. My favorite part would always be the long gown competition and the candidates sure look very regal as they sashay onstage in their glamorous and sparkly gowns.

The question and answer part will always be nerve wracking even if you are just part of the audience - and I admire the candidates who have all delivered their answers eloquently and with grace 

I have got to say kids these days are lucky to have various talent training and personality development centers and programs that help them come out of their shells and gain confidence, I am glad I wasn't a judge that night -must have been a tough job.





Thursday, April 5, 2012

in transit

I have always loved airports.

I have always thought of airports as a fascinating place with all those huge glass skylight panels, that big board that tells of departures and arrivals, airport personnel looking strict as your school librarian and people walking about in various attires and gears from suits and laptops to surfing shorts and guitar hard cases. I guess having dreamed of travelling I think of the airport as that portal that would bring me closer to the places I wished to see and the adventures I wish to have.

Being an expat, it now is the happy portal that would bring me back to the warm hugs of family and friends as well as the one portal that would take me away from my family and on to my adventures when that one month vacation is up.

I really do love airports despite the hassle of security checks and what have yous for me it signifies homecoming and the start of a new adventure.





Sunday, April 1, 2012

earth hour 2012

Did you switch off your lights yesterday in observance of Earth Hour? though I could not make it to the Corniche for the celebrations I switched off and unplugged all appliances except for one night light - I am a bit scared to be alone in a dark room so I had to have one teeny light source, forgive me.

I am sorry I missed the events at the corniche but am glad that a lot of people made a conscious effort for Earth Hour. Here are some photos I found on the web, credits to all those who took them.

NBAD Tower

 


Sheikh Zayed Bridge AUH

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque