Monday, July 30, 2012

someone fishy

Here in the Emirates with living in a rented flat or room in a high rise building, it can be difficult to keep pets. Unless you are living in a villa with a somewhat spacious garden or don't mind your pet getting into your shoe closet, there won't be much space for your pet to get exercise. Taking them outdoors is not easy too as there isn't really any parks for pets to roam freely.

Growing up having pets, I kind of miss having one thus we decided to get ourselves a pet fish. I think it's the easiest pet to care for. All you need to do really is to remember to feed them once a day, change the water bowl water once a week and that's it. We first had a couple of gold fishes but they died a couple of weeks later - I guess a fish bowl isn't a condusive environment for them, they need a big tank with an aerator. After their demise *sniff* we ask the pet store attendant which fish can survive in a fish bowl without any oxygen apparatus and he suggested a fighting fish.

We got a dark red one, he (I assumed it's a he) had the 'fiercest' color of all the fighting fish available for sale and named him Barney - after Neil Patrick Harris' character on the series How I Meet Your Mother.

Barney might not be as active as dogs who come bounding and licking your face when you come home but I get the feeling that he recognises me when I come near the fish bowl because he swims in a frenzy and that is enough to make me smile and love my pet more.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

my amore!

Pizza amore is listed amongst the best pizzeria around town by Timeout Abu Dhabi and it is because of its inclusion in the list that I decided to choose if for a get together with friends.
If the place is any indication of what the food is like I suggest you get past the tacky valentine themed decors (heart shaped menu, red table cloths, fake roman columns) because you will get a pleasant surprise.
We had the Il Brimo and chicken barbecue pizza which are both amazing! Unlike fast food chain pizzas with too much grease on the pan, Pizza Amore’s is light and crispy with the slight dusting of cornmeal that I love giving it that rustic and authentic feel and taste, the toppings are quite generous too. For pasta we choose the Lasagne, Fruitti de Mare, Spaghetti Carbonara and Spinach Ravioli. The clear winners here are the Lasagne which is by far the cheesiest ever I have had in Abu Dhabi, strings and strings of mozzarella are in every mouthful and the Frutti de Mare had generous amounts of shrimps and mussels. We had ordered way too much that we didn't have room for dessert. I failed to also ask for additional caviar topping which is available for the meager price of 6 dirhams - whut??!!! yes you read right caviar for 6 dirhams! unbelievable right?!!
The food (on my opinion at least) is above par any other pizzerias of their class. Prices are affordable and the servings generous, defini0tely value for your money. It is truly amongst the best Pizzeria around town!

that's the super cheesy Lasagne! sorry I could not get a good food photography shot!

photo credit to Time Out Abu Dhabi

Monday, July 23, 2012

under my umbrella

I wish it was winter... or at least the days begin to get a bit cooler.

With this soaring/ searing heat its getting harder for me to appreciate the fact that I just live a block from where I work. I usually enjoy these quiet few minutes, where in I can 'contemplate' on things and just let my mind wander but now I can't walk fast enough to reach the refuge of my airconditioned office.

One block is not close enough for me to walk in this heat without breaking into sweat and not far enough for me to take a cab without the driver cursing under his breath at me for hailing him for this very very short ride.

So until the air cools down a bit I have to bring an umbrella with me so I can at least walk in the shade. In the Philippines we use an umbrella all throughout the year - come rain or shine we keep em handy, if you check one's bag or car for sure there is an umbrella tucked in there.

Here however, it seems like people are embarrased to be seen walking under an umbrella. They'd rather brave the heat of the sun or walk under a slight drizzle than carry one. An officemate who complained of getting a headache after going out for a few minutes in the midday sun even retorted that 'he wouldn't be caught dead with an umbrella' when I suggested he bring one next time.

 As for me I'd rather brave the weird stares and smirk than risk getting into the office in a sweaty blouse!
image from

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Holy Month

It is offcial - Gulf News has reported that Ramadan starts on Friday. Its that time of the year again when all our Muslim brothers around the world will observe Ramadan. Considered the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, it is a time of spiritual cleansing and self evaluation

Published in 2005, I am again posting an article witten by Adam Yousef
An Idiot's Guide to Ramadan
By Adam Yosef, site user

Lots of frequently asked questions answered by Adam, about the most important event in the Islamic calendar.

Ramadan, What does this mean?
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It's when Muslims all over the world spend 30 days observing fast and bettering themselves in principles of faith.

Observing fast?
Observing fast, or fasting, is when a person abstains (or keeps away) from eating and drinking.
The reason Muslims fast is to discipline their body and mind. The absence of food and drink and other pleasures provides a perfect opportunity to concentrate on prayer and worship. Not having the luxuries of life to hand makes it easier to reflect on life and be grateful for what we do have. Muslims use this month to start afresh and give their life a new direction?

What kind of direction?
Many Muslims use Ramadan to make resolutions, similar to New Year's resolutions. It is a time when they decide how they want to live their life for the next year and try their very best to adhere to their new commitments.

Yes, like greater commitment to God and faith. Ramadan is a time when Muslims can introduce practices into their life to reflect their religious identity. A lot of Muslims have a desire to pray more and learn more about Islam. Others wish to be better and nicer people while some want to learn Qur'anic Arabic to better their understanding of the Holy Book. For these people, Ramadan is the best opportunity to begin this grand affair with something so personal and spiritually enlightenment

Can't they do it at any other time... why Ramadan?
Ramadan is a blessed month ordained by God. It is the month in which Satanand his minions are said to be locked away in Hell to prevent them from misleading, deceiving and whispering in the ears of believers.

This doesn't mean that sin and bad deeds will completely disappear for a month but it will mean that if bad deeds are done and sins committed, they will be from the hearts of people alone and the devil cannot be blamed. However, God has promised the people that the reward for good deeds and actions during the holy month will be multiplied greater than usual and this encourages many to increase their level of worship and prayer. Although, this also applies to sins and so any naughty actions only invite greater punishment than usual.

Ramadan does make it easier for Muslims to observe their faith though, largely because all Muslims are following the same pattern and so they are always offering each other moral support and encouraging each other to do better. Ramadan brings people much closer than normal as they forgive each other for any misdemeanours of the past, forge new and positive relationships and treat each other with greater respect.

What else do Muslims do in Ramadan?
Well, aside from fasting, they pray more. Muslims should pray five times a day anyway and go to the mosque but many find this difficult so Ramadan helps them to fulfill these practices and in many cases, stick to them long after Ramadan is over. Muslims also read the Qur'an more and understand and share their religious teachings. They also learn to abstain from bad habits and minor and major sins and hopefully continue with the effort when Ramadan is over too.

When does the fast begin and end?
The fast begins just before dawn when Muslims eat a light meal (suhoor) and confirm their intention to fast for the day. The fast ends at sunset when the call to prayer (Adhan) is announced. Eating a date or some water are the recommended and most popular methods of concluding the fast. The time when the fast ends is known as 'Iftar'.

Why do some people stuff themselves when the fast is over?
Those who are fasting should deprive themselves of the meals they would normally have during the times of fast but they shouldn't really eat all they missed once the fast is over as this defeats the whole objective of the fast. When breaking the fast (of having breakfast, I guess), they should simply have the meal they would on any other day. It is permissible to have a more elaborate feast if one if hosting a 'Iftar' meal for guests as this is considered a good and noble act, in which there is divine reward.

But don't you have to think about the poor?
Yes, Ramadan is also about thinking about the less fortunate and needy although in a lesser degree to improving one's own character over the blessed month. Not eating and drinking does encourage Muslims do recognise how the poverty-stricken and starving people in the world must bear the burden of daily life and this is why, in Ramadan, many Muslims donate more to charities and why mosques collect more so that people right across the world can have better life and those who donate can gain greater regard for well intentioned actions.

Enlightenment is a must during Ramadhan

So who has to fast, is it everyone?
Not everyone. Young children are encouraged to learn about fasting but fasting is only obligatory (a must) for anyone beyond adolescence (or over the age of 10 according to some scholars). Muslims who have medical conditions that prevent or make fasting difficult, those who are not of sound mind or are going through a pregnancy or menstruation cycle as well as those who are too young or too old do not have to fast. In some circumstances, individuals who cannot fast for any number of reasons may make up the fast at a later date

When does the month begin?
Islamic months follow the lunar calendar, in the same tradition as the Jewish community. Therefore, in relation to the solar, or Gregorian, calendar, Islamic and Jewish months will annually differ by around 11 to 12 days. This means Islamic events will always fall roughly around the same time in the Islamic calendar but always on a different date in the mainstream solar calendar. This year, Ramadan begins in August depending on the sighting of the moon, and will end approximately 30 days after, sometime in September when Muslims conclude the month with festivities and celebrate Eid.

ramadan fanous
What's Eid?
Eid, or 'Id, means 'festival' or 'celebration' in Arabic and the festival
Following Ramadan is known as 'Eid al-Fitr'.
Ramadan Kareem to all!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Parisian dreams

There is something romantic about early morning food shopping, and I imagine it would be even more so if there is a Farmers Market here in the UAE much like the ones I see abroad and on TV. On one of my travels we passed by a farmers market in Rhineland (?) but we sadly could not linger as we are on a scheduled ferry ride, I would have so loved to walk in that maze of a market and purchase fresh fruits and local produce.

Anyway, today being my off from work I went to the grocery to get items for the day's menu. Number three on the list if a french baguette and as I stood in line at the counter carrying my baguette in one arm I suddenly had that amusing though if imagining I was in a French Boulangerie and so I walked home with my baguette tucked under one arm, felling I was walking the streets of Paris wearing a beret!!!

freshly baked!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

snap happy - deconstruction

Abu Dhabi is home to some of the most modern (and futuristic if I may say so) buildings in the world, there is the disk shaped Aldar Headquarters Building, the leaning Capital Gate Building and the rippling Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Building among others. I assume before these architectural wonders are built there was a process of demolition just like the old building near my place that I pass by everyday to and from work. Sometimes I wonder why people bother to stop and watch then I realized what is not to be interested in?  big machines, power tools, reducing a once tall building into rubbles, its like lego land construction - and so I too gave in my curiosity and stopped by just long enough to take these photos. Now I am getting the weird stares I used to give people watching the demolition going on. Talk about getting a taste of your own medicine!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mercury Rising

with the mercury rising high what better way to cool down than to sit beside the beach or a pool under an umbrella sipping a cold drink wherein you can jump off the sun chair and be in cool waters in a split second. I am not much of a beach or pool person but a swimming pool in the midst of the desert is kind of hard to resist don't you think?

Along with this weekend's issue of Abu Dhabi Week comes the first ever issue of The Middle East Traveller. I really do enjoy reading travel magazines and am glad and look forward to the next issues of this latest magazine, and did I mention you can grab a copy for free?!

The issue's Best Bet section features ten of the best resorts in the UAE. So head over at The Middle East Traveller and read more about these amazing resorts.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

not just for kids

my morning routine used to be watching cartoons while eating breakfast. Back home my morning staple included Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Lab and Hey Arnold! together with omelletes and toast.
I used to think that people think me weird when I tell them I still watch cartoons (at my age) and often times I feel they can't relate when I liken or reference my favorite cartoons with real life situations, it also seemed odd to me that these good cartoons are shown early morning when their (supposed) target audiences are still sleeping but then I realized maybe there are as much adults as kids watching cartoons and I could have not justified it better than Athar Sameer who wrote an article about it in Gulf News.

1. Make an impression: A few hours of Johnny Bravo and you'll get enough tips on how to impress a girl. 
2. Believe in love: Happily ever afters... let Jasmine and Aladdin prove to you that it is possible. 

3. Sibling trouble? Dexter's laboratory will teach you to deal with a pesky sis. 

4. A lesson in how to be a team leader, friend and confidant: The residents of a village in Gaul, namely Asterix and Obelix, can teach you and how! 

5. Living healthy: Popeye proves that eating your greens, especially spinach, can make you healthy and wise. For tips on how to be wealthy, there are adult books on money and finance. 

6. More power to them: Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup ... these Powerpuff Girls can make good role models for your little girl. 

7. Politically incorrect and still popular, Shinnosuke "Shin" Nohara in Shin-chan can show you how to achieve that. 
8. Can we fix it? Bob the builder and his team will prove to you that there is nothing that can't be fixed... relationships included. 

9. Boys love toys: Time travel, flashy gizmos... Doraemon will give a glimpse of what's going to be trendy in the tech world.

10. Be positive: Now who wants a dose of harsh reality when you have Tom and Jerry telling you that all's well that ends well?

 Hey Arnold! tells the adventures and misadventures of fourth grader Arnold and his friends

 The boy genius Dexter hides a secret laboratory in his bedroom that his pesky sister Dee Dee always gets access to

Resident beefcake Johnny never gets the girl

one of my favorite Japanese Cartoon - Anime
Tiger and Dragor meet in Tora Dora

Naruto - a story on friendship and bravery