not very much, at least for the first six months. Immigration tax, here,
is levied in lost hours and dead trees.
It never occurred to me that every culture has its own special brand of
(il)logic. And it should have, because I really should know that
cultures think differently. Certainly Pakistan and the United States do.
Why I expected that the UAE would fit one or the other mindset, I don't
know. Sheer intellectual laziness on my part, I guess.
Why do I call it a city of contradictions? Well, let's see: the
population of the UAE is something like 3/4 expatriates. But you always
remain, as far as I can tell, a resident alien. There is no possibility
of naturalization, unless you happen to be an expat woman who marries an
Emirati man. Then, of course, like all women naturally do, you give up
any identity you might previously have had, and take on your husband's,
immersing yourself in it entirely. ;)
Every house in Abu Dhabi is connected to a fibre-optic cable network,
but internet access is prohibitively expensive, and even when you get
online, the number of sites that are blocked by the state-owned telecom
company is simply phenomenal. You can't access flickr. You can't access
a lot of blogs. I've only had an internet connection for a month or so,
and I've already seen "This site is blocked" on countless occasions. And
really, my web-browsing activities are rated G, maybe PG-13
occasionally. Also, the only reason I have internet access is because I
went out and purchased a USB broadband modem, allowing me essentially,
to use a cellphone connection to connect. The cable internet connection,
which we applied for on the 14th of July, as the call center person
kindly reminds me every two weeks when I call again to request
follow-up, is STILL not active. Two months ago (four months after we
applied), people finally came and installed a cable modem and wireless
router, so the home network has been working since then, but they told
us that the link wouldn't actually be up for another week. Eight weeks
after that, some men from the telecom company put in the cable, and said
it would be three working days before the connection went live. That was
Saturday, twelve days ago. It still doesn't work.
Oh, and here's the punchline. The hold "music" for Etisalat (the telecom
company) is a series of marketing pitches. Yesterday, this is what I got
to hear: "If you are having trouble configuring your internet
connection, or accessing the internet, you can use Esupport, our
troubleshooting software. Best of all, it's free. For more information,
simply log on to www.etisalat.ae/esupport."
My three year old son couldn't figure out why I was laughing like a
madwoman while on hold.