Dreaming of a White Christmas

December 1, 1993
Abu Dhabi, UAE

HO! HO! Hope you're enjoying the snow!

Those of you in Canada should be knee deep in the fluffy stuff by the time you get this if a white Christmas is in the cards.  Although, I can remember many a Christmas when the snow held off 'til the last minute, and even a few when we didn't see any until the gift giving and turkey dinner were only memories.

But somehow it just didn't seem like Christmas without a blanket of snow on the ground and frost in the air.

The Spirit of Spirits

I guess that's why we're both having a tough time getting in the Christmas spirit even though the yuletide season is just around the corner and many of the "expatriate" stores are selling tacky tree decorations and playing Jingle Bells.  We'll have a tree I think, but other than that our celebrations will certainly be more subdued than they would have been "back home."

I shall miss having our yearly open house: gathering all kinds of Christmas goodies, decking the halls, making mulled wine, drinking mulled wine, welcoming friends, sharing a few laughs, drinking mulled wine, eating shortbread, exchanging gifts, drinking mulled wine...come to think of it a couple of years away may be good for our livers!  One thing for sure, all of you will be in our thoughts over this special season despite the lack of snow.

Thanks to all who replied to our first two letters from Abu Dhabi, we both thoroughly enjoyed getting your letters and reading your news.  To those of you who haven't replied, a warning: this isn't baseball - only two strikes and you're out.  So you better put pen to paper early in the new year if you want your subscription to continue...

Channel Challenged

Our Abu Dhabi spending spree has continued unabated since our arrival in September and we're still not finished furnishing the apartment.  (But then again we lived in Bridgeland four years and we weren't finished there either.  Some things just never end.)

Despite having done more shopping than I've ever done AND in record time, there are still a few fairly basic items, such as rugs, which aren't crossed off the list yet.  And, incredibly, we still don't have a TV.  I never would have thought Bobby could last five hours without the idiot box, let alone five months.  What a guy – chock full of surprises.

No doubt the fact that the stereo is equipped with a remote has helped with the withdrawal.  He can flip through the five disks or put it on shuffle when he gets an irresistible urge to do some channel changing.  Apparently we're not missing much as there's not a whole lot to watch here anyway.  Local programming consists primarily of religious shows interspersed with news, sports, soap operas, reruns of Murder She Wrote, cartoons, camel races, and the occasional National Geographic Special.

English speaking satellite subscribers have a bit more to choose from with the BBC, Prime Sports (the European TSN), Star Plus ((South East Asia variety which includes programming such as Street Legal, Dynasty reruns, Baywatch, Oprah (it is really strange, let me tell you, when you walk into an Abu Dhabi electronics shop to see a dozen TV sets tuned to Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue, and British sitcoms)), and, of course, MTV.  There are also three other foreign language satellite stations (Egyptian, French, and something else, the language of which I'm not certain).


I must confess there are times when I wish I could just sit down, flick on the tube and be entertained.  It really is like a drug isn't it?  Keeping oneself amused without the box takes so much more energy and creativity - it can be terribly exhausting simply thinking of what to do let alone doing it!

Besides the sloth factor, we both miss being able to watch a movie now and again.  There are no theatres here, with the exception of the Indian cinemas – a genre that is an acquired taste I should think. If you have ever seen one, you’ll know what I mean.

The lack of movie theatres is partially compensated for by the proliferation of pirated movie videos.  All new Hollywood movies are available on video here within several weeks of their release in the North America.  Of course the quality leaves a lot to be desired.  I have yet to see one, but Bobby says they are really poor.

The good news is we'll have a huge selection of videos to choose from when we move back to Canada.  Selecting a film was always difficult for us as Bobby saw just about everything there was to see when he lived in Yellowknife.

On the road

While we'll likely save the purchase of a TV and VCR for the new year, Bobby couldn't resist trading in the "old" Nissan Pathfinder (he'd had it a mere four months, one of which he spent on holiday in Canada) for a 1989 white Range Rover.  We've had the Range Rover for about a month.

It's the first vehicle I've driven that I actually have to climb into.  Very weird.  Especially when you're used to climbing out.  The seats are so high I feel as if I'm driving a throne.  When I'm sitting in the driver's seat the tops of my legs are almost even with the bottom of the window.

It's funny, because as I’m driving, I’ll sometimes try to rest my arm on the window - you know like you do when you want to relax - and my arm just slides down the glass because where the bottom would normally be is the middle.  The advantage of course, is that you can see everything when you're driving, which makes it a fairly safe vehicle.  That's crucial in a country where everybody on the road drives like a maniac. More about that next time…

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