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Friday, April 27, 2007

Banking blues

Friday; not an easy day in Deira. Always tempted to get out to avoid the lunchtime obloquies but the heat is on these days, and I am not keen on solo beach treks. Will later be back on the bus to Abu Dhabi. Not a journey I relish as I have been doing it every few days for several weeks on the visa trail. Finally secured the residence visa on Wednesday, meeting a contact at the bus station for the (totally legal) exchange. Was quite elated after all these weeks of struggle, having chosen one of the more circuitous routes to getting a visa in the UAE, when I saw the three year stamp in my passport. Things were set back again shortly afterwards however as I hit bank hassles. I knew that obviously I could not re-enter the flat hunt maelstrom without a local bank account. However my reference from an employer was addressed to only one bank and subsequent research revealed that I should have maximized the options as some do rather better deals than others. That said, trying to pass over a tip-exed letter from my employer to one bank that had previously been addressed to a rival, was the act of a masochist. I am now waiting for a Fed Ex package two days after an urgent request back to base (Do Fed-Ex work on Fridays out here?)….In addition, it could take another week to get the prized cheque book. Without the latter you can’t commit to 12 months rent on an apartment. My, the most mundane things get so important don’t they? In short I am flying out of here in 9 days time and it looks rather like I will be returning to this hotel, having checked out for the second time. It really is living up to the song. …..

Speaking of songs…the hotel has taken its pop music as psy-ops policy to a higher level. Not content with assaulting punters with poor Indian covers of usually piss poor originals on a constant 24 hour loop, for the last three, four days in succession we have, or I should say I have, been subjected to a handful of Abba’s minor hits by Abra, or whatever the tribute band ought to be called. Not that there aren’t other punters in this place, even poorer, obviously non-Emirati, Arabs of late. But nobody else, of course, notices, including the staff who are based here, day in day out…..

Yesterday’s banking difficulties met critical communiqu├ęs from HQ full on, and left me on a decided downswing…clearly I am having difficulties shifting into a new mode of working. This may be understandable in the circumstances, but is also about shifting from one so-called intellectual approach to another. The new one is on the one hand more rigorous, on the other is exhausting in its dependence on extensively sourced local opinion. The struggle continues.

Last night I went for a long walk to try to think about something else, going north from the Sabkha abra station for once, looking over to Bur Dubai souq. Found the public library, which turned to be a pleasant place. Possibly an over heavy focus on the local leadership but then this was hardly a surprise….Found myself strangely switching from a William Burroughs “cut up” novel to a coffee table tribute to genuine local heroes….found more interest in the latter….surely a good sign…..Headed back via Deira Old Souq….I hadn't really encountered this part before, the more traditional covered area though was largely empty at nine at night…..need to return to check out the spices and the gold…

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