Friday, September 12, 2008

I want Ramadan Tents all the time!...and a bit of reflection on the population in Dubai

Really, I do. I forget how nice and relaxed the atmosphere is. We met up with friends at about 9:30 - the tents usually go on until at least 2am. I'm not sure what the night time feeding schedule is for someone fasting..will have to inquire about that. Like a lot of events in Dubai, I didn't see too many locals. I am sure there are tents where more locals go, but when you go out it is often representative of the population. And also at a hotel, there can be a lot of tourists.

Sorry I don't have my old stats on me, but the majority of the population here are Indians and Western expats - the majority of that are British and quite a few Aussies and Kiwis running around. Americans are a bit further down on the list. There are a lot of Indians who have lived here all their lives and others who have moved here to work. There is quite a high number of blue collar workers - largely from India and it is amazing the conditions that they live in and the small income that they earn. There are many people here from the Far East - a large Filipino community here -they tend to work in the service industry - in all the hotels and restaurants along with others from the Far East. There is also a large number of Indians and Filipino women who work as domestic help. Live-in domestic help is the norm here.

Yes, we do have help. We thought it would be a bit strange at first, but we absolutely adore her and she is wonderful with Erin and he loves her. She is a great support for our household. And quite frankly, has a lot of experience with babies and some really great tips. I feel very fortunate that 1-I live in a place where I can afford it and 2-we have found her. She is one thing that I do not take for granted. I often say that I want to get her name tattooed on my arm! If only I could convince her that I really am serious and would love for her to speak Tagalog, or her other dialect to Erin. Perhaps its something that previous employers have frowned upon, but I'm all for it.

I am in awe at these workers and domestic helpers. They all work very hard, make a low wage - probably 500 - 1000 USD per month - maybe more if they are lucky like those in a nice hotel. Their accommodation is payed for. They usually stay in a "dorm" with very small, shared rooms. They all send money back home to support their families. In most cases it is usually to their children. They leave their small children behind - sometimes even when they are still toddlers - with a parent or sibling and send money home so they can send their children to a better school so they can have a better life. It is the biggest sacrifice because many of them are often away from their children for several years. Some employers do not provide return tickets home once a year, so they may not see them frequently. I am in awe at their dedication.

When I hear people complain about the service in many cases I think of their situation. When comparing the service to Turkey where it is usually fast and efficient I note that in Turkey, that person is with their family and likely a professional waiter or barman so there is a certain sense of pride that comes with that. Here, it is a means to an end. And while they are dedicated and do a good job, there may be some days that their heart isn't in it in the same way...not saying I excuse the genuine bad service I had a few weeks ago where it took someone 40 minutes to bring out food that was already prepared from a buffet style restaurant where you go and choose what you want, but I'm much more relaxed about it on many other occasions....Ya, I know what you are asking - we were catching up w/ friends who were away for the summer and you know how time flies when you are chatting w/ good at least the wait for the food was enjoyable.

Back to the Ramadan tents. We had a lovely big tent by the pool of a nearby hotel - I believe it is called the Palace Hotel. It is built in the old Arabic style in the complex where they are building the Burj Dubai - the world's tallest building. (We live right across the street from it). A bit frivolous, but they even put air conditioning units in each tent because the weather is still fairly warm at night. Nothing I haven't endured in Houston. There is food and drink (no alcohol served at Ramadan tents, but fresh juice is nothing to complain about) and its just really nice. So we had nice late dinner. Fortunately we were in the tent so we could not see the big screen at the end of the pool marketing some new property project - very Dubai these days.

The atmosphere is nice, its a great evening with nice Arabic lounge music in the background. You can hang out, catch up with friends and enjoy a great meal of Arabic mezzes and kebabs. I think we need to have these all year 'round. I'm getting hungry now just thinking about it!


Nimet said...

Hey this is a great idea...i wouldn't have the dedication to write and keep it up to date...something you mentioned hit a cord with me. You mentioned that workers here make between 500-1000US a month...I met a lovely waitress last night and she was looking for work. She mentioned that her current salary was 1000AED - or 300USD a month and she has a degree in hotel management! I felt so bad for her but she had such a great attitude, by the end of the night, i had given her my extra microwave and my sister took her resume to submit to Emirates airline. Long story short...people make a lot less than we could imagine. See you soon. Nimet

Pam said...

Wow! That's less than the guy that changed my tire in the past - I think he was making around 800 USD...its just really crazy! Hope she gets a job at Emirates!