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mosques

Just at the afternoon adhan today, I was out walking in the neighborhood near my office, searching for candy a nutritious snack to carry me through four hours of back-to-back meetings. I am struck always, in Abu Dhabi, by the juxtaposition of glassy office towers against the ancient worlds summoned up in the call to prayer, the way the modern quite literally bumps up against the old. I am struck …

leave your shoes at the door

  What it looks like when repairmen come to your house in Abu Dhabi: Everybody’s shoes get left at the door–whether it’s friends stopping by for a visit or workers coming to see why the dishwasher spews water all over the kitchen floor. And even if I say to the repairmen, “no, it’s okay, please keep your shoes on,” the guys nod and smile and leave their shoes at the …

mary, mary quite contrary … how does your garden grow?

Fifty years ago, Abu Dhabi looked like this: The key feature of this landscape? Sand. And now? Green, green, green. If you look closely, every tree and flower has a little hose coiled at its root; hoses run under every lawn and green space. Forget the oil industry: if you want in on a lucrative franchise, get in on the hose industry. Irrigation systems use reclaimed wastewater; tap water uses …

Halloween, or, sometimes nostalgia looks like Boba Fett

It starts in September, when I get the late August issues of The New Yorker.  I’m always a few weeks behind because I like to read the actual magazine, not the digital one. Usually I don’t mind reading about current events from a month or so ago…until September. In early fall, the magazine becomes a sort of arcade of impossibility: the new theater productions I won’t see; the restaurants I …

Saturday’s Snapshot (surat al-sabat): لقطة السبت

Today I found the plant souk: a long row of seemingly indistinguishable shops selling–yep, plants.  Caleb and I explored, walking past booths crowded with greenery and men saying “yasmeen, madam? frangipani very nice, madam, you want? inside and outside plants, madam, come and see.” For 140 dirham (about thirty-five dollars), Caleb and I got two desert rose bushes, a jasmine bush, a small mint plant, and three bags of white …