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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 …

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

It’s hard to avoid “service” in Abu Dhabi. Labor is (disturbingly) cheap and it seems sometimes that there is always someone offering to wash your car, clean your apartment, carry your bags. But the other day in Lulu (a big grocery store chain here), I saw “service” taken to a new level: a worker unloading a shopper’s grocery cart at the check-out line. She was on the phone, he was …

Monday Listicles: Around the House

I have dropped my anti-writing voices in a jar and shoved them in a neighbor’s closet (thanks, Bahareh!) but I can still hear their mewling in my head, getting in the way of words on the page screen.  But what could be a better way to break through writer’s block than making a list, write right? So I found my way back to Stasha, whose topic this week is easy-peasy: …

a mall of contradictions

So I was at the mall. I’m at the mall because “everything” is at the mall: grocery stores, bookstores (or at least stores that sell book-related products), the Walgreens-equivalent stores. These malls are vast echoey spaces designed to entertain: each mall has big toddler play areas; there are ice rinks, bowling alleys, fountains galore. In Dubai, there is a mall with a huge aquarium in it, and another designed around …