Add to Technorati Favorites expat Abu Dhabi Dispatches: October 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amazing Lightning Photo

A friend of mine, Sam Unterman, shot this photo of a massive thunderstorm in St. George, Utah, USA. The timing was incredible!

St, George Lightning Strike

This town is located in the Northeastern Mojave desert and many of these storms are rainless. The lightning is dangerous as it strikes dry brush on the nearby mountains and wildfires occur as a result.

I just had to share this dramatic photo. You won't see another like it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adrien Brody Encounter

I went to a Q&A session the other day featuring the Oscar winning actor (The Pianist) Adrien Brody. He was promoting his new movie Wrecked which will premier at the fourth annual Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Wrecked tells the story of a man who crashes his car into a ravine and faces incredible odds to survive. The film was made in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Brody, the son of Hungarian-born photographer Sylvia Plachy and history professor Elliot Brody, grew up in Queens, New York and credits his mother (who was in attendance) for his ease in front of the camera. He accompanied her on many assignments for the "Village Voice". He expressed his continuing interest in independent film and relief that his hard work and fame allows him to bypass the usual auditions. He is glad to finally have the luxury of choosing the scripts he is interested in.

The Abu Dhabi Theater

The Abu Dhabi Theater

Adrien Brody was very relaxed and forthcoming during the 90 minute session. His eyes glazed over when a question was asked in Arabic but a set of headphones were quickly supplied for the translation. He was joined on stage with the principals of the movie.

Adrian Brody
Arabic to English Translation

Doesn't Anyone Wear Socks Anymore?

The Screenwriter

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Centro Hotel Pool Party-Immaculate Touch-Yas Island

The oppressive temperatures have moderated and folks are starting to come out of their caves. So I decided to enjoy the weather and attend a pool party at the nearby Yas Island. The Moonbase where I live is a long taxi ride to downtown where most things happen and I was encouraged that there was something of entertainment value occurring in the neighborhood. Plus admission was free for my ilk!

I arrived there early and the crowds were scarce but the pace soon picked up. The weather was perfect as well as the surroundings at the Centro Hotel. The DJ's played a good mix of music and there was a guy cooking barbeque.

As one who likes to chronicle the weird and wonderful, I posted some pictures of the event.

It Wasn't a Church Event

Party Starting to Get Rolling

I Don't Know What the Story is Here

Some Coworkers Showed up

In All my Days, I Have Never Gazed Upon This

What a Great Idea! Women on Stilts!

I Feel Blessed, an Angel's Smile!

The "Bad" Angel
All in all, I had a good time. The beer, food, venue and scenery made for a relaxing afternoon. Regrettably, it was kind of a "Sausage Fest" as the lopsided ratio of available females/males here rivals that of Alaska, but one learns to deal with it. Right place at the right time with the right words are key, failing that, there is always Thailand.

That being said, there was no shortage of eye candy!

Oops, Camera Misfire...Sorry

So I cabbed it home for an early night after the early afternoon start. Don't drink and drive. I honestly can't justify owning a car here anymore.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Abu Dhabi Film Festival

I had the fortune the other night to attend the opening night of the fourth annual Abu Dhabi Film Festival. I cabbed it from the moonbase to the very tony Emirates Palace hotel where the event was held and checked in at the press room in the Island Lounge.

Shiny New Building Downtown

Interior of the Emirates Palace

A Well Heeled Nautical Guest Moored Nearby

Atrium of the Emirates Palace

Press Room, Island Lounge
I retrieved my badge and hung out drinking expressos until the ceremonies began. I earlier applied for access to the Red Carpet area where the celebrities parade before the various media types but invitations to this event are rare. I thought I would wait until the names of the chosen were called and expected to go back home empty handed. Imagine my surprise when the coordinator pictured above called out my name. I was in!

The chosen were quickly rushed down two floors into the bowels of the hotel past a gauntlet of cordial security personnel to the Red Carpet press area. It resembled a piranha feeding frenzy as all the media types vied for the best vantage points. I chose a raised stage against the back wall which gave me a good view.

Red Carpet Press Area

Red Carpet Press Area

Red Carpet Press Area

The room was very hot and crowded but everyone was having a good time. The folks standing on both sides of me were very friendly and I felt like I made some good new buddies. I had a scare right before the ceremony as my trusty Canon camera started to act weird. All it would do was make a sickening beep when I tried to take a photo. Panicked, I changed batteries and memory card to no avail. I finally selected "restore factory settings" and that fixed it. I still don't know what happened.

The celebrities paraded before us stopping every 10 meters or so for photo opportunities. I have to admit that I didn't know the identity of most of the people I was photographing and will have to do some post event research.

Girl Talk....Slackistan's Shahana Khalil and Aisha Akhtar

Oscar Winning Actor Adrien Brody

British Actor Clive Owen

Unknown But Nice Dress...Help Me

Don't know Him Either

Or Her....

Or Them

Some Guy With His Mom

Maybe I am out of touch with the entertainment industry but I really feel ignorant that I don't recognize some of these people. I think that I should. Like I said, I will have to do some research.

After the event, I went to the lobby lounge to have some post-ceremony beers. At the bar, I met a motivational speaker from America and a hydrological engineer that is helping to restore the UAE's water aquifer. We all had a good chat and some laughs. I then cabbed it back to the Moonbase. Don't drink and drive!

It was a very fun night for me. I got outside my envelope and flat and really enjoyed it. Quite a big do for this redneck from the Florida panhandle but I clean up pretty well when I have to. Look for more ADFF updates here as I plan to attend press conferences with Uma Thurman, Adrien Brody and Juliette Moore in the following days.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Helicopters Rule!

Rotor wash can be embarrassing!

Besides the obvious distraction, I am impressed how precisely the helo is positioned on the "H".
I don't think I have EVER seen better legs!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Repatriation Realities

Humans are very versatile and flexible creatures, these facts explain how ancient cultures in such diverse areas as the Arctic and our own Arabian desert thrived. In the last few years I have lived and worked Abu Dhabi, I did some adapting of my own to this country and culture. Now I hardly notice the everyday things that would have shocked, irritated, or even thrilled me when I was a rookie.

All of this made me realize that when the time comes for my return to the star spangled arms of my Uncle Sam, I will have some reverse-adapting to do. Some things in the U.S. will seem foreign to me upon my repatriation so I compiled a 10 most potentially disruptive personal issues list:

1. I will have to force myself to actually take speed limit and stop signs seriously again

2. Required to get reacquainted with “The Taxman” and pay my legal burden (ugh!)

3. Metric versus Imperial measures, always a struggle for me, back to miles, yards, feet and inches

4. Possibility of getting arrested because my shisha pipe is assumed to be "drug paraphernalia"

5. The eerie sense of an important bathroom fixture gone missing, my toilet looks lonely  

6. My terror of drinking tap water must be conquered or I will be considered a wimp

7. Surprised at all the old, dented and cheap cars on the road back home

8. Trying to regain comprehension of that “funny-sounding” American accent

9. My sweat glands are stuck wide open after years in the U.A.E. heat and humidity, I now shiver at 27 C

10 "Middle Finger” rights are restored for use in disputes, but better not as the opponent may have a gun

Some things will feel the same, KFC for example, but the longer I am in Abu Dhabi the further I drift from my original culture. That is not a bad thing as adaptation makes me more comfortable here as time goes by and when I do return home, it will seem as exotic and new as when I first set foot on these shores.