29 October 2006

Eid Mubarak

Been a while between entries because of a couple of factors - everything is pretty 'normal' by now and all my spare hours are taken up with design work for Cyclic Defrost Magazine back home.

A huge event of import though, is Gen's recent decision to accept a job over here in the costume department. This means she'll be here sooner and stay longer. Although the pay is 'local' rates only and the hours will be long, it should be interesting for her to be involved in a gig of this scale, to meet make some new contacts, and finally be privvy to all the confidential creative elements of the show. It's going to be amusing for me to see her boggle at everything and remind me of how much I have become accustomed to in the three months I have been here.

My last blog was right back at the beginning of Ramadan, which seams an age ago. Some pretty ugly stuff happened that weekend and I'm sorry that such a negative blog was up for so long. Fortunately the rest of the month passed without any similar incidents, and was notable to us westerners only for the frustratingly reduced working hours of everything, the awful traffic jams in the evenings, some fabulous Ramadan feasts at the Intercontinental and some really long prayers sounding from the mosque.

At the end of this month is another three day event called Eid, which is a complete shutdown holiday, similar to our Christmas. Even the poor construction Asian workers are given a day off. This is a joyous occasion marking the end of the month's fasting, and involves special prayers and feasts. For us at apartment N502 it was notable for less pious reasons.

Poor old Trav. He really is the guy that stuff happens to. Or maybe he draws stuff to him, I don't know. But it would be impossible not to notice that if something random was going to happen in a room full of 500 people it would be to him. Lost a wallet and have to check the whole compound's garbage cans for it? He's the one. What happened last weekend was alot more serious and hopefully for him might be last time in a while that pushes the envelope.

To condense a long and convoluted story, a group of them were walking back the few back blocks at 2am from the local bar to their compound and ended up 12 hours later in jail, threatened deportation and firing. The law here is not 'drunk and disorderly' in a public place, but just 'drunk'. In theory you must go by private vehicle from one door to the next if you have any alcohol in your system at all. In Trav and the gang's case they were definitely drunk, but had the misfortune of hailing down an undercover policeman when one of them fell and broke his leg.

Within a few minutes they were surrounded by 15 policeman, who were sure they were also responsible for another crime reported in the area that night. Next was jail, then a dingy medical centre for blood tests, more jail, then home, before being hauled in front of the bosses for a hot roasting. They were all very lucky not to be charged (some important string pulled one infers), fired and sent home. There were rumours that lashings are the usual punishment. Particularly unlucky was one of their gang who was already on a warning for having a party when she wasn't supposed to. The poor thing will be on a plane home tomorrow.

So I do still have a flatmate, but now he's a particularly sheepish one, and is probably shit scared to step outside the front door for fear of what trouble might find him. In fact, he's not the only one freaked out by what happened - you would now have to be stupid to even wait outside a drinking establishment for your private driver, for risk of getting into trouble. And another lesson learnt is to not approach a local under any circumstances at all (even in a medical emergency such as theirs), because they're only too happy to see you punished.

Within our little Western bubble it was easy to forget the large gap in acceptance and tolerance of social behaviour between the two cultures. Hell, they're serious about their laws, and so should we be.


This 'weekend' was fun. I allowed myself a couple of breaks away from laying out the magazine to get out and socialise with my pals a bit. Recently there has been a move away from the poolside leisure by some, to the rooftop. The temperature is pleasant enough now that one doesn't have to flop in the pool every 5 minutes when outside, and is thankful to be in the shade of the building all afternoon. The rooftop also allows you the freedom to play music, and act the fool without disturbing your neighbours. For us on the 5th floors it's super easy too, just up one flight of stairs.

It was absolutely gorgeous yesterday afternoon, with some rare clouds infront of the sun creating a spectacularly dramatic coloured sky. I did some sun baking, and went back up later to share some double apple shisha and beer. Everyone else was pretty wrecked by this stage and enjoying the music to the point of dance-off. Good roof times, I hope they continue...