Monday, February 28, 2011

So I'm watchin' and I'm waitin', hopin' for the best. (The Mothers Of Invention)

There have been news reports today of protests and two protesters (or six depending on the report) being killed by police in Oman. In stark terms this is not good. It appears that the unrest that began in Tunisia and spread to Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and Libya has landed on our back door. Or close to the back door - in Suhar.

Our friends and family need not be alarmed though.

Oman is only a few miles away from where we live and work in Al Ain, but it is a vastly different country with very different problems. For instance - there is a large degree of poverty in Oman that is not replicated in the UAE. There is no social unrest in the UAE, whereas, since January 2011, there is a lot in Oman.

In the second map down below you can see that Suhar (where the protests are centred) is about an hour drive from Al Ain travelling east.

You can rest assured that my company is monitoring the situation and even if things look like escalating in Oman I am confident that we are safe here.

That may not be what is presented on news bulletins however so please factor in the sensational when you watch.

Frank Zappa sums up things well:

Well I'm about to get sick
From watchin' my TV
Been checkin' out
the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it's gonna change, my friend
Is anybody's guess


As a response to the Christchurch earthquake we will be observing a minutes silence tomorrow at midday (our time) and in a gesture of solidarity we will be wearing black and red clothing on Wednesday (Canterbury colours).


Finally - spare me a thought as I try to come to terms with the Arsenal loss last night. I felt sick watching it and I felt like I'd experienced a nightmare when I awoke this morning. Jacky just doesn't get it: she told me to 'pick another team' - as if that was possible!

Not a good week!!

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The water shone like diamonds in the dew (Neil Young)

I've finally finished the Millennium trilogy that I started way back when Sallie lent me a copy of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Since then I have bought and watched the first two movies of the series and have read a number of other things - mainly a slew of music magazines from the UK: Uncut special on The Rolling Stones; Mojo special on Frank Zappa; various copies of Rolling Stone and Mojo. I love music magazines.

I also loved the Millennium trilogy. Stig Larsen wrote with a breathtaking technique - he's so easy to read and the plots unfold in unlikely ways. The ending to the whole series is spectacular.

I read the second and third volumes on my ereader and I'm now very comfortable with the format. I have downloaded a few titles onto my ipad but this pesky bookshop in the Dubai mall has changed my plans for total ereader action.

It's a humungous bookstore - maybe the world's biggest. Called the KINOKUNIYA bookstore (from Singapore). It is a massive 68,000 square feet with more than a half million books and a thousand magazines in English; Arabic; Japanese; French; German and Chinese at any given time. It is stunning and shines like diamonds in the dew!!

I took Adam in for a browse and we were both in there for 90 minutes without moving from the music section. I bought some excellent titles on Zappa, Beatles, Lennon, classic rock, Woody Allen and Woodstock and left behind an equal number of must haves for my next visit. Only trouble is that they are heavy. The download books weigh nothing!

Believe I'll tackle the Zappa bio first.

Love and peace - Abu Keegan bin Graham.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Down with sticks and up with bricks (The Housemartins)

Here are some examples showing the extremes in architecture in the UAE/Oman:

A farmhouse in Hili area of Al Ain; the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi; the world's tallest building - the Burj Khalifa in Dubai; our apartment block is a standard kind of structure; tall office blocks in Abu Dhabi; a farming area in Hili; a preserved fort in Al Ain; and finally a couple of shops in Oman.

Love and peace - Wozza

Here comes a feeling you thought you'd forgotten (Vampire Weekend)

Nu Zild has been hit again by tragedy (the September Christchurch earthquake and the cave disaster are still fresh) with a devastating earthquake destroying a lot of Christchurch and, this time, there have been many casualties.

As a kiwi abroad it is a shock to watch news reports that make Christchurch look like Haiti. It certainly puts life in perspective and makes us all think of home.

Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with fellow Nu Zilders on the other side of the world.

It's a beautiful country but is right smack dab on a major fault line (which, ironically, is what has contributed to the grandeur over millions of years).

Right now: I'm reminded of these pictures of Pat and Randy's new site for a home in Taranaki; achingly beautiful and a worthwhile place to settle down in.

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm seeing a new world of people and things, hear paupers and peasants and princes and kings (Bob Dylan).

Adam joined us on our Middle Eastern adventure for a couple of weeks of R and R. We made a few excursions: he joined me for a school staff BBQ, a visit to Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque, a camel ride in the desert, a trip to the Al Ain zoo and a well preserved fortress were some of the highlights, as well as the various malls, Jabeel Hafeet and Dubai's aquarium.

A selection of snaps indicates what we've been up to.

The lengthy camel ride left me fairly sore. I'm not a rider that's for sure! I managed to end up on the lead camel which made taking photographs a death defying prospect while staying aboard. Comfort suffered along the way. I managed to walk around school the day after - only just mind.

We did this on a farm by the Hili oasis - on the outskirts of Al Ain - which is about 30 mins away from our home. Farm life is a tad different here as you can see!

Love and peace - Abu Keegan bin Graham (Wozza)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Certainly a man should travel (Voltaire, Candide, Ch 18)

Jacky is winging her way back from New Zealand to the desert as I type. She arrives in Dubai tomorrow morning. I am driving to Dubai after work, and staying overnight to pick her and Adam up (Adam is here for a two week break).

Yay!! As Uncle Walt says: Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.

On the subject of travel and happiness - I have this quote from Emerson on my office wall: Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

Made myself a milo and this was the pattern that emerged when I added my dollop of sugar (no CGI at work here - true serendipity). As Uncle Walt also says: Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.

Love and peace - Abu Keegan