Cali to Dubai: Phones & Food
Something important we had to do as new residents was switch the SIM card in our phone. We pull into the garage at Emirates Mall and park in the section across from VIP where every car looked to be 100k and up. Hit with a blast of cold AC as we enter the shopping center, the interior is three floors of impeccably polished marble with lights like a dealership showroom. A little girl is asleep, spilling out of a pink stroller pushed by her mom.
Westep into Etisalat, a white well-lit shop with 12 service desks and a waiting area. We're quickly helped by a nice lady in a hijab who explains the pricing plans by writing them out on the back of a receipt. A gentleman, who I deduce is a regular, popped in halfway through the session: "I need more phones!" He says "Call me first when you get iPhone 7!" He then took the time to tell a few jokes which the lady in the hijab seemed to tolerate before ushering him on his way. Since we're currently sans-visa we can only do a prepaid plan. Decent plans (for anyone who uses their phone more than a corpse) is roughly $90 USD/mo + the SIM card fee. When our resident visas clear we can get the better rate in exchange for annual commitment. Heidi swapped in the SIM card so quickly I didn't notice my phone was missing and we were off to the infamous Carrefour.
Carrefour, the in-mall food market where they charge by the cart and it helps to know parkour, is the Mad Max of grocery stores. To me, the definition of walking is that part of one foot must be touching the ground at all times. That is to say at no point, even briefly, can you be mid-flight. So, think World War Z. Think Supermarket Sweep (skip to 15:22). Think Outkast Bombs Over Baghdad video. We enter and the first thing we see is produce labeled by country and priced by how much it costs to get it here.
My impression is the cost of living, even for basic things, is much more than we were used to in Cali. I saw a $10 tomato. A ten dollar tomato. Could you imagine kids not eating what's on their plate? (Some little snot-nose punk saying nyeh I don't eat asparagus. Do you know how many jobs I had to work to get that aspara...sorry.) We summersault to the checkout lane where a cart attendant is waiting in a yellow jumpsuit. Emaan is loading groceries onto the conveyor before the gentleman waves his hand and takes over. Mayo. Eggplant. Bread. Turkey. Humanely-priced tomatoes and beef salami. Breaking free we drop the groceries at home and walk to this rooftop restaurant called Rosso's.
Rosso's is an Italian restaurant with a Tiki vibe. Speckled with string lights and palm trees it overlooks the shops along the Gulf. It was ladies night so the ladies got free drinks as I sipped a 7 dollar water. Heidi ordered the pizza, Emaan, the gnocchi, and me pesto linguini. Emaan wanted to take her (five) remaining gnocchi home. When the guy took the plate he quickly returned and said: "But there's nothing left. It's just sauce. You sure you wanna take this home?" To which she replied "Yes. I am sure." And had choice words for him later We all thought it was a little outta pocket for him to qualify leftovers.
We went home for the night and Emaan was getting ready for her first big day at Huda beauty! Picking clothes, adding a fresh coat of paint to her nails and asking how she should wear her hair (curly or straight). Heidi and I put the finishing touches on my local résumé and soon everyone was fast asleep. I took a second to call my mom, then too settled in for day one of the job hunt.
Up Next: Emaan's first day & more!