Monday, July 21, 2008

Halfway through rotation four

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. We're facing a critical project deadline this Thursday so I've been pretty busy here at work.

I think the fact that I've spent the better part of the last four months here in Dubai is beginning to take its toll. It's gotten to the point that I'm really looking forward to returning to Houston next week, and I'm really wishing my return here in August for my fifth rotation would somehow get canceled.

It's not that I don't like Dubai. Anybody who knows me knows how much I enjoy this city. But being not-quite-halfway around the world from home, and away from your family, for weeks at a time is not fun. It is stressful. Especially when your wife just lost her mother and you can't be there to support her.

Work is beginning to grate on me as well. I'll never get used to the way business is conducted in the Persian Gulf: schedules constantly change, client demands that would be immediately dismissed as unreasonable or infeasible in the United States are routinely granted here, companies tend to take on more work than they can handle and the resulting office culture is one that is chaotic and last-minute in nature. I'm not feeling very good about the deliverable we're submitting on Thursday, in fact, because I don't think we've been given enough time or resources to do it properly.

But it's my transportation situation here in Dubai that is really annoying me. Being dependent on taxis to get around town is not fun; it means that getting to and from work every day is a real adventure. Waiting in the hot sun for a taxi, dealing with asshole cab drivers who don't want to take me from my hotel to my office because the distance is too short to be worth their while, taxis that don't show up even after I've called for them, drivers who are too distracted to safely transport me, drivers whose body odor is pungent enough to kill small animals and drivers who don't know their way around town are all routine Dubai taxi hassles. And don't even think about getting a cab during the morning and afternoon peak; it's gotten to the point that I stay at the office until at least 8 in the evening because I know that there's no way I'll find a cab before then.

But, other than the crowded, slow and infrequent bus route that goes from my office to someplace near my hotel (and yes, I've ridden it before), taxis are my only realistic transportation option. I absolutely refuse to rent a car: I'm not going to try to drive in the utter chaos that is Dubai traffic, and there's really no place for me to park it at work anyway. And I don't want to walk: I've done it a few times before but it takes over an hour to get from my office to my hotel on foot, pedestrian safety is not a high priority here, and the heat makes long walks uncomfortable, even in the evening. There are hotels within much shorter walking distance of my office, but they're unfortunately out of our project budget's price range. Which means I'm stuck with taxis.

I really shouldn't complain too much; I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to come over here and help out on this project. But I think I've just about had my fill. I'm really looking forward to this project being completed and me returning home for good.

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