Monday, 28 April 2008

Damn Daman

We have just had to renew our Daman health insurance.

After protracted negotiations last October we thought that I had been granted a year's insurance exempt from maternity cover because we can't have children. However last week we discovered that we had actually paid the full amount including maternity for just six months.
This was a shock because according to the document I was covered until October BUT when we looked closely at my health card the expiry date was the same as spouse's insurance taken out 6 months before mine!

We protested to no avail and were then told to pay up for both of us including the extra 3000DHS maternity cover. We said we didn't need the maternity cover but were then asked if we could prove it. Well... no we can't... sensitive issues like fertility test results are given in person rather than certificated but spouse said he would take a test here too if that was the only way.

Oh No... said Daman ... it's about your wife. You may have a problem but she can still get pregnant therefore she has to have maternity cover. Unless she has had a hysterectomy, maternity cover is compulsory until she's 50.

Stunned silence....

So how am I going to get pregnant then?? By divine fucking intervention?? Or am i just supposed to be a total slut?

I suppose they are not actually thinking at all. It's just a bureaucratic requirement and cases to which it does not apply are negligible enough to be ignored. So on top of the absurdity of the issue itself, we still have to pay for a service that is irrelevant and waste 3000DHS in a situation where money is still really tight ... . it almost makes me wish I was slut.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Vision Fatigue

The latest vision is the one for Bastakia. I wrote an article for Nafas online arts magazine a couple of weeks ago which talked about this and also looked at potential problems. The major one as always is human resources. Who is going to organise, administrate and implement all the projects and plans.

The other big cultural visions are Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island development and the Khor Project in Dubai. Cultural weight is also thrown around by the ability to employ people like Rem Koolhaas, to design whole new cities. Nakheel's Waterfront City is one such project and even has its own death star presumably to match Emaar's death spire.Abu Dhabi has the super ironic Masdar carbon free city and the daily onslaught of advertisements for other developments is really starting to get on my nerves. The Gulf News has given up any pretense of being a newspaper since someone had the bright idea of turning the front page into an advert. 'Be an Octavian' What? Buy a piece of San Francisco / Spanish Reality ... . er.. earth to Dynasty Zarooni - this is the UAE! Even Ajman's getting in on the act with 'visionaries are those who make their dreams come true ... dare to envision' etc. etc. yawn yawn. Is there no one who can still see clearly enough to consider taking a rain check on the word 'vision'?

It is particularly grating in a week where there has been so much talk about national identity and the demographic imbalance including a debate on the UAE Community blog that had more than 90 comments.

I sympathise with the local predicament - it took me 6 months to find a local! However, if there is such great concern about demographic imbalance why all the new cities? Who are they for? All those people who will have to come to implement the other visions I guess!

PS When my subscription to Gulf Property Advertising (formerly News) expires, I'm switching to the National.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Personality Disintegration

I have now been in Dubai for almost a year and am starting to miss various things that it never occurred to me I could miss... the 16th and 17th centuries for example. By this I mean the ability to walk into a public institution and spend time in the company of some old masters of the Italian renaissance perhaps or some ancient artefacts looted from elsewhere at some point in perfidious British history. However, this is probably a result of relentless exposure to 'contemporary' art over the past month or so.

Another problem I have is the constant feeling that I'm living in some kind of a time warp. With the exception of a few key local programmes radio stations sound like British provincial radio in the 1970s. I have actually given up turning on the radio when I'm cooking dinner in the evening because its either endless sports talk or people who seem to know very little about music history talking bullshit about dreadful playlists! The TV is even worse. Maybe its bad timing but City 7 only seems to show re-runs of Minder.

All of this is turning me a bit radical and is doing very strange things to my sense of humour. The comedy channel for me is Saudi Channel 2. There's usually a laugh within five minutes. This may sound like some kind of orientalist-laughing-at-the-arabs type bullshit but it is truly fascinating and the 10 o' clock news is most informative unlike any local news services. I can no longer get through 8.30 - 9.00 on Dubai One without wanting to blow my own head off.

I am also getting concerned that my personality is disintegrating. I am getting more and more of those days where I am actually losing track of my own identity. I guess this happens without access to people who've known you for years and years and can remind you of who you are. The other identity indicators are the books, pictures and just general 'stuff' that I've accumulated over the years, all of which remains in the UK. I did not realise how much identity was maintained simply by being able to idly glance over my bookshelves once a day or just stare at a favourite painting. Thank god I'd put most of my music collection on an MP3 player! That precious little device is currently constituting about 75% of my sanity.

Do you think I need a holiday????????