Thursday, November 27, 2008

standing guard...

...a Chinese warrior in my living room.....guarding my books, the glorious sunshine and lending a sense of calm.

I bought this years ago from The Bombay Company, which sadly doesn't exist anymore. I love to buy a few things from each of my trips as a memento of it and this is certainly one of the most memorable things I bought in my summer trip to San Francisco.

standing guard...

Switching credit cards to avoid interest

As the credit crunch seems to worsen day by day, all one can do is to focus more on one's own finances and see how and where one can cut down any losses. As anyone with credit card knows, it's not the things one buys that are expensive per se, but it is the interest and late payments that really get you. A lot of people are thinking of switching their entire balance to a new credit card where there might be a few months interest free or some other promotion. The popularity of balance transfers credit cards is only going to rise in the coming year, it seems, as people try to juggle their debts from one place to another to minimize interest and finance charges.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A slice of our life in Dubai!

Dubai is certainly not only about skyscrapers and malls! Living in Dubai means that you have to wade through miles of bureaucracy with a fine tooth comb and hope you manage not to get deported for a spelling mistake on an application that you made 3 years ago for a PO Box.

Life seems to move from one governmental fiasco to another....Salik (toll tags) to one-family-one-villa policy to no-cars-over-20-years-old-on-the-road to endlessly skyrocketing rents to 5 hour daily traffic jams and the latest the National ID card imbroglio.

The National ID card is a must for everyone, the deadline for expat professionals is December 31st 2008, which was announced in October 2008. Well, it was announced earlier, but only in the Arabic newspapers, which as the officials say, all expats should read, since it is the official language of the UAE!

The process is cumbersome, there are applications, pre-applications, pre-registrations and so on. The online form takes 4-5 hours to fill and decides where you work (apparently most of Dubai works in DIFC--Dubai International Financial Center) and takes a guess whether it wants you to be a male or female. So after half a day of willing the pages to load, you print out a form that has info that is completely different to what you filled and no bar code on the right side...why? Because they decided to create a page that is wider than and A4 paper, so it gets chopped off.

We are in the process of getting our ID cards....in the sense that we submitted forms that we bought at the post office (bought illegally after it wasn't available at any of the post offices), got it typed at a typing center and submitted it to the post office for a "Smart Form" to be made and mailed to us. Once we get the smart form then we go to the registration center and wait for 4-6 hours on probably 3-4 days to try and get an ID. Piece of cake, its all in a day's work in Dubai!

And oh, by the way, one should get the form back in 3 days, but it's been 2 weeks now and it's still not done, so I don't think the form is very "smart", but that's only me. On the plus side, this way we get to visit our beautiful post office and check our PO Box on a daily basis. It really has made an improvement to our lives, I must say!

And so the saga continues!

Hope you enjoyed a slice of our life here in sunny DXB!

Monday, November 24, 2008

standing guard

I love moving things around at home. As a Gemini, I cannot have the same arrangement for too long a time, it has to be movable, it has to be able to look different. I recently shifted stuff around and like the look of the living room a lot more now. Well, it all comes down to change....and change is very important to me. Here's a shot that I took earlier this month...love the sun pouring in.

standing guard...

The right bed

When it comes to setting up home, the most important piece of furniture is probably the bed, since if you don't sleep well, you cannot function at a 100%. So, it is really very important to have a sleep number bed that is just right for you. I find that I do not like a very soft bed, or one that is too firm. It has to be somewhat firm, but must have a soft, downy mattress pad, for the softness and coziness. To each their own!

Getting closer now!

Less than a month to go now.... less than a month till we go for our winter break... less than a month till we head out to a new destination.... less than a month till we start a new adventure.... less than a month till we meet up with family.... and less than a month till I have a tech free break, no internet, no work, cell turned off! Looking forward to it all!

being creative with Christmas cards

I've been getting creative with the printer lately and have decided to use it for something other than just boring old regular Word document prints. Like most good printers, mine has the capability to print out photographs and art work as well and I am making the most of this and being creative about my Christmas cards. So no store bought cards this time around, only stuff that I have made. It's going to be lots of fun!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the yellow wall

I love going for my morning walks as it is so peaceful and serene. As the sun is rising later, I am going for my walk later, but that has made my walks less serene as there are school buses and commuters going to work etc. But it still is worth it for the fresh air one gets and for the quiet time to think and ponder things through. Here's one I took last month. I must go back and take it again in the evening, since the light will be much nicer then.

a yellow wall

The craze for losing weight

Each time I pick up a celebrity magazine, I find that I find more and more emphasis on losing weight and looking ultra thin. The trend that started out with just a few celebrities has filtered down to the average person on the street and has resulted in a craze for diet pills and other things that make you lose weight quickly. The pressures of society are becoming so great that most ignore the warnings from their body and usually go overboard. While diet pills are effective, if you do not take them as prescribed, then you're going to cause yourself some problem or the other. In doing some research on diet pills, I have found that many users find them so effective initially, they they end up taking more than the recommended dosage and that's where the trouble begins. Be sure to follow the instructions and get yourself checked up by a physician before embarking on any kind of severe health plan.

Loving blurb

I've written about Blurb before, but I wanted to write again, since I simply love the site. I've ordered my book for the third time today, each time with some changes, although the book is essentially the same. Today was the deadline for ordering to use the special holiday coupon and I thought it was a good idea to get a move on my holiday gifts. The only thing I do not like about Blurb, is that they do not accept PayPal as a payment source. I'd much rather pay for books on Blurb from PayPal instead of using my credit card and I do hope that they include PayPal in the authorized payment methods soon.

Looking for information on fat burners

Some of my recent articles and assignments have been on the health and diet industry. I have spent a good amount of time researching the various diet methods and am now looking for someone who has used an ephedra-free fat burner to lose weight and is willing to share their experience with me. Lately, it seems that all these fast weight loss plans are really gaining in popularity and have been featured on some of the more renowned shows on TV, both talk and sitcoms, which give them a real boost of authenticity and fame. So, if you or someone you know has used this fat burner, I'd be interested in knowing more about the experience.

travel planning online

Well, our next trip out is exactly a month away! Yippee! Next month this time, we'll be busy packing for our trip....a trip to a place that I've not gone to before and is completely new to me, even though it has been on my must travel to list for quite some time. I don't want to write about where I'm going just yet, but wanted instead to write about the convenience of being able to book flights, hotels, tour packages online. The entire trip was researched online and withing a few telephone calls to travel agents, it was all decided, confirmed and booked. More on the trip later on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A different option for vacations



Everyone needs to take a vacation every now and again, but with the economy worsening, one of the first things to be cut are unfortunately vacations. Don't despair, it still is possible to take vacations, but one just has to do it slightly differently. In fact, a lot of people much prefer this method of vacation, since it is much more personal and friendly. Vacations by Owner and vacation rentals is the way to do it, as this way you deal directly with other home owners who are offering their home for a vacation. With vacation rentals, there is no middleman to pay, no commission, no fuss, just plain fun, that's all.

Say you're looking to visit Disney World in the spring, check out the section on Orlando vacation rentals and you'll be able to find a great place to stay and save lots of money as well. There are lots of other options in Florida vacation rentals if you'd rather focus on fishing or golfing. The options are quite varied and the great thing about this is they are ideal for family vacations, so if you're traveling with kids, this is really the best way to go about it.

Destinations are listed by state, making it easy to search to find a destination that you're looking for. The Exchange Club is another great section, where you can find people to swap homes for vacation with. The layout and navigation of the site, makes it extremely easy to find one's way around, and it's not cluttered with too many ads, as a lot of other sites are these days. If you're an international traveler, there's also a listing of worldwide destinations.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My new favorite travel site!



About a month ago, I was surfing to fond some interesting places to visit, and I came across a really nice site dedicated to exactly that, but with an added twist, that of traveling responsibly and in an eco-friendly manner. The site in question is Responsible Travel and it lists destinations and resorts from all over the world, which have done something different, have helped in preserving for the environment, contribute to local growth and activities and so on.

I ended up surfing the site for hours, quickly closing all the other tabs I had opened from other sites thrown up by the search engine. This one site had all the information I needed. I bookmarked several destinations and resorts and filled inquiry forms for several places for destinations ranging from Morocco, Cyprus and Egypt. I got replies to my queries within a day and was really happy with the experience. I haven't booked anything as yet, but I have some really great options at least.

Happy exploring!

Cafe franchise is the way to go

We're big fans of drinking coffee and tea at cafe's, especially a well-made cafe mocha. I was reading about how coffee franchises are a really huge business, especially in the newer areas and countries, where the saturation point has not been reached as is the case in some places in the US. While all kinds of food franchises are extremely popular, it is the cafe franchise that remains at the top of the list. With the coffee culture only growing the world over, this trend does not seem to be easing up anytime in the near future. Interestingly, a lot of coffee houses have incorporated tea into their business as well, so they are able to pull in tea drinkers as well. It's all good business sense.

Rain shelter

The hardest part of a vacation is when you come back and remember all the little moments that went into making it so special, so memorable and so wonderful. I really enjoyed my vacation in September and posting photos on Flickr about the trip is making me both nostalgic on one hand, but since I'm able to relive the moment, also very happy. It's a funny feeling and I know it's only going to be solved by taking another vacation....Yay, that's already planned. The location of the vacation I will write about later on though.

Rain shelter

Time for a change

It's time for some changes at home! As a Gemini, I love to shift things around, in fact I get claustrophobic to have the same arrangement all the time, through the seasons. So now it's time to get a new bed and bed frames, which will make the room look quite different but also be a lot more comfortable. The one we have in the room right now was a gift and while we really do appreciate the intention, it isn't the most supportive of bed frames and it's time for a change now. I think as the seasons change it is nice to change the things we have in our home as well.

The secret of blogging

It's been such a long time since I blogged here regularly, that it sometimes feels funny getting back to it. There's so much I want to share, but don't want to get boring and monotonous and dreary about it, right? A blog is a good place to speak ones mind, so to speak, but it can be quite tedious for the readers, who don't know much about you. One has to strike a balance in sharing information that others would probably be interested and information that can be easily avoided here. The problem is that while it's easy to point out what is tedious in other people's blogs, in ones own blog it seems important enough to write about. Well, do a rethink, since it's probably not. Let your blog be interesting, informative and fun. I hope I'm on the right track as well.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Looking through!

Buying a new pair of glasses has been pending for quite some time now, but I keep putting it off since I wear contact lenses most of the time and only use my glasses for a few minutes each day and while traveling. It really isn't something that one should ignore actually, since if you don't get the right power of glasses, you will only end up making things worse. While my power seems to be alright, these glasses always seem to be crooked and no amount of bending and twisting seems to make it alright.

So, it's time to get those new pair of glasses now.