Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I am or am I?

Driving to work earlier today I saw this note at the back of a bus:

Are these now supposed to be a statement instead of a question? And what about the number to call? No need for one? I guess the company is overconfident on its drivers' abilities. I for one wish I still had a number to call...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Take a walk on the wild side

Did you know there is a zoo in Abu Dhabi - the Emirates Park Zoo? Well, I for one only recently found out about it. Actually, that is not entirely true. I had heard about it and never got myself to go there. But, after you have children, priorities change, right? So, finally, after seven years in Abu Dhabi, I made it to the zoo. 

The verdict? Big surprise. I honestly did not expect such a great space and so many animals. Sure, some areas could do with a little more TLC, but overall it is an excellent place to go with the kids. My little one loved seeing and interacting with all animals, from the very small to the really big ones. 

We started off at the petting area. Amazing. There are rabbits, cows, donkeys, llamas, ponies... Buy some grass for AED 10 and let your kids have a blast feeding them. For another AED 10 you can get a small bottle of milk to feed the baby goats. So cute!

After a while we moved on to explore the zoo. We saw a little bit of everything. Birds, monkeys, reptiles, lions, tigers (including the rare white ones), leopards, cheetahs, zebras and much more. The best part for me was the super up-close encounter with the giraffes. Unbelievable! 

Sadly, we missed the elephant feeding experience. So do remember to check the timings of shows and educational activities once you first get to the zoo!

If you want to make this an even more memorable experience, book a room at the Emirates Park Resort where you will be able to feed the giraffes from your own private balcony. I've never done this, so if you go ahead and try it out, do let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ready, rolling, action and CUT

Many years ago, when I first moved to the UAE, I found it very odd that some of the films I watched at the movies here did not make any sense. I remember getting up from my seat extremely frustrated, with many questions unanswered. Either I was clearly too dumb to grasp the ingenious plot presented before me or the Director was utterly incompetent, right? Well, not exactly... 

I soon learned that the National Media Council (NMC) is tasked with approving every single film for release. They hardly ever really ban a film from the big screens, but they do make cuts if they find some of the scenes conflict with local values. 

In the UAE version of Bruce Almighty, for example, Morgan Freeman does not exist. Why? Because censors cut all depictions of God. So, how exactly is one supposed to understand that the reason why Bruce is almighty has to do with a certain scene where he meets God and gets all his powers?

Sex and the City was also not banned here, but after cutting all scenes of sexual nature, there was only about 30 minutes of film left to screen, so cinemas decided not to do it. 

Jokes aside, I guess the UAE is very liberal, especially when compared to other countries in the GCC, some of which don't even have movie theaters. And I must admit that I've noticed a great deal of improvement on what was screened seven years ago and what is screened now. 

I do, however, still try to make wise choices when I go to the movies. I mean, why bother watching some of them when so much will be cut out? 

I am dying to check-out Gone Girl, but after reading some reviews and learning many of the important scenes involve nudity, I am just not sure. Plus, if rumors are true and there actually is a, let's say, very 'informal' scene starring Ben Affleck, perhaps I should just wait and see it in 3D somewhere else in the world.

If you are also in doubt, perhaps this review from The National might help:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A breast is, well, a breast

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and publications are overflowing with information on campaigns  taking place throughout the country. Among all the great initiatives, the below brochure I got with my copy of Abu Dhabi Week caught my attention:

Maybe it's just me - I might not have been paying attention before - but this is the first time in seven years that I've seen something so 'literal' out there in the open.

Yes. I am talking about the nude woman examinig her breast. It is not often (more like never) that we see images like this stamped on magazines, newspapers or flyers in this part of the world.  

Sure, I know women must be covered at all times around here (even on paper), but how else can one talk about breast cancer or try to promote self-examination without showing a breast?

Finally it seems that a breast is, well, a breast, an organ in the human body that has to be looked after and taken care of just like hands and mouths, throats and heads.

I have to say I am extremely proud of the local health authority for addressing the matter so openly. I sincerely hope this is a trend and that others will follow in their footsteps.