Monday, May 01, 2006

Waiting for the bus

My bus comes promptly at 9:45 a.m., and, as I was waiting in the sun, I got an offer to sit in the shade.

My bus stop is next to a coffee shop with a number of outdoor tables with umbrellas, and, sitting at one of the tables, were two ladies who invited me to sit near them. I wish I'd had more time to get their stories, as at least one of them speaks good English, so I could ask questions and get answers.

Both told me their names, but the English speaker had a name I couldn't pronounce (or remember), and the other was An (which I remember as Anne). The first said she had a regular employement visa. No employment, just the employment visa.

Before a plane crash in late 2003, the snakeheads (as they're called in China) would make all the arrangements for young ladies to come to Dubai for US$4,000 with a 30 day tourist visa. Every 30 days, they had to renew their tourist visas by getting on a plane that left the UAE 'for good' taking these 'tourists' home, and then the plane came right back and they arrived to 'start their vacations.'

After the crash, the UAE president announced that these 'visa runs' were prohibited, that the companies issuing these 30 day tourist visas were to be closed, and that people not from Western countries could only come on tourist visas one time (not renew them every 30 days).

So (the lady said) she bought a regular employment visa from her snakehead and came to Dubai about four months ago. She doesn't have to leave unless she wants to. Actually, she can't leave until she's repaid the snakehead the cost of her visa, or she'll go to gaol for debt back in China.

If her snakehead really did sell her an employment visa, it certainly cost her more than US$4,000. Of course, she might not actually have a visa, but might have told me she did in case I'm working for the CID.

So (she said) every night she goes to a hotel bar in Deira and tries to make some money. She and her friend had just finished their night's work and were taking a break, but they wouldn't have minded making a few extra dollars mid-morning if anyone had been so inclined.

My bus arrived, and I got up and got aboard. As I looked back at the table, it was empty.

3 Comments:

Blogger nzm said...

Hooker holograms?

Good to know that you're still alive,and the Punjabi Thali didn't get too vicious!

2:04 pm  
Blogger GMJ said...

you always have a weird yet entertaning story up your sleeve.

3:51 pm  
Blogger adevents said...

Dubai@Random, are u sure u took ur bus that day?

11:27 pm  

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