Farook came by this morning and took me with him on a few errands. First, we went to the Jaddaf dry-docks in order to pick up Farook's middle son. ‘My son very clever. He study interior design at university, and for summer he put ad in newspaper and get very good job in planning. I forget name. What is English name for job in planning?’
I had no idea. Farook fished in his pocket, pulled out a piece of paper, and handed it to me: ‘Al Barsha Flat, 2BR, 055-1234,’ I read to him. ‘No, not that, this.’ The second piece of paper said, ‘Autocad.’
Autocad sells for a bit over $1,000, but in Dubai, if one knows the right people, one can obtain a full copy for about $5. I didn’t think his middle son knew Autocad, and remain unconvinced that he is, indeed, an expert, but in Dubai, as in the West, a 20 year old who says he is an expert designer with Autocad is much more employable than a 50 year old with 28 years design experience, the last three using Autocad. So now Farook's middle son is designing kitchens using Autocad for a store in the Jaddaf dry-docks.
Once we’d picked up the son, we drove to Sharjah, where the son’s car is in the body shop after the son had an accident (his fault). Farook got the manager of the shop to open up the air-conditioned waiting room, and we went inside to wait while Farook's son stood outside by his car talking on his mobile. After about half an hour, Farook gave up and we left his son at the body shop to wait until the car was repaired. ‘He must learn from waiting here by himself,’ Farook said as we drove away.
The next stop was at a car rental place. Farook had rented a car for his son to drive to work while the son’s car was being repaired, but now that the son’s car was (almost) ready, it was time to return the rental. The man who owns the rental shop has another job, so it is necessary to call him when one wishes to rent or return a car.
While we waited, we wandered into a small phone shop. I noticed accessories for iPhones, though they only work in the UAE if a) one pays the outrageous ATT (or European iPhone partner) roaming charges; or b) one hacks the iPhone to take a local SIM card. A policeman standing behind the counter said, ‘UAE have lots of iPhones, but most people prefer Nokia.’ Which, under the circumstances, is not surprising.
When the man from the car rental agency finally arrived, we straggled over to his office, and I saw a large Arabic/English sign:
‘THE CARS NOT ALLOWED TO BE ON THURSDAY
THE PASSPORT WILL BE GIVEN AFTER (7) DAYS
FROM THE DATE THE CAR RETURNED
OR PUT XXXX 1000 DHS
I think 500 had been X-ed out.
We next went to Farook’s office: ‘I want you test new girl I hire, see if she know computer.’ We knocked on the office door, but received no answer and Farook didn’t have his key. We went out and got Farook’s key and returned after about half an hour. Again we knocked, and again no answer. ‘Maybe she dead in office. You think police make trouble for me if we find her dead?’ But before I could answer, Farook opened the door to his office, we went in, and his new hire was nowhere to be seen, though the A/C was on, something Farook never allows when the office is empty. So he pulled out a plastic bag from behind the battered couch he provides for customers, and in the bag were a screwdriver and about a dozen locks. Farook then changed the lock to his office. This is his method of terminating employees who go AWOL while leaving the A/C on.
Finally, we went to lunch at a traditional Yemeni restaurant. It’s one I used to recommend, but prices are up 50%, and the salad, once included with the lunch, is no longer offered. Farook said we went there because I used to like it, but he says he now prefers a different Yemeni restaurant that still includes salad with lunch.