Sunday, June 22, 2008

Travel, parties and Turkish soccer

Got back from a business trip in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday night. Was there for three days: one day into Abu Dhabi, two days in Dubai. The trip went smoothly enough but it was dusty much like the rest of the region. Took a taxi to get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (about 160 km) which took us through all of the major developments in Dubai -- it is incredible to see just how much construction and development there is been in Dubai last few years. Tower after tower of residential and commercial development, and most of these buildings were an average 50 to 60 stories tall. Make Doha look like a minor construction zone. Traffic was bad as usual.

A coworker of mine is moving to Dubai soon and was looking at real estate prices. Two-bedroom apartments were sitting in the range of 2.6 million to 4.2 million dirham (~$720,000 to $1.15 million US). Isn't that crazy? How can people afford to live there with prices like that for an apartment? And yet people keep talking like the prices are going to go up 20 to 30% a year. I see it more as a team of hot potato -- speculators buy the apartments, flip it to someone else, who flips it to someone else when the prices have gone up enough, but eventually someone will get stuck holding the apartment when the price corrects itself and goes down.


On Saturday night I hosted a small dinner party for some friends. It always seemed that I was eating over at other peoples places and never returning the favor so it was high time that I hosted an event myself. What made it slightly challenging is that some of my guests are vegetarian, two of them are vegan, and I am generally a lousy cook! So I planned ahead about a month in advance began experimenting with vegetarian chili recipes. It seemed like a decent way to go as you just add various vegetables and spices to a boiling pot of water and let simmer (and I was pretty sure I couldn't screw that up). Have crackers, cheese, chips and grapes for starter snacks, ice cream, strawberries and cherries for dessert, and you have a well-rounded all-vegetarian and mostly vegan meal. Friends of mine brought over a blender so we could make mango juice with freshly picked mint, which was really nice in the summer heat. Overall I'd say that went pretty good. It went so well that my friend’s 92-year-old mother-in-law told me that if she were a bit younger she’d make a play for me since I'm such a good cook. (cheeky lady! And what is a bit younger -- 75?)


So did anyone catch that Turkey versus Croatia soccer game the other day? I watched it with my friend Serdar (a Turk, natch) and his family. What a crazy game! After the last shot at the end everyone was going absolutely nuts! If you don't know when talking about look up the game in online news. The entire country of Turkey must have partied all night.

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