Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Update on Smashed Car

Yep, we're still driving the rental. J went to the Toyota repair shop this morning to ask about the progress of the repair. I shouldn't be surprised, but I was hoping that they had at least started to take of the smashed bits. Nope! It's still sitting collecting dust. The good news is that the insurance has approved the expense. So that's a plus... I'm trying to be positive, really I am...

The funny thing is that I'm sitting at the dining room table typing this. Little man is playing on the floor, Mom is across the table from me playing a word game on her computer, and J is next to me on his computer playing a silly Army Men video game. It's a cozy little group, kind of like toddlers all engaged in parallel play. We're playing at the same thing in near proximity, just not playing "together". Still I feel much more connected than if I was sitting here alone and Mom and J were in different rooms.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Anyone read Arabic?

After waiting around all morning the doorbell finally rang. Empost delivering Mom's appeal from immigration. He asked for the receipt. Receipt? What receipt? Thank goodness J has been keeping everything in one binder. It was there! Whew!

The momentary feeling of relief fades quickly as I see the papers the courier hands me. They are the whole application with a blue rubber stamp on the top page with a tick mark on one of the lines. All of the writing is in Arabic and there are no new pages. This doesn't look good How can I find out what it says?

I grab a few things and head outside. Maybe I can make it downtown to the legal translator before I need to be back to pick up Little Girl from school. Oh, but there HAS to be someone in the complex who can read this!

I stop by the computer room; no one there can read it, but someone suggests the Lebanese guy who works in the gym. So I walk over to that building. He's busy, but I leave the sheet and come back after Little man's nap, trying not to stress the whole time I'm waiting.

I head back and the girl at the desk says apparently he had trouble reading the hand written portion, but he could work out enough to tell me the appeal has been denied.

Curse words!

I spend the rest of the day wishing I had a liquor license and knew where to find the bottle shop (liquor store).

I'm feeling better today, but I still don't know why the visa was denied or really what our options are now, I suppose we could plan a cool trip every thirty days.


We finally have a shop open in the mall that is attached to our apartment complex. Lulu Express is very much like a Safeway minus the pork or alcohol. There is even a small section of Mexican food; the tortillas come from the Netherlands. It is unbelievably convenient to have a store so close. The only draw back is that we are so close to the labor camps that men with little to do on their time off are clogging the aisles. I had to wait 30 minutes to check out a few days ago. So they've instituted ladies only hours and checkout lanes. Seriously! My strategy has been to go when everyone else is a work, which I tried to do at home anyways, but it is hard to run in and pick up something for dinner at the last minute. They are building a Carrefour hypermarket across the highway, but who knows when that will be open.

The mall will have a McDonalds, Applebee, a cafe and other restaurants and stores. I'm most excited by the hotel. It will be so nice to have a place within walking distance for guests. On the other hand we can host relatives in Mom's room and let her have the hotel room (and a break from us).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Praise Allah!

Yippeee! Where do I start! First, Little man slept through the night. Second, I have internet in the apartment and, third, I have curtains. I'm not really sure which has me so giddy or if it is all three.

Little man has slept through the night for the last three nights. Not just the technical 5 hours, really slept through the night. He has slept at least 8:30 to 6:30AM. Seriously! It's about time. He also is pulling up on everything, has 3 teeth (working on a few more), can hold is own bottle and has pretty much weened to the bottle. I'm a little bummed about the bottle thing, but unlike in the US I just don't feel that comfortable nursing in public and I'm not really the type to stay home.

Etislat finally came to hook up the internet after applying for it over a month ago, yelling at the guy at the kiosk in the mall (way to go Mom), and about 6 phone calls to "customer service". Our neighbor upstairs has been waiting for four months. I got to video chat with the in-laws so they could "see" the kids. Little man has changed so much since they saw him in December. The wireless isn't great, so tomorrow, I'll try plugging in with an ethernet cable.

We finally are having curtains installed. We've been in this apartment for two months with NOTHING on the living room, dining room and Little girl's windows. We put up the cheapest (pretty sheer) IKEA curtains in the master and Mom's room. I hope they look as good as I have pictured in my head. We'll know in about an hour when they finish installing. I have roman shades in the bay window in the living room and pinch pleat curtains everywhere else. They are fully lined so hopefully they will offer some sound and heat insulation as well as privacy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mom's Visa

Mom's visitor visa is about to expire and we've been waylaid in our efforts to apply for her residency visa by smashed cars and fevers. Initially, when J and Mom went to immigration, she was flat out denied on the grounds that J could not sponsor an in-law (they recently made a new no in-laws rule). After talking to a few people at HR we were told there is an appeal process and we should gather a few more documents including letters stating why we want her here. Mom and I took in our letters that were translated into Arabic back to immigration (J was on the way to the translator with the letters when he was rear-ended).

After reading the letters, the poobah at Immigration that hands out the numbers and sends you to the right counter, told us we needed an mpost and to go to counter 3. This mpost word had been thrown around before and we could not get anyone to explain what on earth it was, how long it would take or how much it would cost. Turns out and mpost is a tiny piece of paper (stamp) that you pay AED15 (about $5) for that says you paid AED 15. Hmmm - I still don't really know what it is, but a least it was cheap and only took us about 10 minutes to get since there is an office on site that does this.

At counter 3 we were told to go to counter 4. The man at counter 4 said that we still needed a statement from J declaring him to be responsible for Mom. Before, we had be told by several people (HR and immigration) we might need the US embassy to write a letter saying Mom was dependent on us; which just didn't seem right or possible, especially since it isn't completely true. Just by changing the word dependent to responsible we saw a ray of hope in the situation.

Mom and I went to the Canadian Embassy and finally had some one who's first language is English explain what we needed. Unfortunately, she said we really needed the US Embassy to do it since J is the one with the work visa to sponsor Mom. Yesterday Mom and J went to the US Embassy with the letter we wrote. They were able to get the US Embassy to authenticate the sworn statement that John signed in front of them (official seals, stamps, embossing, etc).

Today, Mom and I went back to Immigration. This time J was not home to watch the kids, so we dropped Little Girl at school and took Baby Boy with us (not ideal, but it was too late to arrange a sitter and too late to wait for another day). First we drove the rental car (smashed car is still in the shop) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the UAE version of authentication stamp. That went well taking about an hour that mom and I spent having breakfast at Carrefour (walking distance from MFA). After picking up the newly authenticated document, Mom and I decided to take a cab instead trying to find a parking spot that late in the day at Immigration.

We found a line of taxis waiting outside Carrefour and went off to Immigration (baby boy fell asleep on the way) We got a number from the soldier next the poobah and quickly realized he had given us a "jump ahead in line" number. The counter was serving 436, but Mom had number 404. The gentleman that held 437 was NOT happy about this, especially since he had been displaced previously by a women with 402. I was across the room with a sleeping baby and couldn't help, but Mom held her ground! Way to go Mom!

Counter 3 guy sent us to Counter 4 guy (maybe he just has better English?) who told us we should have the newly authenticated document translated into Arabic. So we go back out front to the taxi stand. This time there isn't a line of taxis, but a line of people waiting. A woman in an Abaya (long black dress and head scarf) jumps the line when a cab finally shows up, we finally get one and head further downtown to the legal translator. The guy we normally use is booked up so we tried next door and we were able to talk her into doing it in an hour. So again we wait and eat lunch (lebanese shawarma- yum). After lunch we pick up the translation and take another cab back to Immigration.

There was a shift change so there wasn't a soldier next to poobah number guy and counter 3 and 4 had different people. This time Mom waited her turn, but it wasn't long. Again, baby boy had fallen asleep in the taxi, so he was nice and quiet. At counter 3 the man looked through all the papers and actually kept them. Which means we have ALL the papers they want. Whew! It only took 5 tries. I wish I could say that they issued a visa, but they didn't. It has to go to the appeal committee. I certain hope they convene soon (Sunday and Monday are holidays) and decide in our favor.