Shopping, Beach, Henna, Movies, oh my!
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Next, I walked a block over to Hamdan Center to shop for souvenirs. This mini mall makes up for its lack of atmosphere with excellent prices. I scored wooden coasters with an Arabic design on them for Mom and Dad, a ring box for Alison, and a gorgeous, sparkly pillow case for myself that's navy and gold with purple embroidery.
After shopping, I walked to the beach I’d visited once with Cynthia. This part of Abu Dhabi is easy to navigate because the Corniche is a perfect landmark. As long as I knew where it was, I found it easy to navigate with a tourist map. For only 10 dirhams, I sat on the clean, un-crowded Family Beach without any ogling men, since only men with children are allowed in. I rented an umbrella and lounge chair, which was worth the 35 AED for the shade, but could be a waste of money if the visitor were to stay only a couple of hours, since they charge for the entire day no matter what. I waded in the cool water and drank an avocado smoothie that was a refreshing blend of avocado, yogurt and a little sugar. It’s not something I would think to make at home, which is exactly why I tried it.
After I’d been at the beach for awhile, Cynthia’s German friend, Esther, picked me up and took me to a henna parlor. No clue how she found this fabulous place, but we were the only two Western women in there. The salon girls all appeared to be Pakistani or Indian and the clients were all Muslim women in abayas. I found a pretty flower design in the catalogue and Esther and I repeatedly explained that I wanted a much smaller, simpler version of it, consisting of a vine bracelet and one medium-sized flower on the back of my palm. Because we’re in the UAE, they nodded and said, "Yes, yes, yes," but did pretty much what they wanted anyway. I’m really pleased with the results! The design is so pretty and the decoration eliminates the need for a bracelet or rings.
The henna stung a bit as they applied it to my skin, but the heat generated by the drying fan they aimed at me was even worse – it gave me a heat rash. When I left the salon, the henna was almost dry and dark brown in color. An hour or so later, it was totally dry and I scratched it off to reveal an orange-colored design. By the next day, it had settled into its intended pleasant, peanut butter color. I love it and can’t wait to hear my students’ reactions.
Wednesday night, Cynthia, Jen, Fiona and I saw the movie Valentine’s Day. The American movies shown here are in English with Arabic subtitles and there’[s a pretty extensive, contemporary selection. Unlike the U.S., guests purchase specific seats in the theater before going in. The ticket price is comparable to U.S. pricing. Popcorn is cheaper, decent and less greasy. They sold two varieties: salted and caramel. The movie was cute, not very profound, but we laughed.