Home sweet home.

AZB

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Jan 2, 2002
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Hello folks, I am so relieved to be back home after spending brutal winter away from home. Even with all the rain I am still glad to be back home to my bed.
As you all know, I went away to spend a month away from DR; my trip took me to far away corners of the world. First I started out by landing in NYC and immediately went to Manhattan to get my visa to pakistan. I simply can't see why people still live in NYC, they are either stuck there or just don't know of any other lifestyle. I feel sorry for them for being part of a moving huge moving machine that only knows, work work and more work. Seems like people in NYC are so trapped in their daily lives that they have no time to raise their heads.
Then I was taken to atlanta. A clean relaxed boring city which would certainly appeal to family type folks. If you would like to raise your kids in a healthy environment, move to atlanta. If you would like to be bored to death, move to atlanta.
Then I flew to London england. I was only there at the airport, thank god. Heathrow airport is very poorly designed. One has to walk miles to get from one terminal to another. People give you wrong information and signs are confusing. there are alot of turns and crossing little allyways to get from one point to another. Seems like england is full of indians and pakistanis. Its rare to see an english working at the airport. I was able to see big ben and tower bridge from the decending plane.
Then finally my trip took me to abu dhabi (united arab emirates). The city is very clean and comfortable. The people are rich (locals) and the city is very well kept. I ate the best shawarma there. I ate 3 chicken shawarmas in one sitting plus lots of olives, salad and hummous and fresh baked pita bread. This lebanese place was packed and there was no parking anywhere. The city is very famous for its beautifully colored highrise buildings. each building has a unique architectural design and covered with beautifully colored tinted glass. After spending 4 days there, I went to dubai. Its a city which is very cosmopolitan and modern. Its the biggest city in the emrates. Dubai also comes with problems which have plagued the bigger cities worldwide: traffic and hurds of people walking from point A to point B. The real estate has gone sky rocketed and the prices of good apartments rival NYC rates. The traffic jam is unbearable, so imagine what would dubai will be like in 5 - 10 yrs from now? Anyway, I think I will go there again and spend a day or two with my friend pasha. He has promised to show me the real dubai.
Then from the desert paradise, I decended in to pakistan cold hell. I arrived in the most ugliest city of pakistan, peshawar. Peshawar is located in the north-west-frontier of pakistan. Upon landing, one sees those high majestic mountians of pakistan which are part of the Hemalayan mountian range. The mountians are covered with snow and ice on its peaks. The land seem dry and unlike DR mountians, they are lifeless, simply a rocky terrain. Peshawar is a border city which merges with afghanistan. People in peshawar are pustuns which means the language spoken in peshawar is the same as the language spoken in afghanistan (but with a cleaner accent). Peshawar was the city which has absorbed millions of afghan refugees in a matter of months from soviet and now american sponsored wars. The folks came 30 yrs ago and settled anywhere in peshawar region to find refuge from disaster. Thus peshawar has become probably the ugliest city in the asian continent. Its cold there and gas heaters are not sufficient to heat up the whole concrete house. There are no insulations in the walls so the walls and floor become icy cold. One has to become used to wearing heavy jackets inside and outside the house. I often felt like repeating words of Leonardo de caprio in Titanic when I slipped into my cold bed " promise me, you will not die cold like me.... you will die in a warm place.....". The place was packed with men walking from here to there, the women are all covered from head to toes, yet unlike arab countries, you see plenty of women in streets, attending college and universities and even driving cars in crazy traffic. pakistan is very kind and open to its women. Women are in politics and hold high positions in society. To my surprise, the girls are extremely intelligent and educated, not to mention very attractive. Girls are proud to wear their clothes and more proud to cover their faces in public. Unlike many would think that they are probably repressed in society, totally untrue. Women run the show in the house and spend the money, while men are only reserved to pay for their expenses. Women spend money on clothes and jewelry while men sit around and talk politics. The weddings are all planned and carried out by women. Women wear vibrant clothes while young girls are shown to other families to attract desirable interest. Mothers and daughters scan for possible mates for their sons, brothers and make inquiries on interesting girls. Many future marriages are arranged at weddings. The young girls are encouraged to dance in parties to attract attention of the other parties who are interested in finding mates for their sons. Usually families of equal fortunes mingle with each other. The rich folks sit together and the poor sit in their own place in the crowds. The rich folks come in their fancy cars, SUVs driven by drivers and often accompanied by body guards. The poor come in public hired tranport. everyone comes and wedding are huge and often last 2 weeks.
Peshwar has everything now, from Burger king to KFC to starbucks coffee in near by city. Its funny to see american businesses names written in urdu.
The city has bad economy and many poor folks make less than 100 dollars / month. No wonder dubai, abu dhabi is full of cheap pakistan, indian labor. One would understand why someone would risk their lives to drive a truck in Iraq for 1500 / month.
Then from there, I landed in the Kingdom of bahrain. Another gulf state, rich and very clean. People are quiet and no music is heard on the streets anywere. The country is arab and islam is the law. I ate the best Hummos and arab salad there.
In my analysis, the whole arab muslim countries are very much alike (one way or another). From arab countires to far reaches of pakistan, I have noticed we have similar culture. I was able to understand the arab culture and was surprised to see we were so much alike. Only differance was, arab countries are more strict and organized while pakistan resembled a muslim latin country in comparision. pakistanis love music and like to have fun. While arabs are more reserved in their own countries. There is no loud music played anywhere in public but I did hear "papi papi, papi chulo...." in a car full of young boys in pakistan. When they realized I was looking at their car in amazement, they turned off the stereo. Funny how his cheap puta music got into pakistan as well.
Franfurt, Germany is seems like another american city. Cold and busy. At that time, I simply had it with the cold weather, I just wanted to get back to santiago. On the 31st of january, I found myself back in NYC. We went to Manhattan to celebrate the new year in Zanzi bar. We ate in the restaurant next door, great italian food. I just don't know how my brother was able to eat up a whole chunk of filet mignon after eating so much shrimp pasta and anti pasta etc? NYC is NYC if you are only there for a weekend. One can find amost anything to do and eat in NYC. After spending so much time away from home, I was even glad to be in NYC. I was glad to find warm dry, clean bathrooms and clean warm bed. NYC was fun and weather was not cold at all by comparison.
Now I am back in santiago and relaxed in my environment. It was an eye opening experience to see how the world is so different around us. I feel so lucky to be able to live in this beautiful country in peace. I say everyone should take small trips away from DR to realize how good we have it here. The chills went through my body when I saw the land down below from plane over nova scotia and halifax (canada). seemed like north pole. All frozen and completely lifeless. What the hell you folks find so pleasing about that place? I wouldn't even live there if a land was offered for free.

Now I know what I have here and it gives me more of incentive to make my life better in this island. For those of you who always complain about DR and its people, I say, send them on the charter plane to Uganda and let them see how good they had it back home.
Viva republica and viva santiago.
AZB

P.S. I forgot to add one point: even with huge traffic jams and trucks buses, rikshaws cris-crossing each other in busy roads, I was not able to find one pot hole in the whole peshawar city. How the hell are they able to keep the roads in such a good condition, I don't know. One glance at the city and it seems bankrupt yet the roads are pot hole free. Something to learn from those turbin heads.
 
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Chris_NJ

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Dec 17, 2003
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Interesting post AZB-it is good to get off the "treadmill" and see other cultures.

AZB said:
It was an eye opening experience to see how the world is so different around us. I feel so lucky to be able to live in this beautiful country in peace. I say everyone should take small trips away from DR to realize how good we have it here.

I remember returning to NYC/NJ after 3 months in Santiago in 2002. The biggest adjustment returning home (besides the cold) was abundance of “things” (restaurants, stores, office building) and just stress in NYC. I remember my father picking me up at the airport and was listening to some self-help/time management CD and it sickened me. I wondered, what % of people (even among business executives) in DR would ever listen to such things compared to people in NYC struggling to make themselves more efficient.

Everyone should be required to spend time outside of their comfort zones in a different country or environment. Otherwise, with too much time in the same routine we begin to think of wherever we are is the center of the universe. This is why I love to travel - to venture to new places where people have different lifestyles, priorities.
 

Voyager

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Mar 1, 2004
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Quote AZB: "In my analysis, the whole arab muslim countries are very much alike (one way or another)."

Comment:
Well, having been to UAE, Bahrein and Lebanon, that experience makes me agree with you, AZB. However, and this is a big however, living in Saudi-Arabia makes me realize how very different Saudi is from all other arab countries.

Quote Chris_NJ: "Everyone should be required to spend time outside of their comfort zones in a different country or environment. Otherwise, with too much time in the same routine we begin to think of wherever we are is the center of the universe. This is why I love to travel - to venture to new places where people have different lifestyles, priorities."

Comment:
Right on!!! I totally agree and travelling is indeed what keeps my alive. Force me to settle down and I will perish.
 

AZB

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Jan 2, 2002
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I have heard some bad reviews of the saudis. It seems they are the worst arabs in the whole region. they treat all non saudis like dogs and violate human rights of all labor class folks working in their country. They hide behind religion and act like the protectors of islam yet they pour into island of Bahrain by cars (crossing 25 Km bridge) and indulge in alcohol and women. they are also seen in thousands in Dubai doing the same.
No wonder they are the best friends americans have in the region.
AZB
 

Voyager

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AZB said:
I have heard some bad reviews of the saudis. It seems they are the worst arabs in the whole region. they treat all non saudis like dogs and violate human rights of all labor class folks working in their country. They hide behind religion and act like the protectors of islam yet they pour into island of Bahrain by cars (crossing 25 Km bridge) and indulge in alcohol and women. they are also seen in thousands in Dubai doing the same.
No wonder they are the best friends americans have in the region.
AZB

I remember taking a taxi in Bahrein. When the driver learned I lived in Saudi, he felt so sorry for me, he gave me the ride for free! Keep in mind though, that Saudi is tough also for many Saudis. As for me, just like the last man at the Alamo, I hope I will survive this adventure to one day be able to tell the tale.

Well, meanwhile, I enjoy the best dates in the world. I am referring to the fruit... Hehehehehe!

Anyway, this is a forum about DR, so...
 

Timex

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May 9, 2002
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Hello AZB.

Good to hear your back.

Great Trip Report!
Let's keep it to the DR, from here on in.
If other countries start proliferating the thread, I will have to Relocate it. ;)

Thanks
Tim H.
 
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Criss Colon

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Jan 2, 2002
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Welcome back to the land of "UBHs"!

THat "sound" you heard as you left Pakistan was all the sheep giving a sigh of relief!!!!! ;)
I wanted to be the first to "Insult" you upon your safe return!
How is "Mister O"? :bandit: :bandit:
 

N&D

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Jan 29, 2004
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Your trips sounded interesting. I was glad to read that someone out there felt the same about nyc as I do. I currently live in nyc and screaming to get out. I've been traveling to dr about every 2 to 3 months for 3 years. I love the tranquilty that I feel when I'm there. Here in nyc is all about stress and more stress, especially if you work in Times Square as I do. None of my friends and family seem to understand why I want to leave. For now I have to stay because I have an eleven year old daughter who is visually impaired. My daughter loves dr too and will move in a heart beat where ever I choose but I'ts not easy finding a school that would give her the special attention she needs. Dr currently doesn't have a school for her if am not mistaken. I know there's a school in santo domingo for special needs but not for her needs. I guess i'll have to wail till she graduates high school so I can do my great escape. :cross-eye
 

juanita

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Apr 22, 2004
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Great you're back, so now put out the spices!

"hey chiri, lets do an indian cookfest. we all cook a favorite indian dish and get together when I come back. I will cook a few dishes. Folks who won't cook, will bring drinks for everyone. lets talk about this later, i don't want to hijack this thread.
AZB"


I never seem to forget that easy when food is involved !! ;)
 

AZB

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juanita said:
"hey chiri, lets do an indian cookfest. we all cook a favorite indian dish and get together when I come back. I will cook a few dishes. Folks who won't cook, will bring drinks for everyone. lets talk about this later, i don't want to hijack this thread.
AZB"


I never seem to forget that easy when food is involved !! ;)
Juanita, you have a memory of an elephant. Ok, I am back, but folks give me time to settle down and make some money. Let me get over the jet lag first (funny I never felt the jet lag coming back but it took me 10 days to get over jet lag there).
By the way, the pakistani food in NYC is much better than the food I ate in pakistan. Food there is simply over rated. I bet I can cook better rice and kabab than I ate there. Food is dirt cheap especially the fresh water fish by river kabul. They catch it there and fry it right there for you. Fish is more expenisve in DR and sea food is more expensive here than in NY.
 

Cleef

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Feb 24, 2002
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Coffee soaked tissues

Criss Colon said:
THat "sound" you heard as you left Pakistan was all the sheep giving a sigh of relief!!!!! ;)
Nice one CC, that put coffee on my keyboard?it reached this destination from my nose as I burped and laughed really hard at the same time. I don't encourage this!

Great report AZB, interesting read. Does this mean you're going to be nice to people now?

Jaragua's got the over/under on your docile tone at +/- 4 days or 12 hours of continuous blackout. I got a nickel on the under.

I'v never visited any of the places you mentioned, so it's very interesting to hear a first hand, thought-out review.

However, being something of a Shawerma connoisseur, I have a hard time believing you could fit 3 of those things down in one sitting. You have a knack of exaggerating your gastronimical fortitude, even though you got a big gut, but 3? Come on, you think I just fell off the Tabouli Truck?
 
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AZB

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Cleef said:
However, being something of a Shawerma connoisseur, I have a hard time believing you could fit 3 of those things down in one sitting. You have a knack of exaggerating your gastronimical fortitude, even though you got a big gut, but 3? Come on, you think I just fell off the Tabouli Truck?
I am afraid this thread might get closed down by timex so i will try to throw in a few DR related words. I love santiago. ;)
Cleef, shawerma is not the same there as they serve in USA. The abu dhabi shawerma is served on a thin fluffy pita bread with thin slices of meat a bit of white sesame seed sauce and believe it or not, 3 pieces of french fried potatoes and some green lettuce. Maybe there were other ingredients inside but the damn thing was not rolled too big like they serve in USA. I ate 2 in dubai without any problems but this time I had eaten alot of olives, salad and hummus with fresh pita bread before the shawermas came. If I could eat 3, you could too and believe me, they were delicious.
AZB
 

Squat

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Great trip reports, and very interesting to have a perspective between DR and arab countries... Good job... All these restaurants reports makes me feel hungry !
 

Chirimoya

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AZB said:
By the way, the pakistani food in NYC is much better than the food I ate in pakistan. Food there is simply over rated. I bet I can cook better rice and kabab than I ate there.

Stop the presses! AZB just admitted that gringofied Pakistani cuisine is superior to the real thing.

Welcome back, ya' habibi. Let's get to work on planning that Indian cookfest. This thread has got my tastebuds tingling, and CC - you owe me for a new keyboard.
 

Mr_DR

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May 12, 2002
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AZB said:
P.S. I forgot to add one point: even with huge traffic jams and trucks buses, rikshaws cris-crossing each other in busy roads, I was not able to find one pot hole in the whole peshawar city. How the hell are they able to keep the roads in such a good condition, I don't know. One glance at the city and it seems bankrupt yet the roads are pot hole free. Something to learn from those turbin heads.

Maybe they don't mix the asphalt too cheaply and they probably don't have too much rain and have very good sewage system.
 

Mr_DR

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All these talk about shawarmas have me wishing i was back in Georgetown.
Can't wait to get my mouth on some.
 

Chris

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"olives, salad and hummus with fresh pita bread".. you're killing me! The one thing in the DR that I really really lack, is good olives! The hummus we can make - the pita bread we can make, but the olives! That's a problem!

Cookfest! Cookfest! Cookfest! I'm drooling...

I'm also hungry at the moment!
 
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MommC

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Wait til I get back after the 17thand I'll contribute to the cookfest!

I make a mean roti and my lentil ain't too bad either as long as you like 'em hot!! Of course my bengal gram are even hotter but that's the way I like 'em!