Spence Green

التكرار يعلم الحمار

I work at Lilt. In addition to computers and languages, my interests include travel, running, and scuba diving. more...

First Week of Work

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First Week of Work
Dave has taken me to work each morning during this first week. I’m thankful, for the drivers here are either crazy, stupid, or both. It’s difficult to generalize about a whole group, but in this case, my observation seems valid. In the city, the cab drivers drive offensively, so one must accomodate them. We travel down Salam street to the Maqta Bridge, one of the two bridges connecting the island to the mainland (streets and landmarks are named after members of the royal family). The Al Ain road takes us past the Grand Mosque, out of the city, and into the desert. Several kilometers past the bridge, we turn onto the Musaffah Truck Road, an industrial highway that leads toward the Saudi border. That border has no checkpoint and the road continues into the Deserted Quarter, a vacant area of land near the center of the Peninsula. The base is in this direction, so you can imagine the stunning scenery. Steve calls it “The Ashtray.” “Another day in the tray,” he remarks on particularly stimulating days. No dunes punctuate this landscape. For miles, you can see only sand and scrub brush. The sand doesn’t even impress; it’s dirty, as if someone sprayed mud everywhere. On the truck road, people scream past us on either side, driving at over 180kph. Moreover, Pakistani and Indian laborers *cross* this road on foot. They stand by the roadside and time the traffic. When they see a break, they amble across (I wouldn’t call it running), dish-dash flying behind them. In some cases, they lose a sandal and stop in the road. The odd daredevil will mis-time traffic and pause midway across, straddling the lane line as cars blow past him. The burden is on the driver, though, to avoid these hazards. According to Emirati law, vehicular homicide carries a jail sentence and a blood money penalty payable to the victim’s family. The amount varies according to the victim’s nationality. Killing an Indian isn’t so bad; kill and Emirati and you’d better flee the country. Every morning brings new thrills!

Eventually we turn off toward the base. The American encampment is next door at Al Dhafra. About 20 KC-135s line the runway at any given time. They fly refueling missions over Iraq. The U-2s take off in the morning and F-16s fly throughout the day. The UAE owns several French Mirages, which they fly almost daily. Our lab resides in a bunker close to this area. We don’t have any windows and the ambient temperature stays around 60F. I need a jacket indoors even though its 110 outside. Work has been enjoyable so far and I’ve learned some new skills. This is the largest system that I’ve worked on, so the scale alone will present a significant challenge.

Written by Spence

October 2nd, 2005 at 12:44 pm

Posted in UAE

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