Archive for December 2009

New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2009

This will be our first New Year’s Eve in the Kingdom – we will ring in the new year with Saudi champagne ( a mixture of apple juice and Perrier) instead of our usual bottle of nice red wine. The libation and location will be different than in the past but our hopes and dreams for the new year tend to be the same – health (continued or improved) and happiness for family and friends. There is no visible sign here of New Year’s Eve festivities – no party streamers or hats or pictures of clinking champagne glasses anywhere. I don’t really miss it – we always stayed home on New Year’s Eve anyway – but I am aware that it is definitely different.

We spent Christmas in Cairo – a huge Christmas tree and a giant (probably 20ft tall) chocolate covered Santa Claus in the hotel lobby. It’s an amazing city – ancient and interesting but with the scariest traffic I have ever encountered. One takes one’s life in one’s hands crossing the street. The Cairenes drive with great skill and apparent lack of concern for their own safety – what matters is to move forward, to fill the gap in front. My husband asked a cab driver why so many people drive without lights – the guy just shrugged and said “Is Cairo.” We had a great time there. Our hotel room had a balcony that overlooked the Nile and the weather was perfect for sightseeing – sunny and warm but not too hot. We saw the pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx although we declined the opportunity to ride the camels. Camels just aren’t the novelty they used to be. We made Noel a happy camper by spending an afternoon at a huge western style shopping mall. We went to the movies – saw Alvin and the Chipmunks II – and ate McDonalds. A good time was had by all.

New Year’s good wishes – 2010 and 1431 – to all.

Shopping at KAUST

December 7, 2009

Today was a great day – the supermarket opened. It is gorgeous – gleaming floors and smiling cashiers and baggers. I never thought I could wax lyrical about a supermarket but this one deserves it. Truly, it’s a work of art. It’s got a great fresh meat department and a very nice deli section. The bakery section is to die for. With my sweet tooth, I could do without the temptation but the desserts are good to just look at and admire.  Noel and I were there when they cut the opening ribbon and we may have been the first customers through the checkout. Noel is a little disappointed that they don’t have a toy/game/dvd section. I, on the other hand, am not at all disappointed at this deficiency.

It’s been almost three years to the day since my nephew, Alan Cunniffe, was killed. He was a supermarket guy, like his father before him. I thought of him today as I walked around that brand new Tamimi – I think he would have loved it and have had all sorts of questions about profit margins and footfall in the store. He was an enthusiastic, bright, and good natured young man who always tried to do the right thing. The loss of him still breaks my heart. I can only imagine how it is for his mother and his brothers and sisters. They, too, are in my thoughts today.