I hide out in an alcove of the hospital. No office. Nowhere to hide. There was an area on the second floor…but they told me people would hide out and have sex. Damn, why do I always miss out on stuff like that. So I am being harassed by my buddies. They make fun that they see me sleeping when they walk by. I know it’s not true because they have never complained about my snoring. Faisal is on the right. He is from Yemen and is my gym buddy. He calls to wake me when I pass out on the gym mat. Rida is my neighbor in the compound and the chief of eye surgery. The whole body – and all he cares about is 2 square centimeters of eye. Yeah, pretty funny. Obviously I was not sleeping. I took the picture! Right? Yes, it’s not much of a portrait, but then again this was not a beauty contest.
Everyone enjoys a good meal. Around these parts are several restaurants that do a lunch special. This means extra value – usually an appetizer or dessert and a drink. It’s usually available on the weekdays. That means Sunday to Thursday around here. Neat trick the afternoon prayer time is near 4PM so the hours are from around noon to 5PM. I won’t do the addresses. Some places have more than one location. Use your Google map. Unfortunately these are all local Jeddah restaurants. So unless you are in Saudi Arabia, you may look but you can’t have.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill
This place is my current favorite. It hasn’t had its grand opening yet. Nice place. Good food. Hot. Attentive excellent service. 52SAR – appetizer, main course, and drink. Lots of choices. Tastes great. I know I said that already, but, I mean it. Really.
This restaurant closed a year or so ago and reopened in the same area but with a nicer space. Lunch is 49 or 59SAR with entrée, salad, drink, dessert, and coffee. Service is great.
Food is good. The entrée varies. The lower price is for pizza. Entrée can be good or so so. The rest is fun. It’s great to find this restaurant again.
I just noticed the lunch special. The place was packed with people eating lunch special and a la carte. I’m single. And at this hour most places are empty. Ah! That’s why they try to get you to come! There are multiple entrees to choose from. One side dish. Peanuts, Bread. And a drink. You will not be hungry after this. Once again the price is below 100SAR
Business lunch is a good buy. There are multiple entrees to choose from. Side dish, noodles or rice, and drink included. There are small extras brought complementary as well. It is a good meal. I have enjoyed it several times.
Until Romano’s this restaurant was my favorite for business lunch. I was stuck in the Chicken Marinara which came with penne pasta in four cheese sauce. Bread, salad, dessert and drink are included. Great meal, great price, good all around. I would eat there regularly until I discovered Romano.
It’s a lunch buffet. Multiple dishes with appetizer, soup, entrée, rice, noodles, drink, dessert. It’s a very nice value. The waiters are pretty lame. I wish they were more helpful. But then again you don’t require too much help piling up a heaping plate. The menu changes daily so you will find variations when you go. All in all a good meal. And all for 45SAR.
Applebee: Tuesday’s: Paul: Steakhouse: Outback
These other places have listed business lunch specials. I’ve been in all of them. There is a time and place but I do not go there on a regular basis. Steakhouse and Outback surprisingly do poorly in grilling their steak. Paul changes their choice according to a fixed schedule. That doesn’t work for me. Tuesday’s meal was bland. Once only. Applebee is a chain. You have to like chain food. Sometimes I do. Mostly not.
There’s been a clamor in the family for a picture of Lulu. It’s a silly but has Arabic roots because it means pearl. Had I known she would adopt me I would have picked another name. But now I call her Squeaky. It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t respond to either name. Maybe it’s my poor Arabic. Or, she doesn’t speak human. For sure she doesn’t follow commands – simple or complex. But she squeaks. No meow. No howl or whine, it’s squeak. And she does it and it works because I come when she squeaks. Yes, I’m getting my star as a trained human.
When she adopted me I was ok. And I waited to see if she really wanted to stay. This morning she tested me. She went on out the door and sat under the hedge and munched grass. She did not respond to my call or my offer to let her back into the house. Later when I got home from work, no Lulu. I whistle and the other cats in the compound come around to eat for free. No Lulu. Went to lunch… and upon return I found a cat meowing – not Lulu. But after a minute of whistling, along she came. And she squeaked. She’s got a streak of dirt along her nose. I was good. I was going away for a couple weeks. Now I have to engage the care giver to look in on my new found cat. It’s never boring in my house. Did I mention that she chases her tail?
Yes. Diving. And a parrot encounter. One of the guys brought his pet along. It raised quite a stir. This picture is absent the woman holding the bird. She turned her head and folded her hat over her face. Well, WTF. You know, she wore sunglasses and I really didn’t give much care for how she looked. Besides she’s not in the photo. Sorry. But some customs baffle me. Anyway everyone went away happy. The blur is because I have my underwater housing and the lens is wet. No, I’m not opening the housing for a potential water leak. So I take what I get. Sometimes its good and others its for documentation. I wonder why the bird did not fly away. It was docile and let me pet its beak. It’s surely intelligent. I wonder whether it’s right to capture such a fine creature as a pet. But then again we domesticate, we tame, and we eat. No matter. The parrot was docile and did not mind going from shoulder to arm to head. It got a lot of attention and tolerated the strangers very well.
Yes, in the middle of a sandstorm, I’m out feeding the cats. Bidi and Lily are outdoor cats. They hang around the compound but are not adopted. The guys at the gate feed them. And countless other tenants do the same too? Lily was showing up regularly. But on this day, Bidi is the one who appeared. Ok, you show up, you get fed. It would not be a notable event. But in the sandstorm and with a silly expression, well, that merits a pause. With point and shoot cameras, and with animal shots, like fish, you can be surprised by what shows up. Auto focus changed the game long ago. Now, just point and shoot. Yeah, I’m finally in the new century. Amazing, when you suddenly have insight into what everyone has known for years. But I grew up before cellphones. Imagine that! Beam me up Scottie!
Well, as I have commented before, it ain’t Lawrence of Arabia blinding. But at least it’s enough to comment upon. The light is funny. It’s decidedly yellow. The sun is up there. Wind is what blows the sand about. Duh! And it is like fog. The visibility is diminished. You don’t feel the sand upon you. It is too fine. It’s not like the grains of sand at the beach. That’s way to bulky for the wind to pick up. So, for the desert, this is the stuff of movies legend. I asked. It’s not the worst. It’s noticeable. It’s hard to photograph because it doesn’t look like anything too radical. There’s a layer of dust on everything. Tomorrow we’ll see cars completely covered. It will be like snow in winter covering all the exposed surfaces. Only then the cars that haven’t moved will still be covered a week from now. Its one way to collect abandoned cars.
Meanwhile, the best you can see is the visibility is diminished to the horizon. The problem is that not seeing a building is not a picture. So a single image hardly does justice to a sandstorm. Video might work. Palm leaves and trees don’t sway much in the wind. I’m still seeking a quintessential image. So far this is the worst I have seen. So there’s my image. Someday I might be able to top this.
Cats. I wrote about the bunch I have befriended. They are an independent lot. They come around when I whistle. I feed them. Lulu has adopted me. She moved in a couple days ago. And though I open the door, she stays. About the last thing I expected was to be chosen by a cat. Trust me. It’s a surprise to me too. To be sure, they choose you. Badi is friendly and loves to be petted. He comes to the door but won’t come in. Lily and Butch still swipe at me when I feed them. Lulu walked through the door and then proceeded to explore. Her tail was high in the air and trembling. Apparently she approved of my incredibly messy villa. She made no move to leave. She and I learned about kitty litter together. I will say that cats are smart. She got the concept immediately. Dogs do not. We are going slow.
Lulu had her first overnight. She’s been here a day. Eat, sleep, explore, and play. So far so good. I was never too good with diapers. So me and kitty litter are having issues. First of all they don’t sell much cat food. The grocery in Delaware had a whole aisle devoted to pet food. In Jeddah there is a small section and few choices. And there is no litter box. And, whoever heard of clumping! I’m not sure what I got into here. But I belong to Lulu now. Let’s see where it goes. Fetch, roll over?
Ok. Why not? The kids visited in a whirlwind in 2013 December. It was a visit filled with tension. Too little time and all at the seemingly last minute. The visa to visit was not confirmed until almost the day they traveled. The Saudi government does not grant visitor visas. And the kids were over 18 years old. So it was not so easy to apply and required a visit to the Saudi government office. Then the process started again in the US where additional paperwork required more difficulty.
Old city, al Balud, the area is now designated a heritage area. They are actually preserving history…just in time. (To digress: they still toss glass bottles out their car windows on the highway.) The kids are here just before renovation has begun. We goofed around. I inserted myself in the pic. You can see that I was learning about bending your knees. Remember it. It’s a good tip.
Ok, I suppose I secretly have a favorite. It would have been a tie with Badi. But Lulu turned out to be the one. Lulu, the name means pearl in Arabic; I took the time to look at some popular Arabic names. She more or less adopted me. One day I opened the door and in she walked. She had been in a spat with Lily and did not want to be near her. Did I mention that they usually all got separate piles of food? Yeah, five separate piles, like setting a table, each time they fed everyone had their own place and space. Badi and she will share. They actually nuzzle one another. Otherwise each keeps to his own space.
So, in she strolls. Her tail was straight up and shaking. Cat lovers will know what all of this means. I kind of get it. I fed her right at my stairs. Lulu ate and looked much more at ease that Lily was not a potential threat. Then Lulu took a stroll around my place. It’s not a neatly kept villa. My bad. She haunched back down to eat and had dust in her whiskers and on her toes. Yeah, my housekeeping skills need an upgrade. Then she got really brave and walked upstairs and downstairs and explored, all the while not panicking that she had no door out. No, I don’t leave the door open. We have mosquitoes. And I get bitten frequently. And I don’t want an obscure tropical disease. Yes, cats carry disease but Lulu looks clean enough and so far I am still healthy. After she explored, I felt distinctly as though I had been on tryouts.
The next morning as I came do to get my stuff ready, there was the sound of meowing I could not place. It turns out Lulu was outside the door waiting to hear me move about. She walked right in again and sat and ate. One evening she tried to persuade Badi to come in again. He wasn’t having any. So they both stayed away. Needless to say Lulu is friendly. She and Badi will rub all around me and hide under my legs for protection. Neither of these two nip or scratch. I can even jostle and lightly annoy them with hugs. They are easygoing. The big test is whether they are still hanging about while I am gone a couple weeks. I think so, they are getting fed from somewhere else, and they were getting along somehow before I started to feed them. Who knows? You know? Even as I write up this post I’m still having trouble telling Lulu from Lily. Imagine forgetting your kids’ names or their birthdays. Geee!
Bidi is female and pregnant I suspect. She’s got a big belly. She is semi friendly to the others but also came later. She looks a bit like Badi, hence, the rhyming name. Not too imaginative, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She has been regularly feeding till a few days ago.
I haven’t seen her in a week and suspect that she might have a new litter of kittens. I don’t know whether she’ll come around soon. Meanwhile she was medium friendly. I could pet her once in a while and otherwise she maintained her own space with the group, which meant approach at your own peril. No fights but it was clear that there was a zone of personal space around her.