Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Grey Ghost

I must have the memory retention of a goldfish. Driving the Grey Ghost down to the Coast I looked in the rear vision mirror and saw what appeared to be another car "Gee that grey car is close......oh its not another car, its the rear spoiler (giggle)". Ten minutes later I looked in the rear vision mirror again and saw what appeared to be another car "Gee that grey car is close......oh its the rear spoiler (giggle)". I could keep myself amused with this for hours.

Rain, rain go away.

Day 3 on the Gold Coast and torrential rain is quickly losing its novelty value as its poured virtually non-stop since I arrived.  The beaches are deserted while the grey waves come crashing in while the malls are full of depressed holidaymakers in their beach gear heading to the movies for the umpteenth time. Like me, I bet they didn't expect to be looking at the gumboot selection in the shoe shops on the Gold Coast! What happened to 'beautiful one day, perfect the next'?
Across the road from my parents' place, the park has flooded and the ducks are very happily paddling around the playground equipment. 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Are your eyebrows dying? The dangers of instant translations.

There are many useful tools available on the internet, one is the automatic language translation software. I have a YouTube channel and often receive messages in foreign (to me) languages and by using the translation sites, I know within seconds whether the message is nice or nasty.  All you need to do is go onto one of the translations sites, cut and paste a piece of text written in a language you don't understand and either choose the language if you know what it is or leave the software to figure it out.  Simply press 'translate' and the software gives the translation in English. Or vice versa.  So far its been great for short sentences or greetings but anything more and the results are, well, sub-optimal.  Given a larger paragraph, the translation sites translate literally from the selected language into English.  Often this is sufficient and with a bit of thought the meaning can be decoded but unfortunately many times the output is a stew of unrelated, and often amusing, English sentences that leave the reader no wiser than before.
While probably not done by computer software, you only have to look at the name boards outside some of the shops here (Doha) and in the UAE to see the danger of taking easy translations at face value.  There are endless examples where an Arabic or Hindi business name has been translated word for literal word, into English.  The translators seem to be unaware that to anyone with more than schoolyard English, the business name is either nonsensical eg “Travel and Walk Rent a Car” or amusing eg 'Riff Raff Tailors', the mattress shop called “JoySleep” and the oddly named 'Moist Flower Electronics', then there's the, never fails to amuse, 'Parking at Backside' signs or the vaguely lewd eg 'Fanny International' or 'Gang Massage'.
All this was brought to mind by a local beauty saloon (yes its spelt 'saloon') that's opened up down the road.  Below are some pages from their price list.  The price list proves that accepting the output from someone who says they 'know English' or running it through Google Translate/Babelfish/Bing can be a dangerous thing to do. I don't know about you, but I am intrigued by the Swishing Programme though I don't fancy cooking any Egyptians thanks.

 Moving onto Page 2 where we meet the Department of Cleaning the Skin which offers a session wrinkled skin, though they don't specify whether that removes or adds wrinkles.  Feeling energetic? Maybe you need the skin exhausting session.  And what the erecta is, well, I hate to think but its possibly illegal here.

Moving onto the next page and I'll leave it to you to enjoy in peace.  Its wonderful.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Its a car chase Jim but not as we know it.

Never thought I'd see a Fairlane -v- Ford Zephyr car chase again but here we are.  This is a clip from a 1965 Egyptian film 'Al Mouchaghib' (The Troublemakers) where we see the 'baddies' in the Fairlane, the 'goodies' in the Zeph and the police bringing up the rear in a Peugeot station wagon.  You can't bottle this stuff its so good!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A spot of break and enter.

I headed off into Doha City Centre by taxi this morning I realised I'd left the kitchen window open.  After a flash of panic I remembered that the cleaner was coming so I wasn't worried as she usually closes any open windows when she finishes work. 

And why was I in a taxi?  Well, many of the roads in Doha are so poor that Madame can't go on many of the places I need to go as she's too low to the ground.  Some of the speed humps in our suburb are so high that she 'bottoms out' going over them.  None of the speedhumps are marked so driving at night in an unknown area is a slow and cautious affair. 

Arrived at City Centre which is the largest mall in Doha, its probably about the size of the shopping area at Bur Juman in Dubai.  First stop coffee to make an 'action plan'.  Surely its an indictment on all the other coffee bars that the best coffee in City Centre is at Starbucks?  10am, the shops opened so I neaded down the hallway to the retail cemetry that is the back section of DCC, where only a few evening dress shops and a row of abaya shops remain. Its reminiscent of the gold souq in Dubai Mall.  The perfume  shop guy told me that there's going to be another entrance  to mall from the new carpark and many of the shops in the retail cemetry will be removed to make it more open and accessible from the main part of the mall.  Meanwhile, most of the shops in the back section of the mall have not renewed their leases anyway. He has 3 months to go and then will relocate to Al Rayyan.  Even Al Jeida's gone :-(

Dear ShoeMart: If you join a pair of shoes with a security band that's so small that a customer cannot walk in the shoes to try them out, then the customer will not buy! I asked for a pair of scissors so I could cut the plastic band to take a few steps, I mean that's what you do when you buy shoes, but the guy said "No Ma'am only manager have scissor(singular)". WTF! a shoeshop where you can't even take a step in the shoes before you buy them.  How will you know if they fit properly?  So, like the lady next to me, I walked out (something I couldn't do in any of the pairs of shoes they had on display).

Anyway, after my non-purchase from ShoeMart I headed home.  At the front door I tried my key, it didn't turn, meaning the cleaner had left the key in the lock on the other side.  No prob, I collected the shopping and went round the back of the house to try the back door. I put the key in the lock, tried to turn it but mafish, nothing, so, sigh, that meant the key was in the lock in that door also.  Well that was the end of the door option, now for windows.  Fortunately the cleaner hadn't gone round closing the windows before she went home and the kitchen window was still open.  I reached up and moved the pots of herbs off the window ledge, hauled the ladder out of the storeroom, put it against the side of the house and up I went.  Onto the window ledge (woo, does it collect a lot of dust there), slid the flyscreen back, hopped onto the bench (nice work, very clean) then down to the floor.  I went over to the back door and sure enough the key was still in the lock but, when I turned the door handle, I discovered that the cleaner hadn't locked the door when she left, it was unlocked and if I'd thought to try the handle I could have just walked in.  Still, the whole ladder up to the window brought back a misspent youth and keeps skill levels high.