Sunday, October 08, 2006

Definite Progress

The Gnomad came into work yesterday to find an email from the Government Relations Office (GRO). The email stated that on the previous working day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) had added Mrs Gonmad to the Gnomads Iqama and issued the relevant paper work for the Visa to be applied for in the Philippines. This is, I am told, astonishingly quick and GRO has clearly worked their socks off (or other Arabic clothing type analogy) to get things done this fast.

This, in effect, means that as soon as the relevant paperwork in the Philippines is finished the Gnomadette will be issued with her visa. What we need to do is find out exactly what the paperwork requirements are. I have been trying to do this for a while now. The Embassy in Manila couldnt say, GRO have suggested several items but cannot be sure, and the regulations seem to change every day. The Embassy in Manila has a very handy page where one can download visa forms, but the one we actually need is not available there. "Would the Manila Embassy accept the forms downloaded from the London Embassy?" I asked GRO. "If they are in a good mood they might, but they might not". Ho Hum.

We also need to establish whether we can make an application by post, otherwise its a trip to Manila to submit and another to collect. Thats not so bad as it may sound since I will be in the Philippines for the Eid break, but time is short and Manila is an hour by air or 5 hours by boat from Cebu.

Those of you who are aware of the weekend being Thursday and Friday here will also realise that the Gnomadette's papers were in fact issued on the Gnomad's birthday. A very nice little birthday bonus!


Thursday, October 05, 2006


Yesterday was the Gnomad's birthday. In that great British tradition, I therefore baked cakes the previous day and took them into work to share with my colleagues. People were very complimentary about the rich fruit cake, and since this is one of the Gnomads vanities my ego was suitably boosted on this special day :)

In respect of Ramadan and my colleagues who were fasting, I cut and wrapped several pieces of cake so that they could each take some home for Iftar.

The traditon also applies for any momentous occasion so it is usual to announce what the cakes are for. This was duly done on the intranet. My colleagues apparently divulged this information to my classes. Every class I had that day sang "Happy Birthday" to me, I recieved a number of cards from colleagues and students, and my year eleven students bought my favourite coffee (Caramel Machiato with extra caramel) from the coffee shop and arranged to have it delivered to my classroom.

In the evening two of my colleagues took me out for dinner. They are a delightful couple with an equally delightful three year old daughter who came with us. We went to a restaurant called the Thai House and a splendid time was had by all. This restaurant was one of those cheap and cheerful places of which the Gnomad is so fond. The food was plentiful, cheap and delicious. We had almost every variety of South East Asian Shrimp dish you can imagine, shrimp with sweet chilli, with noodles, in fried rice, with another sauce which was largely ginger, in batter as tempura, and we also had some local white fish in black bean sauce. My friends had orange juice which was actually freshly squeezed for them, not out of a carton, and I had iced tea with lemon. You have to be a bit careful with any kind of beverage here in the gulf, if you're not careful it will appear laden with sugar, several tablesppons to a pitcher. I always ask for "no sugar" when ordering juices or shakes and "only little sugar" in iced tea and then hope for the best. My iced tea with lemon was absolutely spot on, just how I like it. I shall certainly be going back there again.

A really fun day at work followed by a very satisfying meal, altogether a very jolly birthday. The only thing that would have made the day better was if Mrs Gnomad could have been there too. Government Relations say they expect some news on the visa situation very shortly, so that is hopeful too.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

telephony and confectionary

I have been experimenting with the humongous electric cooker provided in the villa. Its vast, I'll have no worries if I have to respray my car (when I get one) I can bake the paint dry by driving into the oven! Seriously though, the oven is unusually big.

I did a couple of practice bakes and I think I've got the hang of fahrenheit now. Its kind of tricky translating gas mark four into fahrenheit, but since my shipment arrived, containing my cook books, I have a conversion table. I had got it slightly wrong on the first go and my crispy crust pizza was rather more crispy crust than pizza. In keeping with British school traditions I have baked cakes for my upcoming birthday. What a joy to be able to cook four full size (12" cake tin) cakes in the oven at once. Oops there goes the waistline.

Changing the subject to telephony, I have recieved my phone bill. This is a an entertaining work of fiction. Just as I did last time, I have gone through every item to check its veracity and ,just like last time, I have been overcharged by a third. How can they possibly expect to get away with charging me for a 58 minute call when the next call on the bill, for a further 48 minutes, commenced only four minutes after the first was supposed to have begun? I know the Magic Kingdom uses a Lunar calendar, but the phone company, in a spirit of concordant traditionalism no doubt, keeps lunatic timings. 106 minutes of calls in one hour? with only one phone line? and only one handset? that's pretty clever. Perhaps thats some of the eponymous Magic of the Kingdom at work.

strangely enough my current phone bill has no charges whatsoever beyond the 9th of last month, Oh! That would be the day I got my first phone bill and discovered its cheaper to call Mrs Gnomad in the Philippines using my UK cellphone than it is for me to call her on my TMK landline.

Hey ho, off to the bank. It being Ramadan the bank is open from 8pm to 1am.