Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The yule tide celebrations here in the Magic Kingdom are discreet and out of the public eye. There are festive lights and decorations all over the ex-pat only compounds, but nothing visible where any of the locals might see, lest they are corrupted away from Islam, one assumes.

The Gnomadette being a filipina has allowed the Gnomads to make a good many friends in the Philippine community here. It's good to have friends who are nothing to do with work, life can become very insular indeed if ones social circle is exactly the same as ones working circle. We were invited to spend Chi$tmas eve with some of our new Filipino friends. What a splendid party it was too. There was masses of food, the house was beautifully decorated and the new people we met there were extremely friendly. The Gnomadette was delighted o see TFC (The Filipino Chhannel) on the TV there. This is available via satellite and is the abs cbn channel direct from the Philippines. The Gnomadette misses her favourite shows so this will be making an appearance in the Gnomad's residence before long.

The highlight of the evening was the Prime Note Ensemble. These are a group of 35 or so men who are an acapela singing group. This groups represents The Magic kingdom in international competitions and was recently placed third in a global competition in China. They are all Filipinos. We had the enormous privilege of six of their number coming to the party to sing for us. The group makes appearances like this to raise money for a number of charities back in the Philippines and so can be booked for any size of function. The men sang beautifully and with enormous enthusiasm, in English and in Tagalog, all seasonal songs and carols. Some we listened to enraptured, others we sang along with. A truly joyful experience.

Chri$tmas day itself the Gnomads spent quietly at home. Presents after breakfast were many, there being what the Gnomads gave to each other and also what the children at school had given generously to us. Dinner was roast duck and roast chicken, with most, if not all, the trimmings in both Filipino and English style, but without the wanton excess which now seems to be so much a part of the Western festive season. Very pleasant, all in all.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Condiments of the Seasoning

The Gnomads are not, in fact, in The Mundane Kingdom for the holiday as we had planned. We are still awaiting paperwork. Mrs Gnomad needs to be added to my identity papers, then we need to get an exit/re-entry visa for her for The Magic Kingdom and then we can apply for a visa for The Gnomadette to visit The Mundane Kingdom. So far the exit/re-entry visa is still being processed. Hopefully we’ll make it to The Mundane Kingdom at Easter. It’s a pretty poor state of affairs that the spouse of a Mundane Kingdom subject gains no right of entry into the Kingdom by that fact.

We have partially decorated downstairs for the festive season, we have decorative lights, decorations, gifts and all manner of things to make our home look “Chri$tmassy” without actually mentioning Chri$tmas. To avoid bankrauptcu we have agreed to decorate only on room at a time. Our villa here is vast and we only really use one floor and the kitchen. Its amazing that you can buy every kind of artificial deciduous tree here you like, peach trees, apricot trees, trees with white blossom, trees with pink blossom, trees covered in artificial grape vines (this is the one we have) but not on single conifer is available. I head of a couple who had their artificial pine tree confiscated by The Magic Kingdom authorities at the border checkpoint on the causeway. “It’s a Chri$tmas tree you cant bring it in” they insisted. I also have it on good authority that the same couple were offered the self same tree about three weeks later by a “dodgy geezer” (or whatever the Magic Kingdom equivalent is) three weeks later in downtown MagicSmallTown. I did actually find Chr$tmas cards in a shop in one of the malls, they were discreetly placed but did have the word Chri$tmas on the cover, so maybe things will lighten up a bit.

The much promised DSL line still eludes us. We have the right type of phone line now, so there is some progress at least. Apparently I need to call the phone service provider and have it activated. I then have to contact the ISP and have them connect it. There are dozens of ISPs here, and most of them use scratch cards, much like the ones you used for your pre-paid mobile phone. I can’t remember the name of the ISP my employer arranged for, they do monthly billing via the phone bill, so it’s easy, but I have to call them and the details are on an email on the intranet system, which I could access from home if only I had a broadband connection.

In one of those twists of irony the weather here has been unseasonably cold and wet, It’s quite like autumn in the Mundane Kingdom. I have actually been wandering around in a rugby shirt on top of a tee shirt. There has been almost two years worth of rainfall in the last month and floods everywhere in town. There are no drains on the roads here. They don’t seem to feel that they are necessary. Tell that to the poor, bedraggled policemen standing up to their knees in water on the traffic islands, to stop people wrecking their cars, because in the floods you can't tell where the road is. There have been a vast number of road accidents. Some caused by people not knowing how to drive in the wet, some was just the karma of their appalling driving catching up with them, but many have been where people have simply got it wrong and driven off the road and into a hole, or up an obstacle because there is nowhere for the rainwater to go and these things are hidden. After about the third day there were huge tankers with pumping engines all over the place removing the water, and in other places, just pumping engines moving water onto nearby waste ground clearing the roads. Can you believe we have a mosquito infestation problem here in the desert?

Merry Chri$tmas, Happy New Year, Festive Felicitations, Happy #annukka #, Eid Mubarakh, Pious Saturnalia, Jolly Solstice or other appropriate greeting of your choice for whatever you choose to celebrate at this time of year.