Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shirley goes to The Emirates Palace

Last Friday, John and I took Shirley and her friend Rupika (Roo-pee-ka)to the Emirates Palace. Shirley had expressed to me recently that she would love to see the inside of the Palace. Shirley has a Sri Lanken friend who lives about two blocks from our house that often visits with her and helps her clean house. They help each other out when they are sick or need something, etc. She's a lovely lady and Shirley thinks a lot of her. So we asked Shirley if she and Rupika would like to go to the Palace. They got all dressed up in their going rompers and we took off to the Palace.

Even though they wanted to go very much, they were also very nervous about the experience and you could tell they were a little uncomfortable. First of all, I think they were worried that they wouldn't be allowed since they are "servants." They seem to be very conscious of their "class" as a servant. Shirley kept telling me that she can be anywhere with her Madam. I assured her that all was well and that John and I would not let anyone mess with her. Secondly, it is just so over-the-top there. John insisted on taking them to tea in one of the little cafes so they could say they had tea at the Emirates Palace. It took much persuasion on our part to convince them it was okay to sit with us and enjoy tea. I ordered some little sandwiches to go with our tea. We sat in a fancy cafe with live musicians playing Arabic music on Ouds. They laughed and giggled and looked uncomfortable most of the time.

Shirley (left) and Rupika (right) sitting on a sofa in the grand salon under the big dome. I practically had to force them to sit on the sofa. They were afraid to sit on the furniture.

They were much more comfortable when we walked around outside. The fountains are fabulous and lots of fun. We helped an Arab family get some photos together in front of the main fountain and then watch them walk around out in the fountains.

We also took them to Dubai to the Mall of the Emirates a couple of weekends ago. They had a really good time walking around and looking at everything. John gave them each some money to spend on themselves and enough to eat lunch. They came back with a few small purchases and refused to eat lunch because the "prices were too expensive." They tried to buy an ice cream and it cost 28 dirhams each which was $7. I agreed that $7 was an expensive ice cream. They refused to buy it. They said they wanted to spend their money in Abu Dhabi where they could get more for their money. Now....mind you.....Shirley was fussing because she had to spend 12 dirhams on a pair of pants in Dubai when she could pay 10 dirhams in Abu Dhabi! Shirley is one of those people who will drive all the way on the other side of town to save $1. In American dollars, she had to pay about 60 cents more for the pants in Dubai. We see that as such a small thing. To her, it is big. We just laugh and wave our hand at her. She is very frugal and is always worried about how much money she is spending ..."because it is the The Boss and Madam's money...."

They are so, so funny. We have so much fun sharing things with them. They work so hard for so little. Shirley has been here a long time and hasn't been to any of the major touristic attractions. John is convinced that she should have just a little bit of fun sometimes. She giggles and laughs and gets so shy when John tries to indulge her a bit.

We recently purchased a new pair of glasses for her as a bonus. She was wearing an old wire frame pair with only one ear piece so she always looked a bit lopsided. She had not gotten new glasses for six years. So we sent her to the eye doctor to get her eyes checked. Then she and I went to the frame shop and picked out some really nice glasses for her. She is really happy with them and she likes having something that looks so new and modern. She fussed and fussed about the price (500 dirhams-136 USD) and went to about four different shops looking for the best price. By American standards, the price of $136 for bi-focal lenses and heavy duty frames is pretty amazing.

What a gift to be able to make a big difference in someone's life! It seems so small to us. It is huge to them. We are so fortunate to have so much. We take so many things for granted.

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