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25 June 2008 @ 11:20 am
As most of you know, I just finished up my PhD and am getting ready to start a fabulous job at Texas A&M in the Fall. It's been crazy getting the dissertation finished and preparing for the move. But I have a couple nerdy academic things to share. First, I am officially published! One of my articles came out last month in Anthropological Quarterly. Available for download here if you have a university subscription to the journal (I can email you a pdf if you can't get it)

Also, I just wrote a guest entry on higher education in the Gulf for the wonderful Global Higher Education blog. You can find that here. I highly recommend this blog and find the writing and research to be excellent.

Since some of you are the wonderful "informants" that made this possible, I would love to hear your feedback, either here or privately.

All my thanks for everyone's support so far! I have a feeling posting will be on hold for a while, but hopefully, I'll have more to report once I get settled in Texas!
...of being an American, Rachel Ray goes and ruins it all!

And, is nothing sacred anymore in our country? Even Starbucks is under attack!

Poor corporations. Can't we just cut them some slack, people?
24 April 2008 @ 06:35 pm
Geez. What is it with undergrads and their inability to use words properly (and their inability to write professional emails, the subject of a future rant)? I got an email today asking me about what Indian expats in Dubai do on "there day off" and whether "they enjoy there life in Dubai." Every quarter, after grading the first set of papers or tests, I have to do a little lesson on the difference between it's and its; and on the difference between they're, there, and their; among other things. To students in a competitive university! This says a lot about the state of education in the US, I guess, but also points to a general laziness among students in their (notice the use of that word) writing and communication styles. Oh, well. I sound like a geezer, and one of my most beloved professors recently wrote on one of my dissertation chapters, "learn how to use a comma," so I guess I am no better. (Please feel free to point out improper comma use and general bad grammar in this post if you would like, btw.)

End rant.

PS - Students, if you want me to answer your emails, learn my name, dammit! I am not Nora, Voran, Vera, or whatever the name of the other South Asian TA that quarter happens to be!

Ok. seriously. end rant.
28 March 2008 @ 01:27 pm
Hi all. Or perhaps I should say y'all. or actually "all y'all," which is, according to trivial pursuit, the official plural of y'all. Anyway, the point of the post: I wanted to let everyone know that my job hunt has been successful and as of the fall, I will be Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women's Studies at Texas A&M University. Texas is a bit freaky (but I think I have a lot of preconceived notions since when I visited everyone was quite normal and actually very happy living and working at A&M). But I am so happy the crazy job search is over, and that I actually did pretty well for my first time out (and ABD as well - that's "all but dissertation" for you non-academics). Anyway, I'll still keep up the blog, and still keep up research in the Gulf, so stay tuned. I'm excited for the next phase of this crazy academic life! Now I just gotta finish that darn dissertation, which is pretty much done, but still...
Oh, did you think I meant United Arab Emirates? Nope, this time it is United States of America. These headhunters and the corporations they serve are multinational and the connections between "guest worker" labor recruitment, conditions, and regulations need to be looked at through the connections between locations, not as isolated incidents in particular places...
09 January 2008 @ 04:05 pm
Funny. I was thinking this morning about a post I wanted to write about anthropology's inadvertent complicity with state projects of exclusion in the way they define the boundaries of national populations in knowledge production (more on that at a later date), when I came across this from Reuters:

The latest tactic in Iraq: anthropology

By Peter Graff Wed Jan 9, 8:08 AM ET

As David Matsuda tells it, he's probably the last person you'd expect to see in a U.S. military uniform climbing out of an                 armored vehicle in Iraq.

An anthropology professor from the East Bay campus of California State University near San Francisco, he's a self-described     peacenik who opposed the war in Iraq, did his academic research in Guatemala and never carries a gun.

"I'm a Californian. I'm a liberal. I'm a Democrat," he says. "My impetus is to come here and help end this thing."

Matsuda is part of the U.S. military "Human Terrain Team" (HTT) program, which embeds anthropologists with combat                 brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan in the hope of helping tactical commanders in the field understand local cultures.

The program is controversial: the American Anthropological Association denounced it in October, saying it could lead to             ethics being compromised, the profession's reputation damaged, and worst of all, research subjects becoming military                 targets.

Matsuda says the concern is based on a misunderstanding of what he has signed on to do.

"There's been a knee-jerk reaction in the anthropology community, that you've been co-opted, that you're a warmonger, like     you're clubbing baby seals or something," he said. "I came here to save lives, to make friends out of enemies."

Soldiers in northeastern Baghdad -- an area transformed over the past year from one of the most violent parts of Iraq to one     of the best illustrations of the security improvements of late 2007 -- say they are grateful for Matsuda's expertise as they             make the transition from fighting to peacemaking.


"It's a huge asset," said Staff Sergeant Dustin "Boogie" Brueggemann who, as a tactical psychological operations specialist,     has spent the past year trying to win hearts and minds in Adhamiya, until a few months ago one of the most violent                     strongholds of Sunni Arab militants in Iraq.

"The guys who were out with him were saying: 'Dr Matsuda's so smart!' Soldiers even on the lowest level now, we see the          big picture just by listening to him talk," he said.

"He gave me so much information that had I known it a year ago I could have done things differently," he said. "He gave me     a history of the Ubaidi tribe. A lot of people here are members of that tribe. I knew a little bit about them, but I didn't realize         just how big they were."

Further up the command chain, Lieutenant-Colonel David Oclander, deputy commander of the 5,000 soldiers of the 2nd             Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, said Matsuda had given a presentation on how Iraqis resolve conflicts     that proved valuable in approaching Shi'ite clerics.

"The HTT has been a great help in making sure that when we dialogue with them, we dialogue with them in a way they             understand and appreciate," he said.

Matsuda says he arrived at exactly the right time, when a sudden sharp decline in violence opened new opportunities for         engagement in his unit's area.

The brigade is a classic example of last year's new U.S. strategy in Iraq that saw greater numbers of troops deployed to Iraq     and more emphasis on interaction with civilians.

Before the troop buildup, the entire area of northeastern Baghdad -- including about half of the capital's population -- was         covered by just a single battalion of about 800 U.S. troops who suffered some of the worst casualties in Iraq.


Now the area is covered by the brigade's six battalions, including four combat battalions each covering separate                         neighborhoods as diverse as Sunni Arab stronghold Adhamiya and Sadr City, the giant Shi'ite slum of more than 2 million         people.

In the past six months violence plummeted, as Adhamiya's Sunni tribal leaders turned against al Qaeda militants, and                 Moqtada al Sadr, the Shi'ite cleric whose Mehdi Army militia controls Sadr City, declared a ceasefire.

In December 2006, there were 450 killings in the area, mostly by sectarian death squads trying to drive rival groups out of         their neighborhoods. There were just 15 killings last month, mainly by ordinary criminals, said Oclander.

On Saturday, Matsuda -- wearing a U.S. military uniform but unarmed -- spent two hours with soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 7th     Cavalry lingering on a street in Adhamiya where a few months ago U.S. forces would have had to fight either in or out.

They meandered in and out of shops, bought falafel sandwiches and ate them on a street corner while playing with local             children who already seemed to know their names. Periodically they knocked on doors and asked permission to come             inside homes for a chat. They never turned down an offer of tea.

Most of local people were friendly, although they complained about a lack of electricity and their suspicion of the Shi'ite-led     government and its security forces.

Matsuda said he had learned a lot that day -- about who was moving into vacant houses and who was renting them out, how     a local clinic got its medicines, how shop owners were getting funding to reopen their shops.

"We have a window of opportunity here to make a difference for these people. We have to take it," he said.

(Editing by Andrew Dobbie)

As the article mentions, there has been a strong reaction to the involvement of anthropologists with the military from within the community (it was a major topic of discussion at the Anthropology meetings in DC in December). I'm not sure I know where I stand on this one. It is definitely very complicated. How does one assess help and harm in these situations? How is information collected by anthropologists used? I think it's also interesting and necessary to place this in the context of anthropology's historical entanglement with colonialism and imperial states. It's not a new thing to use anthropologists as part of the apparatus of governance. Today a lot of old-school anthropology seems naive at best and racist at worst, but many anthropologists thought that by humanizing the "natives," they were reducing violence against them. And maybe this is true. But in many cases, anthropological "data" was used to justify colonial rule and define cultural traditions in ways that negatively impacted people. So it's a tough call. But it's not some new trend, like this article makes it seem. The US government used anthropologists regularly as part of its expansionist campaigns in the Philippines and the South Pacific, for example. Any way, interesting stuff. Feel free to comment and get a discussion going!
15 December 2007 @ 12:56 am
Hi all. The reason I have not been posting is because job season is high upon us here in the ivory tower (which is actually more like a cement parking structure at UCI, but hey, whatever). I have to date applied for over 50 jobs. Yup, that's right. My advisor's motto is "never turn down a job you don't have yet," meaning apply everywhere and don't be a diva about it. Wise words, since one of the rejection letters I received recently noted that they had over 250 applicants for the position! We are talking c.o.m.p.e.t.i.t.i.v.e. Now that the holidays are approaching and most places are already on break, I probably won't hear anything until 2008. I've been happy with the number of preliminary interviews I have gotten so far, but could you all root for me (even though you know I don't believe in all that karmic/cosmic stuff)? But, hey, if it gets me a good job in a good place, hello Jebus!
13 November 2007 @ 12:35 pm
I know, I haven't posted in a really long time, so I am bombarding you with the second of the day. Maybe that makes up for it a little bit:

Over at the UAE community, people are talking about American researcher Syed Ali's experience of being detained, having his research data confiscated, and then being immediately deported from Dubai in 2006. As a fellow researcher of Dubai (and one whose work is on the sometimes-controversial issue of Asian migration to the Gulf), this event inspired a bit of fear in me, and made me a little more ambivalent about my research site. But, I also have started to think that people tend to exceptionalize the Gulf too much...

So, my question, and I hope to get a good discussion going here, is to academics, researchers, and journalists in general - what kinds of negotiations do you face in your research, in terms of dealing with governmental authorities and restrictions, limitations on freedom of speech, and issues of personal safety? How do you manage to maneuver around these things? Have you experienced any adverse situations in your research sites, or in your "home" sites? Do you exercise self-censorship? How? And what other strategies do you deploy to balance your research with the limitations imposed by the location of research?

OK, that is actually many questions. I have posted my own ways of dealing with some of this before, but others, please respond! I'm interested in the overlaps between the Gulf as a research site and other places.
13 November 2007 @ 12:27 pm
Ed and I returned from a 9-day fast-paced and awesome (in the real sense of the word) trip to Egypt about a week ago. Pics can be found here.

I have to say the age of some of the stuff, and the size, and the vast amounts of perfectly preserved artifacts, and the fabulous organized chaos of the Egyptian tourist industry, and the Nile, and EVERYTHING was fantastic. The only downside was how little time we had, especially in Cairo, which I fell in love with. We also were ina group with my parents and three Indian couple friends of theirs, which made for some interesting moments...

Where to next? How can one top Egypt? Personally, I am craving a week on a beach somewhere, anywhere (well, not anywhere - I am from Jersey and have seen some pretty bad beaches).
Wow. I did not realize how long it's been since my last post. sorry. I've been super busy with job applications. So, if any of my readers still exist, here's something that's come up in the last few days that I have been pondering:

So I posted a conference announcement on a popular Gulf listserv that caters mostly to academics and policy folks. The conference is focused on the GCC and for most of my announcement I said either GCC or "Gulf Arab States," but I guess I slipped in an "Arabian Gulf" as well. Well, some Iranian scholar found that offensive enough to email me in order to educate me that the proper term is Persian Gulf and that to not use it is a distortion of history and a denial of who it actually belongs to (belongs? since when, post-imperialism, do entire bodies of water "belong" to a country? oh yeah, and last I checked "Persia" is not a country). OK, well I passed it off as just some random person with too much investment in identity politics, but then I started poking around a little and learned that 1. if you type Arabian Gulf into Google, the first listing you get is a google bomb about how there is no such thing, and 2. that apparently when National Geographic used the term a couple years ago in an article (in which the also used Persian Gulf interchangeably) it caused such a backlash that they eventually had to recant.

To me this is all a bit weird. Both terms are so laden with Orientalist history and British colonial involvement in the region that I really don't think any are innocuous or "proper." I personally use Arabian Gulf as one of the few ways I know to distinguish that I am talking about the Arab side of the Gulf, and namely the GCC countries, who have similarities in terms of history, economic development, social change, etc, that are very different from Iran and Iraq. (thus the two words "Arabian Gulf" are a way to shorthand that whole last sentence). As a scholar of the "Gulf" I also find that Gulf Studies often gets overrun by academics who study Iran and Iraq, so this is my way of carving out a space for us, the GCC-focused people. Also, the GCC governments, and the people who live there, use the term, so I guess I am used to it.

So really, do you all think that this is a big deal? I personally feel like the Iranian scholars and activists that seem to care tend to be invested in some notion of a "Persian" cultural history that separates them from the current situation in Iran and includes within it a desire to distinguish themselves from "Arabs," which I think can be plenty problematic, esp. here in Socal where the very active Iranian diaspora community is often in support of Bush's imperialistic policies in the Middle East, including support of potential military action in Iran. Anyway, just my initial thoughts on what apparently is a huge can of worms which I inadvertently stumbled upon but probably should have known about by now...
07 August 2007 @ 04:36 pm

To Punish Thai Police, a Hello Kitty Armband

Published: August 7, 2007
BANGKOK, Aug. 7 — It is the pink armband of shame for wayward police officers, as cute as can be with a Hello Kitty face and a pair of linked hearts.
Yasushi Ukigaya/Kyodo News, via Associated Press

A police officer in Bangkok shows a pink Hello Kitty armband.

No matter how many ribbons for valor a Thai officer may wear, if he parks in the wrong place, or shows up late for work, or is seen dropping a bit of litter on the sidewalk, he can be ordered to wear the insignia.
“Simple warnings no longer work,” said Pongpat Chayaphan, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok, who instituted the new humiliation this week.
“This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor,” he said. “Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It’s not something macho police officers want covering their biceps.”
Ten of the armbands have been prepared, but so far none have actually been issued, according to an officer who declined to give his name while discussing this sensitive topic.
“After this policy came out, the police are scared,” the officer said. “It will be very embarrassing to walk around with Hello Kitty on your arm.” It is a step down from the Crime Suppression Division’s official motto: “When you have no one to turn to, come to us.”
Mr. Pongpat, who has trained with the American Secret Service and the Canadian police, was promoted to head the division three months ago and says he wants to modernize his force, “even though we lack the highest technology, equipment and mind-set.”
An aide, Maj. Weeraprach Wonrat, said the chief was a believer in behavioral science and in the “broken window theory,” which holds that small changes can have large effects.
Pink armbands for misdemeanors are a start. Stronger measures could be next for corruption and extrajudicial killings.
An early experiment using armbands was not encouraging. Mr. Pongpat first tried using plaid ones. But instead of feeling shame, Major Weeraprach said, the officers took them home as souvenirs. The force still has only one of the ten it originally issued.

After that misfire, police commanders met again to consider strategy, he said, and agreed that Hello Kitty might work where tartan had failed.
So far, he said, there is no fallback plan. The department has not yet decided what punishment to impose if officers make off with their pink armbands as well.
02 August 2007 @ 05:38 pm
No, this is not an interesting post about American military empire-building in the name of "freedom." Sorry. It is rather a very neurotic post about the academic job market. Yes, a snoozefest to most of you, but the cause of many sleepless nights and stomach aches for me lately. See, I am about to go on the job market. While tenured jobs in academia are probably the only remaining places of guaranteed job security left in the country, the academic job market is probably the most insecure place one could be if they were unemployed. I don't know what other disciplines are like, but anthropology is notoriously difficult. I know people who have had their PhD for several years and have been lecturing for a pittance, getting rejected cycle after cycle. And there is no rhyme or reason to the thing. And of course now I am going to be competing with these people who have years more teaching experience than me, and probably a lot of publications and grants as well.

You never know if they choose based on your letter, your area of expertise, who your advisor is, or whether they know your name through some network. And you never really know what your professors are saying about you and whether they are representing your work in their rec letters accurately.

So basically, I have 2 pages to sum up the last 5 years of my life in a way that makes my dissertation that nobody but me cares about stand out from 200 other dissertations that nobody but their authors care about. Oh, and I have to devise syllabi for classes that don't exist, write a teaching philosophy (what?!), and pull together three chapters of the dissertation that are good enough to send out as writing samples. Arrgh.

I am NOT prepared for not getting a job. The thought of living in Irvine for even one more year, of lecturing boring classes and making no money, it is just too depressing. And it is not fair. In most other jobs (and all of the other ones I have had) if you are good and you work your ass off you can get ahead. In this market, plenty of great people get nothing and plenty of people who don't know how to teach or even write have tenure-track jobs. Again, no rhyme or reason.

And the scariest part of all is that I LOVE being an academic. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I love teaching, I love writing, I love being a nerd. And I think that my discipline is greatly lacking work on the Gulf. And I think I am pretty good at what I do.

I'm not willing to let it go, and I'm not sure if I have the capability of weathering years of failure. And that is the insecurity of job security.
09 July 2007 @ 04:29 pm
So those of you on the blogosphere have heard and shared several stories about the difficulties and special considerations surrounding doing research and teaching in the Gulf. I feel like as a researcher I self-censor way more than I would while in the states and that I am constantly looking over my shoulder. These paranoias are actually more self-induced than real, I think. Firings and deportations of academics are very few and far between. But still, I conduct research differently there than I would in the states, and use different word choices, etc. But I never really thought that this feeling extended out from the Gulf into academics in general that focus on Gulf issues. I know, sounds naive, but I do still for the most part live inside a bubble of academic freedom.

Last week I participated in a Gulf Studies conference at Exeter University in England. And I found a lot of interesting politics, mainly revolving two themes, 1. the issue of academic freedom vs. ruling family interests, and 2. gender issues. A few thoughts on each:

1. First, the Sheikh of Sharjah is the single largest benefactor in the history of Exeter University, and has pretty much funded the Islamic and Arabic Institute which hosted the conference. HH flew in from Sharjah just to open the conference and a new wing in the institute building, stayed for one panel, and then flew back. What I found so interesting is the whole pomp and ceremony around his presence. First, we were told by the conference organizer not to use the "loo" upstairs because it would look bad to be emerging from the bathroom when the sheikh arrived. Then we all gathered to watch the ceremony in which he cut the ribbon for the new wing and number of speeches about his generosity and intelligence were given. And then we resumed the conference, during which the shiekh proceeded to speak loudly with a professor throughout the next panel. He also found a paper presented by a grad student on UAE's economy problematic, because the title said UAE but was focused on Dubai. This is fine, but the manner in which he commented on this was not. He never addressed the woman directly, instead speaking to the room and saying things like, "she must have been misled". And he continued for a good two minutes or so. The poor grad student. She handled it famously, but still. Can you imagine giving a paper on housemaids, labor issues, or censorship in the Gulf in a forum such as this? I would be mortified. In fact, I had a few things in my paper which I was giving the next day that I changed because I was then worried about whether I could say certain things, regardless of the fact that the sheikh flew back to Sharjah after sitting in on just that one panel. Still, there was a feeling of self-censorship in the room, and I wonder how to get around this, especially when ruling family money is so often tied up with Gulf Studies programs and initiatives in the West.

2. And the gender issue was SO irritating, especially when you consider the very interesting old boys' club that is produced when you put a bunch of older Arab male scholars together with a bunch of older white English ones. This group of "uncles" as I have chosen to call them displayed some incredibly professional behavior, including hitting on female grad students, addressing women on panels as "lovely ladies," speaking throughout panels on women or by women (if they attended at all), and touting the physical virtues of Filipinas  to the whole room in a Q&A session. Not only is the professionalism that should come along with an academic conference missing here, but so is the treatment of women scholars as equals. And, the academic focus on gender issues in the Gulf was also very little. I am extremely interested in organizing a conference on feminist gulf studies, with scholars from the Gulf and other parts of the world, and hopefully people who focus on policy and women's rights issues as well. That would be very interesting.

OK, I think I have said all there is to say at this point. Oh, there is one more thing, and I am going to keep chewing on it: academics of the Gulf are usually experts in either citizen issues or expatriate ones, and they usually find they know little about the group they do not focus on (I am guilty of this myself). So aren't we also reproducing the citizen/expat divide through our knowledge production? Something to think about.

And, lest it sound like the conference sucked, it very much did not. There were some stellar papers and I learned a lot about the Gulf as a whole. I get so mired in the UAE, and Dubai in particular, that I tend to forget that things are very different in each Gulf country. The exchange of ideas and information both in the formal setting of the panels and the informal setting of meals was immense. And I did find a few like minds to discuss the above frustrations and concerns with.
17 June 2007 @ 10:53 pm
So, a week from now I will be sitting in my cramped BA seat and drinking as many free bad cocktails as possible -- on my way to Dubai! It was such a wonderful and awful year living there last year, both at the same time. And I feel like I was such a different person there than I am at home (and have become such a different person for having had the opportunity to live there). I have no idea what to expect on this trip, my first post-fieldwork trip to Dubai.

I have so many mixed feelings, so many things I miss, and so many things the distance from Dubai has made me dislike even more. So I am excited but also a bit nervous. I miss being so in touch with Indian culture, Bollywood, Indian food, using Hindi on a daily basis, not being the only brown one, and also, despite all the leering, I felt incredibly safe living by myself in Dubai, safer than I have ever felt in any city. But the distance from Dubai has made the insane segregation and discrimination between nationalities and races there seem so intolerable, even though I tolerate similar things here, and even though I got so easily accustomed to it when I was there. I am not ready to deal with Western expats who feel perfectly entitled to make three times more money than similarly qualified Asians, white people who won't talk to me at parties (yes, I have experienced this as an American in Dubai, and NEVER in the US, although there is definitely a ton of racism here), 100 degree weather at night but still needing a sweater in the mall, no real public spaces that don't require money, the crazy level of consumerism (which, again, I so easily enjoy after a short time living in it), cab drivers that try to convert me to Islam, and in general people who think I am stupid or a prostitute because I happen to have a uterus and not cover my head.

But the thing is, for all of you reading this and thinking that "oh, but she thinks the US is so much better," I don't. Actually my entire dissertation is an argument AGAINST how much Western academics treat the Middle East and Islam as exceptional, outside of their perceived norms of late capitalism and modern state formations. In fact, living in Dubai taught me a lot about how similar Dubai and the US are. But they are also very different. And here is the thing - there are power differentials and ridiculously frustrating things everywhere, but the place you are becomes normal and other places so easy to criticize.

So my trip to Dubai is a bit scary -- will I feel like an insider or an outsider? Will the things I have been writing about for 6 months hold true when I am there, or do they only seem true from a distance? And the scariest thing, will I hate it and never want to come back? Because I have to admit hating it much more now that I am not there and thinking about it from a distance than when I was immersed in it. But I also feel so nostalgic, like I never have about any other place. These contradictory feelings are what makes writing a dissertation with integrity difficult. Nothing is black and white, and if people represent places that way, they are taking the easy route. How to turn the complicated, contradictory, and confusing emotions and data I have into an argument that holds together and also holds true to my experiences?

It is a very exciting and scary place to be, thinking about going back to a place that I have basically been creating through my writing for six months. What will the relationship be between my production of Dubai over the past six months (and ALL knowledge is produced) and my experience of Dubai after six months away? I guess we will find out soon enough...
16 June 2007 @ 11:43 pm
So, all of you know I have been lamenting (ok, bitching) about having no research funding, no guaranteed job prospects, and $15K a year salary. But, this week my hubbs and I had a fantastic revelation. It costs like 100K to raise a kid to 18, and insanely more to pay for private liberal arts colleges that end up doing nothing but providing much needed bisexual and drug experiences (believe me, I KNOW). So, compared to the thousands and thousands you breeders out there are going to spend, what's a $2000 fendi bag, or an HDtv? So, as of this moment (and even more so when I actually get a real job), Ed and I are officially spending our non-existent kids' inheritance. And for all of you that want to judge me on buying $300 shoes, at least I am not breeding another ugly American that is going to drain the world's resources and perpetuate my well-established sense of capitalist entitlement. And, of course, make the awful experience of flying coach even more unbearable.

Oh, so here's my big baby news -- I brought home my first Manolos today! Yes it was hard squeezing them on, and I spent many hours in nordstrom's with my feet in the air, but it was all worth it when I stared into their beautiful suede lining. And I can't tell you the maternal separation anxiety I felt when the shoe man took them away to waterproof them. It was like a piece of myself had been ripped out. But now they are home and safely stored away in their individual felt bags.

You can all congratulate me by buying me something off of my registries--anything at gucci, pucci, prada,hermes, fendi, bottega, and ferragamo (although I will accept the occasional Dolce, YSL, and Chloe).

And those of you worried about Ed's stake in all this, he will be getting any electronic stuff he desires, his own music studio, and a bookcase full of porn (and of course, a cigar--which may or may not actually be a cigar).
12 June 2007 @ 11:58 pm
So , I thought that I was adjusting to being in my thirties, There are a bunch of things to adjust to: sagging boobs (thank goodness not even enough that my husband notices), the need to buy eye cream and sunscreen, and the fact that losing even one pound takes 17 hours of cardio. Oh yeah, and the fact that I have no job and no real guarantee that I will have one even after I get my PhD. But today brought it all to a new level. My dad informed me that my uncle passed away suddenly and that an auntie (those of you who are desi will know that this has nothing to do with blood relations) just had a stroke and is unconscious. Add to that the fact that my husband's grandmother was just diagnosed with cancer, my nanny has severe asthma and diabetes, and I only have one grandparent left... I am just starting to realize that death is becoming so much more of a reality in my life that I need to learn how to deal with it. And figuring out how to do that is a bit daunting. Thank goodness Ed and I have healthy parents and that is very far away. Those of you in your twenties: be happy that you don't have to deal with this at such a big level yet. And. wear a bra! Believe me, I went to a hippy college and then lived in San Francisco. The results of that are catching up with me. It ain't pretty. Well, it's still pretty fabulous, but we are definitrly going downhill.
25 April 2007 @ 04:40 pm
Hi everyone! I just got back from a much needed vacation in the Dominican Republic. Much needed, but I didn't get the rest and relaxation I required. I got a sinus infection on the plane which turned into a chest cold and aggravated my asthma so I had breathing problems the whole week, then I got a sunburn on the first day (yes, me, the one who used to tan for hours on my Dubai roof with no problems). Sunburns suck, but I am late to finding this out given my complexion. Anyway, it made me feel flu-y and it was hard to sleep and now I look like I have a skin disease. Then I guess all these issues and the fact that our resort didn't serve the best food made me have stomach problems for the second half of the trip, and finally we got to the airport to go home and found out that jet blue had cancelled our flight and nobody notified us! so that led to a lot of waiting around in the middle of the night at a deserted airport and getting hundreds of mosquito bites.

So now I am home and have gone to the doctor and gotten all the requisite meds and I actually feel more relaxed than I was last week. I even opened up a dissertation document and worked on it today! I am back in the saddle, but believe it or not, already have to plan my next trip.

I will be presenting a paper at a Gulf Studies conference in Exeter, England this July, and I figure that is a great excuse to make a short foray to Dubai at the same time. So, my plan is to be in DXB the last week of June. I know, it will be hot as hell, but I'll be at the pool during the day (this time with sunscreen!) and partying at night. But I also want to get some research done while I am there.

So readers, I have questions for you:

My Dubai party buddies - will you be around the last week of June and are you ready for some sleep deprivation and debauchery?

Bloggers - will you be around and willing to be interviewed (anonymously of course) about the UAE blog scene, censorship, free speech, etc.?

Other citizens and expats - let me know if you would be into sitting for an interview. I love hearing about as many experiences of living in Dubai as possible.

And of course, as always, I am happy to answer any questions about the project, what I have been up to, etc. See you all soon!!

PS - Dominican Republic was real purty. I'll post photos soon that make it look like we had a joyously good time.
28 March 2007 @ 05:35 pm
So, four minutes after the last post, but not before dubaiwalla already commented on it, I discovered even more photos to show you all, and check out my new baby Noor in the userpic! I promise more posts to follow soon.