Leave Me (Us) Alone

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One minute you are having a relaxing, happy time … and then a man will come and harass you.

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, but you will be guaranteed to be bothered by a man at some point. That point was just now for me at the beach.

First of all this is not a criticism on the lovely place where I am on holiday currently, Zanzibar. The place is amazing, the people have been beautiful and it’s been very relaxing.

So I went out in the sea, picked up seashells and just generally relaxed on my last day by the beach.

Nearing the end of walk out of the sea back onto the beach, I saw 2 young guys walking slowly where I was walking towards the beach. I couldn’t stop and wait for them to pass due to jellyfish and sea urchins surrounding me. One guy looked and kept walking, the other stopped to wait for me.

Him: Jambo [hi in Swahili]

Me: Jambo

H: How are you?

M: Good thanks

H: Where are you staying.

M: nearby [I should have said nothing but was being polite and didn’t want to aggravate the situation]

H: How long for?

M: I leave tomorrow. Ok great talking to you.

H: Are you alone?

M: No with family (I’m lying, I’m solo but he doesn’t need to know)

His friend says in Swahili that the guy in the sea must be my man (he’s not, but i ain’t going to admit otherwise)

H: Is that your man.

M: Yep

H: Oh didn’t realise you were with him (how would he know before then??)

M: 😑. Your friend is waiting for you.

H: Let me show you around

M: 😑

H: I can take you on trips.

M: Thanks again. Bye.

H: [he keeps walking by my side and talking to me].

M: thanks bye.

Finally, I stopped and pretended to get a shell. He waited. I wouldn’t move. He finally moved onwards into the sea but parallel to me. I walked as close to the coral wall/cave as possible.

This was unwanted attention. Harassment.

If a girl makes no indication of being interested, f*** off. Seriously. Go.

The friend had got the idea quickly, this douche should have followed his lead. If I was interested it would have been clear on my face.
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The worrying part was that I had to walk into half-caves (see above) to get to the steps to my hotel. He stayed near enough to me in the sea to make it a stressful few minutes up to the hotel. I shouldn’t have felt stressed, I shouldn’t have felt worried that he could drag me into the cave-like area and rape me.  I shouldn’t have felt scared. I’m a grown lady and I was scared for a few long minutes, like a child.

Despite the #metoo movement, we still have these moments. We are empowered now to write a blog on these situations, to share our experiences on social media, to report when we are assaulted, but women are still in a losing situation. For some reporting the assault results in condemnation, for others, they just don’t get heard, and women like me, we have to experience the same rubbish we have experienced for all of our lives.

We shouldn’t even get to these situations!

I am exasperated by the fact that this happened to me and also that I am writing this blog. I am hoping that the more we call out this behaviour, the more men will realise this nonsense has to stop.

For now, this is another one to add to my #metoo story. Thanks, Douche.

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© 2018 Shelina Jokhiya | All rights reserved – This post is provided for the convenience of Shelo’s Cheeky Rantings readers. Any reproduction of the content within this feed is strictly prohibited.
©  Top Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

©  Second Photo by Shelina Jokhiya.

The Over-Commercialisation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month aka Pink October.

Breast cancer awareness month is great as it has made women and men more aware of how to detect lumps and prevent getting the disease.

I have lost a dear friend and a lot of family to breast cancer and other types of cancer over the years. Cancer is not kind and I am all for awareness, prevention and getting a cure for this menace.

In the UAE breast awareness month only became an event a few years ago and companies embraced it wholeheartedly. You can get pink nail polish, clothes, bags, cup cakes; you name it and you can get it in pink for this month. You are expected to buy this stuff and not question the commercialisation, as it’s for cancer, innit.

But, how many of these companies actually donate proceeds to cancer charities? Yes a lot say they donate, but how much? I have a feeling it’s a nominal amount or for a lot of companies absolutely nothing. Plus the products always seem to be more expensive; thus meaning they are only donating the difference!! No one seems to show how much they donate. It’s all about showing they are part of the month for PR purposes rather than to actually help the cause to bring awareness to this cancer.

It seems to be contrived and fake. And how much can we spend on overpriced pink stuff in a month. It’s adding pink clutter to our homes.

I’d rather donate direct to charities who are working to bring awareness, prevention and find a cure, than buy the contrived pink products. If you are a charity in the UAE/GCC region collecting money for breast cancer awareness month, please let me know.

I would be interested to see which companies are actually positively participating in the month and not using it for PR purposes only. Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

 

 

 

© 2016 Shelina Jokhiya | All rights reserved – This post is provided for the convenience of Shelo’s Cheeky Rantings readers. Any reproduction of the content within this feed is strictly prohibited.

 

The River of Slime is Coming

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With all the hate going on in world due to Daesh, racists, Fox News, cyberbullies and trolls, we are creating a gigantic river of slime of hate.

Remember it happened in New York and the only one who could save the city was a positively slimed Statute of Liberty!

I don’t think there is enough of those Statutes to help save the world, so can we start being a nicer to each other.

And if you can’t be nice, go onto an island with all the haters and build a house…or something. Thank you!

Shelina

The Top 8 Rules for Driving in the UAE in the Fog

fog abu dhabi

Last night I drove back from the Abu Dhabi Formula One Gran Prix at Yas Marina (after marshalling for 3 days – it was awesome!) exhausted and sweaty. I just wanted to get home and sleep but as soon as I got on the Abu Dhabi – Dubai HIghway the fog enveloped all of us drivers.

The fog was so bad that it you couldn’t see a car in front of you, even if you were touching bumpers. It was so bad, you couldn’t see the lanes on the highway or any road signs even if you got close to them so there was no way to stop for a chill out moment at the services.

Of course being in the UAE that meant that people freaked out and started doing one of the following:

  1. Breaking and driving at 20kph
  2. Putting on their hazard lights
  3. Driving fast as if there was no fog
  4. Driving close to the car in front just so they could see something.

All this made a bad situation exceedingly scary. I love driving and i’m usually resilient but this fog and surrounding idiots freaked the bejeesus out of me. I had to go into the far slow lane (as it was the only lane no one else was in, except my marshal buddies).

A scary moment was seeing buses and minibuses driving their normal manner weaving through lanes, with hazard lights on and close to our bumpers. I had a coach behind me (Desert A..) weaving around me and then driving near my bumper. These bus drivers need an advanced driving test for normal and extreme weather days; they are maniacs.

Based on this frightful experience here are my top tips for the idiots who we encountered last night and the other idiots who start driving ridiculously on fog days in the Winter:

  1. Switch on your fog lights. They are usually a button, located on the left hand side next to your steering wheel.
  2. Drive slowly like 80kph but not 20kph. You might as well not drive at all if you are going to go at that speed.
  3. Keep at least 2 cars distance from the cars in front of you.
  4. DON’T PUT ON YOUR HAZARD LIGHTS AND USE THEM AS FOG LIGHTS. 
  5. Put on your hazard lights for a brief few seconds when there is a hazard in front of you. I did the quick flash twice in succession so that the numpties around me got the idea there was a hazard.
  6. Don’t freak out and suddenly swerve lanes to get off the road.
  7. If you change lanes, USE YOUR INDICATORS.
  8. Use your windscreen wipers to clean the fog/sand concoction every so often.

Luckily there were no crashes on my way home. However, there needs to be a national advertising campaign by the RTA on how to drive in fog, rain and other extreme weather scenarios. Otherwise there will be more chances of there being scary driving situations and horrific car accidents on the AD-DXB highway (such as the one below) or on other roads.

car crash

 

I have heard the Indian speaking radio stations in the UAE tell drivers to put their hazard lights on in previous years. By providing this completely incorrect and unsafe information, they are helping to create more accidents. The authorities need to explain to the media how their listeners should drive safely!

Let’s hope this post can educate a few people.

What other rules do you think we should have for driving in the extreme conditions. Let me know in the comment box.

Shelina

 

 

 

 

(All images from Google Images).

The Good, Bad and Ugly – Customer Service in Dubai

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Customer service is a continuous rant fest for us in Dubai. It’s rarely good, but mostly appalling. The Managers don’t care, the serving staff are clueless. Supposedly we can complain to the Trading Standards here but no one I know has ever had a response from them.

However, there are moments of such amazing service that it makes you feel like you are on cloud 9.

Here are four of my recent picks and how they have treated me and my friends:

THE GOOD

1. Izel Dubai, Conrad Dubai 

My friend and I went to Izel recently. The restaurant/bar is a South American fusion restaurant with a Happy Hour on Wednesday and live music.

We hadn’t booked a table beforehand but walked in and were advised by the hostess, that they could definitely give us a table. As the restaurant hadn’t opened yet, they asked us to sit on their comfortable chairs at the bar and order from the Happy Hour Menu. When the table was ready, the friendly waiter took us to the table and passed us over to our new waiter.

The food was lovely, but it was the attention of the staff that made my day. My friend had ordered a glass of wine from the knowledgeable Sommelier. He returned during our meal to check she was happy with her drink and we were happy with our meal generally. The waiter of course was attentive during the meal but left us to chat alone. We also had the Operations Manager come and introduce himself and ask if all was fine. We were not anyone featured in Ahlan or famous, just two ladies catching up. It was a nice gesture.

When we left, the hostess asked us about our experience. We did mention that the toilets were really dark and that it would be nice if we could see the toilet paper. She agreed with us and said that she would advise the management as they were renovating the restaurant during the Summer. They might not listen to our advice, but acknowledging it was nice of them.

In the lift, the Chef held the door for us and said bye when we left. Small thing but really nice.

We missed the music (which I have heard is really loud) but we had a lovely, relaxed visit to the restaurant.

2. GQ Bar – JW Mariott Marquis

A few weeks ago a group of friends and I booked a table for drinks at the GQ Bar. I had forgotten to mention we needed a smoking table when booking. Oops.

As normal I was the first to arrive, so the hostess suggested that I sit in the bar area, and then when my friends had arrived, we could move to our table. When our party arrived, we realised that we were going to be seated in the non-smoking restaurant area. We asked if it was possible to be moved to the comfy seat area in the bar. The hostess said “no problem”, shuffled the reserved areas around and fitted us four in a corner section with no hassle. During the shuffling I had mentioned to the hostess that I was disappointed by the bar men not being so hawt as expected (I had been told they would be hawt as it’s the GQ Bar!). She laughed.

Later on, I checked us in on Foursquare. Within a short while, the Acting Manager of the bar came to our table with mini drinks and asked us how our night was. Turned out that the bar’s twitter handle is linked to the Foursquare account, so they knew instantly when I had Foursquared and thanked us with the drinks. Lovely gesture. He had also talked to the hostess and asked me about my views of the bar men (my friends were embarrassed of me by then) and asked me to return in a few weeks to check the new staff who were joining :D. When we left they both said bye to us at the door.

Two weeks later I returned to the bar for a networking event. At the door, the same hostess was there and she recognised me! Little ole me! She even asked where my friends were. That night the bar man who served me was so hawt and really good at making the drinks. I told the nice hostess to inform that Manager that I was impressed :).

It sounds stupid but in this superficial, Ahlan loving, celeb wannabe town, it’s nice to be treated like someone by staff even when we are not any of the above.

Also, to have great service is such a rarity that it makes the night even more special when it is amazing.

THE BAD

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3. KFC

7pm – I ordered KFC (I’m sick today, KFC is my cure – don’t judge me). They knew my normal order. I was impressed.

8.05pm – I called and asked about my food. Was told that the operator would call me back once she found out where the food was.

8.24pm – Called again. The operator said that the KFC Motor City were not answering their calls. They couldn’t find out where my food was. Told her to cancel the order and to tell the manager to call me.

8.38pm – Driver calls and says he is near my villa (I live in an apartment – the address even says Flat…).  Told him to turn around and get the Manager to call me.

8.47pm – Manager calls me. Told him of my disappointment. His response was that their internet was down and they were taking orders by telephone. I politely told him that the operational processes in the restaurant were not my problem. I ordered food the correct way, I expected food within half an hour. He kept making excuses.

There was no offer of giving me a voucher to use for next time as an apology. No offer of anything.

No profuse apologies.

Nothing.

His view was that as his operations system was down, it was my problem and I had to accept it. He said he would take my order now. I told him that I had ordered from elsewhere as I was so hungry.

The way he talked to me was sooooo arrogant that infuriated me more.

I advised him that his behaviour was unacceptable and that I would be informing all on social media. He didn’t care. That was the end of the conversation.

I won’t be ordering from them again.

Update 19 June 2014:

A KFC Manager called to apologise profusely and also confirm that the excuse about the system was actually not true. They were very angry at what happened to me and they were sincere in their apologies. As a gesture of goodwill they delivered lunch to me (and the Manager of Motory City called to check all was fine when the delivery man arrived). I will be ordering from them again. 

UGLY

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4. Clinton Bakery Cafe – Downtown Dubai.

Two of my lovely friends are leaving Dubai. They are having several Tweetups. This was one tweetup they set up for breakfast on Friday.

a. 3 of us entered and asked for the 6 person booth.

b. The waitress said she would have to ask the Manager if we could have booth as we couldn’t get a table unless all of our party had arrived. (I must add at this point – I had to leave after an hour and we didn’t know when exactly the rest of the party would arrive, but it would be soon).

c. Manager came to front, ignored us. Said in a nasty tone to the waitress, that we couldn’t have a table until our party arrived. At no point did he talk to us the customers, he just spoke about us to the waitress.

d. I told the waitress to just give us a table for 3 of us as I had to go. Told the Manager as well, he turned away from me.

e. Within 10 minutes 3 more people arrived. We got a booth.

f. I left.

g. My friend Khaled Akbik and his wife turned up after me. Here is his story of what happened when he entered, in his own words:

“I went a bit late to a friend’s farewell gathering this morning at Clinton Street Baking Company, Dubai. It was my first experience there and the place looked lovely and promising. I was looking forward to having a nice cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast.

My friends had already finished their breakfast when I arrived and some were still sipping on their coffees and shakes. When I called in the waiter to give him my order I was politely told that we can’t order anymore because there are others waiting for a table!! When we argued with him he called in his manager who was somewhat rude. He said there are others waiting and implied that we had exhausted our time on the table and that it would take long now for them to make a new meal, serve it and for me to take my time eating it!!

This was the first time I witness such a behaviour from a restaurant’s staff, let alone the manager, who is supposed to be accommodating to say the least.

When a restaurant puts the interest of incoming customers more than existing ones; is practically saying, you came, we served you, you paid us, now leave….we got our money from you, off to the next one.

That is not a way to run a business and needless to say, despite the apparent popularity of this restaurant, I won’t be going there ever again.”

Now yes, it was Friday, it was busy and people were waiting for the table but we had ordered a lot and still were going to order in our group. But the main issue was the Manager. I saw how he spoke to people or didn’t speak to us. He was a nasty human being.

The food was nice, but expensive for what it was. If we had been treated like humans I would go again but after being treated so appallingly, continuously by the Manager I have no desire to return until I know he has left.

The chain might be big in New York but this is not New York and you don’t treat people like this.

Update 19 June 2016 – nothing. 

This is a small pool of good and bad customer service. I could go on but it would take days to write. Where have you been that has been amazing or appalling with regards to customer service?

VAT it back!

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People don’t believe me when I say I take an empty suitcase with me when I go to the UK.  UAE is not cheap or good for shopping. Back home there are constant sales and we also get our VAT back as non-residents #win.

Admittedly it took me a few years to realise that as a resident of the UAE, I could claim my VAT back in the UK and Europe. After several years of claiming back, I am now an expert at it and highly recommend doing it.

So if you live outside Europe this is what you do to claim your VAT back.

1. Go to the store. Buy loads.

2. At the till say “I want to claim my VAT back”.

Do it before they start scanning the items and most probably again 3 more times if you are in a high street store.  Don’t both in Selfridges, and Marks and Spencer’s. See below.

3a. Classy Designer store – they will ask you to complete yours details on a form. They will take those details and print a VAT receipt for you with all your details completed on it, so all you need to do is sign the VAT receipt.

3b. Selfridges – you collect all the receipts you get around the store and then go to the VAT department (basement near kitchen department in Oxford Street). When your number is called, go to a desk, complete a form with your details and the lovely Selfridges people will print a VAT receipt for you with your details completed. You just need to sign the receipt. Selfridges keep your details, so you just need to show your passport when shopping there again.

3c. Normal high street store – most probably the sales person will be unhelpful and say either they don’t do it or you haven’t spent enough. Both reasons are normally rubbish and they just can’t be bothered to get the VAT receipt or don’t know how to do it. Ask them to check with their manager. Most tills now ask automatically if the sales person wants to print the VAT receipt (hence why you have to tell them several times before the end of the transaction).  If not, they have to manually completed a long form with the details and will ask you to complete details as well. (Hence why they try to get out of giving you the receipt).

3d. Primark – You need to go to customer service or if in Marble Arch the specific VAT department to get the receipt. Just show them your receipts and they will print or manually complete the VAT receipt. It will be a manual receipt if you are in a small town Primarni.

3e. Marks and Spencer is the same as Selfridges – collect the receipts from all the stores (except food) and then go to one to get the receipt from the customer service department. Go to a big store like Marble Arch to get your VAT receipt as they have the automatic receipt printing machine. In some other stores they complete the form manually (so behind).

Note: In some stores such as House of Fraser, they will ask if you want your VAT back immediately in cash. If you say yes, you have to pay additional admin fees so the amount given back to you is far less. I would recommend saying no and filling in the forms to get the refund on your credit card.

4. Make sure that the sales person signs the VAT receipt and stamps it. You cannot get your money back if they don’t sign it.

5. Make sure you take your passport or ID showing you live outside UK/EU with you. A lot of shops ask for it as proof that you are not a resident in the UK and EU,  and show them your current visa page (the sales people can get very confused and argumentative if they see you with an EU passport). Passport is therefore the best bet.

Apple will not give you a VAT receipt at all without the passport being shown. They are beyond difficult.  And they forget to sign the form so be careful with them.

6. If it’s not a classy store, you need to complete the VAT receipts before you leave for the airport. Put in name, address in country of residence, date of birth, arrival and departure date, etc.

Make a note of the tax receipt number and tax company (Premier, Global Blue, etc).

7. Put in your credit card number, so you get the VAT refund straight to your card. It means your VAT return helps to part-pay the bills and also reduces the amount of admin fees you pay.

If you ask for cash you have to a) pay extra admin fees (you have to pay one set of admin fees) and b) claim cash at airport where there will most probably be a long queue.

8. To be organised, put all VAT receipts for Premier tax in one envelope, Global Blue in another, etc. There are about four tax companies.

9. Take your VAT receipts in their specific envelopes and your actual sales receipts (hold them separately) to the airport.

10. Before you check in, find the VAT office/counter. There will be signs for it.  I repeat do it before you check in.

11. Give the the customs people your VAT receipts and passport. They will also ask where the goods are so have your luggage near you. They may ask for the sales receipts if they are on a jobs-worth mission.

The customs people will stamp the VAT receipts and then return them to you. You need to put the VAT receipts only in their specific envelope and then mail the envelopes (it’s free to mail). There are normally letterboxes in the departure area or give them to the family/friends to post them immediately for you.

12. You need to get to the airport earlier than you would normally, to do the VAT stamping.

It can take a while if it’s a busy time of the day and if you are flying from Heathrow.

If its Gatwick North Terminal (for Emirates) it takes 5 minutes.

Other airports maybe quick, but Heathrow is never quick (except during the Olympics when they just took the receipts without asking any questions at all!!).

13. Check in, do the duty free (might as well continue with your tax saving shopping).

14. Fly home (unfortunately not in Concorde) :(.

 

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15. Check credit card bills after about a week and you will see the refunds. If you don’t get the refunds within 3 weeks contact the tax company to check the status of your refund. Global Blue are on twitter so you can tweet them.

16. If you go to different EU countries, make sure you go to the VAT counter at the airport/train station from the country you are leaving to get the stamp. You can mail the envelope from your final destination with the other receipts.

So for example, the other year I went to London, Copenhagen (for 4 amazing days), back to London and then to Dubai. I obtained VAT receipts in Copenhagen (they are very organised and helpful there) and had the receipts stamped at Copenhagen airport before I flew back to the UK. I stated my date of departure on the receipts as the date of when I would be leaving Europe (not Copenhagen).  The receipt was included in the envelope with the other Global Blue ones from the UK and mailed.

Of course the procedures can change, stores might be become more tech savvy, etc. If there are changes, please let me know so I can update the above advice.

If you have had any experiences with claiming your VAT back let us know.

Hope this was helpful.

🙂

Update: You can also claim your VAT back when in Lebanon. Information on how to claim back can be found here. Remember to take a copy of your passport with you to include with your receipts sent to the tax refund company.