Oct 292011

Just a little aside with an interesting moral at the end. And by ‘little’, I mean’lomg and rambling’. Anyone who’s sat through my Etisalat rant of Summer ’10 knows what they’re in for. You’ve been warned ;)

So I arrived at the apartment last Thursday. One of the things I’d made sure of before leaving Dubai was that the apartment had Internet access. I had a weekend coming up very soon after I arrived, and I wanted to make sure that I could stay in touch with people, use google maps to find my way around, etc.

Of could, when I arrive, there was no Internet. The wireless worked just fine.. I could get my laptop and iPad on network, but couldn’t reach the web.

I called Rocky. It was his girlfriend’s place, and I figured there might be some trick to it, and I didn’t want to sta messing with their routers and so on. It didn’t help that there had what looked like three separate routers and modems sitting underthe TV!

He was as surprised as I was. A far as he knew, Internet should have been working. He offered to pass by later and take a look.

He came by around 9:30 and started fiddling. Cables were disconnected and reconnected. Routers were power cycled. Modems were cursed at. Eventually, it was decided that we had to all Comcast, our provider.

On Friday, while we are at work, Rocky called Comcast for the first time. After about 10 minutes of going through phone menus, they managed to speak to a human being who told them to try everything we’d already tried. They wouldn’t go any further until we’d tried that, so it had to wait till I got back home. Chances of having access before the weekend were dwindling fast.

As soon as I got home, I tried everything again, to no avail. Called Rocky, he called Comcast.

Comcast tried to avoid sending someone till Monday, but once they found out that we had a phone on the same line (also dead) they realized that, by law, they actually had to send someone within 24 hours. Rocky gave them my number, and told me they would be there between 9 and 12 on Saturday.

I was unreal early on Saturday, so I figured I would hang out at home and wait.

Around 9:30 I heard a loud screeching buzzer that I took to some sort of alarm. In case it was the doorbell, I looked out th window, and saw a van belonging to a company called Xfinity. So, not Comcast. Just in case, I looked downstairs, and I saw a neighbor talking to the guys from the van. So, nothing to do with me. Soon after, they left. I continued my vigil.

Around noon, Rocky called me to see if Comcast had shown up. I said no, so he called them again. They said that someone had shown up at 9:30 but no one was home. I told him about the Xfinity event, and he informed me that they’re the same company. He yelled at them for not trying either my number or his, and they didn’t have much to say about that. They said they would call me to arrange a new time.

At this point, I had arranged to meet people for a weekend outing, so out I went, expecting a call from Comcast.

I didn’t get any calls that afternoon, so the next day, I called Rocky again. He sounded completely shocked. Apparently, they were supposed to call me right after he talked to them… Not ‘some point in the future’. In fact, when he called them, now in a rage, they told him that someone had been down there a couple of hours after noon and, again, no one was home.


Rocky and Jen were planning to come to the apartment to pick something up. In the meanwhile, I went out to grab a couple of things from the store. On the way, I get a call from Comcast that went straight to my voicemail. A lady with an impossible to decipher accent (US but no idea where from) saying that my modem was back online and that could I check so she can cancel the technicians.

I basically turned around and went home, checked, and sure enough, Internet! I figured I shouldn’t touch anything.

An hour later, the Comcast tech show up (I had no idea they were coming on Sunday!). He took a look for a while, and told me that basically, the lines going into the apartment were all fucked up and needed changing. They were split between too many units, and had rusted, and so on. In the meanwhile, he could get it that internet stayed up, but I’d lose TV and phone. Then, he would come back n Tuesday morning to change all the cables. This was done.

The rest of it went as promised. They showed up on Tuesday and changed the cables from th outside, then came inside and helped set up the wifi and everything, which was out of their scope, so good on them. So finally, I have working Internet, phone and cable tv in the house.

In fact, the technicians were, in general excellent. Friendly, hard working, and they went above and beyond (except when they didn’t call when they would show up). It was the geniuses at phone support! The amount of time we spent on the phone with them in a period of three days was completely ridiculous.

So, the moral of the story I promised? It really doesn’t matter whe the fuck you are. Telecos are telecos. They all suck, and that’s just the way it is.

Oct 282011

As this post is going to fill you guys in past my first weekend, it’ll probably going to be my last ‘big’ update. From this point on, I imagine my posts will be smaller, with specific events and so on.


So, jet lagged as I was, I was up really early on Saturday.  The day before, I’d found out that this weekend was the Head of the Charles, a big annual boat race that happens on the Charles River. As often happens with North American events, it ends up being a giant excuse to set up drinking tents and have a wild weekend.

Naturally, I wanted to be there. So I made plans to meet up with my boss*, head down to Cambridge for lunch, then head down to the festivities.

Around 11 o’clock, we got in touch, and decided I would take the #1 bus across the river to Harvard Square, and meet up with Gibs, Dee and HaMa for lunch.

The bus ride was pretty cool, just due to the fact that it went over a river, and then drive right past MIT. On the way, Gibs texted me to let me know that Noam Chomsky was going to be speaking that night, so my day got full real fast.

I ended up having to wait about half an hour at Harvard Square, as Gibs and Dee were running a bit late, but I found a place to sit down, and I had my Kindle with me, so all was well. When they finally showed up, we walked up closer to the actual Square, and stood in line for about an hour at a pizza place.

Another explanatory note here. I don’t know if this is a common thing all over the world, but it’s a bit strange to me in Dubai. I’ve been noticing that places that get popular here get really popular. Generally, the lines are outside the door, people are happy to wait for up to an hour, and so on. I’ve already seen this at a couple of bars, an ice cream place, and the aforementioned pizza place.

They actually ended up giving us free pizza because they screwed up our first order. It should be said that the pizza was amazing. Unfortunately I don’t have the name of the place. I’m sure I’ll find it again.

Once we got our pies (HaMa had shown up at this point), we went into Harvard and sat down at some tables in the Yard to eat. That, right there, made my day.

From there, Dee and Ma wanted coffee and dessert, so off we went. Of course, this was a bit tricky, as it was 3pm already, and most restaurants in the area stop serving anything between 3 and 5.

We eventually found a pseudo Arabic place and after struggling to find a place to sit, we got our caffeine/sugar hit.

At this point, we realized it was too late to make it to the Charles event, so we separated and HaMa and I headed towards the Noam Chomsky thing. It turned out that he was speaking at the Occupy Boston protest.

The tent city that the protesters had set up was seriously something to behold. A huge public park was set aside and turned into a mini-city.. complete with food tents, first aid tents, etc. Different groups of protesters were handing out leaflets, others were playing with hula hoops.. it was pretty incredible. We couldn’t actually hear Chomsky speaking, due to a lack of microphones, but he was up there, and the speech ended up online. I haven’t actually seen the speech yet, but you can find it here.

After about an hour, the General Assembly was starting to gather, and I heard people saying something about a march, so I suggested we get out of there ASAP. Being on a work visa, I’d rather not get involved in any sort of movement that could get me arrested :)

From there, we drifted up to Newbury Street.. a pretty good spot to get some food and see the nightlife. We ended up at a fancy restaurant that was very generous with their scotch, and had a pretty good salad for dinner. From there, it was off to bed.

Sunday was a lot more quiet. The Comcast Saga (future post, honest) continued, then I had lunch with Rocky and Jen, and broached the subject of actually renting her apartment once the lease with the company is done (1st Jan). I doubt I’ll be able to afford it, but we’ll see when she gets a realtor in to value the place.

In the evening, I met up with Gibs at the Apple Store (biggest in North America!) and wept silent tears at all the shiny that I can’t afford.

Soon. Soon.

*So I should clear up the characters in my life at the moment. I’d rather not identify anyone by name, so I’ll have to end up giving them nicknames (thank you, N).

So far, the cast includes (with the most boring nicknames ever, forgive me, it’s early):

Gibs :- The guy I often refer to as ‘my boss’. He’s actually my boss’s boss. He’s the guy I flew in with.

Dee :- Gibs’ wife

Ha :- A friend of mine who also works at my company

Ma :- Ha’s wife

- I’ll often refer to the two above as HaMa

Rocky :- My direct boss

Jen :- Rocky’s girlfriend, and the owner of the apartment I’m in at the moment