March 1st, 2004

Colors

Escorted, briefed, fed, indoctrinated, encultured. (Not to mention shisha-ed.)

It's easy to spot the new inductees.. we skip through the 21st Century Tower and the Aviation Training College, smiling and chattering. We're giddy to be here, eager to try everything, and a little nervy about the upcoming Safety and Emergency Procedures training.

It's also easy to spot the new Safety and Emergency Procedures trainees.. their mouths sag, they stagger and stumble, and they can't make eye contact, let alone smile. They dress in the full uniform of the Cabin Attendant, lugging their carry-on bags. And starting next week, I will, too.

I just realized today was only the third day. They let us out early. During these three days, we've met most of Emirates' upper eschelons; been vaccinated; had doctors check our teeth, eyes, organs, and urine; filled in dozens of forms; been fitted for uniforms and received the pieces that don't need tailoring; received monster binders and started learning about different types of aircraft; begun memorizing information about destinations; sat lectures on personal security, wellness, Muslim law, Company regulations, and fire safety; put out fires; become very close to those in our four Ab Initios (more than 70 people in all).

At night, I've visited endless other crew apartments. Peeked into the lives of dozens of other cabin attendants and trainees. (The trainees may look a wreck, but I keep seeing the fliers return from flights looking happy a refreshed.. a good sign, right?) Had Egyptian food last night on the Creek with Omar, Nissrine, Shady, Gina, and (someone else). With shisha, of course. Then I finally met Lisa (NOT an Emirates employee) at Harry Ghatto's in Emirates Tower for karaoke. (Lisa, that was awesome! Thanks for introducing me to that place. It was fantastic meeting you. You're a karaoke goddess, and I'm not just saying that.) The night before, I had dinner with Gina, Omar, and Lorrine and then we met Nissrine and (someone else) at a rooftop shisha place. I was kidnapped in the lobby by a Moroccan, a (former Yugoslavian), and a Palestinian, who dragged me to their room and forced me to shoot tequila. I met the lovely Yukari (friend to Masa, one of my Japanese teachers) and her roommate Miyako, and they cooked a Japanese lunch.

And of course, I've taken a lot of pictures, which I'll share when I'm technically able. I'm afraid I left my computer's power supply in Japan; it'll get here when it gets here.

(I know I'm forgetting things other than the above parentheticals...)

I won't relay the complete demographics of our Ab Initios (it would take all day), but I will say that there are at least 12 local recruits (who were living in Dubai, but none are Emirati), and nearly as many men as there are women. I'm the sole American. Other minorities of 1 include a Swede, a Finn, and a Serbian. Minorities of 2 include Bulgarians (knockout health-nut intellectuals) and Slovenians (both named Natasha).

Oh, and EVERYBODY speaks Arabic! Not only the Arabic majority in the Ab Initio; I've heard it from the mouths of an Australian, a Bulgarian, and a Brit. I feel I'd better get to work.

Assalamu alaikum!