Monday, March 31, 2008

How to get to and from Abu Dhabi airport




Abu Dhabi airport is located at a distance from the city. This makes moving to and from Abu Dhabi airport to the city difficult for those who dont have a car or who dont have someone to drop them at the airport. Getting a driver's license is not easy, even if you have a valid driving license in another country and hence you may find yourself in this situation.

I'm posting this info here to help others because I couldn't find anything clear and useful on the internet.
There are several kinds of taxis on Abu Dhabi roads, the old golden and white taxi being the cheapest and the new silver taxis with the white signboard being the most expensive. The cheapest costs about 40dhs for a trip to the airport, and the more expensive ones can cost 70-75 dhs.

There is a still cheaper way. Abu Dhabi municipality runs frequent buses between the airport and the main bus stand (a.k.a the taxi stand). One can take bus number 901 on this route. Buses are available round the clock at 30 mins interval during the day and at a 45 minutes interval during the night.

For trips starting from the bus stand, the bus stops at the second row inside the bus stand. You will find a yellow signboard that has "901" and the arabic word "Mataar" (meaning airport). That's where you get the blue-and-white bus to the airport. Tickets cost AED 3.00 and can be purchased inside the bus.

Buses at Abu Dhabi main bus stand

At the airport, step out through one of the doors and walk all the way forward in the direction of traffic, till you reach the end of the building. Keep walking till you see a blue signboard that says "Abu Dhabi Municipality Bus stop". Wait there for the bus. The buses are blue and white in colour and costs AED 3.00.

Abu Dhabi City Terminal:

If you have heavy luggage and you want to ride the bus, there is an alternative. You can check in at the City Terminal which is inside the city (beside Beach Rotana Hotel, diagonally opposite the Abu Dhabi mall). This is like an extension to the checkin at the airport and you can check-in, obtain your boarding pass and dump your checked-in luggage. Then you can proceed to the main bus stand and take the bus to the airport and travel light with just your cabin baggage. The City Terminal does NOT provide a complimentary transfer by bus to the airport as advertised on some websites.

Tip:

1. If you're planning to use the bus, make sure you have ample time before your flight starts boarding. You may not get a bus right away when you arrive at the bus station.

2. There are two terminals at Abu Dhabi airport. Make sure you know which terminal your flight is on, and tell the bus driver which terminal you want to go to. Drivers tend to "assume" everyone is going to Terminal 2. :-)




Sunday, March 2, 2008

The sands of time

No man is an island. What happens to one, happens to us all, for we all share the same instance of time. The universal clock keeps ticking endlessly in its insane foray into the unmarked and unknown infinity.

We are but the elements of time; each of us given a slice of time. A very small slice of time, to make our grand entry, leave our mark, and go away quietly, when our time is up. And all that remains are those marks that we made - those scars, which will remain forever, for history to remember, and all is lost in the fiery tempest of time.

It is of our volition to play our part well before the exit beckons on to us. We do not move towards this portal of doom; rather, it approaches us mercilessly. And we are left with a few intense moments to gather what we can and sow the seeds for the hereafter. And as we sow, so shall we reap...

My past stands behind me as great exclamation mark. My present is a pathetic full stop and my future stands before me as a great question mark.

The past clings on to me. I cannot change reality. I cannot change the past. But the past is the reality, and everything else is just a mirage, a fiction of thought. I cannot undo what has been done. But the past is my teacher; I learn from my past. Through the years, I have made and lost the greatest of friends. The happy-go-lucky days when I was poisoned by the joy of friendship. Up till the day it dawned on me that this joy was an illusion, another fiction of thought that had buried its nasty fangs in the flesh of my heart, as a permanent record in the diary of my past - something that I shall remember till I die. Yes, the past clings on to me.

My present is another story. It is also the author of my past. And as the sands of time continue to fall in this hourglass that we call life, I pause to ponder “what have I done”? Where do I go, and what shall be my future?

But wait, what is this force that pulls me together and keeps me going? That strong, unknown force that joins me up to my integral self from the pieces that I’ve been torn into? That, I realize, is the spirit of independence. The independence of thought, a skill that my rivals had failed to acquire. The art of free-thinking: the thoughts of man being his own, not what’s on the mind of those around him. Gossip and grapevine everywhere, people have relied for years on the views of their fellow mates and blindly accepted them as their own. In that, they had underestimated the power of one. The power of one mind - their own mind, to be more precise.

And only then did I realize the possibility to explore the reality of dreams, and to make these dreams my master, to make goals out of my wildest imagination, and to navigate through seas of knowledge. To see the world in a portal as diminutive as a grain of sand, to travel distant lands; my own imagination waiting there for me.

A journey, a pilgrimage to that sanctuary where I am the navigator of my own thoughts, the controller of my own speech. I do not desire fame or glory. And I never desired love… All I ever wanted to do was to leave that mark, that humble mark in the pages of history, before my time was up, before the clock ticked to my exit from this world of illusions.

I have a dream. Of a world where truth and goodwill prevails. Of a world that is not blinded by the darkness of ignorance. Of a world where each person has his own free view, not poisoned by the selfish views of others. Yes, I have a dream.

And the universal clock continues to take its unforgiving sweep towards the next minute in its journey towards the end of time...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Food for thought

The other day I was so busy with work that I had to skip lunch. Famished, at about 6:30 PM went to this Indian restaurant on Hamdan street in Abu Dhabi. After waiting for what seemed to be the longest 15 minutes of my life, the waiter came down and I ordered a Paneer butter masala and some Naan bread. The guy exhibited a I-dont-give-a-damn look on his face and said that 'ispecial' (special) items will be available only after 7:00PM. I looked at my watch and it was already 6:45.

Respecting the contentions of the waiter, I ordered a simple dish - masala dosa. He nodded in acceptance and sailed elegantly to the next table, where a European couple was seated.

"Good evening madam", went the waiter, in the most polite and sweet tone. "What would you like to have?"

The white lady glanced through the menu and said in an anglicized accent:
"Paneer Butter Masala"

The waiter said with utmost reverence and respect "OK. Ma'am. Anything else?"

I almost looked up!! My watch showed 6:48. I stared at this waiter on his way back to the kitchen, and he tried his best to avoid my gaze.

While I was eating my masala dosa, the white lady was having the dish that she wanted - and I pondered over what had just happened.

Not that I'm a racist, but I am an Indian man at an Indian restaurant, paying just the same money as the white lady in the same Indian restaurant!! But from the waiter (also an Indian), I get the hasty 'what do you want?' look and she gets the polite 'what would you like, your highness?' look. I get to eat what they serve and she gets to eat what she likes.

If I pay the same amount of money for the dish as her, then what could be the difference between my order and hers? Something to think about.

Why Google Adsense sucks

I am not a Google fan.

If you've been catching up on my posts in Technically Speaking, you might already know that. I am no fan of Google, but I admit that I use their search engine and blogger. (I stick with blogger only because there is no easy way to move my posts to Windows Live.)

Until recently it was just that I was not a fan of Google. Just that. I never hated Google. Until when I decided to use Google Adsense...

More than a year ago, I explored ways of monetizing my blog and website, in the modest hope of making enough money to pay for the hosting. I found that nobody notable (including Microsoft) offered the kind of advertising services that Google offered through the Adsense program. Cornered by lack of competitors, I decided to give Google a shot.

Google has a 'secret' way of determining how many clicks/hits/impressions their ads get and then they pay you a 'secret' amount for every click/hit/impression/whatever. The whole process is 'secret' and they don't tell you how they come up with the few measly dollars or cents that you earn every month (and you say Microsoft is not 'open'). Google finally pays you when you accumulate $100.

So there I was, putting code snippets on almost all pages of my website, and on my blog - so that Google could place their ads there. My pages started looking ugly, "so what?", I thought, "at least it will pay someday".

But 'someday' never came. Even with the kind of hits I was getting it took almost a year and a half for me to accumulate $100. And when I finally did accumulate $100, I was in for a shock - they refused to pay!

Here's what they said:

Hello Shijaz Abdulla,

While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our advertisers in the future, we've decided to disable your account.

Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions about your account or the actions we've taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting
https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153&hl=en_US.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This message was sent from a notification-only email address that does not accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message.


Wonderful. They post ads on my website and blog for a year and a half and then they dont pay for it. Do I look so generous that I would place ads on my website for free?

Nevertheless, I submited an appeal online to reconsider the situation. As per Google policy, I can submit the appeal only once after which no correspondence will be entertained. Two months after I appealed, they replied:
PerformancingAdsPerformancingAds
Hello,

Thanks for providing us with additional information. However, after thoroughly reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into consideration, we've re-confirmed that your account poses a significant risk to our advertisers. For this reason, we're unable to reinstate your account. Thank you for your understanding.

As a reminder, if you have any questions about your account or the actions we've taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting
https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team


I am beginning to suspect that this has got something to do with the content of my blog - and the fact that my posts reflect that I'm no Google fan and I'm pro-Microsoft.

Goodbye Google Adsense!