On a recent trip to the Abu Dhabi Spinneys to unload about five months of hoarded newspapers at the recycling bins in the car park, I asked what happens to the items - which at the time were overflowing from the three bins designated for cans, plastic and paper - once they have been dropped off. After all, as far as I knew and my friends speculated, the bins could simply be emptied later into the country's ever-growing landfills.
After asking at the customer service desk, a supermarket employee led me to the back of the shop to find the "recycling man". Surrounded by stacked cardboard boxes and near the loading docks was a small, fenced-in area lined with cardboard. The Spinneys employee opened the door to the giant cage and looked in. "He's not here right now. The recycling man is usually here." Curious, I returned the next day to find Pechetti Baskara Rao, also known as "the recycling man", sorting through some cardboard in the cage. Through a security guard acting as a translator, I learned, to my relief, that Rao, who's been in the UAE for 12 years, works for Zenath, one of the few recycling firms in the UAE. He explained that his job is to sort the store's recycling. That and whatever else is dropped off by the public are picked up daily and processed at a plant in Musaffah.
At the plant, Goklendra Vyas explained on the phone later, workers sort through the cardboard and paper, removing tape and other non-reusable materials. It is then packaged and shipped to India and Pakistan. A small percentage goes to paper mills in Dubai. The metal is bought by local recyclers, such as Lucky Recycling in Dubai. So the good news is that all that recycling doesn't just get thrown out - as some of my friends suspected. Vyas informs me that other drop-off points in Abu Dhabi can be found at the Carrefour on Airport Road and Marina Mall. In Dubai, recycling can be left at all Spinneys locations and the Carrefour in City Centre mall. Zenath will also come to an office and pick up recycling. For more information on their services, visit www.zenath.com. John Mather
What we tried: Tivoli's global internet radio (including a remote control), now available in the UAE at Dubai Audio Center and all Virgin outlets for Dh2,800. What we had hoped for: To tune into favourite radio stations around the world, and discover unknown music in far-flung corners of the universe, with the simple flick of a switch.
What we experienced: Well, first you have to have wireless internet. Fortunately, I did. It was fairly easy to connect, but it takes a bit of fiddling to code your password into the box. Then you can set about finding the stations you want, if you don't want to rely on the five pre-selected ones (which include BBC World Service). You can do a random search, either by region or by genre. Want to listen to a reggae station in Jamaica? No problem, mon. An ambient station in France? Mais oui. Hip-hop in the United States? Big up! The list is almost endless - you can search thousands of stations dedicated to such genres as showtunes, holiday music, comedy and news.
Random searching takes a little time and concentration, so if you want to get right to it, you can search for a specific station: I easily settled into a CBC news station, and listened to a correspondent friend from Canada report from the Israel-Gaza border, from the safety of Abu Dhabi. It doesn't get more global than that. Alternatively, you can search for podcasts, of which there are a wide range by region or genre, including the Canucks Outsider hockey podcast, which features two guys in Canada talking about a favourite team, recorded on a bus. The sound was crystal clear, even over the rattle of the bus engine.
Tivoli's radio works best if you program your "favourites" with the touch of a button, which makes it easy to return to your new discoveries and to tune into old faithfuls like Radio Paradise. An added bonus is the alarm clock, with a 20-minute sleep timer (sadly, though, like most of Tivoli's radios, no snooze button). Another plus: you can apparently stream your music from your computer wirelessly through the box, but I couldn't find a way to do so with a Mac, because the radio can't play back music files that use Apple coding. PC users should have better luck.
The final verdict: You could listen to many of these stations on the computer, if you can't afford the Dh2,800 price tag, but I far preferred to listen to them through Tivoli's stylish and smooth-sounding speaker. It was like having satellite radio, without the cost of a monthly subscription. Since I packed up our test radio to return it to the store, my flat is feeling rather quiet and lonesome for all those voices from around the world. Mo Gannon
Part 8: Memorise your top five mobile numbers Mobiles have allowed us to amass large collections of phone numbers that are easily accessed by pressing a few buttons. The problem is that a lot of us couldn't remember those numbers if we were stuck in an emergency without our phone. Start by thinking of the five people you would most likely call for help if you were in trouble and didn't have your phone. (Feel free to think of four people and your favourite food delivery place in case your phone battery dies, which is also sort of an emergency when you're hungry.) Flip open your phone and memorise the numbers. We recommend the Suzuki music method: memorise the first number, then memorise the first and second number in sequence, then memorise the first, second and third number in sequence (remembering which name goes with what number, of course), etc. Don't move on to the next name until you have mastered the sequence.
Now that cheap is definitely chic, we're ready to share our favourite money-saving beauty custom. Ask for a sample of a very expensive face cream. Instead of using it all up in just one go, keep it for the trouble spots on your face, and use cheaper face cream for the rest. Or keep it for a special night, or a day when your skin is looking particularly rough, and use your cheaper cream in between. We've made samples last six months this way.
A very shiny gold star goes this week to an Abu Dhabi taxi driver we know only as Wael. It was as we watched our car being towed away by a pick-up truck, after breaking down in the chaotic roadworks in Salam Street, that he pulled up and picked up the flustered M and the three large bags of laundry we had been attempting to deliver. After leaping out of his seat to grab the heavy bags and put them in the boot, Wael opened the door to his taxi, which was not only wonderfully clean, cool and comfortable, but also smelled delightful, too. Once at our destination, he again jumped out, heaved the bags out of the car and carried them across the street to the shop. Then, he refused to accept not only a tip, but any money whatsover, informing us that he was, simply, "happy to help". Gone before we could get his number, all we know is that Wael drives a silver Tawasul taxi, and that, through his kindness, turned a very bad day into a very nice one indeed.
www.adpolice.gov.ae/Ticketsen This is the website to visit if you want to find out what you owe the Abu Dhabi Police in outstanding traffic fines. It can also be done with Dubai Police at www.dubaipolice.gov.ae/dp/english. While these sites are, admittedly, more practical than entertaining, you still might find a few surprises. You know those speed cameras along Sheikh Zayed Road on the way in and out of Dubai? Well, here's where they come back to haunt you (especially since they installed those blue stealth cameras that don't flash before slapping a Dh600 fine on your driving record). If you find you have a long list of fines, check them very closely, because there have recently been some reports of drivers being fined for violations they allegedly committed before moving here.