Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Zorba’s at Cordova Mall

I have to admit I am not a big fan of food court eating, but we were at the mall looking for 18 month pajamas with feet, and AdventureMan had seen Zorba’s and wanted to try eating there.

Zorba’s does a great business; all the health and fitness people were buying lunch there. I will also admit that the food court at the Cordova Mall has some pretty good choices; it is a step-up from most food courts and their standard fast-food outlets.

I ordered Chicken Schwerma, and it came with hummus and a small green salad. It wasn’t really like chicken schwerma, which is usually sliced off a huge revolving kebab in tiny thin slices, this was larger grilled chicken pieces, but it tasted good, and that is way more important that having it look like real schwerma.

The hummus was good. The salad was good.

AdventureMan ordered a side of Baba Ghannoush, which we both love. This one was delicious and smokey, the way we like it.

He also ordered a felafel sandwich, and he said that the felafel were homemade, not prepackaged, and the sandwich was delicious.

We don’t eat french fries. Most of the time it is easy not to eat them, most places buy huge packages of frozen ‘french fries’ and fry ’em up as they are needed, but they are anonymous and boring and not good.

Unfortunately for us, the felafel sandwich came with fabulous french fries, big french fries fried in a good oil, so they were delicious. Yes, I tried one. It was hard not to eat more than one!

All in all, a better than expected meal from a mall food court. LOL, the Egyptian server behind the counter kept thinking AdventureMan was Lebanese. 🙂

October 23, 2010 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 4 Comments

When Bureaucracies Function Well

This week AdventureMan and I explored something new in our lives – Early Voting. We had heard about it from our friends. It’s not like absentee voting, where you are mailed a ballot and you mail it back in after you have filled in your votes. With early voting, you can actually go to a voting place and vote.

We went after lunch, and we didn’t know where it was, but once we got near, we started seeing signs. Great signage.

When we entered the door, there was a lady there to tell us where to go – and more signs, too.

When we got to the right floor, there were signs with arrows and “Vote Here” on them.

When we got to the voting office, there were lots of people to help us get our ballot. When I messed up my first ballot (I hadn’t read an amendment carefully), they quickly did all the necessary paperwork and got me voting again. The second time, the machine accepted my ballot. 🙂

All in all, a fabulous experience. And – they gave me a sticker! We were so impressed with the careful attention to detail that had gone into getting us to the right place and getting our vote accomplished.

Later in the week, I had a mammogram. Being new, I am not in the system, so I have to go through admitting procedures every time I go to a new doctor or a new institution. At the West Florida Hospital, as soon as I got to the right room, I could see a sign telling me where to wait my turn. The receptionist was welcoming AND efficient. There were a lot of people waiting, and one by one we were taken in to have our paperwork done. No need for a pen; you sign on a machine, like you do for credit card purchases in many stores. Then you sit in a small hallway until someone calls your name and you become a human train as a guide leads you to your stop. That part was half hilarious and half annoying. If I knew where it was, I might have gotten there faster on my own, but . . . I didn’t know where it was. As far as systems go – it worked. It kept people orderly. It got a lot of people in and out efficiently, and fairly. No one can break into the lines, claiming to be more important. I am guessing if there is a patient whose malady is serious enough to take precedence, they have procedures they can follow separate from the normal intake procedures.

I have to stop and admire when bureaucracies function as intended, to help us more efficiently accomplish our business. It is when they become a stomping ground for nepotism and inefficiency that they earn my ire.

When I arrived in Qatar, my bank had a Women’s branch which was convenient for me and I loved going there. I was often the only customer, and the women taking care of me were always charming, helpful and friendly. When the same bank broke into another section and became an Islamic bank, instead of a normal bank working with Islamic customs, I was no longer able to use the women’s bank, but I’ve always remembered their personal customer service.

On the other hand, banking in Qatar could be totally tortuous, if you had to use the normal bank where Mr. Important would walk right in front of you as if you didn’t exist, or certainly, as if you were far less important than he was. In Kuwait, at my bank branch, you took a number, and it appeared to me that most of the time the number system was honored, unless it was a personal friend, LOL. Personal friends, or friends of the family, or a friend of a friend of the family always get to go first.

I suspect there are similar exceptions in Pensacola, but less transparent. Mr. Important has his own banker he can go to without waiting, probably in a private office, and it is invisible to the rest of us. Ms. Important, on the other hand, probably has to wait in the waiting room with the rest of us for her mammogram.

October 23, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Bureaucracy, Community, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Doha, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Pensacola, Qatar, Values | 5 Comments