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Swallowing bitter medicine.

My mother-in-law called up the other day and asked me to check whether certain medicines were available in Dubai. "I need these to help me breathe," she said.

"If you can't find them in the pharmacies, then I will have to carry another bag just for my medicines," she said.

I said I would look around, but advised her to bring the drugs with her as it would be cheaper buying them in India in rupees, than purchasing them in Dubai in dirhams.

I did not deliberately forget to tell her to bring the doctor's prescription with her, but for a few moments it seemed interesting to imagine what would happen at the Dubai Public Prosecution.

Prosecutor: "Your honour, this lady brought into our country a bagful of strange medicines that are not on our list. I present to the court annexure 16 of the customs bylaws, which have been recently amended and updated. She claims not to know the rules and regulations, though her daughter and son-in-law have been living here for many years. I would advise the court to please not take into account her seemingly advanced years."

Judge: "Defendant, please take the stand. Bailiff, please bring a stool for the accused to rest her feet, as per her request."

Mother-in-law: (She goes into this standby mode whenever it pleases her and hears only what she wishes to hear.) "Is it possible to order a cup of tea? If I don't have something to munch on at this time of the day I feel faint.

"I usually have Earl Grey, but if you don't have that, Lipton will do. Three spoons of sugar please and a bun, but with no raisins. The raisins stick in my teeth, which my crook of a dentist recently filled.

"I will pay for the tea. I have brought your money with me. But I think I was cheated at the bank. I gave them thousands of rupees and all they gave me is this note."

"Ah, what is this? [as she rummages in her bag.] I think this is the doctor's prescription [waving it about]. My doctor is a quack and a crook. He has built a new clinic in Chanakyapuri with the money he steals from me."

Judge: (Sighing.) "Case closed, next case please."

Intrepid traveller

But despite her various ailments my mother-in-law is an intrepid traveller and suddenly one day we get to know she is in Bangkok and has taken a nurse along with her.

"Mummy, what are you doing in Thailand?" I overhear my wife screaming on the phone. "She says the travel agent cheated her. She says the hotel is refusing to give her lunch," my wife tells me, looking really frazzled.

The last time my wife decided to bring her mother here, I looked up the naturalisation department website and found this: A new requirement is the submission of a Dubai Electricity and Water Authority bill and your tenancy contract showing you have adequate space in your house for your parents (minimum two-bedroom apartment). You need to get your tenancy contract stamped by the Land Department, certifying it is a minimum two bedroom. In case your tenancy contract does not mention that you have at least two bedrooms, then you need to get an affidavit from your landlord and submit this as well.

Then there was a raft of various fees: Dh5,000 refundable deposit (keep receipt safely for renewal or reimbursement), typing fees, fees for Empost, a medical insurance policy of Dh600.

I told my wife that it would make economic sense to sponsor a maid instead.

But when I went to apply for the visa, the woman at the counter stamped the papers and waived the Dh5,000 deposit. Maybe the look on my face showed I was suffering enough.

Off the Cuff

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jul 14, 2010
Words:655
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