Happy Birthday USMC
|Mark, Dana, Major James Collins, and Tom|
The U.S. celebrated Veteran’s Day this past week, and so it seems relevant to mention the 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball that we attended on November 3rd. We got tickets from Tom who, knowing that we would be in town, bought them for us through his friend Major James Collins.
We were excited to go to the ball because it was held in the Emirates Palace Hotel Grand Ballroom. To be sure that I didn’t miss out on any photo opportunities I took two cameras with me. However, in the excitement of getting dressed at Tom’s house and discovering that we couldn’t get a taxi from there because they were all busy, I forgot the cameras in the villa. So the photos you see here were taken with Deb’s camera. I wasn’t upset though because I wanted to enjoy the evening, and not be distracted by my camera. Photography is a great excuse to go back to the Palace again.
Tom, ever resourceful, drove us to the Intercontinental Hotel nearby and we took taxis from there. He stayed in the Intercon for his first few months until his villa became available, and that’s how he knows many servicemen and expats.
|There are 1000 of these Swarovski chandeliers|
I’ll save the detailed descriptions of the Palace for later when I have my own photos but I will say that the place is really incredible; I don’t think I’ve seen such opulence since we went to the Vatican.
James was there as a official greeter, and he complemented Deb and me. Realizing that I had no idea how to make my hair look acceptable for the occasion, I had gotten my hair done. Deb and I both were glad we had gotten new dresses, but not gone for the "Miss Universe" style you see all over the malls. They must really dress up under those abayas.
|Deb looked glamorous|
Once inside the Ballroom, the program began. There was a video commemorating the Marines’ roles in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor and 911 attacks, this year is their 70th and 10th anniversaries, respectively. I’ve never been involved with anyone who was in the service, so I haven’t been around soldiers much. And to see them in full dress! James had told me a few nights before that his dress uniform cost $1200. And worth every penny, to see these guys looking so sharp, if you ask me. By the end of the evening Deb was a little breathless.
|A little gold leaf never hurt anyone|
After the speeches and cake cutting there was a beautiful buffet complete with desserts trimmed in gold (“I’ll be shitting gold tomorrow!” James gloated.) James and I danced, with a retired general in a pink scarf leading the conga line.
|With Ambassabor Michael Corbin|
Mark and I had our picture taken with U.S. Ambassador and Guest of Honor Michael Corbin. Our neighbor in Nevada, Federal Judge Charles Wolle (pronounced Wolley,) is the brother of William D. Wolle who was U.S. Ambassador to the UAE from 1979 to 1981. We explained this to the Ambassador, and he said he’d look for “Willie Wolle’s” picture on the wall in his office. It was late in the evening, after we had all been taking advantage of the free beer and wine.
The room was filled with expats, and the only Emirati that I was aware of was the one who sat down at our table at the end of the night. He was security for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. Wow, were we impressed! And probably should have been nervous, but he was a very unassuming guy, very mild mannered. He said he grew up in a big family the countryside, raising sheep and goats. He was in his 40s. Mark asked him how many children he has and was incredulous when he said he was not married. What!? In this country where so many men have more than one wife, you have none? What does your mother think of this? “They don’t say anything,” he replied. “It’s my life.” I wish now that I had thought to ask him about the rules and customs concerning photography here, which I am still trying to figure out. But we were all a little tipsy, to say the least, and I assume that our new friend was completely sober. Wonder what it was like from his point of view, being in a big room with all us expats, “feeling no pain?”
|The coats and jackets came off at the end of the evening,|
revealing some interesting shirts.
Are these "regulaton?"