Reasons to be cheerful

A slightly lazy look at life today, either because a) analysing the Star Wars screenplay for my course has been surprisingly draining,  or b) it’s nearly midnight, I’m still not in bed having swore I would go early, I can barely read the screen my eyes are so tired and I need the bathroom.

So, five things that have made me laugh this week that I thought I would share, for better or worse:

1. ‘Girls’. I just finished Season One and I’m hooked. If you haven’t watched it already, get hold of it. Funny,clever, poignant and goes where no Sex in the City episode would have ever dared to tread. (Note: if you were ever remotely shocked by Kim Cattrall, you might want to skip it)

2. My son and his incessant thirst for knowledge. Question of the week: “Why don’t cats have hands?” A close runner up: “Mummy, can we buy a book about lungs?”

3. The fact that I had a spot on that bit under your nose that really hurts when you have a spot on it. This, per se, did not make me laugh (why the f*** am I still getting spots?) but my idiotic reaction did, in a sort of ironic way reserved usually for people I don’t like very much. Aged 38.5, instead of leaving well alone, I did the mature thing and wrapped my fingers in toilet paper, squeezed until my eyes watered from the pain, then cursed at the resulting sore mess on my face for the next two days. Dumb ass.

4. Relentless Laundry , whose brilliant writing never fails to make me laugh out loud and reassures me that I am not alone.

5. My son, again, this time for managing to fake a limp so realistically I made a two hour round trip to the physio to get him checked out at a cost of $100. He told me in the car on the way home “it was just a pretend bad leg”. This has not made me laugh yet but I’m sure I will look back on it one day with a smile.

Happy Monday y’all.

A small but amusing expat moment of clarity

It was National Day celebrations at my son’s school today. National day is a BIG thing in Dubai. Like, really BIG. And of course the UAE may not be my home but it’s the only one my son has ever known. For better or worse, this is where he identifies with, this is his place in the world. So I duly dressed him up in the flag colours – white trousers (I know, stupid), red shirt, a specially purchased clip-on bow tie made of green, red, black and white and a sparkly green top hat. Flags painted on his arms, armed with paper and four correctly coloured crayons to draw flags on the car journey, he went off to school with more enthusiasm and excitement than I’ve ever seen (and this is a boy who is fairly enthusiastic and excited to go even on a normal day). When we arrived, the Principal was outside greeting students as usual. He exclaimed over my son’s outfit whilst The Boy did a small turn for him to admire it from a 360 degree point of view. Photos were posed for. All around ooo-ed and ahhh-ed at my cute little offspring (he did look really cute). The Principal said to me “Bet you never thought you would be doing all this did you?!”

“Yes, I did actually,” I replied “but I thought I would be doing it in red, white and blue to be fair…”


Oops I did it again

Dammit. The weather is beautiful. The sky is blue. Life is exceptionally good. I’ve gone and fallen under the Dubai spell all over again.

It happens every year. It’s difficult not to love never-ending blue skies and warm sunny weather that is perfect for doing just about anything in when you are skype-ing a family in polo neck jumpers and reading FB status updates that continually moan about rain and putting the heating on.


Just about the only thing likely to give me cold hands this side of Christmas (Photo credit: Tris Linnell)

Sometimes I feel bad that I don’t miss the UK anywhere near as much at this time of year as I do in May or June; but most of the time, I couldn’t care less. I’m too busy worrying about getting rid of strap marks, booking outdoor tables at restaurants and figuring out which pool to go to. Living in Dubai is no holiday, that is true, but at this time of year it can really start to feel like one.

However, this week is particularly troublesome in that a whole load of people we know are lying in wait to see what Hurricane Sandy will blow their way. As well as the friends that are all on Sandy’s current flight path, half my family are also getting ready for the hit. My sister is in New York – last year we camped out at their apartment in Manhattan a mere block away from the evacuation zone, and watched Irene blow through the city from rain spattered windows. My in-laws are scattered over Massachusetts and New Hampshire and various of them lost power in a freak snow storm that hit in October last year. So it would be fair to say it feels a little churlish to complain about the Dubai version – a couple of hours of blustery sandy shamal that forced us out of the pool and indoors this afternoon and has already moved on as I write this.

In summary, America is windy. And everyone in the UK, without exception, is cold. It’s half term from school there as well as here, and I compare struggling to think of anything to do with a small child in the cold and wet (maybe that should read ‘anything to do that involves me having to leave the house’) vs. my oh-so-difficult choice of beach/pool/park to fill in the hours over the course of the next few days. Clearly there is absolutely no better place to spend an October week off with your kids than Dubai. The thousands of tourists that have flocked here like penguins at mating season would seem to concur.

So our host city wins. And it will continue to do so for the next four months. With the brief exception of two weeks at Christmas of course, when we will dress up in our finest antique wooly jumpers and grace England with our suntanned faces and relaxed demeanours and everyone will be jealous and think about visiting us again (although they probably won’t, even though they should).

Whilst it might travel under the guise of spending time with loved ones, in reality this fortnight of cold, damp and darkness is not a particularly desirable choice of Christmas vacation. After all, we could be eating turkey on the beach. However, I like to think our decision to leave Dubai in what could easily be agreed on as the BEST TWO WEEKS OF THE YEAR (not that I’m bitter) is done for three reasons:
1. It is incredibly difficult to get into the festive spirit required of a mother of a pre-schooler if you are dressed in a bikini and drinking rose wine in the garden instead of trawling Bluewater for tree presents.
2. My son has demanded snow for Christmas. Whilst it is unlikely to actually snow in the UK in December, it has been known to – and there is a greater chance of it happening there than here in Dubai.
3. It is essential to refresh the memory of how awful the cold, damp and darkness is in order to prolong the feeling of smugness as long as possible into the new year. There are a good few months left until the summer begins in earnest but it’s never to early to start emotionally preparing for it.

So it’s time to enjoy the next six weeks before we break out the hats and boots and jump on a plane. To get out in the warm sun and make the most of every single day. To worry and fret about our loved ones with serious weather warnings and – well – largely ignore the rest of the moaning masses who are a bit chilly. Get on a plane dudes. It’s bloody fantastic here.

The little things

We are home and yes it’s raining and cold, but I really don’t care. It is wonderful to be back, for the obvious reasons of course, but increasingly, I realise, it’s the smallest, simplest pleasures that make it so great to be back. So here is just one of them, from this morning, that made me smile. It might not seem like much, but looking out from the kitchen window this morning to see a little dappled sunshine through the greenery and the pretty pink flowers along the sill is such a beautiful sight after months of staring at sand and concrete that I just had to snap it and share it. It’s the little things…


You know you are creating an expat brat when…

I’ve been poorly with the ‘flu over the weekend and so instead of getting some much desired family time I’ve spent most of the past few days curled up in a ball shivering. Whilst flaked out on the sofa I stumbled across this blog post about ‘Things you never said until you lived in Dubai’. It got me thinking about writing something myself but I couldn’t face the computer. Then my husband and son got home from Dubai Mall and – hey presto! The work was done for me.

Me: Where did Daddy take you for lunch?

My son (aged not-quite-three): We went to the Armani cafe

Me: Did you?! And what did you have to eat?

My son: I had a wagyu beefburger and fries and dip dip, but the dip dip was too spicy so I asked the man and he gave me some nice dip dip.

Me: A wagyu beefburger hey? Wow, aren’t you lucky?

Having picked myself up off the floor and raised an eyebrow to my other half, who claimed that ‘all the other restaurants were out of kids food’ I realised with a cackle of amusement and horror (I told you I was feeling ill) that we were indeed raising our own little expat brat. So here for your pleasure are the top 10 signs you might be headed that way too:

English: Dubai Mall

Mummy is this our new car? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. They automatically turn left when they get on the plane

2. ‘Lamborghini’ is one of their first 50 words

3. Princess manicures are a Thursday afternoon ritual

4. Their 3rd birthday party cost more that your first car

5. They refuse to wear any polo shirt that doesn’t have a horse sewn on it

6. They think all beaches come with free ice pops and a man that sprays you when it gets too hot

7. They are on first name terms with the staff at the Polo/Golf/Beach club (or indeed, all three)

8. You buy them the cute little housework set from ELC and they leave it outside the maid’s door

9. They can operate Skype before they are out of nappies

10. They think gold and silver are part of the colour spectrum

Small town/big city

In a city that is all about bigger and better, it’s sometimes nice to remember that Dubai is not exactly a sprawling metropolis. We’re always bumping into people we know – at dinner, on weekends away, in the mall – and quite often the circles that people move in are still small enough to induce that feeling of ‘where everybody knows your name’. Sometimes this is not so great – I should imagine complete reinvention is a little difficult – but often it produces a feeling of camaraderie that gives out a warm and welcome glow in such a transient place as here. This is no more obvious than when listening to the radio. Yesterday, a generous amount of airtime was being given to the installation of the new and rather controversial speed camera on Al Hessa Street. You can’t get more local than that, and there was something rather nice about the sense of belonging it gave me, to know exactly what they were talking about and why.

More amazing is that I’m feeling this generous about Dubai in 45 degree heat late on a Thursday afternoon with another eight weeks to go before I escape for the summer. Times, they are a-changin’….