Archive for December 2009
Tonight we’re going to a ‘pink’ New Year’s Eve party. It’s been hard deciding what to wear but today I finally settled on a black mini dress with divine hot-pink shiny leggings and the incredibly high black shoes I bought the other day. A friend has lent me a hot-pink wig – but the jury’s still out on that. It kind of brings out the red in my eyes…
DH – who is NOT a pink person – will be wearing an old white shirt, which I dyed flamingo pink. I also chucked a pair of his white boxers into the bucket of dye for good measure. I’m expecting he’ll wear some sort of trousers over the pink pants, but you never know.
The party’s at our friends’ house and I’m looking forward to it a lot – the highlight of their party last year was speedboat racing in the swimming pool – not with real speedboats (I have to say that as this IS Dubai and you never know) but with remote-controlled boats. Mind you, the pool WAS filled with pink champagne.
Anyway, one of the best bits about our friends’ parties is that they live across the road from us – about 20 metres. You can’t beat a quick stumble home when you’re up to your eyeballs in champagne.
Happy New Year!
As the year draws to a close, I thought I’d write a little list of my best moments of 2009. Given I was cumbersome and pregnant for the first three months, then struggling with a newborn, it’s not been the most glamorous of years, so I thought I’d focus on feel-good moments.
1) Hearing DS’s first healthy cries as he was born. Given that DD came out unconscious and went straight to resuscitation, I can’t explain how relieved I was to hear DS’s desperate squeaks of shock at being born.
2) Looking into DS’s eyes the very first time he opened them – and realising they were bright blue! What a shock!
3) Buying the right toy for my child (DS or DD) and seeing the hours of pleasure they get out of fiddling with that one little bit of coloured plastic.
4) Waking up after the first nine-hour sleep I’ve had in nine months (last night!).
5) Feeling the sun hot on my skin while on a sun lounger in Cyprus last August. Wow, I miss that!
6) The first family dip in our very own swimming pool, which DH and I designed and planned ourselves.
7) Filling my lungs with the first breaths of delicious fresh air after the summer cooled down enough to go outside.
8) Having DD hug me, kiss me and say, ‘You’re the best mummy ever in the Whole Big World.’
9) DD’s teacher telling me how delightful and clever DD is at school.
10) Coffee mornings and wine evenings with all my girlfriends. Not only for gossip, but a fab exchange of information and, at times, an absolute lifeline (how else would I find out how amazing eyelash extensions are?).
Thank you everyone – wishing you all a Happy New Year. 2010.
Not 2009, as I wrote in all my Christmas cards. Doh.
Although I’m just a Housewife and mother (of a baby, at that), I do try to make an attempt with my appearance. I try to look a little ‘with-it’, a bit groomed. I try to choose nice accessories – you already know about the handbags; I try a bit with shoes and jewellery, too.
I like to think that, when sliding in and out of the slinky new Audi, I don’t look like a dog’s dinner of a new mum.
So why is it that when I come face to face with UAE National ladies, I end up feeling like a dishevelled dischcloth?
Take today. I thought I looked okay in a slouchy Banana Republic top, dark 7/8 jeans, a pair of wedges, a nice necklace. My hair was alright, thanks to my new Rowenta ‘hairdresser-on-a-stick’ tool (a round brush that mimics the pull and rotate motion of a salon blow-dry while all I need to do is stand there and hold it) and my lippie was fresh.
I heaved the Quinny, on its soggy, half-deflated tyres (summer’s heat warped the refill nozzles), into the baby-care room at the mall – usually there’s no-one in there expect perhaps a lactating new mum, who wouldn’t even deign to consider what anyone else looked like.
But today there was a little clutch of UAE National ladies, their designer handbags, sunglasses and BlackBerrys slung on the coffee table. No babies; no prams; just a swish of silk abaya, a flash of skinny jean, a skinny ankle and a YSL Tribute shoe. A perfect hairdo, gleaming lipstick, long, fluttery eyelashes, manicured nails, the scent of perfume.
The ladies had discovered the little haven and were using the private living room, sofa, easy chairs and bathroom for a little regrouping; a re-fixing of the headscarf, a touch-up of the lippie, a squirt of the Amouage, a little girlie chat.
And, boy, were they immaculate.
One – the most beautiful one – took a liking to DS and started chatting both to me and him. I had to look her in the eye and it was that precise moment that I had to admit defeat. Despite feeling okay when I left the house, I felt like Worzel Gummidge in front of her.
What their secret to looking so amazing is, I don’t know, but I blame those ladies, entirely, for my purchase, 10 minutes later, of a pair of staggeringly high shoes that look remarkably like YSL Tributes.
DH was back to work today and, I have to admit, a little part of me was jealous.
‘Everyone’s away – it’ll be a quiet day,’ he said gleefully as he roared off to a day of cappuccinos, chat by the water cooler and a grown-up lunch, leaving me with two bored kids, a house that look like a bomb hit it, and a weeks’ grocery shop to achieve.
I also planned to get a few things done in the scarce minutes I had to myself but it turned out to be One Of Those Days when it came to ‘admin’. I know I’d have you all believe that living in Dubai is a bed of roses – and mostly it is – but, if there’s one thing that drives me insane over here, it’s the red tape.
In Dubai, you need to fill out forms just to keep breathing.
First, it struck me that our alcohol license, which I applied to renew over 10 days ago, should have come back by now. There’s only one bottle of red left on the wine rack and, without the license, I can’t buy any more.
I’m sure you understand how serious this is.
Once you have a license to buy alcohol in Dubai, the annual renewal process is fairly straightforward. You just need your passport copy, a salary certificate and permission from your employer, three photos of your neighbour’s dog taken at midday on a Tuesday, the signature of your father’s father (dead or alive), an aerial photograph of your house taken at precisely 1,000 metres on a Full Moon night, a signed statement from the Municipality about how many cubic metres of water per month your pool uses, six years of electricity bills and a signed and stamped letter from your mum’s hairdresser. Oh, and Dhs 260 (about £40) in used notes.
Once you’ve got all that together, it should only take a week – and mine’s been ages longer! I’m getting the shakes!
Next, it was a ‘helpful’ email from our telecommunications provider, Du, telling me our bill was due. Du has a credit-card mandate to take the money for our bill every month. If it’s due, the onus is on them to take the money. They ended the email, ‘thank you for trusting us.’
Trusting them? Our community is served only by Du. We have no choice but to use them. It is a monopoly. It is either Du or no television, no internet and no telephone connection. Trusting you? More like coercion via a Chinese burn.
Finally, a call from the Roads & Transport Association – my third call from them in as many days. I just bought a new car and bought a new road-toll sticker for it. Yes, to drive on Dubai’s main highway – Sheikh Zayed Road – you need an automated toll sticker. You keep the account topped up with credit and, every time you drive under the toll gates, they deduct the $$$.
I’d applied to have the new car added to our existing account and then topped up the account accordingly but, today, after two calls FROM THEM confirming this has definitely been done and a week of me driving through the toll gates, the lady told me it is impossible to add my new car to our existing account.
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘I just told you that,’ she said.
‘You told me it’s not possible,’ I said. ‘I’m asking you why not.’
‘I just told you that.’
‘No, you didn’t.’
Roll on tomorrow.
When you’re bringing up a family away from your home country, I think it’s extra-specially important to create your own family traditions for times like Christmas. I’m always aware that we’re creating childhood memories for DD, and the onus is on us to make them good ones.
So, we’ve made it a family tradition to take DD to the pantomime on Boxing Day (‘Oh no you haven’t!’ ‘Oh yes we have!’).
She first went when she was two and a half – it was the first live show she’d seen and she spent the entire time glued to her seat, clutching both our hands and staring at the stage, mesmerised.
Yesterday we saw ‘Sleeping Beauty’ performed by a local theatre group. It wasn’t as slick as a West End production, and I’m sure the cast would be the first to agree that most of them weren’t ever going to have a Top 40 hit, but it’s always nice to see local talent, and one of the benefits of it being Dubai-based is they always come up with some great local jokes.
My favourite goes back to ‘Cinderella’ in December 2007 – arriving at the Prince’s ball, one of the Ugly Sisters asks for a Jebel Ali cocktail.
‘What’s that?’ asks the other Ugly Sister.
‘A large port.’
Every year, throughout December, Dubai’s expats start asking each other, ‘Are you here for Christmas?’
As with most things here, it’s all with an agenda: Those who are staying want to know with whom else they can hook up, while those who’re travelling like to heave faux-sympathetic sighs for those who are staying (Sub-text: ‘Oh you POOR things. Can’t afford peak-season airfares? Aw, maybe next year, heh?’)
Yes, along with summer, Christmas is the other big time of year that Dubai’s expats like to fly home like migratory geese. I can understand the summer thing, as it gets so hot you’d singe your eyelashes stepping out of the front door, but I simply don’t get those who go home for Christmas.
Okay, yeah, there’s the family thing, but isn’t Christmas known to be the most stressful time of year for families? Me, I like to have my family get-togethers at an easier time of the year.
Anyway, my point is this: Christmas in Dubai is lovely. Admittedly it’s not a national holiday so worker-bees have to take time off, but it’s usually about 26˚C, sunny and bright, December’s rain having washed off the summer’s dust. You can get your turkey – with all the accompaniments – professionally cooked by any nearby restaurant or club and eat it in the warm sunshine by the pool (if you’re really brave, you might even take a dip though the water’s chilly this time of year). What’s not to like?
If you really miss the cold, you can do like friends of ours did yesterday and nip into Ski Dubai for some freezing snow and a bit of a ski in the morning, then spend the afternoon eating turkey and drinking champagne in the garden before heading to the beach for sundowners.
England? Real snow? Slippery pavements and frozen windscreens? Um… why?
I almost made a terrible mistake. I thought I had Christmas all wrapped up and then I realised, with a jolt of horror: I hadn’t done a stocking for DS.
Not a problem, I hear you say: he’s not even one. He doesn’t know – he won’t care. All he’ll want to do is chew the wrapping paper.
That’s what I thought.
And then I remembered DD. Dear, clever, smart DD, who’s going to ask: if my baby brother’s been good, why hasn’t Santa brought him a stocking?
Oh boy. Shopping mall on Christmas Eve. Something I always try to avoid. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I did DD’s Christmas shopping weeks ago.
A frantic rush around Toy Store and a dash through M&S with DS in the pram and DD flying behind me, all the while hiding my purchases from her eagle eyes. There’s not a lot you can hide in a nappy bag from a 4-year-old, I can tell you.
Anyway, situation solved. Tomorrow there will be one big stocking and one baby stocking at the end of mummy and daddy’s bed (DD is very concerned about a strange man – albeit Santa – coming into her room when she’s sleeping. We have to write him a note to leave the presents in our room. ‘Hope she doesn’t want men in her room till she’s 40,’ says DH).
I know it must be difficult knowing what to bring a spoilt Dubai Housewife who has everything (and I have been VERY good), so I thought I’d try to help you out a bit. It’s tough even for me to know what to ask for, as my natural inclination is always towards diamond jewellery.
But DH is right, I have enough jewellery (‘Too many rings for 10 fingers,’ I think he once said) and you must stifle a yawn bringing me diamond earrings every year.
What I want you to know is this: it’s enough for me just to wake up every day with DH and our two beautiful, clever children in our lovely house. Every day I’m grateful that we’re healthy and that the kids are happy and that we’ve built such a loving home together. I really don’t want for anything.
If you’d reeeally like to bring me something for my stocking, I did have an idea.
This house in Mauritius looks divine (see pix). A holiday home in the Indian Ocean might be just the ticket. What do you say?
Love, Mrs Dubai xx
PS Look at the website – maybe Mrs Santa would like one too! www.anahitamauritius.com
I promised to take DD to see ‘Santa’ today.
‘What, the real Santa?’ she asked. She’s four. Mummy, think quickly.
‘Um. Yes,’ I said.
‘You mean… we’re going to the North Pole? After school?’ DD’s eyebrows raised quizzically. The new Audi’s magic, but not that magic.
Think quickly mummy!
‘Ah. I see. Um. No, not reeeally the real Santa. He’s wrapping your presents at the North Pole. It’s one of his helpers.’
That seemed to work. So, we gathered together a friend and her mum and headed over to the good ol’ Polo Club, where Santa was not only making appearances, but offering sleigh rides!
After dinner, a skinny, Indian Santa turned up with his sleigh pulled by a pony. The two girls clambered on and clip-clopped off for a 25-minute ride around the grounds (okay, if I lived in England I’d be nervous about this, but I don’t and I wasn’t). When they got back, I asked how it went.
‘I could tell it wasn’t the real Santa,’ said DD. ‘His skin was brown and he was too thin.’
Observant, I’ll give her that. But she didn’t ask about the reindeer.
If I felt any ‘eco-guilt’ at taking delivery of my new super-powerful and extra-large gas-guzzler today, it was assuaged by the news story I read this morning that said that owning a medium-sized dog is more harmful to the environment than driving a four-wheel-drive. This is because of, among other things, the amount of meat that dogs consume.
I was most amused to read the quotes from all the ‘eco-aware’ dog owners, who were desperate to explain that owning seven dogs was worth the damage they caused to the planet because the dogs were beneficial to their emotional well-being. Aw.
Can I claim that owning a nice car is beneficial to my emotional well-being?
Anyway, given I run a vegetarian house, haven’t been on a plane for what seems like 25 years, and can use the gas-guzzler to pick up as many as five children at a time (hence taking four other high-powered 4WDs off the roads on any one school run), I bet the environmental damage I’m causing actually equates to less than owning a goldfish.
So, I go to get the keys from the showroom this morning with a tremor of excitement. The salesman hands the keys to DH, gets a metaphorical kick in the shins, and hands them to me. I sign the papers that make it mine, all mine.
Then we’re walking towards the gleaming pinnacle of automotive technology that is the new car, when the salesman asks me, ‘You need me to show you how to work it?’
Okay, I admit, it’s kind that he offers.
‘Don’t worry. I’ll figure it out,’ I say, (kindly I hope).
‘No. Let me show you the most important things,’ he insists. It’s like he can’t bear to hand the baby over to the incompetent nanny. ‘Bloo-toot-eye-pod?’
What do I need to be shown? I’m thinking child-locks? Isofix latches? Safety systems? Rear-view camera? It’s like he’s talking a foreign language. I have to ask him to repeat himself twice before I realise he’s talking about the Bluetooth phone connection and the i-Pod docking station. Clearly, these are the most important functions of the car. Damn. I bought it for all the wrong reasons.
Audi really need to get their marketing people onto that.
Here’s a link to the article about the environmental impact of 4WDs vs dogs:
http://www.7days.ae/storydetails.php?id=88203&page=local news&title=Paws for thought