Archive for April 2011
After 18 months bashing away at my blog, I’ve been awarded a Versatile Blogger Award by Dubai blogger, Twinsmummy, who writes Yes, They’re Twins. Both of Them!
The Versatile Blogger Award asks that each winner does the following:
1. Thank and link to the person who awarded you (thanks, Twinsmummy!).
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to 15 new-found blogging buddies.
4. Contact those buddies, and congratulate them.
Do you really want seven random facts about me?
1) I have a sneaky admiration for the arrogance of Piers Morgan.
2) People are always surprised how well I can parallel-park, which brings me on to…
3) I love cars as much as handbags (I’d rather watch Top Gear than Desperate Housewives).
4) Careers I desperately wanted but never achieved include: Olympic figure skater, commercial airline pilot, editor of Pony magazine and rally driver. I’m probably too old for them all now, except maybe the rally driver.
5) I’m fascinated by what happened to Amelia Earhart.
6) I believe in reincarnation and have done a past-life regression (I was not Amelia Earhart in a past life).
7) Although my blog is built upon the premise of being a frustrated housewife, since I’ve been writing it I’ve actually come to terms with being a housewife and secretly quite enjoy the humdrum nature of my days (when the children are at school, anyway).
I don’t get time to read too many blogs that aren’t work-related and very niche, so I may struggle to nominate 15 of general interest. Still, here are the blogs to which I turn when I have a spare minute, and to whom I award the Versatile Blogger Award:
4) Dubai Sally
One of the things I love about Dubai is that every day presents an opportunity to try something new or learn something new about the city. I’d take a guess that, even despite the recession, Dubai still changes, in some small way, on a daily basis.
Today I discovered something that most of you have probably known about for at least a few years: How to pay for parking using your mobile phone. Usually I’m a slave to tradition. I keep Dirham coins in the car and clank them into the meter slots, take a paper ticket and balance it on the dashboard.
Maybe I’m a techno-dinosaur, or maybe just don’t trust how the officer will know you’ve paid if there’s no white ticket sunbathing in your windscreen, but it’s how I feel comfortable.
So today I disappeared off to Media City to get my Ranches Rachel highlights done. I put two hours in the meter, and realised too late that the meter was going to run out before my hair was suitably blonde, dry and swishy. Dreading taking the office-block lift down to ‘G’ to pop another couple of coins in the slot with a full set of foils in my hair and wearing a nasty nylon gown, I asked my hairdresser if they were strict about the parking – would a few minutes matter?
“God yes,” she said. “They’ll be lying in wait.”
Dhs 150 parking ticket or ride of shame in the office lift? Hmm.
But then she showed me how to book another hour via SMS without putting down my book (I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron – read it) and I think it’s the most useful thing I’ve learned about Dubai in quite some time. Within seconds I had a confirmation from the RTA and no unsuspecting office workers had to see me wearing a full set of foils.
And then I drove all the way home from Media City, without stopping, thanks to the brand-new flyover by The Greens. How fantastic is that? God, I love Dubai.
*** SMS to 7275: Your numberplate, a space, the number of the parking zone (e.g. 313A – written on the meter), a space and the number of hours (e.g. 1) and Bob’s your hairdresser ***
Bless their hearts.
I admit, we were ultimately to blame in that we didn’t pay the bill. But I also think they could have warned us. We’ve been customers since before the company was formed (remember SAHM, anyone?) and we’ve never missed a payment because the phone company has a credit card mandate to take what it wants from us every month without fail.
But, apparently the credit card ran out and, if the company told DH, he didn’t tell me (we’ve already established that, although I’m responsible for all things house-related, the telephone company won’t ever deal directly with me because I‘m Just A Housewife).
So the bill rolled over for a couple of months without us realising we weren’t paying it and… well, it culminated in no phone, no TV and, crucially for me, no internet. Once we realised what had happened, DH paid the bill the next morning and then we waited. And we waited. And we waited. Gerlie, who uses the internet as much as I do, got the shakes without her Facebook chats each night.
“It’ll take anything from three to 24 hours for reconnection,” said the customer service assistant in India.
24 hours passed. 36 hours. 48 hours. 60 hours since disconnection.
“It’s reconnected,” said another customer service assistant in India on Saturday morning. “But you’ll need to ‘follow some simple steps’ to get your internet working again and, if you use wireless [which we do], we can’t help you with that because we don’t support wireless. So you’ll have to get a local technician out.”
“Is there anything else we can help you with today?”
Silence (really, I couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t get me thrown in jail).
“Madam, would you care to rate this call for customer satisfaction?”
My mum left at lunchtime. After three weeks here. Three weeks is long enough to get used to a person’s presence in your house; long enough to feel their absence when they leave.
And a lunchtime departure’s particularly cruel because you spend the morning as normal – as if nothing untoward’s about to happen. Around midday, you get in the car as if you’re going out for another slap-up lunch together. You ignore the luggage in the back and pretend you’re just driving along Emirates Road to Mirdiff City Centre.
But, of course, you take the airport turn and suddenly there it is: Terminal 3 Departures. A luggage trolley is procured, a policeman waves you on, your mum disappears inside those swooshy doors and before you know it, you’re trying to find the right road home with an empty passenger seat and a hint of Dior perfume lingering in the aircon.
Easy, it ain’t.
But, today, mum’s departure took on a whole new tone. Today DS came with me to the airport. He saw the planes, he saw mum’s luggage, saw her get out of the car – and burst into loud, hot tears as he realised she was going and he was not.
“Tamina! Tamina!”* he screamed all the way back to Emirates Road (she is his “nannima” – mother’s mother – but he calls her “tamina”). Nothing – not even the sight of a yellow lorry – could distract him. He sobbed until he fell into an exhausted sleep.
Not that it lasted long. I loitered on Emirates Rd, trying to get him a good jag of sleep – enough time to forget – but, when we got home his eyes snapped open and he remembered the pre-sleep horrors.
“Tamina! Tamina!” he sobbed, looking around at the books she’d been reading him just an hour before. “Taminaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
What could I say? Nothing – just, “I know. I know.”
I don’t have a lot of time to write tonight – not that I ever do, really – but it’s already 9.30pm and DH has only just got home from work (the downside of being the sole bread-winner, I guess) so I should really go and make interested noises about his day, rub his feet and produce his delicious slice of Carluccio’s lasagne (beginning to wish now I’d take the time to “dirty up” the bakeware… oooh!).
So tonight it’s a visual one. I found this on my local noticeboard. Am I the only one who read it as “Need driving nob?” Ooh missus, the mind boggles!
With hindsight I realised it’s just a beautifully elegant ‘J’. Much more beautiful than any of my own. I hope the driver with pretty hand-writing finds a nob soon.
Dubai is currently being entertained by a theatre show of “The Sound of Music”. Given it’s DD’s favourite ever movie (even more favourite than Hannah Montana and the now-forgotten HSM), I booked for us all to go today, as a birthday treat for her.
But the interest started back in January when I tried to persuade DD that she should audition for a part in the show. I mean, she knows all the songs and all the dances and longs for a Von Trapp family uniform as something to change into after school. Her main issue is that, as a six-year-old, she can’t decide if she should be the littlest one, who I think is five (Greta?), or the slightly up-sized one (Marta?), who I think is seven. That, and the fact that she has zero confidence and is shy singing in front of me, let alone a 500-strong audience.
So she didn’t try out for a part and today we tootled along as audience to watch the show. Was there any point, though? DD spent the entire two-and-a-half-hour show singing each song, speaking every line and turning to me in consternation every time they added something that wasn’t in the movie.
As we walked back to the car, she said, “Mummy, that was the best show I’ve seen in my life. Thank you so much for taking me.”
I made suitable noises along the lines of being touched.
“You know, I think I could have been Greta,” she said quietly. “She didn’t have to say a lot, and I liked her pink nightie.”
It’s hard to believe that, this time six years ago, I had no experience of motherhood (these days I’m hard-pressed to remember life before children).
Six years ago to date, as I paced the brand new Ibn Battuta Mall, my huge stomach defying gravity and inviting stares, pokes and pats from curious onlookers, I had no idea what adventures, what frustration, exhaustion and unconditional love lay ahead. All I could think about was scarfing a McDonalds for dinner and bouncing on the exercise ball. Both worked – I went into labour later that night, using the fuel of my Filet O Fish, large fries, salad and apple pie (probably the first I’d eaten since I was 7 years old) to push DD out after 12 effortful and sweaty hours.
Fast-forward six years and I can’t believe how disorganised I am. Beyond a few books, a big puzzle, some stickers and the much-requested iron and ironing board (Hamleys, if you need one. Dhs 109), I didn’t have a main present for DD until 6pm tonight.
Having rejected the laptop idea, I spent all week in denial, imagining somehow that, in the school holidays, with two children and a granny in tow, I was going to find time to go shopping in a peaceful, thoughtful manner, and come up with The Ideal Birthday Present For a Girl Turning Six. You know: The dream item that would elicit excited yelps from her, make me happy and entertain her for the next 10 years.
Clearly, it didn’t happen.
And then today, I nipped out to the supermarket to stock up on eggs for the cake I’ll be making tonight and, Bob’s your uncle, I caught sight of an advert for a bicycle “tag-along”. Given that DD has owned a beautiful, stabiliser-free Hannah Montana bicycle since about October but never managed to balance on it (despite me sprinting miles alongside holding it), I thought this was the answer to all my prayers (hopefully also thinning down my thighs as I “tag” DD “along” on the back of my bike).
Suffice to say, half an hour later it was packed into the back of the gas-guzzler and ready for DD’s birthday tomorrow. It’s not a laptop, DD, or even a digital camera, but, Happy Birthday darling. xox
I can understand why you might think that ‘mum visiting + school holidays = more time for me to spend writing’ but, as I’m sure many of you know, it doesn’t work out like that. Not unless I buy mum a polyester uniform and hire her as the babysitter.
At present, I don’t even get to see the computer between 6am and 8pm. Let alone turn it on (“Try dancing naked in front of it,” says DH drily when I complain). And after 8pm, well… let’s just say DH’s had to start poking me to keep me awake, even during Masterchef Australia.
So, with mum here, just as I take off my chauffeur’s hat for the holidays, I put on my tour guide hat – something I enjoy a lot as I get an excuse to do the new touristy things.
So far this trip, we’ve been up the Burj Khalifa (the best bit for DD was the fluffy teddy bear I bought her At The Top but granny quite enjoyed the view); for a two-night break at the Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri (very nice – though, as DH said when I was relaxing for two minutes by the infinity pool and enjoying the chill-out lounge music, “Are you thinking how much you’d like to come back without the children?”); and, today, around the Underwater Zoo in Dubai Mall (highly recommended; forget the sharks, the prehistoric crabs will give you nightmares).
Meantime, I’m cooking three times a day for five people; trying to keep up with my work; staying on top of the house admin (oh, laugh if you don’t own a home here. If you do, you’ll know what I mean especially as it’s service-fee and a/c cleaning season); arranging DD’s birthday; and keeping the children entertained in a hostile climate.
Given all this, is it really so terrible to fancy a gin by 5 o’clock? (I have quite a high yard-arm in my house; Tool Time fixed it for me). And my question is this: Given the large number of “desperate housewives” living in my little enclave, why doesn’t our local shop stock Slimline tonic? Why not? They’d make a fortune – especially in the school holidays.
If you’ve ever wondered, as you shell out hundreds of Dirhams for your speciality hair products, whether they actually make a difference – if you’ve ever glanced longingly at the cheap shampoo in the supermarket and wondered why you just don’t buy Elvive or Sunsilk or Nivea – or if you’ve ever wondered whether you really need the high-tech instruments of torture with which you blast, crimp and straighten your hair on a daily basis, I have a challenge that may put your mind at rest.
Here it is:
Go away for the weekend to a lovely hotel and forget your usual shampoo, your styling product and your straightening irons. Wash your hair in the “luxury amenity” shampoo in the hotel room. Condition it with the “rich conditioner containing four oils for silky, shiny hair”.
Then borrow your husband’s gel. Dry your hair using the hairdryer kept in the velvet bag in the wardrobe – the one that puffs out as much hot air as the breath of a newborn kitten and requires you to press a button constantly in order to release this puff of lukewarm air.
Finally, realise that you have no straighteners, and step out into the humid seaside air, and then – only then – will you understand the hard work that your regular products do.
After just one quick look in the mirror, you’ll finally know, unequivocally, that every single Dirham you’ve ever spent on shampoo designed for your hair type; on that pouffy purple mousse that neutralises your brassy highlights; on a hairdryer that blasts your scalp at 2000W; and on those GHDs you had to import yourself back in 2005 was worth it. You’ll finally understand that it was was money well spent.
And you’ll never forget to pack your hair products again.
So my mum arrived here at the weekend and promptly fell sick with a stomach bug (or food poisoning, if you take her word for it) right after I took her out for a special Mother’s Day dinner. The children are off school and I’m still trying to hold down my small, but satisfying, little job, which involves working from home between nipping out to the chemist’s for Immodium, entertaining my mum with new and exciting Dubai adventures, preparing for DD’s birthday party, putting DS down for naps, running the house, making DD feel valued while fighting her off my computer and cooking lunch for four and dinner for five every day.
Last night, as I chopped broccoli, mushrooms and onions for a scrummy baked tuna pasta dish that DH is particularly fond of, I mentioned in passing to my mum how difficult all the juggling was.
“It’s your choice to work, darling,” she said huffily, implying I was trying to squeeze in 12 hours a day plus a commute from Paris, and eyeing up the gin bottle in a way I thought unsuitable for a lady with the D-word. “No-one, not a soul, makes you do it.”
And there was I hoping for sympathy.