Archive for October 2011
I love Dubizzle. I absolutely love it. For those of you not in the UAE, it’s our local version of eBay.
It works really well here because we live in such a transient, expat society. People are always moving on and selling almost-new stuff so there are always loads of bargains to be had and there’s always a good audience of new arrivals looking for cheap buys.
For someone like me who has a clutter-phobia, it’s a dream come true. DH once even accused me of literally selling DS’s baby stuff out from under him. (“Eat quickly, darling, someone’s buying your high chair at six!”.)
The downside of Dubizzle, though, is the level of comprehension of some of the people you get on it. Over the years, I’ve met some numpties. Here are my favourite lines. Which one are you?
5) “I really want your Chanel sunglasses. But how badly do you want to sell them?” [Oh, get a life.]
5) “I like your BoConcept sofa (worth Dhs 30,000, selling for Dhs 2,000) but I’ve seen one almost the same in Home Centre for Dhs 1,500. So can I have it for Dhs 500?” [No, go and buy it in Home Centre.]
4) “I bought the princess costume from you just now, but it’s too big for my daughter. Can I exchange for a smaller one?” [Who do you think I am? Bloomingdales?]
3) “I’d like to buy your [whatever] for Dhs 30 but I live in Sharjah and I work. Can you drop it off at my house at 6pm on Thursday?” [A two-hour round trip for Dhs 30? You’ve got to be joking.]
2) “I really like your Bugaboo pram (worth Dhs 5,000, selling for Dhs 1,000) but my budget is Dhs 200. So when can I come and get it?” [Go and buy a pram for Dhs 200.]
And the winner:
1) “Would you be willing to sell your leopard-print stilettos to a man? And please can you just tell me, what underwear were you wearing when you wore them?” [Eew!]
I’m playing a fun game with myself at the moment. It’s called “Use it or lose it” and refers to my wardrobe, of which I only ever seem to wear 20 per cent.
Come to think of it, maybe 20 per cent is an exaggeration. Lately I’ve fallen into a rut of wearing shorts, a vest and flip-flops every day that I don’t need to go further than the nursery school or the grocery shop. After nearly four years of being a stay-at-home mum, it’s finally hit me that there’s absolutely no point in floating round the house dolled up to the nines. My laptop certainly doesn’t appreciate it, and I’m sure Gerlie doesn’t either.
I probably don’t need to remind you that I was once the girl who wore heels and a frock just to go to Spinneys; the girl who dragged a newborn baby around the malls just to be sure that she had something OTM to wear; the girl who wore heels to baby massage class (okay, I’m joking there, it was probably actually wedges).
So I’ve decided to get tough with the wardrobe.
Each day, I pick something that’s appropriate for the day’s agenda and, if I then decide I don’t want to wear it, or if I put it on and take it off because it doesn’t make me feel good, doesn’t fit right, is an unflattering colour or is dated, it goes into a box to be disposed of. I do it not just for clothes, but for shoes, jewellery and make-up too.
I’ve been doing it for about a fortnight now, and the results so far have been brilliant. For a start, my wardrobe’s less cluttered and I can see things in it more clearly. There’s also a higher chance that I might actually like some of the things in my wardrobe. I’ve started making more of an effort to dress nicely again and, finally, I’ve discovered new ways to wear old things.
I even got a compliment the other day. Now that hasn’t happened for a while.
I don’t know what I expected a mammogram to be like. I think I’d seen pictures of women with their faces squidged sideways and their boobs held in clamps. I’d imagined these poor women dangled for 20 or more minutes by their nipples, while a noisy machine clunked and whirred and the women froze, half naked, in arctic air-conditioning while a scowling male doctor looked on. I was imagining it was something to be endured.
The reality, at least at the clinic I attended, was far from that. It was done by a lovely Filipina lady – and it was over in about two minutes. The room was warm, it wasn’t humiliating (well, only the bit where my boobs were so tiny I had to question whether they would actually make it into the machine) and it didn’t hurt.
After the mammogram, this clinic also does an ultrasound just to double-check. The ultrasound nurse used warm gel – why don’t they use that when you’re pregnant? – and told me at the end of it that she hadn’t seen anything to worry about, just one little cyst.
The best surprise came at the end, though. I hadn’t asked what it would cost but I guess I was expecting something in the range of Dhs 1,500. It was actually Dhs 362* and, for some reason, they deducted 25 per cent, leaving me with a bill of Dhs 217. If you do it annually, that’s 59 Fils a day for peace of mind. Not bad.
*The 4-D ultrasound was an extra Dhs 508. I went to the Well Woman Clinic at Allied Diagnostics. Tel: 04-3327117
In early 2006, before DS was even one year old, I applied to get her into our local school. In fact, I was so confident that she’d get in that I didn’t apply anywhere else.
When the rejection pinged into my inbox two years later, I was in such denial I made a personal visit to the registrar to check I’d understood right.
“You haven’t a hope in hell,” she said, kindly. “Maybe when DD is 11 and starts secondary school she might have a chance. Because her name will then have been on the list for 10 years.”
May I remind you that this is a transient expatriate society we’re talking about? 10 years on the waiting list?
I went home and cried, and off DD went to a school that was happy to take lots of money and squeeze children into the rafters. It’s not so bad; she “super-loves” it and is coming along well, which is all that matters. Although it’s a 20-minute drive away past burnt-out cars and fatalities on Emirates Rd, which is not my ideal journey to primary school, I’m impressed with the quality of the teaching. All in, I’d say I’m happy with it.
But today I had an email from the first school. And, in that split second when I saw the school’s name in my in-box, my defences dropped. I may tell myself I’m happy at DD’s current school but that’s because I can’t change it. But if I could? If I could change schools, would I?
Before I opened the email, I had a split-second-fantasy about what life would be like if we went to the local school.
I saw us cycling to school en famille in the mornings. I saw me lean and fit from all that cycling. I saw DD having play dates with children who lived nearby; going to after-school activities because it’s close and easy. I saw it not mattering that DD and DS have different pick-up times because the school’s three minutes’ drive away. I saw us not having to venture onto Emirates Road on foggy mornings; not having to get up at 6am; not having to tell DD to look the other way as we pass grisly accidents. I saw us being part of a small, community school.
And then I opened the email.
After five years on the waiting list, it said, would I like to remain on the list, or could they please delete DD’s name?
I sprinkled some imaginary fairy dust in the air as I ticked “stay on the list”. Let’s see.
Maybe I’m odd, but I see driving as an extension of manners. I try to treat other drivers with the same courtesy I extend to the strangers I meet during the course of the day.
If you were entering a building with stranger next to you, for example, would you stamp on their foot and shove them out of your way, just so you could claw your way through the mall door ahead of them?
When you saw a queue at the Ralph Lauren check-out, would you shove past everyone to the front and dump your jeans right on the till while flicking the finger to the rest of the queue?
I bet every single mum I know would be horrified to think of such bad manners. And this is where it gets messy because, fellow school mums, on the approach to school, I see how you drive; I see the way you treat the other road users and I see how you park. I see the colour of your soul.
And then, at the gate, I see who you are.
Oh yes. You who barges in front of everyone, hooting and queue-jumping, double-parking and flicking the finger. You, who feels more important than every other mum who’s patiently waiting their turn.
I see you do that and then I see you get out, in your flippy little chiffon frock and your heels with your fake nails and your fake tan, with your handbag and your diamonds, thinking you’re the business, and then I see you standing at the school gate, going, “Oh hiii! So lovely to see you! How’ve you been? You look gorgeous by the way! Have you lost weight?”
And I think to myself, what a miserable phoney you are and what vile manners you really have. Honestly, I’m tempted to stamp on your foot and barge into school ahead of you, but I won’t. I won’t because I’m not you and, frankly, that’s not what I do. Karma, my dear, karma.
So I’m walking through Choitrams on the never-ending search for Quorn mince (does anyone know where I can find this?) when a sales lady holding two plates of cheese invites me to try some.
“Okay,” I say. I am, after all, a little peckish and a cube of cheese might be better than a six-pack of the chocolate croissants I’m thinking about. “What are they?”
“Cheese,” she says.
I try again. “What’s this one?” I ask, pointing at the paler one.
“Normal cheese,” she says, deadpan.
“And this one?” I point to a reddish one. “Red Leicester?”
There’s a pause while I weigh up cheddar or “normal cheese”.
“Try both,” she says, helpfully. So I do. They’re okay. Certainly they’ll keep the tummy demons quiet for a few more minutes, but I think I ought to enquire some more as she’s presumably trying to sell the stuff.
“Mmm,” I say, raising an eyebrow in some sort of “yummy” face. “Nice. So which ones are they?”
The sales lady looks blank. I point at the cheese counter.
“Which ones are they here? To buy?”
“American,” she says.
“American cheese?” I ask. “What brand?”
She looks blank. “American,” she repeats.
“Thank you,” I tell her. “Very nice.”
I leave, wondering if she’s there to sell cheese after all; maybe it’s just a snack service for hungry shoppers. Dubai can be a funny place, you know.
I’m not the sort to jump on the breast cancer month wagon, but there’s a little story I’d like to share with you.
I went for my first ever Well Woman check yesterday. I didn’t go because it was the pink, fluffy month of October, but because I’d promised myself I’d go once I turned 40 and it’s taken me eight months to actually do it.
You know how it is when you’re a mum – unless you literally can’t get out of bed, your own health falls well below homework, school runs, grocery shopping, shoe shopping, work, play dates, pedicures and cooking in terms of importance.
But finally I got sick of seeing the yellow piece of paper with the doctor’s number on it gathering dust on my desk, so I called and – hey presto – got an appointment the very next day (don’t you love Dubai).
The doctor did all the usual stuff, then the manual breast exam. I often have a poke at my boobs in the shower and I’m happy to report there’s nothing wrong. No lumps, no bumps, nothing sinister, so I was feeling quite laid back about it all.
But the doctor, just by trotting her fingers over me, managed to find three areas of tenderness, and two “hard masses” that need investigation by mammogram. Go figure.
She said they’re probably just cysts and nothing to worry about, so I’m not worrying. But it’s made me wonder how I could have checked myself countless times and not found them. Honestly, if you do one thing for yourself before 2011 ends, get yourself checked by a professional.
I went to the Well Woman Clinic, Allied Diagnostic building, Al Diyafah St. Consultation: Dhs 370. PAP smear Dhs 350. Mammogram and ultrasound extra.
When my son is in pain, I feel it, too.
And I don’t mean in an empathetic sort of a way: When he’s in pain, I really am in pain, too.
I first noticed it when he was six months old and he rolled head-first off the bed onto the hard bedroom floor. While he recovered after a long burst of screaming, I had a headache all night. You could discount that as brought on by the stress of the accident, but it’s not the only time it’s happened.
Last week, I let DS have a Polo mint in the car. I know, I know, you don’t need to tell me what an idiotic decision that was. Two minutes later, as I hit 130kph on Emirates Rd, I realised there was no sucking or crunching to be heard from the back seat. Just a muffled, “Hurts. Mummy, hurts,” as DS clawed at his throat.
Pulling over and ripping open the back door to check he could still breathe, I felt the choking, burning pain that getting a Polo stuck in your throat would produce. I could even taste the mint. My psychosomatic sore throat lasted long after he stopped complaining about his. (DS survived – though he won’t be having any more Polos till he’s at least 30.)
But it was last night that I’ve felt the most pain on behalf of my son. At 8am tomorrow, his best friend will be on a one-way flight to the States. DS and his buddy have known each other for a year – and, in a two-year-old’s life, that’s a long time.
Best Friend lives about 10 houses down from us; the two boys are in the same class at nursery, and they play in the park together every single day, squealing with excitement when they see each other.
Last night, I couldn’t sleep because I was so sad for DS. Today, when we said goodbye to BF and his mum for the last time, she and I both knowing we’ll never see each other again, I shed a quiet tear.
But how I’m going to break the news to DS tomorrow, when he realises his friend is no longer there, I’ve really no idea.
Just as I was on the school run today, something happened to the sky. In a matter of seconds it went from being clear, blue and sunny, to the midst of a sandstorm. I literally watched – and felt – the edge of it hit the car.
It’s like being swallowed by something from a science fiction movie. Sadly, I was driving and didn’t have time to take a pic, but @MMbinRashid posted this brilliant one on Twitter:
I’m still rubbing sand out of my ears and off my scalp.
Come chat with me on Twitter – @mrsdubai