Posts Tagged ‘Expat life’
When the garage becomes so full of black bags of empties that I can no longer squeeze the car in, I know it’s time to tackle the recycling. But it’s a sensitive thing, recycling, especially here in Dubai where not everyone “gets” your little 5pm wine habit.
Anyway, after I had to climb over two black bags of bottles just to get to the house door last night I thought I’d better remove the kiddie car seats and load up the 7-seater with bottles to take to the recycling bins. I tried to pick what I thought would be a quiet time this morning, but it turned out it was the exact time that the recycling bins themselves were being emptied.
Not only that, but another couple was there…. there to recycle one pizza box and one wine bottle – I kid you not. I bet they’d been drinking the wine since September, too.
Anyway, so the guy who was in charge of getting the crane to empty the glass bin into the lorry indicated to me that I should use a different bin. It was the size of a wheelie bin.
I looked at the bin and I thought about the six bin-bags of empties wedged into the back two rows of my car and I thought, “They’re never going to fit in there.” Each bag was the size of a chubby three-year-old.
“There’s quite a lot,” I said to the guy, who plainly didn’t speak a word of English.
So I opened the boot.
The couple with the pizza box and the wine bottle fainted. Flat out in the car park.
“We had a party!” I said, to no-one in particular, since the couple was out cold. “You don’t think I drank these myself!” I trilled a little laugh. “I’ve been collecting them since 2009!”
The recycling man looked into the back of the car as I struggled with the first bag.
“Uh,” he said in Hindi. Or it may have been Urdu – I’m not sure. “I take.”
And it would be amusing for me to say that he attached each bag to the crane and swung them straight up into the lorry. But he didn’t – he just heaved them out and tipped them in. God bless him. I won’t leave it so long next time. It’s too embarrassing.
Earlier this week, the Ruler of Dubai announced plans for a new “mega-city” in Dubai. This is one of the things I love most about Dubai – the constant reinvention; the fact that nothing stays the same; the ambition; the growth; the potential for new “stuff”; and the constant buzz of anticipation in the air.
It’s an exciting place to live. There’s always a frisson of something going on.
And the new “mega-city” looks amazing, it really does. It’s going to be home to the world’s largest shopping mall (take that, Dubai Mall, you tiny little mega-mall!), and it’ll have a park that’s 30 per cent larger than London’s Hyde Park (take that, London, with your pocket handkerchiefs of green!). It’ll also have 100 hotels, the largest area for art galleries in the Middle East and a Universal Studios.
Alongside that, it’ll be home to the world’s largest fake-desert-in-the-desert, the world’s largest Mercedes-Benz dealer, the world’s largest car park, the world’s largest indoor circus and world’s largest nail salon (not really any of those: I got carried away there, but you get the gist).
(If only it would have the world’s largest Tesco.)
The funny thing about this “mega-city”, though, is that it’s right outside my house; kind of right slap-bang in the way of my taxi ride to Downtown for a night out, if you know what I mean. And I can’t help but wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Certainly, it’ll mean more traffic. Will it thwart my ability to reach The Rivington Grill at Souk Al Bahar by 8pm, when hopping in a taxi, half made-up at 7.40pm? And, almost as critically, does it mean masses more people, more traffic, more jams and more frustration between our house and the children’s school (which is, somehow, scarily on the edge of all this)?
Or does it just mean plenty more five-star watering holes a little closer to home?
I throw it back to you: Wherever in the world you live, how would you feel if a new “mega-city” popped up on your doorstep?
If you’ve read my blog for some time, you might be aware that I dream about retiring to Mauritius. Deep blue sea, tropical climate, heavy rain, hot sun, bright flowers, lush vegetation, white sand, far away from England. And those Mauritian curries go down a treat.
To be honest, if I fast-forward 20 years, I see DH and I in a villa on or very close to the beach in Mauritius, him pottering about retired, me sitting on the colonial-style, wooden veranda, drinking gin and bashing out bestsellers (because it’s such a passion I simply can’t stop – and because they’re so successful that my publisher keeps throwing money at me).
Every now and then I look at breathtaking, contemporary properties like Anahita and Villas Valriche – truly, these places are imprinted on my soul – and I wonder if we should be buying there now to prepare for our future.
And then yesterday DH casually sent me an email about an “investment opportunity” in Mauritius. It’s a ramshackle looking development, in the forest 600 metres above the sea. It consists of a “Bali-style”, single-storey villa; a gym; a “kiosk”; a restaurant that’s (somehow) hosted dignitaries such as Prince Edward, Jacques Chirac and Robert de Niro; two “pergolas” (one Creole-style); and an Eco-Museum (not including “items” – the mind boggles at what I could exhibit in it); and a driver’s room.
That’s it! I thought. It’s got our names written on it in tropical flowers. We could make a business of it. I know it looks run-down, difficult and expensive to run, but there’s something about that ramshackle little villa that resonates in my heart… watch out, DH, watch out!
Just for fun, here it is:
6.15 to 8.30am: Woke up, argued with DS about staying in his room till 6.30am. Cuddled children. Got up, showered and dressed, had breakfast, made two packed lunches, packed two bags.
8.30am to 10.15am: Drove to Mall of the Emirates to drop DD, drove to Gold & Diamond Park to drop DS, drove back to Arabian Ranches.
10.15am to 12pm: Worked at home.
12pm: Drove back to Gold & Diamond Park to collect DS. Drove back to Arabian Ranches. Had lunch, persuaded DS to have a sleep. Did some more work.
2.30pm to 4pm: Drove to Mall of the Emirates to pick up DD and friend. Drove to The Villa to drop off friend. Drove back to Arabian Ranches.
4pm to 7.45pm: Played with the children. Made their dinner. Took them swimming. Bathed them. Got them ready for bed, put them to bed. Wrote blog.
8pm to 10.30pm: Made dinner for DH and I. Ate dinner, chatted with DH, posted blog, went to bed.
And there you have it: 16 hours of non-stop expat fun.
If you’re anything like me, you read and research voraciously. You think, as you browse the internet, “one day we’ll go there, do that, try that. Wow, that looks like fun. We’ll do that one day, when the weather’s better, when the kids are older, when we have visitors, when we’re not so tired…” You bookmark them on the iPad, tear out magazine pages, create “things to do” files.
And, sometimes we get around to doing those things, but often we don’t. We forget about them, or we do newer, more exciting things – let’s face it, in Dubai there’s always something newer and better to do than last year’s theme park, shopping mall or penguin-cuddling experience.
I was thinking about this the other day as a dear friend left Dubai for good last week. Of course we did the drinks, the girls’ night at Rivington Grill, the teary goodbyes and the “see you in the summer”s, but it’s taking my brain a while to catch on that, after three years of top-notch friendship, she’s gone.
In the back of my head I’m still planning things we can do together. Dinners out, pool barbecues (now the littlest children are old enough not to be a liability), weekends at Zighy Bay.
And then it hits me like a sledgehammer that those weekends at Zighy Bay? They won’t be happening again. There’s no point planning a barbecue because she’s seven hours’ flight away and up to her knees in Cotswolds mud.
And it made me think: When I come up with these ideas, these plans, ideas for things to do, we should just do them. Stop waiting for a better day. Stop procrastinating because, before you know it, your friends might be gone. Carpe diem, friends, carpe diem.
You might not hear as much from me over the next couple of weeks as you usually do. This is not because there’s a south-westerly breeze, nor because I’ve run out of gin, but because a) my children are on school holidays and b) my mother is in town.
And, apropos of my Lakeland blog post, which seemed to strike a chord with many, I thought I’d share with you what she brought me as a gift from England.
The world’s wife and her children returned to Dubai today. It’s really lovely to see the malls full of families again, but I bet I’m not the only one who “counted them out” and will be “counting them all back in” – my friends, I mean, not fighter jets (you’re probably all too young to remember this Brian Hanrahan line from the Falklands War).
So, have you done your head-count yet?
I knew before the summer that one of my dearest friends was going to be staying in England, but since then there’ve been a few more shockers. Two lovely ladies on whom I thought I could count – mums of DS’s first little friends – are tentatively looking to leave in October; another whom I’ve known for seven years and gone through two babies with is not coming back. I wasn’t particularly close to her, but we saw each other enough for me to feel her absence.
Time to make some new friends, I guess. So, if you see a lost-looking blonde (with a small child) grinning at you this week, chances are it’s me thinking, “She looks alright…”
Go on, smile back – you never know, your friends might be leaving, too.
In the midst of my busy life toiling away at the coal-face of motherhood (“Only another 16 years to go,” says my mother) there are things I sometimes forget.
As I scurry about town, lugging groceries and researching recipes; as I chop, steam and bake; as I wipe bums and snotty noses, attend to homework and make packed lunches; as I replace lost school hats and buy new school shoes; and as I click cruise control on yet another eternal school run, I forget that we have a beautiful swimming pool in our garden.
I forget that we live in a climate about which Brits can only dream. That I see blue sky and glorious sunshine almost every day. I forget that we live close to beautiful beaches that Brits pay good money to visit.
And I forget that my children love nothing more than an impromptu dip in the pool before bedtime.
Today I remembered some of these things. I made the effort to get into my bikini and take the children swimming before dinner. If they’re fast asleep by 7 o’clock, I might do it again tomorrow.