Apologies for going AWOL – life kind of attacked me all guns blazing. I’m still here, but something odd’s happened while I’ve been off the ether: the children have grown up. When I started this blog I had a baby, six months old, and a little girl, just turned four.
I now have a six-year-old and a pre-teen who’s 10 going on about 16 on a good day. (Other days, it’s more like 25, especially when she looks at my outfit and just gives me “that” look – the withering one that says “Like, seriously, Mummy? You’re going out looking like that?”)
Anyway, I digress. Star Trek. A show I remember little about except some writing disappearing off into space and a voice saying “In a galaxy far, far away…” , Dr Spock, Captain Kirk (come to think of it, with outfits not unlike The Wiggles) and something about “to boldly go” which, even has a child, I realised was incorrect use of grammar. Split infinitive. Always a pet hate.
But it seems it’s a badly kept secret that the latest Star Trek movie is to be filmed here in Dubai next month and a casting call was put out for Dubai residents to try their chance as extras.
The kids heard the ad on the radio. The casting was taking place across the road from our house.
I tried to come up with excuses: trust me, I did. I utilised every creative bone in my body to come up with excuses, and when that didn’t work, I switched tack: “It’s only to be an extra. You probably won’t even get picked. Even if you do get picked, you’ll be a tiny face in a crowd. You might even be dressed up as an alien wearing a mask so no-one will even know it’s you. You’ll wait about for hours on the day of filming. You’ll have to miss school. We might even be in the States for Eid.” (Technically a lie, but I’m not beyond making it happen.)
So we went to the auditions. We got the wristbands, we parked in the ‘Extras’ car park. We walked the walkway through to the studio. DD minced along like a Hollywood starlet, practising her walk for when she’s on the red carpet. I told them both to lower their expectations and prayed for a short queue.
We entered the building. The queue was short. The security guard stopped us.
“We can join the queue?” I asked, edging towards the straggle of people waiting.
“Shway-shway,” he said, holding up a hand. He had épaulettes. We waited.
A stampede of people turned the corner from the opposite direction and joined the queue.
“Now you go there,” he said and pointed us in the direction from which the stampede had just come. We stood on the brink of a film studio the size of an aircraft hangar, packed with rows of chairs. Chairs with people on them. Tired-looking people. Bored people. People with bums numb from sitting so long.
“Join the back row,” said a man wearing a ‘Crew’ lanyard. “Wait’s about three hours.”
What would you have done? Would you have stayed?
In my defence, I’ll say it was it was 4.15pm and I knew the children wouldn’t last three hours. But I am now officially the meanest mother “like, ever!”
I may or may not have mentioned in the past how we don’t really have postal addresses in Dubai. If you want to receive mail, you have to have a PO Box, be it at a post office or, more recently and only in some areas, attached to your front wall. Even then, the mail is not addressed to the house, but to the PO Box.
Part of the reason for this was because many of the older houses and streets in Dubai didn’t really have numbers and names. Giving directions to visitors has always been more a case of “Turn left at the rubbish bins, go over two speed bumps and turn right at the purple bougainvillea – not the limp-looking one; the one that’s really in bloom right now? Yeah… usually there’s a tabby cat sitting next to it?”
Which of course is a little worrying when you think about how an ambulance, for example, might find your home in a night-time emergency. I can just see the driver now, hopping out of the ambulance to check the bougainvillea flowers: “Are they purple or hot-pink? It’s hard to tell in the dark… mate, have you got a torch?”
But all this is now academic. Today there was a knock on my door and, though the peephole, I could see it was Security plus another man in uniform. Stifling the urge to run out the back door as fast as I could, I opened it to learn that Dubai is now a Smart City and that physical addresses are “so, like, 2014”.
Oh no, forget “Street This, Villa That” – we are now all to have a Makani number. The whole of Dubai, from ambulance drivers to taxis, pizza delivery boys and all my friends, will download the Makani App on their smart phones and then all I have to do is give my visitors my 10-digit Makani number and they will be directed via GPS to within one metre of my front door. One metre! Yeah, baby! I’m ordering pizza tonight! And it’d better not get lost!
So, in addition to English, maths, Arabic and goodness knows what other subjects, five-year-old DS has started studying history at school.
“Do you find it interesting?” I asked.
“Yes… but I’m a bit scared of it.”
”Why? What’s the problem? What bit are you studying? You know, like Romans? Vikings?” (he knows these from Horrible Histories).
“It’s scary because we’re studying the MAD and EVIL times!”
I suppose a quip there – in light of what happened in Paris last week – would be to say: “That’s not history; that’s current times,” but he’s only five. I settled with telling him he meant “medieval”.
DH and I took the children to see the stage show of Mamma Mia this week. When DD was four, it was her favourite movie. In the long summer when DS was brand new and we were stuck at home for long swathes of time, she and I danced and sang our way through it countless times (a day). Having even watched the ‘Behind The Scenes’ section more times than I’ve had hot dinners, there’s nothing I don’t know about that movie.
But there’s a difference, I discovered this week, between watching the show with a four-year-old, for whom it’s all about good melodies and slick dance moves, and watching it with a nine-year-old. In fact, the performance on Friday caused DD to come up with quite a few questions:
“How come Sophie’s mum had a baby but isn’t married?”
“How come they don’t know which one of three men is Sophie’s dad?”
“What does ejaculate mean?”
“Does ‘gay’ mean he’s in a same-gender relationship?”
“Did she just show her bare bum out of the window?”
“Isn’t this a little inappropriate for kids?”
And finally, when Donna and her friends are performing “Super Trouper” in full ABBA regalia at Sophie’s hen night, the most difficult question of all: “Will you do that for me at my wedding?”
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 210,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.
One of my memories my childhood Christmas Days is spending the food-sated afternoons not watching television but writing my thank-you letters. My parents were strict: a list was kept as gifts were opened, and thank-you letters were hand-written and dispatched before New Year.
I was a stationery-obsessed writer-freak girl: I loved it.
But these days, thank-you letters have largely gone the way of Atari consoles and Pac-Man: they’re rarer than snowmen in the desert – and all the more precious for it. I can count on one hand the number of people who insist their children hand-write proper thank-you notes to us here in Dubai.
But I’m not fussy. I’ll take my thanks however it comes. For me, a thank-you is equally valid whether it comes in person, via phone, email, Facebook in-box, SMS or even What’s App. All I want is a small acknowledgement that the gift is received; a nod to the thought and effort that went into procuring it.
And what I do know is that those who have sent thank-you notes end up with even more thoughtful gifts the following year. It’s a lovely feeling to buy gifts for friends and family; even more so when you know the recipient truly appreciates them.