Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

Posts Tagged ‘Dubai

Friends in high places

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Although I do a good impression of being a full-time housewife, I do sometimes still get invited to events, especially if they’re to do with the wonderful Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Last night was such a night and I was pretty chuffed to be able to throw on some glad rags and attend the opening of the Dubai International Writers Centre.  

"Wait, your Highness! Wait! Wait! I've got a question for you!"

“Wait, your Highness! Wait! Wait! I’ve got a question!”

Located in a traditional house in the historical district of Shindagha, the DIWC will offer a year-round programme of writerly events, as well as provide a place of peace where writers can come together to talk about all sorts of literary things (such as how it suddenly becomes vitally important that you iron the duvet cover and clean the skirting boards Now! Yourself! when you’re faced with a blank page and 2,000 words to write).

Guest of honour was none other than His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

This morning I told the children all about my evening.

“And guess who was there?” I trilled as I flipped omelettes at 6am. “Sheikh Ahmed!”

“Who’s he?” asked DD.

“Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline.”

“You mean he’s, like, the boss of Emirates?”

“Well, sort of.”

“Oh wow,” said DD. “Did you ask him why they always forget your veggie meal on the plane?”

1-D… 1-Who?

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As I start writing dates into my 2015 diary I see that, back in about 2000, I bought tickets for DD, DS, myself and a friend as yet to be chosen to attend a One Direction concert in Dubai in April 2015. At the time of booking, DD was all over 1-D. Her room was plastered in posters of the band; she wore those rubbery bracelets with hearts and the names of Harry, Zayn (and who are the other ones?); her school book-bag bore badges of their greasy teenage faces.

Harry and pals... an expensive night out for the mummies

Harry and pals… an expensive night out for the mummies

When I booked the tickets – as I remember, at precisely 10am when the online booking opened and on a day I had better things to do given I was literally about to fly to London – I was the best mummy, like, ever.

But, as I opened my diary to April 2015, a little shudder ran through me. Would this be like Bieber-gate? Having bought tickets to Justin Bieber’s Dubai concert also about a decade in advance, I found that, by the time the concert rolled around, DD had completely grown out of him and had precisely zero interest.

(It probably hadn’t helped that I’d done a pretty comprehensive smear campaign using the Daily Mail as evidence of how unworthy the Biebster was of our time and money, what with spitting on his fans, rocking up late to concerts and getting done for drink-driving) – thankfully I managed to sell the tickets and no animals were harmed in the avoidance of said concert.

But is 1-D to meet the same fate, I wonder?

While eight-year-old DD, when I booked the tickets, was heavily into the band, nine-year-old DD – who will be 10 at the time of the concert – is into other things. Malory Towers (yes, I had a hand in that). Books by Louis Sachar (thanks to her school for that). American Girl dolls (DH brought one back from San Francisco; anything to keep her off the iPad)… and 1-D is suddenly 1-Who?

Well… if four middle-aged ladies would like to join me ogling Harry, Zayn and [blank] and [blank] next April, I suppose we’ll at least be able to see over everyone’s heads. Every cloud and all that.

Written by mrsdubai

November 1, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Silent Sunday – The shrinking parking space

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I'm used to the feeling that my clothes are getting smaller... but parking spaces, too?

And I breathed in!

Written by mrsdubai

September 14, 2014 at 11:53 am

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Upstairs, downstairs – how the other half live

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A news story about golfer Ian Poulter (no, I hadn’t heard of him either, but bear with me) made me giggle this week. The poor man had been ridiculed, it seems, because he complained on Twitter that British Airways had downgraded his nanny from business class, leaving his wife to travel alone up front with her four children.

(I must just say at this point, unless her children are all entirely self-sufficient, I do have some sympathy for her, but that’s not the point.)

Staircase to heaven (on the A380)

Staircase to heaven (on the A380)

While Poulter was daft to complain about the situation on Twitter, his chief mistake was booking the kids and nanny into business class in the first place. Clearly he’s never sat on the Emirates A380 from Dubai to London with a bunch of expat wives.

If he had, he would have seen, as I did this summer, the hordes of women clattering up and down the aeroplane’s elegant staircase as they came down from business and first class between glasses of champagne to check on their offspring in economy.

This, my dears, is how the experts travel.

‘Ohh,’ sighed a cabin crew chap I was chatting to by the loos as another squiffy mum clambered downstairs from the bar to visit six-year-old Felix in 72B. We watched together as she tried and failed to limbo under the red rope barring commoners from heading up. ‘It’s all upstairs-downstairs on this flight.’ He shook his head sadly. ‘It was easier on the triple 7. Then it was just forwards-backwards through the curtain… no-one tripping over the rope. You can’t say a thing, though.’

‘Course not,’ I sympathised…

Next year, DH?

Written by mrsdubai

August 11, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Playmobil days

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We come to England each summer, the kids and I, to get away from the scorching hot summer of the Gulf; the summer that stops the children from being able to play outside and leaves us little choice but to spend three months sucking air-conditioned air into our lungs in shopping-mall play areas, or roasting like boil-in-the-bag meals in the boiling-hot sea.

So we come to England where the children can reconnect with their granny, run about in the garden and breathe fresh air. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

But we’ve been here a week now and the number of hours spent running in the garden has, so far, been zero. It’s been raining cats and dogs. That’s phrase I never use in Dubai but it’s the only way to sum up the amount of water that’s fallen out of the sky onto my mum’s garden this week.

Playmobil plane... hours of fun for a rained-in DS

The Playmobil plane… hours of fun for a rained-in DS. It’s even got a loo on board and I hear the meals are better than Emirates.

Even the children – and this is saying a lot – are fed up with it. They’ve been throwing themselves around the house moaning, ‘What are we going to do today? I’m so bored’ while I’ve been shivering in my fleece and wondering how many times a day I can ask Mum to put the heating on.

But there has been one silver lining in all this: Playmobil. DS is massively into Playmobil, those indestructible, plastic German toys that I had myself in the 1970s.

Despite Playmobil being incredibly expensive in Dubai (think remortgage the 5-bed villa to buy a Playmobil house), we have a few pieces there. I bought them in England and smuggled them over as part of my 30kg EK baggage allowance last May. But now we’re here and it’s raining, it’s fair season on the Playmobil. All I can say is, thank heavens for eBay.

Written by mrsdubai

July 12, 2014 at 12:41 am

Silent Sunday – a pool with a view (from below)

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Walking under this overhanging swimming pool always makes my children laugh. All those headless bodies.

Walking under this overhanging, glass-bottomed swimming pool always makes my children laugh. All those headless bodies.

Written by mrsdubai

June 29, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Playing school hopscotch (new year – new school)

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It’s around this time of year that the mums at my children’s school fall into two camps: those sticking with the school for another year, and those playing their annual game of school hopscotch i.e. switching to a new school.

It’s a curious division: while those staying wouldn’t dream of telling those how to live their lives, those leaving appear to have no issue droning on and on about how rubbish the existing school is, how weak the extra-curricular activities are, how inexperienced the teachers are and what a waste of money the whole thing is (I suspect because Archie didn’t get into swim squad). All this despite the fact that those to whom they’re speaking have just made the decision to invest heavily in another year’s tuition.

Manners, eh?

"So then I heard that they only teach SIX languages to the Year 1s... I mean, how are these kids supposed ti progress with such a crappy start in life?"

“So then I heard that they only teach six languages to the Year Ones… I mean, seriously? No Portuguese? And we pay for this shit?”

Obviously some people have good reasons to take their children out of a school – their child isn’t doing well, is being bullied, the commute is too long… maybe even the fees are too high. These reasons I understand.

But then there’s a whole gaggle of other mums, and these are generally the ones who’ll collar you at the classroom door and rage bitterly about how terrible the current school is. As I stand there, smiling politely in the face of such rudeness, I amuse myself by deciding which of the following categories each of these lovely ladies best fits:

The teacher-followers: The most understandable category. When some of the best teachers from your existing school all leave to set up a new school, it’s only natural, I suppose, to cling to what you know.

The friend-followers: Here you have a clique of mums led by a Queen Bee. Queen Bee says she’s moving schools, another follows suit and, before you know it, the whole group has talked themselves into a frenzy of “needing” to get their darlings out of that “hellhole”. I doubt half of them even know why they’re moving. (That reminds me, has anyone read The Hive by Gill Hornby?)

The Grass-is-greeners: With more new schools opening than I’ve got handbags, this is perhaps the most common group. It’s boredom – plain and simple. They’ve been at the school for a while. It used to be the newest and shiniest school on the block but now there’s an even newer and shinier school that’s not just a kitten’s whisker closer to home, it’s offering after-school horse-riding and an intergalactic space programme for the Infants. Bye, ladies! Happy horse-riding – until the next new school pops up – I hear that’s offering hot-air ballooning and a cultural exchange on Mars, by the way…

The show-offs: You can usually spot this group by the weight of their diamonds. Fully paid-up members of the Carat Club, their move is determined solely by the cost of the new school’s fees. As everyone else gasps in genuine horror – the amount quoted for a three-year-old to “learn through play” for four hours a day could keep a small European country afloat for a year – they wave their jewelled fingers in the air (causing their drivers to jump to attention) and drawl, “Well, y’know… nothing but the best for Archie…”

Bye sweeties!

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June 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Silent Sunday – lamb botty for tea?

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As a vegetarian, there are things I never see in the meat department. Thanks, A, for this

As a vegetarian, there are things I never see in the meat department. Thanks, A, for this

Lamb botty 2 (479x476)

And here’s a close-up of the poor lamb’s botty. Yum.

Written by mrsdubai

June 22, 2014 at 5:15 pm

The end-of-term time warp

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Mid to late June is a funny time for mums in Dubai. School pick-up in the sweltering heat, as I mentioned here, requires the stamina of a carthorse, the endurance of Duracell battery and the patience of a saint but, beyond that, as the end of the year approaches, the children are tired and the mums are tired. Everyone needs a break.

I took this picture from fellow blogger joyploy.wordpress.com for no other reason than it looks exactly how I feel right now.

I borrowed this picture from fellow blogger joyploy.wordpress.com for no other reason than it looks exactly how I feel right now.

And now, with the summer holidays so near I can smell the coconut scent of the sunscreen I won’t be needing in England, I picture myself crawling on bloodied hands and knees towards the finishing line of what is the marathon of the school year, and something strange happens: time warps.

I don’t mean to sound like Dr Who, but it really does warp.

The school year, which, in September, stretched out before us, an endless and, to be honest, quite tiresome ocean of homework, spelling tests, mental maths tests and packed lunches, concertinas up in the strangest way: now, with just 10 school days left, just as we should be sliding gracefully towards a gin & tonic on board our Emirates flight home, there are suddenly too many things to fit into the remaining two weeks.

In the space of 10 school days,  I have two end-of-year concerts, two moving-up meetings, two mums’ nights out, the school ball, two mums’ coffee mornings, a shop full of leaving cards to buy, thoughtful end-of-term presents to buy and wrap, two school trips to remember (disposable lunches, PE kits and water bottles-on-a-string), next year’s name tags to order and still, of course, ten packed lunches to still to think about.

Oh, and did I mention: I have work to do as well? (How my laugh tinkles.)

I am, as I said, dragging myself towards the finishing line but – and here’s another quirk of the universe – even as I do so, I dread the last day of term. Why? Because it’ll mean the children are off school for nine and a half weeks.

And we all know what that means… on second thoughts, roll on September.

Written by mrsdubai

June 17, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Silent Sunday – swimming is cancelled

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Thanks to my friend A for that gem. Says it all, really.

Thanks to my friend A for that gem. Says it all, really.

Written by mrsdubai

June 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm