Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

Posts Tagged ‘UAE

Who’s ready for school?

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Like most parents, I’m trying not to skip about the house singing as we look down the barrel of the new school term. Yes, my lovelies, after 10 weeks off, my little angels go back to school tomorrow.


Are you ready? I am!

I don’t mean mentally. I’ve been mentally ready for school for the last four weeks. What I mean is that I’ve done all the necessary back-to-school prep to get the kids off to their classrooms with suitably stuffed pencil cases and spanking new lunch boxes and water bottles, as well as kitted out in school uniform that’s correct, fits and is labelled.

And please, non-parents, don’t underestimate how much effort that takes, from the tedious “trying on” of old uniform (budget at least half a day if you’ve got an uncooperative wriggler) to the sizing of the new uniform, wherein the sizes printed in the clothes bear absolutely no resemblance to the sizes of the actual clothes meaning your child has to struggle in and out of four different PE shirts labelled anything from age 6 to age 14 in a room with an ambient temperature of about 56C (or maybe that’s just our school’s uniform supplier).

And that’s before we negotiate the social minefield that is admitting on Facebook that you’re ironing in the name labels as opposed to sewing them in tiny backstitch. Yeah. Hands up to that one.

"Dahling! Did you see her  nails? Dis. Gust. Ing!"

“And, daaahling, did you see her nails? Simply Dis. Gust. Ing!”

We’ve also come up with a tick-box menu for daily packed lunches; we’ve baked “pizza rolls” for the days when sandwiches are just too “meh”; and we’ve pre-made batches of morning pancakes. We’ve shopped for snacks and agreed that, for one fussy eater (I’m looking at you, DS), school lunch is the only way to go (never mind about that camo-print lunch box I lugged back from the States in my handbag!).

It’s fair to say – it really is – that we’re ready for school.

But then I look in the mirror and realise that, in all the prep, I’ve overlooked one thing.

My toenails.

In the rush of sorting out the children – in the excitement of getting them back to school – I’ve overlooked my pedicure.

My toenails are pale. They are unvarnished. They are in their August resting state. They may be neat, but they are as bare as the day I was born. This, in the circles of Dubai school mothers, is social kamikaze. What woman allows herself to be seen within the school grounds without at least two coats of TITO’s London Calling? DH, my love, my sweet… you’re on drop-off duty.

Written by mrsdubai

August 29, 2015 at 6:47 pm

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Dubai lift etiquette

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  1. Always push both the UP and DOWN buttons to summon the lift. Sure, the first lift that stops may not be going in your direction but at least you can while away the minutes saying ‘Going up? Oh no. I want down’ to a lift full of (irritated) strangers.
  2. 'You're going up? What are the chances? I need down.'

    ‘You’re going up? What are the chances? I need down.’

    Always remember that there’s no such thing as a full lift. People are squashed in like sardines? Shove a little harder – if they got in, you deserve to be in, too!

  3. Don’t, whatever you do, wear deodorant.
  4. When you’re first into a lift with people following, don’t move to the back. You might not be able to get out!
  5. If you’re standing by the lift door, never ever use the ‘open door’ button to let the people at the back out. Timed lift-exiting is soon to be an Olympic sport.
  6. After the lift door closes, keep on talking on your Blackberry / iPhone / both at the same time. It’s important that you look important.
  7. Do utilise the lift’s mirror to apply your makeup / do your hair / inspect your pimples. What else are mirrors for?
  8. If you’re going above the 15th floor, try to start a conversation. ‘Do you know what material this shirt is made from?… Boyfriend material!’ is always a good line.*
    * Hands up, I stole this line from the Laughing Cow cheese ad.

Written by mrsdubai

August 24, 2015 at 6:33 pm

Overheard in the Christmas holidays

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“I’m not buying that for you now: Christmas is coming!”

Wrap me and I won't be responsible for my actions...

Wrap me, munchkin, and I won’t be responsible for my actions…

“If you fiddle with those presents, you’re not having them!”

“No, I’m not buying it: Santa might bring it!”

“If you don’t behave, I’m taking one present out from under the tree!”

“Remember: Santa’s watching you…”

[“When does school go back?”]

“No, darling… it’s not a kitten.”

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December 21, 2014 at 9:36 pm

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?

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August 11, 2014 at 5:43 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 for no other reason than it looks exactly how I feel right now.

I borrowed this picture from fellow blogger 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

The housewife’s alcohol licence

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It’s that time of year again.

Having waded my way through two passport renewals, Gerlie’s visa and ID card renewal, DD’s visa and ID card renewal, the PO Box renewal and the hoopla that is trying to amend the perennial mistakes on the car insurance renewal forms, it’s time to renew DH’s alcohol licence.

Who needs a drink anyway? [Image courtesy]

Who needs a drink anyway? [Image courtesy]

Only this year there’s a problem: Apparently, I can no longer use DH’s alcohol licence. I need one all of my own.

If you live anywhere but the UAE, you may think: fantastic – get one!

But, if you live here you’ll understand straight away what a problem that is. I’m officially a “housewife” with neither salary nor status – so to get an alcohol licence in my own name involves an Awful Lot of Paperwork.

There’s a “letter of no objection” from DH, for a start.  Humiliating, much? Then there’s a certificate from DH’s office saying how much he earns (there’s a formula for how much money you’re allowed to spend on alcohol in relation to how much money you earn. Who said we’d never use our algebra?). Then there’s the form itself, which requires a stamp from DH’s office. A photo. A passport copy. A visa copy. A National ID card number. And a copy of the first page of the sales agreement of the house we bought in 2004 (seriously! For once I kid you not).

So I gathered those of the documents that I could get hold of – in duplicate, for DH and for me – and presented them to DH in a folder, a Post-It note explaining which signatures, stamps, certificates and so on I needed from him in order to submit the two applications. DH picked up a pen to sign the letter of no objection, then put it down again.

“Do you really need your own alcohol licence?” he asked, a glint in his eye.

“Yes,” I said, “Unless you’re willing to do all the alcohol shopping.” I currently buy all the wine, beer, cider and spirits we need for entertaining as well as for my own personal medication enjoyment (DH drinks about a pint of cider a month, if that).

DH rubbed his hands together.  “What’s it worth?” he asked, suppressing a smile.

I may have whimpered.

“Weren’t you planning to stop drinking on weekdays, anyway?” he asked, eyes twinkling.

I did my best Vicki Pollard impression: “Yeah but no but yeah but no but… that’s not the point!”

I’m leaving the forms on the kitchen counter tonight and… well, we’ll see if he takes them in the morning.

Silent Sunday – Mind the humps

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Camels grazing on desert land outside my children's school

‘Mind the humps’ takes on a different meaning outside my children’s school – this herd of camels is often there

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April 27, 2014 at 7:46 pm

The school run

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I appreciate that in yesterday’s blog I may have sounded a little bitter about the distance I have to drive to and from school each day – sometimes up to three times a day.

It’s actually up to 138kms a day. Just on school runs.

It’s my fantasy that my children can cycle to our local school, which is 2kms away. But that won’t happen unless my husband ditches his job and gets a job working for Emirates (the children of EK employees have priority at my community school).

Anyway, today DS was telling me how much he loves me. We like the book ‘I

The school run - further than the Moon and back

School – further than the Moon and back

love you to the Moon and back’ and it’s become a bit of a family joke to make inter-galactic declarations about how much we love each other.

So tonight I said, ‘I love you to the Moon and back infinite times, plus to the Sun and back and then to Abu Dhabi and back. Then I love you to England and back every day for the rest of my life.’

Impressive, no? But DS trumped me with the ultimate accolade.

‘I love you…’ He said, struggling for words that were big enough, distances that were great enough… ‘uh… to school and back.’

It’s not just me, then.

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April 2, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Silent Sunday – Happy 42nd birthday UAE

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42 tomorrow! (scary to think I am older than the country I live in... just)

42 tomorrow! (scary to think I am older than the country I live in… just)

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December 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

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Happy Expo 2020 day!

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So this morning, as the whole of Dubai celebrated en masse at winning the right to host Expo 2020, two small children stood in my bedroom and cried. Real tears. At 6.30am.

Expo 2020: Burj Kalifa literally burst with excitement. My children perhaps not as enthusiastic

Expo 2020: Burj Khalifa literally burst with excitement; my children perhaps not as enthusiastic

(I hope I don’t need to add that they were my children.)

“Why is school cancelled? I want to go to school!” wailed DD, thinking entirely of the UAE-flag-coloured sk8er-grl dress I’d bought her to wear for the school’s National Day celebrations today.

“I wanna go to school. I love school!” wailed the very same DS who wakes every morning to whine, “I hate school, I don’t wanna go to school. I’m sick. My tummy hurts.”

“It’s not my fault school’s cancelled,” I said uncharitably, wondering if it was too late to get back into my dream. I’d been at an airport, about to get on a flight. To where, I’d not found out.

But, like many Dubai residents, my children don’t know what Expo 2020 is. So, instead of going back to bed, they asked me. At 6.35am. My delicious dream turned out to be a big, fat flight to Nowhere City.

“It’s, umm, a big exhibition,” I said brightly. “All the countries of the world will have a stand, and it’ll be really exciting and fun. We’ll go, I should think.”

I didn’t go into the carbon neutral business. It was early. The children looked as dubious as early-morning children can look in cute pyjamas.

“You’ll be 15,” I told DD. “Your friends at boarding school will all want to come to Dubai for the holidays. You’ll call me up and ask if Hen, Bells, Laney and Fliss can come for half term and I’ll be like ‘Darling, we don’t have enough bedrooms, you’ll have to pick two friends max’ and you’ll be like, ‘but they all want to come. Dubai is so cool!’ You’ll be really popular!”

It didn’t convince her, but she wiped her tears and, at least, went down to breakfast. Happy Expo. Seven more years to go.

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November 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm

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