Saturday, December 30, 2006

Eid Al Adha.

It's Eid Al Adha today, our second in the UAE. This feast of sacrifice marks Abraham's (or Ibrahim's) willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son.

Many Muslims here observe the act of sacrificing a goat and donating the meat to the less fortunate. Early this morning, I was woken up by the bleating sounds of a goat that's been locked up in the car park of the apartment block next to us! It's been there for the last day or so and I believe it's not got long to go before it goes to slaughter.

Eid Mubarak to all those who celebrate this feast.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


My aunt and uncle left for the airport early this morning, after a 2-week stay with us in Dubai. It's been a year since I last saw them, and it was really good having them here over Christmas and showing them what life in Dubai is like.

We both went back to bed after they left, and when I woke up later this morning, the house felt a little empty! Funny how I always feel this whenever I've had visitors come to stay.

What's worse is I've lost my best friend in Dubai. 2 days ago, we went to say goodbye to Joy and James as they return to Ireland after living in Dubai for a year. Joy had saved up all her bits and pieces which she thought I might like and I've spent some of this morning going through the bags and bags she's left me! It's like a second Christmas because I've found some real treasures like a fondue set, books, flasks, a chiller bag, and many more things!

I've got to get back to sorting out my 'treasures' and also get onto lots of cleaning before our next visitor arrives next week - Gypsy Boy's brother!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I've been a little busy of late with my aunt and uncle visiting from Malaysia. To those of you who've sent me emails or left comments on this blog, I'm sorry I haven't been very diligent in replying. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of all of you, but just have not had the chance to respond!

I'm expecting that this will be the case until Christmas is over, so I'll take the opportunity now to wish all of you a very Happy and Blessed Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Burj al Arab.

As members of the Dubai International Art Centre, we were invited to attend the opening of Mounir Lakkis' exhibition of painting, photography and sculpture held at the Burj al Arab tonight.

Knowing that my aunt and uncle who are visiting Dubai at the moment, have been extremely keen to visit the famous 7-star hotel, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to take them and catch some of the local art scene at the same time.

The Burj al Arab in the shape of a large sail looked awesome as we drove over the short causeway onto the man-made island. We were welcomed with rose water as we entered the lobby, before going up an escalator with a view of a beautiful aquarium of tropical fish. Water dominated as the main theme of the hotel, with gorgeous fountains, aquariums and of course the fact that the building is designed in the form of a sail, situated on an island.

As we proceeded towards the lifts, which offered a view of the open sea, we were struck by the sheer opulence of the gold plated pillars, the plush carpets and furniture around us. On arrival at the Assawan Lounge on the 18th floor, we were greeted with wine and juices. Lakkis' work on display were paintings, sculptures and prints. The works were fresh and modern.

We browsed at leisure before settling down around a coffee table to enjoy our glasses of wine. Waiters were always on hand to offer us another drink, and also some really scrumptious hors d'oeuvres! The service was impeccable and the atmosphere was certainly 7-star!

I found our experience at the hotel excellent. The exterior is certainly unique, and the interior is ultra-modern, opulent, and all class. I can't believe I finally got to go!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

T'is the season...

Like other parts of the world, the Christmas season in Dubai seems to have arrived earlier this year. Christmas jingles are being played regularly on the radio and lots of shops and malls being decked out with the usual red, green and gold decorations. Shoppers also seem to be out in full force doing all their Christmas shopping.

Still, I'm finding it hard to get into the Christmas spirit this year. I guess it's the fact that when it comes down to it, Christmas is just an ordinary work day here, and holds not much more than commercial value. For Gypsy Boy and the rest of the workforce, there's no wind-down period either, if anything work seems to be building up!

Anyway, I thought I should at least make a bit of an effort especially seeing that we will have family arriving in 2 days who'll be staying to celebrate Christmas with us in Dubai.

...Our little X'mas Corner...

I apologise the photo's not great, it looks like our little Canon Ixy4.0 is dying a slow and painful death so I only managed to take the one photo and I'm too lazy to dig the SLR out and transfer the flash card, so this will have to do for now.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wet, wet, wet.

Winter's here. It's been raining off and on the last couple of weeks. The day we got back to Dubai from Europe it was raining all day and we've only really had the odd day of sunshine since. The temperatures have also dropped a fair bit and the mercury's down to as low as 16 degrees C.

While this may seem mild to most, it's cold enough for me to have switched the air-conditioning off and don my sweatshirt and track pants! I remember it getting cooler around this time last year, but it certainly wasn't as wet. In fact, many of the veteran expats here are saying it's raining more this year than it has in the last 2 years combined! Ah well, enjoy the nice change in weather I reckon.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Camel & Mellow yellow.

Gypsy Boy and I had our last art class over the weekend. I felt a little sad to be finishing off our art classes as I've really enjoyed being under the instruction of our art teacher Kamen and meeting new people. On the other hand, I'm also happy to have our Saturday mornings back!

I'm not really the best morning person to start with, and this coupled with our usual late nights out on Friday evenings with friends, even getting up at 9 to make it to art class at 9.30 has proved a struggle for the last 10 weeks.

...Camel, by Gypsy Boy. Mellow Yellow, by Gypsy Girl...

Nonetheless, we're happy with the time and money we've invested into this and have a few paintings to show, plus we take with us skills and techniques taught by Kamen- our extremely talented and successful art teacher.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

One year on

It's been over a year now that Gypsy Boy and I have been living in Dubai, which prompted me recently to reflect on my feelings about life in this city.

What I like:
1. Geographical location. It's central and I love the fact that it's so close to Europe and Asia. Living here has given us ample opportunity to explore countries and areas that we've never had the chance to see before. Dubai airport is a hub, so we've also got a long list of airlines and holiday destinations to choose from.

2. It's relatively safe. Crime rate is low and while you hear about robbery, theft and rape, cases are isolated and usually offenders are caught and severely punished.

3. Meeting people from a wide mix of cultures. 80-90% of the population in Dubai is made up of expats and while a large percentage are from the sub-continent, we've met people from all corners of the earth here! I love that!

4. The weather. It's sunny and warm just about all the time.

5. The service. You can get anything home delivered from fast food outlets, restaurants, the local grocery shop, drinking water, and even your laundry and drycleaning.

6. The opening hours. Malls and shops are open till 10pm or midnight every night.

7. Affordability. Labour is cheap so you can get your clothes tailored, car washed, house cleaned, everything you own drycleaned if you wish without having to be a millionaire to do so. Houseboys, gardeners and maids are not uncommon here.

8. Food. Groceries are relatively cheap and there's a wide range of fruit and vegetables imported from all over the world and some also grown locally. We're also spoilt for choice with plenty top quality Indian restaurants.

What I don't like:
1. It's not a walking city. People don't really walk from A to B, no matter what distance. They drive. Reason being, sidewalks are rare in new Dubai and it couldn't be further from a walk on grass under the trees. It'll be on the sand or on the road alongside cars zooming past leaving a cloud of dust and sand to contend with. Aside from this, I also miss living in the CBD of a city. We lived in the heart of town in Auckland which meant we could walk to work and everything was in close proximity - the theatre, the cinemas, art galleries, shops, work, restaurants, cafes, parks, churches etc.

2. It's new and developing - there's no real old feel to this city. It's new, modern and developing at a super fast rate which means construction everywhere.

3. Food. Aside from Indian and Lebanese, you don't get a good range of other ethnic cuisine without spending a small fortune.

4. Alcohol. Not being able to have a glass of wine or a beer with a meal out, other than at a hotel. This isn't really such a big deal for us, but sometimes it's nice to just have the choice.

5. Temporariness.

6. The service. High turnover, poor training and lack of initiative often contributes to the inconsistent service one can expect here. Information is unreliable often due to communication issues.

7. Crazy rents. Read my previous posts on rents here and here.

8. Public transport. This is progressing, however there is no metro/rail system at the moment. There are more bus stops and routes being introduced now which will hopefully make this mode of transport more attractive.

9. Arrogance and lack of manners. People have an air of arrogance about themselves here and I'm not sure why. It's evident on the roads in the way people drive but also in malls and restaurants. Queues are often non existent and if there is one, people often push-in and cut the line. I've seen many instances of rudeness and sadly this is often towards workers.

Please note that the points above only reflect my own personal feelings based on my experiences of living in Dubai the past year. They are relative to my own observations of life in other cities that I have lived in or travelled to.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dubai to become a geo-city.

It was recently in the news that Dubai is set to become a geo-city next year. It will be interesting to see progress with this, in a city amongst the highest per capita waste generation in the world.

Recycling at Brussels Airport

While we were in Brussels recently, I noticed these clever bins dotted all around the airport! Just what we need here to kickstart recycling.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Turkish Delight.

Istanbul has got to be one of my favourite cities in the world! I never expected that I'd like it as much as I did, but I couldn't help falling in love with this beautiful, historic city and its warm, friendly people.

We started off by taking a nice long walk after checking into our hotel, just a stones throw away from the famous Blue Mosque, Haghia Sohpia, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar!
...Fresh pomegranate juice for 3Turkish Lira at every street corner - yum!...

Our timing probably couldn't be worse, coinciding with Pope Benedict's visit to Turkey. I was a little concerned that we wouldn't get to see all the sights after hearing about the police force being out en masse with snipers and decoys while the Pope toured and visited famous landmarks. However the worst we endured was a 2 hour car ride from the airport to our hotel in Sultanahmet, that normally would've taken us 25 mins, facing grid lock traffic, road blocks and many a detour.

...The entrance to Topkapi Palace...
...The beautiful Topkapi Palace...
...Gorgeous tiling in one of the rooms in Topkapi Palace...

We had a full-on second day, but I think we just managed to cover most of the sights and fit in some delicious Turkish meals plus some great shopping!

...Inside the Haghia Sophia: a church-mosque!...

...Looking over the Bosphorus at Asian Istanbul from European Istanbul...

...One of the many entrances to the Grand Bazaar - the largest undercover market in the world...

...Inside the Grand Bazaar...

...Delicious Turkish food - our first dinner in Istanbul!...

...enjoying Turkish coffee after dinner - yum!...

...Turkish Delights for sale in a window of a cafe...

...The Blue Mosque...

...Apple tea and flower tea - a bit like hot apple juice and hot ribena!...

Istanbul really surprised me. Turkey is a Muslim country with over 99% of its population being Muslim. Yet, aside from a handful of older women, I didn't see any that covered their hair and they dressed in modern western clothes. Other than this, alcohol is also served in cafes and restaurants everywhere and we got to try some great Turkish wines!

We just loved the atmosphere of this old, bustling city which is always so full of life. We adored the food and the hospitality of the Turkish people touched our hearts. Hopefully we will be able to return again soon to see more of beautiful Istanbul.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Alias Season 5.

Yay it's arrived! I pre-ordered this from in August, waiting for the DVD release which was 2 weeks ago.

We were a little concerned about receiving packages here, but seeing that this got delivered fine it looks like we can do a bit more online shopping!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Happy Birthday UAE.

Today is National Day in the United Arab Emirates, marking the 35th year the seven Emirates came together to form a country.

As it's on a Saturday this year, most of the private sector companies have chosen not to give its employees a day off in lieu tomorrow. So unfortunately for Gypsy Boy, it's back to work after a lovely short break away.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bonjour Bruxelles!

So here we are in Brussels, where Gypsy Boy is attending a short course for work and I am taking full advantage of the benefits!

...Heading in the wrong direction!...

Yesterday afternoon, I set out looking for the famous Grand Place which is just a stone's throw away from our hotel, but I missed the turning and got a little lost. I gave up using my little map and decided to practise my French by asking for directions. A kind man in a suit offered to show me the way as he was headed for similar direction. Like when we were in France, I am trying my best to only speak French [apart from when talking with Gypsy Boy of course!]. I learnt that the gentleman is actually a Parisian but works as a diplomat here in Brussels!

...On the right track - passing a beautifully decorated shop in an arcade...

Alas, I found my way down a winding alley filled with restaurants and cafes boasting traditional Belgian fare, many displaying fresh seafood on ice on the terrace. A restaurant called Chez Leon caught my eye and I decided to stop for a spot of lunch. Evidently as popular as rumoured in travel guides, it was one of the only places that was busy. I was seated at a table adjoining one with an older Belgian couple on the terrace. The couple, like the gentleman I'd met earlier, were curious to learn where I come from having heard me order in French! Of course, once I say Dubai and New Zealand, they are all the more curious! Hee hee.

...Looking for lunch...

After I finish my seemingly huge but delicious pot of Belgian mussels and frites, our conversation [en Français!] continues and we chat for the next hour or so before I finally make my way over to Grand Place. Leading away from the square, I wandered down the lanes full of quaint Belgian chocolatiers, lace and embroidery shops, and workmen busy putting up Christmas decorations.

...Grand Place...

One of my favourite things to do when in a foreign city, is to visit the supermarket. Yesterday afternoon I came across 3! I just love browsing the aisles to see all the different products and discovering the local fruit, veg and food the locals buy. I ended up buying 3 different boxes of Belgian chocolate and found my favourite pastry in the patisserie section - pain au chocolat!

...another gorgeous shop!... the window of a chocolatier...
...Hot wine? I must try some!...

I wondered further away from Grand Place and came across a street housing the usual brands of apparel shops such as Benetton, Bershka, MNG etc. I browsed in a couple of local malls then decided it was time to find my way back to the hotel before it got dark!


This morning, we rose early and enjoyed a beautiful buffet breakfast where I got to meet with some of Gypsy Boy's international colleagues. I have to say that the breakfast at the hotel is pretty darn good, with a huge range of pastries, cereals, yoghurts, cheeses, cold meats [including smoked salmon!], eggs cooked to order, sausages, potatoes, baked beans etc. Phew! It was a great way to start the day.

...La Musee du chocolat...

As Gypsy Boy headed off to start his course, I headed out for day 2 in the city of Brussels! I set out this time to find Place de Sablon, an area filled with shops selling antiques, books and art before paying a visit to the Chocolate Museum where I saw a demonstration on how to make Belgian chocolates!

I browsed in some of the lace shops and bought two little lavender filled scent cushions for my Mum and Gypsy Boy's Mum, both with their initials embroidered on. I also went into a beer shop and bought 2 bottles of fruit flavoured Belgian beers for Gypsy Boy to try as I know he's been dying to taste them since we got here! Then I headed back for the hotel to meet Gypsy Boy for lunch.

There was a lunch put on again for his course attendees however I suspect he was a little envious of my delicious traditional Belgian feast yesterday and so decided to skip the free sandwiches today. So off we went to Chez Leon where he ordered what I had yesterday and I ordered a poached fillet of Pangas with potatoes. Yum!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Flying Turkish.

We have arrived in Brussels, after what seemed like a very long 8 hour trip via Istanbul early this morning with Turkish Airways.

The fares were very well priced at 2340AED per person, including all taxes and a stopover in Istanbul on our way home. This being our very first flight with Turkish Airways, we did not fail to notice that the clientele is very different from Emirates', the check-in queues were crowded and a little unruly and due to inefficient staffing and management wait times were out of control! Similarly, the flight was delayed by approximately 20 minutes and the boarding process was also ineffectively managed.

I have to say there is considerably more leg room in Economy class compared to Emirates, however you do have to contend with not only uncomfortable but garish turquoise-coloured vinyl seats! Also, the service and delivery process of meals onboard had to be the slowest and most inefficient I've ever encountered!

Having said all this, I found the Turkish people [just from my limited experience from onboard and at Ataturk airport] warm and friendly. The language is what puzzled me the most as I have to admit I haven't really heard much Turkish being spoken before today. I am not sure why, but I expected it to sound a bit more like Arabic, and to me it sounds more like an Eastern European language such as Hungarian or Cesky?! I'm not an expert, but this has spurred me on to find out more when I get home about this sing-song language and its roots and influences. Yep, being the language geek that I am.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh no!

Gypsy Boy has just had a car accident. I don't have all the details as yet, but it is one of my worst fears here in Dubai. All I can say is thank God, it's not serious. As far as I know, Gypsy Boy said he was at fault and hit another car in front of him.

Where many nationalities and driving styles come together, coupled with high speeds, Dubai is home to the most dangerous roads in the world. There is an extremely high accident rate and death toll, and it's not unusual to feel like you are in a bumper car when on the roads. Of course, the objective is not to 'bump'. However with speed limits of up to 120kph and cars zooming at 160kph at times, often not bothering to indicate or even look before changing 5 lanes in one swoop, minor and horrific accidents are not uncommon.

In the case of an accident, no matter how minor, one has to always call the police. If it's minor you can move your car to the side of the road out of traffic's way, however you should not leave the scene of the accident before the cops arrive to assess the situation. We've been told that the cops will then decide who is at fault and hand out a red card and green card with a report that you take to your respective insurers and panelbeaters.

I guess I will find out more from Gypsy Boy himself later today. Sigh.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The last 10 days.

I've been a bit slack with posting lately partly due to laziness, lack of motivation to post, and I guess it's been a little busier than normal.

The most exciting thing I guess was throwing a surprise party for Gypsy Boy's Birthday over the weekend, and getting my first piece of work completed.

Gypsy Boy's little party was fun, thanks to all our friends who came over to celebrate, and special thanks to Joy who helped so much with shopping, preparation and organising all the balloons! For some reason, I didn't take any photos which is a real shame so I'll have to post some when I get the photos from Joy that she took with her camera.

I also got delivered my first piece of work last week, and as it was urgent, I found myself working hard to get it finished by the deadline. I was pleased to find that it's not far from the sort of work I had to do as part of my previous role in NZ, and I really enjoyed it as well as being able to work from the comforts of home!

Today, I'm digging up some of our old winter clothes and starting to pack for our trip to Brussels and Istanbul. I can't believe we leave tomorrow already!

Oh, and as I type it's raining outside! I thought I could smell the rain, so I ran out to the balcony with Gypsy Dog at my heels to find grey skies and a light but constant drizzle. I haven't seen the rain in Dubai since January!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A new job!

Over the last year, I've been 'unemployed' at worst, and a 'housewife' at best. This has been the longest I've ever been without a job in my working life. In fact, it's the only time I've ever been unemployed in my working life but it was a choice I made when we moved to Dubai to take a much needed break.

As of tomorrow I will start work proofreading for a well-known local publishing company. It may not seem like a very glamourous job, but that doesn't mean I'm not excited!

It's all happened so quickly and has to be record time that I've ever gone for a job, got it and start working. 3 days ago, I was just beginning to think seriously about looking for a job. 2 days ago, I came across the ad online and replied to it an hour after it was posted. Yesterday, I completed an aptitude test and today, I got the congratulatory email!

In the last few hours, I've spoken with the editor of the publishing company and the lead editor for the project that I'll start working on tomorrow! I'm basically able to work from home and the paperwork gets delivered to me and gets picked up when I'm done! There are of course deadlines to work with, so looks like I'm going to have a busy working weekend ahead. Can't wait to start the new job!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Nice pics.

I kinda got sidetracked from posting about the rest of our recent trip to Europe. Anyway, I guess I will do it slowly over time.

For now, here are some of my favourite shots from the short time we had in Nice, the South of France.

I'm an ESTJ.

Gypsy Boy kindly forwarded me this link to a version of the Myers Briggs Personality test this morning, which looks like it's making its rounds through the office.

The full description that followed on what makes an ESTJ tick showed no surprises. After a year of life altering changes in lifestyle, job and environment, I'm still the same old me!

A short description of the ESTJ personality type:
ESTJs direct their energy towards the outside world of actions and spoken words. They introduce a logical organisation and structure into the way things are done. They prefer dealing with facts and the present, and are likely to implement tried and trusted solutions to practical problems in a businesslike and professional manner.

Find out your personality type here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Roti Man!

As a little girl living in Malaysia, my brother and I used to wait for the 'Roti Man' to come around on his motorbike every evening.

He'd simply drive around the streets of the neighbourhood and beep his horn calling out 'Roti!, Roti!' meaning 'bread' in Malay. Mounted on the back of his bike was a box full of bread, and hanging on the outside of the box were bags full of delicious chips, sweet bread and other types of goodies. It was a junk foodies dream!

As soon as we heard his cries, we'd run to find our mother and ask her if we need any bread before pestering her for 10 or 20 sen for our favourite junk food purchases!

It's interesting to see the humble and familiar Roti Man has made it onto a TV ad for Malaysian Idol!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Where's home?

It's coming up to a year that we've left New Zealand and made Dubai our home. After a year of being away from work, family and friends, I have to say that a little homesickness is kicking in...

Spring in NZ is one of my favourite times of the year. The weather starts to warm up, Christmas is around the corner, and nature is at its best. I have a soft spot for tree lined avenues and there aren't too many of these here in Dubai. I miss the green of Victoria Park, I can just see the new leaves forming on the winter-bare branches of trees around Wellesley Street, and I especially miss the drives down my favourite tree lined avenue - Franklin Road.

It's also coming up to 18 years that my family left Malaysia to make New Zealand home. While I was quite young and spent most of my life and formative years in Auckland NZ, I do miss the familiarity of family that are still in Malaysia, the shopping, and of course the food!

We had a friend over for dinner a couple of nights ago, who'd grown up in Pakistan, studied in the US and spent almost half his life there before recently moving to Dubai. When I asked him where home is, he couldn't say for sure. He suggested that perhaps home is where ones mother is.

If that is the case, then home for me is Melbourne, Australia. Now, that doesn't really work because whilst I've been there dozens of times to visit, I've never lived in the home my immediate family are currently residing in nor have I spent enough time in Melbourne to say I've lived in this city.

If home is really where the heart is, where's home if your roots are deep and widespread?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Full class

Our art class has been steadily growing. Even though we are half way through the term, we still have new students joining the course. We started with 5 students and as of next week there will be 8!

...A little street in Nice, by Gypsy Boy...

Gypsy Boy is still working on his piece, but there are continuing discussions between him and our art teacher Kamen on whether the work is complete. Gypsy Boy can't wait to start on a new painting, while Kamen feels the painting needs a bit more work.

...Geisha, by Gypsy Girl...

For the last couple of weeks, there has been similar differences in opinion between other students and teacher. After working on the same painting for a few weeks, it is natural to get bored. While art is subjective, I think students should try to be receptive to suggestions and recommendations of the tutor while under their instruction. Of course, students are always free to just leave the painting in question at home and bring in a fresh new canvas to start on at the next class!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Everyone shops at Carrefour...

Even royalty apparently!

Gypsy Boy and I were at Carrefour in the Mall of the Emirates this evening to pick up a few groceries for the week when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum walked right past us. He was heading towards the fish section and was flanked by two other men also dressed in white dishdashas.

As he walked through the hypermarket, shoppers stopped in their tracks and others turned around to look as they recognised him. I can say that he definitely had a presence, not to mention extremely good posture!

Friday, November 03, 2006

In the paper!

A reporter from the Emirates Today publication visited the DIAC (Dubai International Art Centre) last week and if you got the paper on 31 October, you would have seen that the feature picture for this article is one of our art class!

Gypsy Boy and I are in this photo and our art teacher Kamen was interviewed for the article. You can read the full article online, however the photo of our class is only in the paper publication. Hee!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Baby party.

Today, I accompanied my gorgeous Greek friend M. to a Mum's coffee morning. Don't get excited, I haven't been hiding anything and I can assure you there are no Baby G's in the Gypsy household yet!

I wasn't sure how to feel at first about going to this coffee morning for Mums sans baby, and once we got there I felt a little out of place when I saw a group of women gathered in the corner of Starbucks with all their baby paraphernalia. For starters, each had a wee one on her lap, at her feet or in her belly! Toys were strewn on mats and about 10 prams were lined up against the wall!

Maybe I should've dressed Gypsy Dog up in a bonnet and hid him in a pram. Of course I hadn't. Instead, I clutched my Kenneth Cole handbag closer to me and dragged a chair over to join this circle of mothers who were probably wondering [as much as I was] what I was doing there.

By the end of the morning however, I'd got to meet and speak with some lovely women and to see the cutest little babies! Yes, I was the odd one out but it was not so bad. Everyone was friendly and I had fun.

In Dubai, there is a long list of support and social groups, especially for new mothers. It's encouraging to know that with such a large expatriate community with little or no family nearby, there are always others in the same situation willing to share and support one another.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Skeletons in the closet?

While I've only been blogging for less than a year, I've been a fervent reader of blogs for the last five years. There seems to be an addictive quality to reading up about the lives and daily or weekly rants of [sometimes] complete strangers.

What's interesting is the online friendships that eventuate within the blogging community. I know of instances where physical meetings with fellow bloggers have been arranged and taken place! While I have not [yet] partaken in any of these, I would imagine it would be kind of funny meeting up with people you know so much about and yet, probably so little. I guess it would be sort of like meeting up with a pen pal - do these still exist?

Some time ago, I stumbled upon Gypsy Boy's ex-girlfriend's blog. A surge of anxiety ran through my veins as I pored over the extremely articulate posts. Apart from it being a really interesting web log, the fact that Gypsy Boy once had a relationship with this woman drew me to find out more about her.

If you came across the blog of your partner's ex, would you not do the same?

PS. No, I didn't find any skeletons in the closet [...and not that I was looking!]

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Out and about

Over the last couple of days [Eid], the streets were really quiet and the shopping malls have been absolutely packed! There was a festive feeling in the air that reminded me of Christmas as friends and families meet up to wish each other a Happy Eid and bring one another gifts. It was lovely to see children dressed up in their brand new outfits while the adults paraded in their 'Sunday bests'.

The Gypsy Family didn't get up to much over these last 2 days. The most exciting things of note would be:

1) Our trip to Al Ain. We enjoyed the drive there with chiseled and rolling sand dunes along the motorway and the mountainscape backdrop, but to be honest we didn't find much to do in Al Ain.

2) Booking our flights to Brussels. Unfortunately the flights via Greece were fully booked, but we managed to get a very good deal on Turkish Airways with a stopover in Istanbul on the way back. We've heard lots about how beautiful Istanbul is, so we're looking forward to our trip next month!

3) Meeting up with a Malaysian couple. We haven't really met many Malaysians here, especially not ones our age. So, it was fun meeting up with A & S for dinner and hear words like "cin cai" and the good old "lah" peppered into sentences!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Eid Mubarak

Selamat Hari Raya!

We have decided to take a last minute road trip today to the Garden city of Al Ain. It is approximately one and a half hours drive away and is part of the Abu Dhabi Emirate, bordering on Oman.

Safe and happy holidays to you all and your families!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Happy Diwali!

It's Diwali today, also known as Deepavali or the Festival of Lights. Gypsy Boy and I happened to be out and about last night trying to hunt down an Indian restaurant recommended by some of Gypsy Boy's Indian colleagues. While driving around the other side of town we saw lots of decorative lights adorning balconies of apartments, and at the restaurant many diners were wishing one another a Happy Diwali.

A very Happy Diwali to those of you who are celebrating this festival.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Eid Al Fitr

The month of Ramadan is almost over, and will be marked by Eid Al Fitr sometime next week. The exact date is to be confirmed and will be subject to change depending on the sighting of the new moon.

What's interesting is the private sector will get 2 days holiday while the public sector will be graced with a whopping 9 days off! Go figure...

Tomorrow night we're booked to have dinner at a Ramadan tent at 8pm. Figured we'd better try it out before it's all over till next year! Many restaurants that close during the day will open only at sunset for Iftar when the day long fast for Muslims is broken. We didn't realise that Iftar only goes on for an hour or two before the restaurants then close again. They will then reopen at 8 or 9pm for Suhour and will stay open till the wee hours of the morning before fasting begins for another day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Oh so tired.

Over the last few weeks, I've been exhausted. Not from doing anything in particular which was what puzzled me and caused me to think perhaps I'd come down with some tiredness virus. I'd simply wake up after a good night's sleep and feel tired. Getting on to doing my normal house chores left me feeling exhausted after a few minutes. I was even down to having afternoon naps and having no trouble going to bed as early as 9pm!

It's fortunate that just downstairs we have a specialist medical centre. It's sort of tucked away into the back of the building, but once you find it and go in, it's amazing how we never knew this place existed all this time. It's large, clean and well, like its name alludes to, has specialists. There's a paediatrician, an opthamologist, a dentist as well as a gynaecologist.

I ended up having to get a blood test and scan done. The results showed that there were low counts of everything. Is that even possible? How is it that Gypsy Boy whom I share the same diet with [well, almost the same diet], is fine according to his recent blood test results and not me. The weirdest thing is I've been on a detox over the last 3 months with no alcohol and no coffee [ok, maybe I've had a couple of coffees], and we eat tons of healthy home cooked food with loads of veges everyday.

Anyway, now I've been prescribed a special diet. Ugh, I hate diets!!! Although I guess this is not so bad - I have to have extra vegetables particularly spinach, pomegranates and bone soup. The Dr did say liver, but I think I'll try to manage without the liver for now.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dry as a bone.

While cooking dinner last night, I noticed the water pressure in the kitchen was unusually low. Slight panic hit when I remembered that the restaurant downstairs has been under renovation and doing some pretty heavy duty drilling of sorts. Thinking maybe they'd accidentally hit one of our water pipes, I did a quick check on the rest of the taps in the apartment to see if the water pressure problem also applied. It did.

There's really only one person to call when something like this happens, The Watchman. I believe every apartment building in Dubai has one of these guys who basically lives on site and looks after any security or other trivial issues that arise with the building or its tenants. Our Watchman seems nice enough, but I have huge troubles understanding him and probably him me - especially over the phone.

Nevertheless, a quick phone call to the watchman confirmed that there was a problem with the water and that DEWA (the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) had been notified and were on their way to fix the problem.

I didn't realise the extent of the problem until Gypsy Boy arrived home from work and reported that the lifts weren't working and that the lift lobby on our floor is flooded with water pouring out of the ceiling! By this time, there was absolutely no water coming out of the taps but it was just as well that dinner was ready.

Funny how you never realise how important something is until it's gone. Even for the few hours we didn't have running water, it really was inconvenient trying to do the simple things like washing our hands, doing the dishes, having a shower and brushing our teeth! Thank goodness, water supply returned to normal around midnight and as I type, they are still working on fixing the lifts.

Monday, October 09, 2006


In all the cities I've visited and lived in, I've found none seemingly to be as impermanent as life in Dubai. Everything in every sense is temporary. Overnight, new roads are built, old roads are blocked and buildings erected. Expats make up 80-90% of the population and it is a place where quite simply people come and go.

It's strange to think that in our short 11 months here, we've had our share of farewells already. Most recently last month, our friends who came to Dubai on a dance contract left to go home to NZ and now we've just had news that 3 of our close friends will be leaving at the end of the year.

Saying goodbye to good friends is not the easiest thing to do, but it was amazing anyway that we were able to get together with old Kiwi friends and hang out in Dubai in the first place as well as forge new friendships with the most interesting people from places I'd never even heard of [Limavady being one of them]!

So, thank you to all of you for the fun and wonderful moments we've shared in this land we temporarily call home.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Art School: Week 3

Gypsy Boy and I made a little more progress this week at art class. We both added more detailing to our paintings and here are the results below.

...Pink, by Gypsy Girl...

...A little street in Nice, by Gypsy Boy...

I think I'm almost done with mine, I just need to do a little more work on the background and I also want to finish the sides. Gypsy Boy will probably work on his for another few more weeks...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Shae at church

Last week, our art teacher Kamen asked us to try and do some sketching at home this week if we got time. I love sketching, but I prefer to sketch from a photo or from real life as opposed to trying to picture an image or scene in my mind. This is one of the quick sketches I did a couple of days ago from a photo taken of our flower girl outside the church we got married in.

I think my sketch makes Shae look a little older than she was when the photo was taken and I've also not included much of the brick detailing. Oh well, I guess it's not my best sketch but it was done in one sitting without an eraser...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ditzy moments.

Today, Joy and I had our weekly lunch date except since it's Ramadan and from our previous experience, we were expecting all the eateries to be shut, so we planned to have our own lunch at home then meet up at the mall and watch a movie.

It turned out that neither of us managed to have lunch and as we both felt a bit peckish we thought we'd scoot next door to the Kempinski Hotel and see what we could find. During Ramadan, most eateries shut during the day, but hotels will usually have at least 1 restaurant open for its guests. We ended up finding Sezzam discreetly open and hidden behind heavy black curtains. We both had a drink and a baked potato each which was really scrummy.


We'd planned to watch Take the Lead, but somehow I ended up getting us tickets to Talladega Nights instead! Hah! Both of us sat in the theatre waiting for Antonio Banderas to show up and for the dancing to begin. Of course, that didn't happen. Anyway, we both ended up laughing so hard our cheeks hurt because the movie was hillariously funny and also at ourselves for ending up at the wrong show. We loved Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights though but I still can't believe I got the wrong tickets. Duh!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ramadan: Week 2

More random thoughts and experiences so far in our second week of Ramadan:

  • After that mad rush grocery shopping at our local Carrefour 2 weekends ago, we tried shopping after iftar. This worked out well in that it was much quieter, but the shelves were also much emptier. No chicken breast (again!), no asparagus, very limited range and choice of fresh herbs and vegetables that I usually pick up too. Might have to try doing a mid-week shop during the day this week.
  • Switched from my usual chewing gum to Smints - much more discreet.
  • Lunch at home before heading out to meet friends rather than going out for lunch.
Yesterday evening while walking Gypsy Dog [around iftar time], I bumped into one of our Arab neighbours that has a Bichon Frisé. He was with a friend carrying grocery bags, obviously heading home to prepare for iftar. I found the conversation that followed rather amusing:

Neighbour: Hi! How are you? How is Gypsy Dog?
Me: Hi! We're fine! How are you? How is Brandy (the name of his Bichon Frisé)?
Neighbour: Good. Are you fasting?
Me: No, no...
Neighbour: Why?
Me: *Speechless and confused look* Um... why...?
Neighbour: *Grins* You should, it's very healthy for you.
Me: *giggle* Ok. I will give it a try...
Neighbour: Ok, see you later... and remember to fast - it's healthy!
Me: Ok. See ya later, bye!

Monday, October 02, 2006

More on art.

As promised some time ago in a previous post, here are photos of the recent additions to my little private gallery - 3 paintings I brought back from our trip to Europe in August.

The first, is an oil painting of a café scene in St. Germain-des-pres in Paris. It is also the smallest of the 3, and was purchased in Paris. I really liked this district [where the Musée D'orsay is located], and just loved the details the artist has captured here of the ubiquitous Parisian street café scene including the menu set out on the black board, and also the ornate wrought iron balconies.

The second painting is also an oil, and also purchased in Paris. It is recognisably a copy of Le Pont sur le bassin aux nympheas [Bridge over a pond of water lilies] 1899 by Claude Monet.

The last painting we purchased is from Venice and pictures a narrow, quiet canal in Ferrovia. The artist and her sister paints from photos they take of the scenery around Venice and to a lesser extent, other parts of Italy. It was nice to be able to chat to the artist and purchase one of her beautiful works. I love the way she has captured the light and the reflection in this painting.

All 3 were stretched and framed in Dubai. [Click on each image for an enlarged view].

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Art school: Week 2

I didn't feel I made as much progress this week at art school and the 3 hours this morning seemed to go by really slowly. It probably had to do with the air conditioning not working and the room getting quite hot and stuffy. It got so warm I really just wanted to have a drink of water, but of course it's Ramadan now.

...Pink - unfinished by Gypsy Girl...

Gypsy Boy and I were fading at 1130 and we still had an hour to go till lunch time so we decided to take a break and browse through our art teacher, Kamen's portfolio and some photographs of his work that he'd brought in. We found an impressive range of work and read about his interesting background working as an artist in Europe and now in Dubai.

...Untitled and unfinished by Gypsy Boy...

I burst into a fit of giggles though towards the end of art class. Kamen was helping me with adding more light to my composition when I absent-mindedly wiped my hand on my pants. I was horrified when I looked down and saw pink oil paint smudges. Kamen suggested I needed to brush the paint off immediately with solvent. Of course I had to take this advice literally and actually grabbed a clean No.10 paintbrush dipped in artist spirits and proceeded to 'brush' the paint off my pants! When Kamen saw me doing this he laughed because he actually meant 'brush' as in clean the paint off like with some paper towels.

What was funnier still was when Gypsy Boy and I were just discussing how messy we were with all the paint we managed to get on our T-shirts and pants and Kamen then said in his thick Eastern European accent, "Don't worry I was the same when I was 5 years old and first started to paint. I got paint all over myself...". I guess the slight difference is we're not 5, hee hee!