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!