Monday, June 29, 2015

The Cosmos around me

Dubai is a melting pot of cultures. I come across people from all nationalities though a majority of the migrant labour here is Indian and filipino. Where malloos proliferated earlier one now sees Filipinos - in restaurants, shops, salons and gyms. Being greeted with an yes madame and a ready smile naturally brings a smile to your face too. The taxi drivers are Pakistani and skilled labor Bangladeshi.
I meet a Kenyan at the supermarket who wants to know how I cook banana flower, a young Algerian salesman at the car showroom whose selling skills almost makes us buy an suv we don't want otherwise, and Syrian, Sri Lankan and Egyptian ladies at the gym.
The latest of my international acquaintances is an Iraqi instructor of Arabic who takes tuitions for my kids. She left her homeland after the American occupation and her adopted country is very good to her and many like her. Her country is no longer safe unlike in saddam's time; he may have put some in prison but  provided them the safety to return home after a party at 3 am or leave their doors unlocked at night without fear of being robbed.
She tells me Indians are good people with good manners. Welcome to Dubai, she greets me warmly and gets on with her challenge of imparting Arabic in a month's time to two little Indians.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Color tones

I met a Somalian lady in hijab in the lift the other day who asked me: "Are you from Ethiopia? "
I said: "No, I'm from India."
"Oh, I like your skin tone."She said as we got off and went our separate ways.
That was a revelation to me coming from a country where being white is an important criterion.
The hair stylist at the salon examines my hair and asks: Is it real?  It is too black.
She admires my curls while I admire her silky straight hair. To me it's too straight!


One good thing about life here is that the kids are thrown into each other's company more than ever. Though they profess not to like each other but only their cousins I hope this acrimony will ultimately result in a bonding that will last a lifetime. They play their little life games in perfect harmony and understanding.
Mira has reached a stage where her fascination for glitzy dubai has made way for vibrant India. She wants to go back in right earnest. Missing old friends, missing old school....

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hurricane hari

After a fortnight of not making eye contact, the ladies at the gym are warming up to each other. I have managed to get into hi -bye terms with an Egyptian lady who doesn't know much English, a Sri Lankan lady who has been coming to the gym for a year and is very serious about it and a malloo lady who is very friendly and was my first acquaintance here.
So after a couple of chats I invited my compatriot to my apartment after the work out. She told me she'll come another day. Yesterday she told me she'll come in the evening with her son. So I spruced up the house, got the kids to bathe early after school and not disturb the cleaned and orderly status of things.
They rang the bell a little after 5 pm. The little boy, around 5 years, looked unusually shy. He hid his face in his mother's belly and refused to show his face for a full 5 minutes despite entreaties from all of us. I found it a bit strange though the mother said he can be very active in the homes of her friends.
And then he slowly crawled across the sofa. Before I knew it he dived under the cot sending the neatly stacked shoes helter skelter, went up on the bunk bed and threw out all of Mira's toys down and then jumped down to the floor. He then shook the cot ladder much to our horror. Yanking the lone monster soft toy off the cot, he tried to tear it apart.
The shifting eyes and itchy feet looked for fresh objects to maul. The mother kept pleading with him to behave to no avail. Ash and mira looked highly amused by a kid who had thefreedom to go berserk. They triedto rope him in their usual games. By the time she decided to make a move I was earnestly wishing that they be gone.

Monday, May 25, 2015


The other day after our shopping and kids gaming spree, we went to the mall food court hoping to grab some dinner. While v and the kids went to order, I went and sat near a young African girl sitting with a small baby. I asked her if they had finished eating to check if the table was available. She said ."No finished" which I assumed meant they had finished.  So I sat there not much paying attention to the girl sitting with her head bent. A while later a lady, obviously her mistress, came with another kid in tow and began reprimanding her. She replied something and cowered again. The lady scowled at me and sat down. It suddenly dawned on me that she had probably scolded her for letting me sit there. I sat there until v came with the food ordered and asked if I could'nt find any other seat. I asked the lady if they had finished their meal and she vehemently said that they had not and were waiting. We found another table.
Soon the master came with McDonald's fare and the family of 5 began enjoying their meal while the young girl sat in a corner of the table looking down. She was not given any of the burgers or chips the rest of them had. The little nanny _probably in her teens_ sat like a stranger in their midst. We came away feeling sorry for the young girl wondering what hardships she faced in her own home and her adopted home. I wondered which country she belonged to; she was fair complexioned with light brown frizzy hair and full lips. Whatever, I hoped that she had had her dinner or had food waiting for her back home.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

New life

May 18 : Exactly a month back, we landed in Dubai bag, baggage and all. I quit my job of 18 years, sorted the stuff I had accumulated in my own apartment of 10 years - gave away many, threw away some and packed some - and rented it out furnished to a newly married couple. A tribute to the days we started out as a newly married couple with only our suitcase of clothes. Populating our house with essentials had taken over a year. Furnished houses on rent were few and far between then and the  one that came my way slipped away as I dilly dallied.

Kids started school on the Sunday after we landed. That the week begins on a Sunday is something I have to get used to. In the process I tend to skip Tuesdays as I eagerly await Thursdays.Every week is an eager wait for Friday when we can sleep late into the day, have brunch and go for an outing.

However, my kids are getting disenchanted with Dubai which they had much bragged about for a year in Chennai. For one, they find the shift from Tamil Nadu State board syllabus to CBSE here tough. Especially Hindi and Arabic. I tell them not to lose heart citing my own example - a similar struggle in Tanzania in secondary school. Getting up early morning to catch the school bus at 6.30 am is not their cup of tea either. The bus takes an hour to beat the traffic and reach school during which time they can catch some sleep, other kids willing.

Thirdly, they have realised that Dubai is not a vacation anymore. The last two trips were fun when they visited malls, parks and played with their cousins.Now they dont get to see their cousins except during the weekend. But the bonding with cousins is the best part of their Dubai life. They play, fight and patch up. The youngest of them, all of 5 years, tells Ash: "I like your face very much, can you take my face and give me yours?" That's probably the best compliment Ash has received!

The mother is getting into cooking mode doing some on the spur breakfast and lunch dishes in an hour's time.Having had cooks for nearly 10 years, it has not been easy. The fact that I cant give much junk food and the hubby craves traditional food adds to my woes.

An hour at the gym is the only other exercise that I get now. But I am enjoying this break from work.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Mira spends a lot of her time playing cooking and teaching games. Here are five of her playschool wards taking a nap.