Thursday, 31 May 2012

Colds and Awards Nights and 39 Steps

EEEK this is almost a month old and I am only posting it now! It’s been a bit rushed since we got back.
We arrived home. Yes I am calling Dubai home. Do you know that we have lived in our rented apartment on the Palm now for longer than we have lived anywhere since we got married. Twenty four years a few weeks ago by the by. We are both still relatively sane?  anyway - if that is not home, I don't know what is. Well a far more romantic way of viewing home is to say that home is where Bryan ( the heart) is. This is all very well  but I need a geographical  space to label.

the heart in home

Anyway, I am once again being side tracked. We arrived home at some ungodly hour in the morning and Bryan promptly went in to work. I thought "bugger this I am  going to sleep because I am wise" and was tired after delayed flights and other bits and bobs.
So having been essentially  been travelling from 4 pm on  a Tuesday  arriving in Dubai at 5am on  a Wed and going straight to work and then on to a rehearsal for 39 Steps.  By Thursday Bryan looked like he had the bubonic plague. Well, what I imagine one would look like if one had it. NOT GOOD. Then he informed me that we had to go to his Theatre Group’s award’s evening. Never mind that he was sick or that his body had pretty much forgotten what a sleep was. He had been nominated twice and no matter how ill he was he was going and being supportive of his "crew". I , with extremely bad grace( in my head not out loud) Got Ready To Go.
I did not dress up  in Bells and Whistles mode as I was not told to. At three seconds to the time that the awards were due to start  Bryan leaped up ( well groggily clawed his way to the wardrobe) and put on his DJ. I sulked even more and asked icily  “Did the invite call for formal wear?” Bryan was non-committal which can mean anything from “Yes it did.” to  “No it did not,  I am just following my heart.”  to “I can’t remember and I don’t care.” I said “ You know, Bryan, the only time one wears a DJ is when the invitation says formal and if one ( that would be you)  wears it at any other time You Will Look Like A Complete Wally.” What. Was. I. Thinking? I  know  very well that looking like a wally (or not) is of absolutely no concern to Bryan.  I,  on the other hand, was a tad concerned that I would look like "The Wally" arriving in my semi tatty “well if it is dark no one will notice the iron burn mark on the trouser leg” outfit. Especially  if everyone  at the Awards looked like they were ready for the Oscars.

As it happened there was a delightful mixture of evening gowns and jeans so we were both okay. Bryan more than me as it was not at all dark and you could see the burn mark. Fortunately by the time we arrived and I was introduced to a few new faces and said hello to a few old faces I was enjoying the evening. My cornered animal fury at having to be removed from my nest so soon after having been returned to it  was a thing of the past.  In the meantime Bryan got steadily sicker.  I was only a little sympathetic.

We did not stay long at the awards  on account of Bryan being sick and because we had to get up at some silly time (again) in the morning to meet  dear friend Nicola off the bus from Abu Dhabi. By the time we got to the pick-up point at 2 in the morning Bryan was a shivering wreck. This of course did not stop him from talking with Nicola and I till after 4am them getting up before 10 to get to another rehearsal on Friday. He collapsed in a silly heap after that. Nicola and I went out without him for a lovely Arabic meal. He was up again on Sat for more dead on my feet rehearsing and a repeat collapsing  and to cut a long story short ( ha ha). He was ill for much longer than he should have been. Oh I have to tell you the long version. So then, we get a message from Bryan’s brother Rob to say that he is coming to Dubai in the morning that Nicola is leaving.   Convenient you would thing but no. Nicola was leaving from Abu Dhabi and Rob was arriving in Dubai. So we go to AD to drop off Nicola turn around to pick up Rob.   Poor, Poorly  Bryan, my sick pup.

I am happy to report that he did eventually recover in time to perform in the Backstage Production of 39 Steps.

Big breath..... here goes, I did not really enjoy it. But please note. EVERYONE else in the audience did. They laughed long and loud and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Sadly my sense of humour is very small and very limited and terribly particular.

For those of you living in Dubai there are a few drama groups around  with  enthusiastic and talented  peeps about and they could do with your support both as audiences and as members of the groups on and off the stage.

Radio Active?

So last week ( or was it the week before it all starts merging....) driving home from work we found ourselves behind this vehicle...

The chaps in the cab of the vehicle did not seem to be aware of the fact that they were carrying potentially hazardous waste. They were not driving particularly carefully and were wearing terribly casual clothes for people with their backs up again radioactive material.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Language Barriers in Dubai

Living in a thoroughly multi-cultural society has its joys and challenges.

On first landing on the fair shores of Dubai I was totally thrown by all the accents. I, frankly, had a totally melt down over the many versions of English that I absolutely could not understand. Bearing in mind that I already come from a mixing pot of accents I thought I would be pretty well up there on understanding English spoken by pretty much anyone. Ha! Was I in for a fright.

I cannot express my joy on finding (a week or so after we arrived in Dubai) a coffee shop where the serving staff were mainly Kenyan. At last people I could order a cup of coffee  from without wanting to cry about it.

It took a few months before my ears and brain finally got it and I could manoeuvre my way around the city by listening.

Then I got a job working for a lovely Scotsman. DO NOT GO THERE. I still have days when I have absolutely no bloody idea what he has said to me.

Click here for a bit of light entertainment; Scott's in an elevator

Click here for some  more light entertainment 24 accents.... bit rude but you'll get the point

I am meandering. Back to the present. Today a lovely lady came to my office. In the course of our business ( sounds more impressive than it was)  I had to give her a phone number.......So it went something like this:
Me "number number number 555"
She replies back "number number number 345."
"No," says I "it is triple 5."
"Yes," she says "3,4,5."
"  No, not 3,4,5," says me "it is 555."
" Yes!" she says "3,4,5!!!?"
Both of us  are terribly confused.
I say let me see what you have written. She had it absolutely right . Clearly tree fuff five is triple five.

Monday, 28 May 2012

On the 23rd of May our Junior reached the threshold of adulthood!

I have been quiet. I will do a few catch ups. BUT FIRST:-

Cameron , our "Last Born", turned  (no corner or anything but there you go) twenty one. WAY HEY. The magical unofficial age of Majority. Happy day for him, he can now burn up the nightclubs and bars in Dubai when he visits....... 

To be honest I am not entirely sure about this whole thing of having adult children. It makes one so old. I long ago reached the "Age My Parents Once Were" I am now well and truly in "The Age that My In-Laws Once Were" it is so bloody reflective and  relentlessly ongoing.However, this happy anniversary  should not be about me ageing. So, in a moment of selflessness, here are some pictures of our man growing up.....

I distinctly remember an event when he was around two where I watched Bryan going head to head  with an unrelenting and stubborn as hell Cameron. Not in the way of a tantrum you understand which was a little unnerving to say the least. And I thought to myself "cunning will be required in the raising of this child." And so it was.  We had to plan and think ahead and cut him off at the pass (so to speak) all the time. One did not so much raise Cameron as manoeuvre him. If I say so myself we became skilled in this. Which is just as well because if we weren't, I think, Cameron would have been a revolting precocious child. As it was he was just precocious. Still is. But what a lovely boy he has been and what a lovely man he has become.

It has been a privilage to see him grow up to be :
well rounded
socially ept
community spirited
champion of the righeous
broad minded independent thinker
good sport and all round good guy.

We think he is pretty special.

Actually I think both my young men are just the bestest. And their Dad too. Must be genetic.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

On a sad note

My lovely Gran died.

Gran on her wedding day

She did not "pass on" or "pass away" or any of the other "I can't say the word" euphemisms that abound.  She died.

She lived a full life and had the added privilege of having lived in her own home, to the end, always surrounded by her family. How cool is that? Not many people nowadays can say that.

I am so very grateful to my Mum's Brother and all my Cousins for making that  kind of a life possible for my Gran. It has always been such a wonderful, warm, fuzzy "thing" to me knowing that she had that.

I am especially thankful for the care that they took of her in the last month of her life. Big HUGS all round.

I am heartsore for Mum.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

I love Istanbul. It does seem though that so does everyone else!

Well darlings were do I start? You might be wondering (or not) how is it that a self confessed home body travelled, voluntarily, to a foreign place. The long answer could get complicated and deeply boring to anyone other than me. I can, however, give you a semi short (because I am incapable of doing "short" anything from explanations to hemlines)  to middle length explanation. My friend Sharon send me an SMS a couple of months ago that said something like "We are thinking of a trip to Istanbul. Can we stop over with you for a day or so on our way there?" I got all excited at the prospect of seeing my Special Friends and was about to say "Yes , yes , yes come immediately" when it occurred to me that actually I rather fancied a trip to Istanbul myself. Now I love the IDEA of travelling to all sorts of places but the idea and the doing are two  very different things. One is thinking  safely and the other is a bundle of neurosis waiting to explode. The notion that I could see Sharon and Shaun and see a beautiful place became, after a fair bit of agonising indecision,  all too much for me to not act on. I regretted the decision almost immediately and many times over, of course. I reminded myself that I was going to treat this like a bit of Kismet (well figuratively speaking - this is me we are talking about after all) and I  reminded myself that I should go with the cosmic flow.
I looked for places to stay on-line and went all neurotic again. Everything was toooooooo fraught with potential failure. What if the hotel was a rat infested flea pit. What if Istanbul was horrible and the people revolting? What if the aeroplane crashed before, during, or after take off? And then there is the whole landing the beast. What if the food was yuck and the weather cold? What if everyone wore red hats with green polka dots and I don't have ANYTHING in green and red polka dots never mind something so specific as a hat....... You get the idea. Anyway.... Sharon, "seasoned trip arranger extraordinaire", without knowing she was doing it, soothed my ruffled feathers and plans steamed ahead. Tickets were booked. The moment came when Sharon committed her (or Shaun's) credit card to our  all arriving at the hotel.   I could not back out now. Through all of this Bryan  calmly looked forward to the trip and did not once react to my panics and fury at the "what have I done moments"  that I inflicted on myself  - and him.

I was a nightmare at the airport. For example: Bryan went to the loo when the airport staff arrived at the check out counter. I had a quiet breakdown and knew that I would hate him forever for going to the loo RIGHT THEN. As it happened, believe it or not,  we got on the flight (surprise! surprise!).And so went the traveling part of the holiday. Me being predictably revolting and positive that we would miss flights or somehow get on the wrong plane. SIGH. Bryan is a saint. Why can't I be beamed up by Scotty when I want to go somewhere? Why is it taking so long to get this bit of sci-fi off the screen and into my reality? If scientists can clone a sheep why can't they unravel me and put me together across space and time? Is it too much to ask? It is not like I have to be created. Just taken apart and put back together. I am not asking to be sent to Mars. I will stay on Earth and won't require more than 3 or 4 hours time difference ever.

The neurotic brain fizz was worth it. Just look how pretty she is.
Pick a dome!

Wisteria on tres old wall.....

old, old , old hope I look this great when I am that old......

From the moment we left the airport to the moment we arrived back at the airport the holiday was simply an overload of beauty and delight at every turn. I could go on and on and on which ,as you all know, is not difficult. There are so many descriptions out there in cyberspace, by better qualified people than I, that extol the wonder that is Istanbul poetically so  I won't waste tooooooooo much typing space trying. Having said that.... the sense that you are in the middle of the greatest clashing of cultures is tangible in the best way. The history of the city is celebrated without judgement. Or so it seemed to me. The mix of East and West heartwarming. I am sure there are undercurrents. I am not that naive. The pride that Istanbulls have in their city is a pleasure to see. The people are so very, very accommodating and genuinely seem thrilled to share their home with the rest of the world. We felt so welcome. A shout out is required for the hotel we stayed at Best Point Hotel. What fabulous service. Nothing was too much trouble, ever.
view from the rooftop terrace of the hotel

what other tourists look like

Sharon, ( back view) Penny and Bryan being tourists in Istanbul.

Brilliant tour arranger Sharon with talented 'herder "
and holiday companion Shaun.
We did the full on tourist thing. Well there is soooooo much that you sort of have to do  to get all that bloody big history in. Sharon was by far and away the greatest travel planner ever. She should charge for her services. She also has the most amazing ability to make friends with everyone instantly. She was "best-est friends" with the shop keepers, the hotel bell hop, and  the cute lad that ran the Shisha joint that Shaun dragged us to (as you can imagine no kicking and screaming was required)  over several nights.  Shaun and Bryan filled their lungs with apple flavoured tobacco. Sharon was adored by her fan and I  drank Raki.
Wine or Raki the agony of indecision??????? Picture taken for Julie so that she can see that there are places in the world that know what a decent wine glass size is. FINALLY
The food, like the people, was just special. Everything was fresh and simple and ooooooo so yummylishous. It was a struggle to not just park off and eat all day long.  From the fresh, simply cooked fish to the Turkish Meze dishes. The food was delightfully familiar to me. So similar to Greek meals. As was the apparent pleasure in sitting down to a meal.
Other tourists taking a short break.
Serving Turkish tea and Turkish Coffee

Celebrating a football match win with dinner, music and dancing.

Preparing pastry for someones dinner.

I have to go back.

This is a problem for me as I am a "not much travelled person". So really if I am going to do a spot of travel I  should spread myself about a bit more. Istanbul needs more than one visit.  It just does. That is not just me the " I don't do travel" person talking. I have done a spot of blog spying and it seems that even the most seasoned of travellers ( including our travelling companions Sharon and Shaun) fall madly in love with the city and are drawn back to its welcoming atmospheric cobbled streets and people.


Special thanks to Bryan , Sharon and Shaun for sharing this wonderful experience.

PS Bryan took most of the pictures.