The Beautiful Superficial

myfavouriteHere they are, my little gingerbread lovers.  I’ve missed them.  A year goes by so fast…. There is homework to do, kids to grow, books to read, a thesis (or even just a journal entry) to write.  Yet in some ways a year can drag.   A fragrance or signpost or a fleeting dream – and all of a sudden you remember things as if they happened only yesterday.  It’s cruel.  Like Penelope Lively said in Moontiger:  “Inside the head, everything happens at once.”

But if there’s one thing I learned in 2013 it’s not the value of nostalgia, rather the freedom of the Beautiful Superficial.  The 6.30am  starts.  Watching the sunrise with the middle kid.  Listening to him chatter, chatter, chatter.  The same kid everyone says is so quiet.  The kid who used to think was quiet.  That is, until I started to get to know him.  Lying on the couch with his head on my chest, watching as the sky changes from grey to orange to blue, I can’t believe I ever could have chosen to start the day any other way.   Yet I did.   For years I have been distracted, too busy hanging onto the past to be able to cherish the hundred beautiful superficial things happening to me every single day.

So 2013 is about Quitting to get ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

The empty space above represents all the other stuff I could say, but won’t.  I’m not sure about this blogging thing anymore, as if I ever was.

Merry Christmas everyone.  From me – and The Pretenders, who clearly didn’t get my memo on the futility of nostalgia.

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Learning the local language: “What Can We Do?” (or: seatbelts, milk powder, and rain in the desert)

Dubai was moody yesterday.  The sky was dark and threatened rain, a promise rarely made good in the desert.  I stood outside the hotel, the air thick with a coarse mixture of sand and humidity. The very worst of bad hair days.

A bell-boy flagged a cab down for me, but I ushered it on when I saw it had only two seat belts in the back.  The next taxi, similarly lacking, informed me I was wasting my time – all taxis in Dubai have only two seat belts in the back seat.  I held out, not wanting to choose which of my three children would travel without a seat belt on some of the world’s most dangerous roads.

Four taxis and as many frustrated drivers later, we clambered into a car with the required number of seat belts.  I smiled across at the driver, pleased with myself.  Just then, a voice from the back seat.  “Mum!  I can’t plug my seat belt in!  I can’t find the thing!”  I asked the driver to pull over to the verge while I thrust my hand into the bowels of the dirty seat searching in vain for the clicky-thingey.  My fingers came back with crumbs and hair.

“Not working madam.  Only two seat belts in the back.”

We drove on.  When we were finally settled, the driver looked at me in the rear view mirror and smiled reassuringly.  “Don’t worry madam, I am take it very slow.  I am very safe driver, very safe driver.”  I returned his smile, grateful for his kindness.  We now appeared to be reconciled.  I had swapped places with Cormac, my eldest child, giving him the front seat instead.   I reasoned that the airbag in the front, with a seatbelt, was a lesser risk than no seatbelt at all.  This was a view the taxi driver appeared not share, as our tangle of arms and legs pushed through the gap between the seats.  “He is too young for to be sitting in the front madam!” he had protested.

This led to an inevitable discussion about the traffic in Dubai.  The difficulty navigating the complex maze of arteries sweeping back and forth, to and from Sheikh Zayed Road, tying the city up in knots.  “Driving is not any problem, it’s very easy to drive in Dubai,”  the driver said as he answered his phone.  “Unless there is accident happening.  If accident happening, pwoof,” he said, swishing both hands, palm up, in the air.  What can we do? he meant, in local body language.

It was true that he knew the roads well though.  We took a back route towards Dubai Mall, joining the end of a slow, snaking queue that led towards the gaping mouth of the Trade Centre roundabout.  We came upon the junction slowly, passing three cars jaggedly stalled across the centre lanes.  A motorbike lay on its side at the nearest exit fork, its rider’s helmet sitting incongruently pretty on the curb nearby.  The rider, nowhere to be seen.  From the front seat, my eldest strained to see as we drove by.  “A pizza delivery bike, Mum” he said.

The taxi driver elaborated.  “Always hungry, bring me the food hurry hurry, the people say.  This is why the motorbikes is driving like this.  They are coming through the middle, so you don’t see them.  Then smash!”  he used a hand-to-fist action to illustrate.  “This is very dangerous job, very dangerous.  People want the food too fast.”

We came onto Sheikh Zayed Road and picked up a little speed.  We passed time by exchanging the usual pleasantries.  Where are you from?  (Bangladesh/New Zealand).  How long have you been here?  (Three years/Two years).  Your country is very good at cricket! (Thank you/Not really, but thank you also!).  It was when we were talking about his son, three years and 9 months old who he’d seen only twice since he left Bangladesh, that I noticed the cars had stopped up ahead.  The Dubai Mall exit was at a standstill.

I assumed heavy traffic inside the parking building, and we continued to talk.  The driver told me he qualified as a lawyer, but had been so dispirited by the corruption of the justice system in Bangladesh that he’d looked for work elsewhere.  But times are difficult in Bangladesh, he explained.  “Very dangerous” he said, “Same Afghanistan.  Not safe.”  Then, in 2008, tragedy struck.  His first born child, a son, died of food poisoning.

“Food poisoning?”

“Yes madam.  Very sad.  Very very sad.”  He looked across at Cormac who was kneading his fingers in his lap in the front seat, eyes downcast.  His listening posture.  “He is big boy, like him.”

What I managed to clarify is that if his son had survived, he would be a big boy by now.  But the baby had lived only 39 days.  The contaminated baby formula that had affected thousands in China, had also killed this man’s son in Bangladesh in 2008.  “His stomach is getting very big, very fat, and his skin is coming a white colour.  Very painful for him.  Very very painful.”

I googled it later.  Reports are sketchy, but there were at least 4 children reported dead in Bangladesh as a result of melamine poisoning, and several hundred more were hospitalised.  The taxi driver’s voice was hoarse as he told his story.  “It was the doctors.  The companies is paying them to say it is good milk.  Better than my wife’s milk.  It is corruption, always corruption.”

Inside, the car was becoming hot.  I noticed groups of people, presumably other taxi passengers, trudging along the shoulder towards the mall on foot.  Straining to see up ahead, I spotted the bowed elbow of a tow truck hard at work.  Behind us the tell-tale siren announced the arrival of another emergency vehicle.  “Pwoof.”  The driver said with his hands.  “Too much accidents today.”

When it became clear we might be there for another hour or more, we shook hands and bid the driver farewell.  My excessive tip did nothing to assuage my feelings of guilt – for what, I am not sure.  On the shoulder I made the children form a line and marched them along the highway as close to the barrier as I could.

The wet heat loomed like a weight on my shoulders as we walked.  The weight of my own thoughts loomed even heavier.

This town is tough.  Relationships with people outside your social or cultural grouping tend to be transactional.  I thought of Morshed, also Bangladeshi, who looked after our floor at the hotel where we stayed for three months when we first arrived to live in Abu Dhabi.  I thought of how he cried when we moved out.  He cried in a strangled voice that made me want to look away.  Bobbie was the same age as his daughter.  They both had short brown bob hair-cuts.  As the glass lift descended the 23 floors we watched Morshed push his trolley back along the corridor, his shoulders still shaking.  With wisdom beyond his years Cormac had said “Why did you make friends with him Mum?  You just made it harder for him.”

Distances are always hard to judge on foot.  It took us at least twenty minutes to reach the crash site.  By the time we passed, there was nothing to see, thankfully, except a scattered rainbow of glass and scrunched metal.  We stepped over the debris, and continued to walk.  The children, for once, did not complain. Sweat gathered under our eyes, a natural adhesive for the gusting sand.  Below us, the twelve lane highway of Sheikh Zayed pulsed.  Above us a thundering overpass announced each car with a muted pe-dung, pe-dung.

Up ahead, I realised with a sinking dread that we would have to get across a three lane motorway on-ramp to reach the safety of the mall entrance.  I tightened my grip on the kids’ hands, barked at Cormac to stay close.  I approached the curb, rigid with fear.  Cars flashed by in a blur, one-two, one-two.  I felt my breakfast turning to liquid inside.

A young couple, hand in hand, fell in beside us, gazing confidently into the distance for a gap in the traffic.  The woman had dark black hair and smelt of cigarettes and rich, opulent perfume.   She smiled across the top of the children’s heads, raising her hands in that familiar What can we do? gesture.  She noticed I was struggling and offered to help.  Like a taxi in want of seat belts, my two hands were insufficient for three children.  Later, she apologised for her poor command of English, which was infinitely better than my command of Arabic.  She told me she was from Tunisia (“Yes, we are famous now!”) visiting Dubai on holiday.

When they punted across the road with Liam between them, a moment’s hesitation on my part kept me rooted to the spot.  Now they were there, and we were over here.  Bobbie began to cry and clawed up my arm so I might carry her.  Cormac’s face was white.  My courage to cross the road was evaporating.

Then, out of nowhere, a big black SUV with tinted windows threw on its hazard lights and slowed down, the ripple effect causing others to follow suit.  I noticed the driver was in local dress, waving us across with a look of concern on his face.  When we made it to the mall the Tunisians laughed in their cheerful manner, hugging and kissing each of us in turn, before heading to a nearby bench for a quick cigarette.  The sweet smell of the woman’s perfume gave way to the overpowering stench of freshly applied manure.  A line-up of workers in green overalls were massaging the dank mixture into the soil of the perfectly manicured flower beds leading up to the the mall’s entrance.

An unusual smell, safety.

On the way back to the hotel, we got a taxi with three seatbelts and a driver whose knowledge of the back channels of the city suggested he was no stranger to Dubai’s roads either.  We didn’t trade pleasantries though.  I think Cormac, whose brow was still furrowed, was relieved about that.  Making our way through the hotel car park, a big black SUV with tinted windows pulled out suddenly, nearly ploughing into us.  “These local drivers!” the driver said with exasperation, blaring the horn.  “They don’t look.  They don’t care.”

That night, driving home to Abu Dhabi in the relative safety of our own car, the rain came after all.  Great white cracks appeared in the night sky and the rain escaped like shattered glass, lacing the windshield in silver rivulets.  The kids whooped with surprise and delight.  I looked out into the inky black night, thinking about milk powder and dead babies, and lawyers who are taxi drivers and housekeepers in faraway lands, and taxi drivers who have no patience for black SUVs with tinted windows, and locals who stop for unexpected highway pedestrians, and Tunisians who are famous for being Tunisian.  And I think about people who have the luxury to worry about seat belts and bad hair days.  And I wonder: What can we do?

Farewell Mr Pearce, The Best Teather Ever

A few weeks ago we had to farewell, in Cormac’s words, the “Best Teather Ever” (even if he never did teach him how to spell).  The video above was put together by all the many students whose lives Mr Pearce not only touched during his four years at Al Muna school in Abu Dhabi, but probably changed as well.  You see, Mr Pearce was no ordinary teacher.  pearceHe’s one of those rare breeds; a vocational teacher who isn’t in it for the money (such that it is), the holidays or the so-called convenience, but because it’s what he was born to do.  Even if he wasn’t a teacher, he’d be that guy at the family picnic organising the kids (“sit down”, “don’t do that”), laughing with them and playing some invented game and telling stories and talking to them, while all the adults talk to each other.  In some ways, having observed him a lot over the years, I think he’s just a big kid himself.  He has a sense of the ridiculous and the absurd and the hilarious in a way that most adults train themselves out of.

Of course I can’t speak for Cormac because obviously I wasn’t in the classroom. I can only relay the things that he has said and share my observations of the changes in him as the year progressed.  For a start there was his enthusiasm in general. Like a kindergarten kid, he started taking all manner of things to school for “sharing”. “You’re 10!” I reminded/reprimanded him. “Give the teacher a break” I said, embarrassed for him as he carried his giant 6 pointer deer skull proudly through the gates, or yet another lego creation he considered to be highly original and not just another tall building made of blocks.

Cormac with Mr PearceBut instead of being tolerated politely by Mr Pearce, C came home with awards – so many, in fact, a younger sibling had Mr Pearce up about it in the playground. “How come C gets so many certificates even though he’s the naughtiest person in our family?” And there was fun too. Apparently Mr Pearce was all about ambience in the classroom, and let the kids complete their maths sheets while humming away to “Party Rockers in the House Tonight”.

“He’s funny”, C said almost every day when I picked him up – which everyone knows is a compliment of the highest order for a kid. “He tells us stories,” by which I took to mean he read books aloud in class. As it turns out, what he meant was that Mr Pearce regularly devulged scandalous stories from his trove of childhood memories growing up with 5 brothers and 1 sister in rural Australia.   His Mother would probably have a heart attack if she knew.

Best TeatherAnd by all accounts, Mr Pearce is damn good at his trade too. During the Rainforest topic Cormac came home with stories of how Mr Pearce drew the curtains, turned the lights down, ordered shoes off, and sprayed the kids with water. With closed eyes, he encouraged them to imagine being in the rainforest and to observe how they felt – “Does the hair on your neck stand up like soliders standing to attention?” he asked. “That’s how he taught us what a simile is” C told me later.

When C’s handwriting was indecipherable, Mr Pearce put a rubber band around his wrist and hooked it on to the tip of his pencil so that he would maintain the correct grip. In so doing C’s pitiful handwriting was fixed almost overnight. I said to Mr Pearce “you’re a genius!” and he said – “nah, not really – you know that’s just a placebo, right?”

IMG_0546Our other children are moving through the school at different stages and everywhere there are traces of Mr Pearce’s influence. From the Great Australian Sleepout to the Click Photography unit to “Tribal day” – all of them sprung from the depths of Mr Pearce’s limitless imagination. He once said to me “If I don’t find at subject interesting, why would I expect the kids to?”

It makes you wonder, in all the debate that always rages about standards and testing and funding and responsibility, if somewhere along the way we haven’t lost sight of the basics.

IMG_0574And the kids know it too. When I learned Mr Pearce would be leaving in the new year I felt I should do my best to prepare C for the bad news. I said “you know that one day Mr Pearce might want to move on, don’t you – maybe he’d like to become a Principal one day for example?”. C looked me dead in the face and said without hesitation “why would he want to do that? He’s too good a teacher for that to happen to him”. Because by a kid’s logic, only the best teachers (best teathers) earned the right to stand in front of the class, right?  Putting a teacher behind a computer in a big flash office on his own, far away from children, was clearly a demotion.

Mr Pearce has been gone about a month and his absence is definitely still felt.  Take a look at the video and you’ll see why.  It isn’t just your average teacher that inspires this sort of reaction in kids.

Goodbye Mr Pearce

Read this!

I quit facebook this year, among other things which were dragging me down (yep, lookin’ at you alcohol).  There are many upsides to this situation.  I am no longer bombarded by photos of half-eaten lunches, for example, and I don’t feel pursued by all the pages that my “friends” apparently “liked” once upon a time.

The only downside of not being on Bacefook is I don’t have a way of sharing great articles I find around the internet which I think are really worthwhile reading.  Yes, there’s always twitter – but is it just me or is that place really, really noisy?  There’s sharing, and then there’s bludgeoning.

So every once in awhile I thought I’d share on my blog the top 5 articles or links I’ve come across around the web.  So here she goes:

1) One of the funniest and revealing short stories I’ve read in a long time.   It begins… “The worst thing about the affair, Nina thought, was that it made her so impatient with the children.”   **Note: The Narrative magazine is one of the most reliable sources of high quality fiction on the internet – and will dispel any prejudices you have about online distribution (so take the 2 minutes required to sign up to read).  The material is not only as good as you’ll find in any printed book, it’s probably far better**

2) As above – another one from Narrative.  This piece has a voice of its own, deceptively simple and straightforward yet somehow very deep and wickedly entertaining.  It’s writing like this that fools people into thinking anyone can do it.  The story begins… “On the airplane, the woman across the aisle and one row in front of me was beautiful. She wore the best pair of blue jeans in the history of the world. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Is there such a thing as the greatest jeans in the world? Can denim be sacred? Probably not. But I’m trying to make a point here. The woman was an epic series of curves. The ghost of some ancient Greek lute player is vainly searching for his instrument so he can sing ballads for and about her. Okay, I’m exaggerating again….”

3) Meanwhile, ever wondered  what the third most dangerous job in the world is? (clue: “Sat is where its at!”).  Not/Not for the faint-hearted.

4) A stand-out, thought-provoking blog well worth following.

and finally,

5) A poem that took my breath away.  And I still haven’t quite figured out what it means.

Waterpark to end all waterparks! (an Abu Dhabi Update)

That’s a misleading title since I don’t really intend to write a blog post about life in Abu Dhabi, today or perhaps ever again.  We shall see.

But what I do want to do is dump a video in here from our sneak preview of Yas Waterworld yesterday, largest waterpark in the Middle East, set to open at the end of the month.  It may interest you to know that the scariest thing was NOT the rides (or the knowledge that we were essentially guinea pigs on them) but the cold.  The  mother-freakin’ arctic temperatures of the Middle East in winter.  I think it barely broke 20 degrees yesterday.  Had to take my kid home before lunch with hypothermia.  Still, it was well worth it as you’ll see in this video.

Please note there’s only half of it because that tornado ride was SO severe, my camera broke on the way down.  The jigamiwhatsit unsnibbed and the case filled up with water.  “Tough” my ass Olympus!

I’m hoping Yas Waterworld will give me another set of free tickets so I can go back and finish the video – wearing a wetsuit!!

Book Fair hits town

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Because the Book Fair is here. And as an added bonus, if you take along a kid you get $30-50 worth of vouchers PER child to spend inside. So there are advantages to having 3 kids afterall!

In what I believe to be an admirable show of restraint (considering they were practically giving them away), here’s what I came home with.

Taxi by Khaled Alkhamassi. A novel which tells the story of the uprising in Egypt as seen through the eyes of taxi drivers; a brilliant concept which appealed to me immediately since I remember only too well how the pulse of Buenos Aires (from economic crises to theories on military dictatorships football matches) seemed to flow in and through the taxi drivers themselves. The inside cover of “Taxi” says “I dedicate this book to the life that dwells in the words of simple people. May it swallow up the void that has haunted us for many years”.

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa (and yes, that’s an average rating of 4.28 based on 790 reviews which I can assure is HIGH). It’s a bankable plot – as Palestine is carved up in 1948 making refugees of thousands, a mother is separated from her 6 month old baby. That child goes on to grow up as an Israeli while his mother and siblings grow up in refugee camps across the border. Eventually (predictably?) the siblings are reunited in, of all places, war. I narrowly missed an interview with the author at the book fair, but that may be just as well where spoilers are concerned, I can imagine this one will be gripping…

Nothing to lose but your life, by Suad Amiry. I have to admit I wanted to buy this on the basis of the title alone. Palestine again (I was at the Bloomsbury/Qatar Foundation stall, a veritable fount for new and exciting Arab fiction). This time it’s a non-fiction account of an Architect living in Ramallah who disguises herself as a man and crosses the Israeli border illegally to seek work in Petah Tikva. The book covers the eighteen hour journey with a couple of her compatriots and is apparently is as funny as it is tragic. Just my cup of tea.

Pigeon English By Stephen Kelman. This is the real surprise of the lot – it’s narrated by an 11 year old, which, for anyone who is familiar with my feelings on child narrators is not a strong starting point. It’s also recommended highly by Emma Donoghue herself, who it’d be fair to say is not my favourite author. Apparently Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is also a good indicator of whether you’ll like this book (which I enthusiastically did not). But call me a sucker for punishment, the guardian’s quote on the front cover convinced me I shouldn’t throw the towel in on child narrators just yet. They describe it as “A gut-wrenchingly sad novel that makes you laugh out loud’. Again, my cup of tea.

And finally, a book I wanted to buy but didn’t as it’s not yet out in paperback…
I shall not hate, by Izzeldin Abuelaish. Not much to laugh about here, to be sure. A true story about a Palestinian doctor working in the Gaza strip, treating patients both Palestinian and Israeli, which is a story in itself – whose 3 daughters are killed by Israeli soldiers during the Israeli incursion of the Gaza strip in 2009. His reaction to this tragedy won him international recognition and humanitarian awards. Definitely have to read that one at some point.

Anyhoo. Off to make that cuppa now….

This year, 2011, was brought to us by…

  • The Letter “A” – For Abu Dhabi
  • The Number 218 – The quantity of boxes our lives were compressed into on departure, not including one bus)
  • The Regret – Of Goodbyes
  • The Excitement – Of starting all over again (“Additionally, the doctor believed that the pleasure of homecoming was more than recompense for the pains of setting out, and that therefore it was always worth departing” – Louis De Bernieres)
  • The Saying – “Insh’allah”
  • The Temperature – 50 degrees
  • The Book – “When God Was a Rabbit” By Sarah Winman, on account of it succeeding in making me cry and laugh at the same time, literally.
  • The Song – “My Happiness”, by Powderfinger (a few years late with that one)
  • The Anxiety – Of taking 3 kids half way around the world, dropping them off in a foreign classroom and reassuring them as they stand there all alone holding back tears, “I know what I’m doing, trust me you’ll be fine”
  • The Pride – Of watching 3 kids excel, half way around the world in a foreign classroom, running off into the distance with friends, not even pausing to glance back at you
  • The Appreciation – For the enormity of the task Malcolm has undertaken
  • The Admiration – For his talent and dedication in pulling it off
  • The Achievement – Of furnishing an entire house at Ikea in under 24 hours (which was my sole contribution to aforementioned task)
  • The Sadness – of friends and family departed, somehow even harder for the distance; Grandma Painter, Uncle Harry, Evs; Neville; Amanda.
  • The Disappointment – Of being told off in a public car park not once, but twice in one year (and it wasn’t for stealing shopping trolleys either)
  • The Venue – The Corniche, 8kms of blissful rollerblading waterfront.  This is where I do all my serious thinking; for example “Life it too short, I’m going to the wedding” and “One day I will find the right words” and “God I miss the 90s”.
  • The Sentiment – Whatever’s there to feel, feel it – the riddance, the relief, the fright and freedom, the fear of forgetting, the dull ache of your own mortality. Get with someone you can trust with tears, with anger, and wonderment and utter silence. Get that part done – the sooner the better. The only way around these things is through them (Thomas Lynch).
  • The Mission – To get all the kids’ homework done in under 17 hours per week
  • The Shame – Of having become dependent on a weekly visit to the manicurist for no other reason than because everyone else does it, and hey, I quite like it so why not?
  • The Guilt – Of discovering that “cheap tasty food delivered to your door” is a way of life here and subsequently declaring I will not cook until further notice
  • The Surprise – Of earning the title of “3rd best Goodreads reviewer in New Zealand” on the week of Christmas
  • The Concern – That perhaps I’m taking my geekiness just a bit too far
  • The Mentor – W. Moloney, for constantly reminding me what a coup it is to have the title “stay at home mum” and to damn well enjoy it while it lasts
  • The Inconvenience – Of having the principal account holder (i.e. Malcolm) receive immediate notifications every time a purchase or withdrawal is made (yes Girlfriends, think that one through!).
  • The Fun – Of being the only kiwi parent I know in Abu Dhabi who got their kids out of school to watch the All Blacks play in both the Semis AND Finals of the RWC, certainly the only parent to bowl my way into the classroom wearing pom poms with her face all painted black.
  • The Horror – Of a Cocktail party with no alcohol
  • The Double Horror – Of a Cocktail party with no food OR alcohol, and a programme that goes on for 3 hours, not including speeches
  • The Pain – Of heels that look good
  • The Wonder – Of blue skies, every day
  • The Wonder – Of Snow in Wellington
  • The Relief – Of having reconciled with my brother
  • The Pleasure – Of watching him marry the love of his life
  • The irritation – Of declaring how much I hate Facebook only to use it without shame nor restraint all year

And finally, 2011 was ALSO brought to us by….

  • A Job – Thanks Te Rau Matatini, from your 20-hour-a-week senior researcher based remotely (lets not calculate the precise distance ok?)
  • A Family – With no children under 5 anymore, hooray!
  • A Husband – Who loves me, despite my moratorium on cooking
  • A Husband – Who I love, despite (or perhaps because of) his inability to get excited by 5 star hotels with giant pineapple-shaped chandeliers, my carefully manicured hands and feet, or 7-story shopping malls in Dubai
  • An Anniversary – Ten Years
  • A Comfort Zone – In no particular order, Nicky, Soph, Fi, Chlo, Amelia, Sheryl, Jo, Becs, Sarah (my shout Wednesday at the Yachtie)
  • A Holiday – On Safari in Kenya
  • A Computer – On which I spend too much time, case and point

And for 2012 I have…

  • A Hope – That I would Be Good
  • A Mission – To understand that to be a good mother/person/wife, I need to spend more time doing, and less time talking
  • A Goal – To read books at the same pace at which I buy them
  • And A Wish -To Write.  Full stop.

UAE National Day

National Day mania!! Celebrating Forty Years of the UAE – with absolute gusto.

The Corniche, Abu Dhabi

A collection of photos taken while out and about in the city (this is where I rollerblade along the Corniche) plus a couple of desert shots from our recent trip to Al Ain, and finally, a Dubai boat trip – passing the ever famous Palm Jumierah from the sea.