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Today we went to a little 5 year old’s birthday party. Except it wasn’t the usual have some friends over, play pass the parcel, eat cake and go home sort of party. No this was *insert dramatic music* an Emirati birthday party.

The sky was the limit.

Firstly, getting to the place was incredible enough. I ventured inside the ‘non ex pat’ area and found myself gasping at each house, or should i say Castle.

For confidential purposes I did not take a picture of the actual house, but below you will find the type of house available in the area.

Personally I was doing back flips at the plethora of yummy, delicious sweets. But I cringed at the fact that my my daughter would be digesting enough sugar to possibly give her Diabetes type 2. Amongst many things, there was a ‘Candy Buffet’, where kids scoop lollies into small bags – at free will.

Upon entering the humongous entry foyer (the size of my entire apartment), I take in everything on offer for this little girls party. Imagine my amazement when I realise they have hired some ladies to give the girls manicures and pedicures. There were mini foot spas. And while getting the nails done, they got shoulder massages. Dear Lord, I.could.have.fainted. I needed that massage.

Outside in the blistering heat, there was a Cotton Candy machine and a magician, who was able to pluck doves out of thin air. There were ponies. There was candy. Actually, there was enough candy to make Willy Wonka feel poor.

Personally I was doing back flips at the plethora of yummy, delicious sweets. But I cringed at the fact that my 5 year old daughter would be digesting enough sugar to possibly give her Diabetes type 2. There was easily 20 children scooping lollies into small bags – at free will.

I notice the birthday girl has a shimmering silver chain bracelet on her slender tanned arm. Upon closer inspection, it turns out to be a Tiffany bracelet (ofcourse), given to her by her 9 year old sister. I cringed at the ‘My Little Pony’ gift we had brought with us.

The mother of the birthday girl was amazingly dressed in a shimmering, glitzy abaya. She walked around gently reminding everyone to try this, or try that. The hospitality was incredible and although there were heaps of nanny’s everywhere I looked, I still felt like she cared.

While my daughter was getting her hair blow waved (!!), I firmly made a decision not to get mad, or scoff at the scenario. Although this sort of party goes against everything I (and humanity) believe in, I decided to embrace birthday party’s – Dubai Style.

Or maybe it was because us mum’s also got a shoulder massage. Hmmm.

Part 6 is dedicated to THE worst company in Dubai – Etisalat

 

If you go onto their website they claim: “Etisalat is a leading telecommunications corporation catering to consumers, businesses, international telecommunication companies…” blah blah blah. Rubbish. Means nothing.

There’s more.

Etisalat operates in 18 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, a coverage area which reaches more than two billion people. To date, the group’s global subscriber base exceeds over 140 million subscribers through mobile and Landline voice and data services.

All of this and STILL they provide the worst customer service and products. Ever.

Since the moment I arrived in this country they have drive more than insane.

I think of Etisalat as a spoilt 2 year old having a tantrum 24/7. If you have ever seen a 2 year old having a tantrum you recognise that they make no sense and you cannot understand their instructions or needs. The tantrum escalates when try to understand, and this is the empty abyss that is precisely the customer service I get from Etisalat.

When we were connecting up our phone and Internet lines this is the 6 week process we went through (please note, there is no “free” TV in Dubai, so you can imagine the pain endured with bored children).

Week 1: Customer service guy said it will get connected next week.

Week 2: A technician comes and inserts 1 cable. He says he cannot do anymore until another guy does something else. (Cannot speak English, so hard to understand.)

Week 3: 2nd guy comes and hooks up 2 cables. He says the first guy needs to come back.

Week 4: repeat of week 2

Week 5: nothing

Week 6: I call Etisalat and the conversation is so confusing that I cannot even re-tell the story. Finally, on the final day of Week 6, a different guy comes and voila! He hands me a remote and says “this – for channels, this – for volume” (as if i didn’t know)

And the more I research and hear other stories, I seem to feel that I am the lucky one because some other people went through a lot worse. All you need to do is google it.

However, before I sign off, THE most ridiculous method they have is the way you recharge your ‘data package’. Again, I cannot even explain it because it is a confusing 22 step process.

As you can tell, a frustrating, frustrating day.

Till next time,

Be good :)

 

 

 

 

Species:

Jumeirah Jane

Known for:

Lavish shopping sprees, picture perfect hair and dress sense and dining at ridiculous priced coffee shops.

Most famous for:

Driving Petrol guzzling SUVs, having a couple of maids that do hard things like pick children up from school and spend quality time with them.  Also includes the fact that husband is usually an expat CEO and working late and/or travelling.

JJs favourite complaint:

That the nanny is not spending enough time with the children and that Bebe, Roberto Cavalli and Boutique 1 (or insert other clothes brand that doesn’t like to use enough material when making a dress) doesn’t have enough new dresses in stock.

Where JJ’s live:

In lavish Jumeirah houses, fit for a princess because, erm, they are.

Similar to:

Rich folk in Toorak or Mosman.

What to talk about with JJ:

The latest tennis match they played with their other fake JJ friends, the amazing shopping at “Wafi” and how amazing the spa massage is at the One and Only.

Where to find a JJ:

See above points.

Writer’s note:

Personally I steer clear of this species in Dubai, but I did have to include them in my musings about what makes the UAE so special. This is because they are so common. Even the Financial Crisis in 2006/2007 did not affect this species. They are mind numbingly boring and their limited topics give me no purpose to life. I couldn’t care less if their Michael Kors bag matches their Prada shoes. Then again, they do look so happy.  Ahem *cough, cough*

We are approaching the 1 year mark of living a life as an ex-pat and I found it very timely that this post came to me while I was standing in IKEA.

Before I get to that revelation, let me take you back to March 2012. The month I found out I was to uproot my family and move countries. When I remember the moment I knew we were relocating to Dubai, I still get the shivers. I remember thinking ‘how hard can it be‘ because I am glass half-full kind of person. But let me tell you, it is hard. It is bloody hard. Without doubt there are more difficult tasks in the world than this but it’s all relative. In my journey I found the mental baggage that comes with being labelled an “ex-pat” most daunting.

I never, ever envisaged that I would live outside of Australia. Of Course, like many budding young 20-something I have always loved the idea of travelling. We did quite a bit of travelling when we first got married, and with the children. We have been to Italy, Cyprus, France, Maldives, Oman, Singapore, New Zealand, covered a fair bit of Australia and our last family vacation (before Dubai) was a trip to Fiji. Throughout each and every vacation I always noted how travelling enlightens the soul. It wakes up those dormant cells sitting in your brain and you realise “yes, there is so much out there!

But still, I never ever, for even a millisecond, took a vacation and imagined myself living in that country. I always was just a tourist.

And this is the first dilemma faced by life as an ex-pat. Because you are no longer a tourist, but you are so new to everything that you feel like you do not truly fit in.  A country like Dubai, it is easy to feel like you do not fit in. Those lucky to be born in the UAE are so easily identifiable and their lifestyles can make the everyday person cringe with envy. The locals as they are known, have many benefits. The main examples that spring to mind are: FREE healthcare, FREE education and if you are getting married, the government gives the groom a block of land/house. FREE. Yes, I know it is totally spoiling but you can imagine how all of us westerner ex-pat’s stick out like a sore thumb.

And then there is the long distance relationships you have to deal with. For me, it’s with the plethora of family and friends and acquaintances I have left behind. And to quote Ms T. Swift “its exhausting” maintaining these relationships. When you are so far away, your sensitivity levels are greatly increased. Ask any ex-pat and they will tell you, the most annoying thing is when family and friends back home say Nothing is new back here, so that is why I didn’t call/Skype/message”. Unless they are a hermit and have a heart of stone, every single person living away from their home country would love any form of communication and even a little news from back home. 

And lastly, the bittersweet moment of when I went back to Australia for a vacation, and I ticked that small box on the customs form- ‘holiday’- it felt surreal. When I went back to Australia recently, back to ‘home‘, I still felt torn. My mind was changing gears to fit the Australian lifestyle but I was still living out of a suitcase.

So there I am in IKEA. I am surrounded by a million Swedish-born products, littered with Dirham currency numbers and calculating if I really need that bookshelf with matching baskets. And then it hit me, although I live here and my husband works here and my children attend school here and by the national identity card I own, I am labelled resident – my heart is still torn.

When does someone truly settle? I often ask myself. How do you erase all memory of your past life and build on the new life?

Although my heart breaks with the missing I feel – missing mum and dad, missing special occasions, missing familiar streets and cafes, missing familiarity – I have accepted that this is the journey I need to take. For some reason, my fate has played out this way and perhaps the life experiences I am learning (and my children), will be beneficial later in life.

One of my favourite authors said:

“Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world.”

“What I found appealing in life abroad was the inevitable sense of helplessness it would inspire. Equally exciting would be the work involved in overcoming that helplessness. There would be a goal involved, and I liked having goals.”

–David Sedaris

So i purchased my IKEA trolley full of things and set up my apartment. I even bought a plant to celebrate the day I let go and stopped living in limbo.

To a new beginning

Glass half full peeps – that is the best outlook on life!

Till next time,

be good :)