Dubai Mall and The Burj

Lots of malls in Dubai…in case you never knew ;). Even the smaller malls are grand. Malls are a favourite topic with the kids I work with as a lot of families spend time there.. and these are three year olds! Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are the two biggies.

Dubai Mall is huge. Period! Just the walk from the subway exit to the mall through the connecting tunnel felt like almost 10 minutes and that includes walking on at least 6 super long motivators. And I usually avoid motivators. But this time I didn’t because I had no clue when I’d reach the entrance. I just knew that the walk would be long. Below is a mini version of the mall. Its only two levels I believe. I’ve been there a few times and have probably walked less than half of the mall.

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I love books and was in the store Book World (as least I think that’s what its called). The bookstore is comparable in size to a Walmart superstore!

This is one of Dubai’s popular attraction’s…

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The fountains at Dubai Mall. It’s like synchronized swimming without the swimmers. Just water moving to music. Was out for dinner and we sat on the patio and enjoyed classical, old school and popular music tunes. When I was leaving a friend’s house a while back- she lives near the mall and I heard and partially saw a Michael Jackson choreography.

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Listening and watching a classical piece is really nice!

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Not too far from Dubai Mall is another one of the hottest attractions- the Burj Kalifa. This is almost as close as I’ll get to the burj until I finally go.

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Hi Dubai!

So I am officially settled into my new life in Dubai- christened by my first visa run today :).  Strolled along Sheikh Zayed road after drop off to admire some of the beautiful architecture that makes Dubai what it is.

A residential maze
A residential maze

I especially love this building  with the maze patterned balconies. Pretty cool!

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Are those buildings as close together as they appear??? Yup! There are quite a few apartment buildings like that. That bridge above traffic is the tunnel to the metro.

The distant Burj

If you look really closely you can see the metro zooming along on the tracks. In the distant background on the right ( the skinny building) is the Burj Khalifa the tallest skyscraper.  I will post pics when I go 🙂

Getting back into the routine of keeping up with blogging… Gimme time guys…I’ll get back on track.

BTW this season has fabulous weather…it poured yesterday (two short downpours). The kids were glued to the windows as for some this was the first experience of rain that they could make sense of at their young age. It was so cute to see.  It’s wonderfully, comfortably sunny, breezy and not too hot.

Small town India

I’ve been soo busy and tired lately…I’ve neglected my blog :(… but I’m going to try to keep up from now on…

My fascination with traffic in India will never end…I recently traveled to the state of Gujarat, and while traffic is nothing like Mumbai, I fell in love with a common mode of transport- I was told that this is unique to only Gujarat- I think, but it was awesome… Picture a motorcycle with the back tire removed and the front wheel jacked up with hydrolics with a two wheeled wagon attached to the back end-where the back tire should be.

And voila….

WP_20150324_13_38_14_ProMy new love! I think these are awesome! They carry A LOT of people and sometimes a lot of stuff. Apparently the way some truckers dress up their cabs back home, some owners of these vehicles tend to do the same as well 😉

I also had the opportunity to visit a market where I happily purchased some trinkets to take back home…lots of well crafted hand painted stuff…

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I visited two localities during my brief stay- Surendranagar- a town, and Jivapar- a village. Small quaint little places. I was there to work and what surprised me the most… is the kids… the people too, but the kids…. the little preschoolers were not phased at all by my presence…

What I mean by that is usually when a foreigner- a complete outsider, visits a small place (a town or village) and goes to a a small small building that doesn’t have enough space for the kids that are already in the program much less three grownups…incidentally one of my colleagues was from the ‘city’, of which locals can sniff you in a minute :)…. usually people notice you…right?

Anyway, a program that is tight on space, and when three grownups now invade the space, kids would normally look, and stare. This is expected. Heck, the kids at the school that I work stared at me for MONTHS when they saw me in the school. Before I moved to this locality people on the street stared at me HARD.

Fast forward to Gujarat, in preschool spaces filled with kids 2-5 years, and they blinked. Once, maybe twice, and then I was a nobody!

Needless to saw I was in awe of their reaction. Not because I wanted them to notice me…lol. But in all my years of working with children from foreign countries- not all foreigners… I mean I’ve worked with lots of kids who have never seen a black person in their life. Families who immigrate to Canada and within a week-for some, they were in my program, and the kids register shock, when they see me. I have fond memories of those days…:)

I know what it’s like to appear ‘foreign’ to people. But these kids in Gujarat… and the adults for that matter, couldn’t care less. It was really, really fascinating, especially because I had been stared at for MONTHS in the city. And these kids smiled at me… a few waved their hands to say bye when they left. it took weeks for the city kids to wave and/or smile at me… I have to smile when I think about it.

Now I’m a thinker… and I immediately discuss with my colleague my fascination with this experience. Yah, I could be making something out of nothing, but it was uncanny considering I am very accustomed to the experience of being stared at when I’m the ‘odd one out’ which has happened frequently in my career working with new immigrants.

Then there was Priti (not her real name) my colleague and I instantly fell in love with this little preschooler in Jivapar… if you work with kids, once you keep reading you’ll understand…

She’s the kid that everyone knows because she’s a little fiesty one… not in a bad way… she’s the one who often has the pleasure of sitting beside the teacher so the teacher can ‘keep and eye on her’, because she can be all over the place. The kids were doing an activity where the teacher and the assistant were introducing fruits. Here is my little friend..sitting at the foot of the assistant eagerly waiting her turn in a class of probably 20 kids…She doesn’t mind though because as the assistant is cutting up fruits and putting them in a basket for the teacher who calls kids one by one to taste and talk about the fruit, my little friend is happily sneaking pieces of fruit as she waits. I think she knew the teacher probably wouldn’t get around to calling all the kids name, so why wait for the snack to finally be divided with everyone at the end of the activity? lol

My colleague and I fought over her. I declared I want to pack her in my bag and take her home. In my head I had her room all done up already, had her registered for school… she was adorable! lol Hers was the name called most often and by the time the program was done, we both knew her name, told her ‘bye’ and we’ll never forget our fiesty little friend 🙂

Before leaving Surendranagar we stop off to grab something to eat with the local community council…and if you know me and food…I wish I was Dorothy… click click “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home” lol.

Needless to say… I ate rice. Just rice seasoned Indian style…whatever that means!

The next day after leaving Jivapar, we have to eat again…okay… I should have expected this… So we stop off at an all you can eat place. Apparently in Gujarat eating at a typical Gujarati restaurant it is an experience unique to Gujarat in what is offered.

Anyway… what am I going eat? I would have been happy just to stay in the car eating my snacks… but I got to do ‘this’….

what is ‘this’… you may ask?

Certainly, it’s not eating Indian food…it’s just being in the space and dealing with ‘it’.

So I did. I sat and this was the spread…

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I am happy to report they serve french fries! 😉

5 things that I totally rock!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Have Confidence in Me.”

Are you good at what you do? What would you like to be better at?

5 things that I totally rock!

1. Sleeping in…got that one down to a science… I know when to sleep in just enough to avoid the “hangover from oversleeping”. If that means I have to bring my breakfast to work…so be it! lol

2. I am really good at cooking for survival. I passionately dislike cooking!

3. I do really well with ‘not’ shopping. I have confidence that shopping is overrated!

4. I do really well with exorbitant amounts of time spent in solitude. Don’t misunderstand it as boredom or loneliness. Refueling sometimes takes more energy and time than the task just completed or the one that lies ahead.

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5. I have confidence in me. That whatever is for me, is for me and nobody else!

It has to be about food

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Plead the Fifth.” What question do you hate to be asked? Why?

While working abroad in India how can one not take pleasure in eating food from the spice capital of the world!

It’s easy…

..well not easy- not at all in fact. It’s doable though- 15lbs lighter…but it’s doable! lol

I’ve been here for 6 months so far- minus a lengthy holiday trip back home, and I’ve eaten at 1 Indian restaurant, actually two…I had chicken fingers… and garlic bread-with process cheese…yuck… but that doesn’t count as Indian food.

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Those chicken fingers looked like they wanted to eat me…needless to say I barely ate any!

I’ve tried one Indian treat-just last week actually, and have had 3 morsels from a birthday dessert… I think that was during my first week here way back in September.

So what’s the question that I’d “plead the fifth” to…

it’s “do you want some? or any variation of the same…”do you want something to eat?” The latter is especially when in foreign places and foreign spaces.

Cause my answer is always “hell no”…at least to the people here that know me well. And then we laugh. To others, it’s a polite “no thank you” or “it’s ok”.

Indians are very generous people when it comes to food. Feeding someone is a part of being hospitable and I am fortunate enough to work with colleagues who “get” my food issues and after many offers of food and many explanations and fact seeking missions…now we’re at the ‘light-hearted jokes” phase. They get it- for the most part, and just tease me every now and then.

A typical lunch conversation between me and one colleague in the office…

Colleague: Do you want some?

Me: What is it?

Colleague:

Me: (I have no clue what she’s said, something Indian, with lentils, or cumin, or some other Indian spice).

Side note: I came to India with such high hopes of learning Hindi….but Hindi is soooooooo hard!!!

I stand up and peak over the partition that seperates our desks. What’s in that?

Colleague: ….

Me: (I have no clue what she’s said, something Indian, with lentils or some other protein, or cumin, or some other Indian spice. But it’s definitely not a chapati… I love chapati…pure carb. Yum!)

“Hell no!”

We both laugh, I sit down and continue to eat my lunch and she continues to eat hers.

Although I do think they secretly think I will eat Indian food before my stay here ends.

I’ll leave them with their dreams 😉

Why it would be …..supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Plot of Earth.”

You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?

lol. It really would be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Otherwise defined as “extraordinarily good”. 😉

This is easy for me.

I love words soooo much I would build me a library!

Why is that ‘extraordinarily good’ you ask? If you’ve ever read a good book…

and I mean a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious book you’d understand!

  • You should be sleeping…it’s 2am…but you can’t put down the book!
  • You’re laughing out loud…and there’s no one else in the room.
  • You’re crying. The damn book is making you cry!
  • You have to buy it…no matter how much it costs!
  • You have to keep reading. It’s only been an 2 hours since you started. It’s a thousand pages long….still can’t put it down and I’m only on page 60…

…Pillars of the Earth was definitely supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! All 1000+ pages.

  • You declare…the book was better than the movie. Always!
  • You put the book down, go to bed and when you pick it up again you felt like you just got back from a commercial break.
  • You bought one for yourself…and then bought one for a friend.
  • You know it’s going to be a gloomy day…gotta curl up with a book.
  • You know what would go great with a hot chocolate/tea/coffee on a cold winter’s day… a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious book!
  • You put the book down and fall asleep and dream that you were watching a show…that the book was a TV show!
  • Your favourite author has never let you down…they’ve got a soft spot in your wallet 😉
  • You refuse to give the book away…ever. It was that damn good!
  • You read it again. Maybe twice, maybe more ;).
  • You cannot start reading until all is well with the world. Dishes are clean, kids are in bed, you’ve had a shower and now you’re curled up in bed. No distractions!
  • You and the character are one…how the hell did the author know about your life! lol

Who would not want to share this love with the world!

Books are magical!

You don’t have a choice of whether or not you see it. It’s everywhere.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Think Global, Act Local.”

Poverty.

It’s impossible to miss it in Mumbai. It’s hard when children who live on the street tug at your sleeve, or just appear out of nowhere and are tapping the window of your taxi and you look up to see a schoolager holding a toddler in her arms. Or that senior who gives you the universal gesture for food (tips of the fingers touching each other as you gesture your hand to your mouth).

You know, when I was staying in an area closer to where I work, I used to almost step over a woman on my walk to work in the morning. Literally side step around her. The sidewalks are not wide enough on most streets and most people walk on the road as the sidewalks are often crowded. She slept stretched out on the sidewalk nightly.

It’s also hard when you take the same route home from work everyday and there he is … same place same time walking across congested Mumbai streets tapping every window he can before the traffic light changes, hoping he can get a few rupees. Standing on the median at the stoplight is another man holding a cane-left arm stops where ones’ elbow should be. He’s just watching the cars. He must be tired in this heat. I want to give him the fruit I have in my bag. Or give it to the guy I pass on my way home from the grocery store. But I stop myself…most times.

Sometimes I make it home and the window of the taxi hasn’t been tapped at all.

I struggle with whether or not I should give, and how much I should give. I’m not even phased by the idea that some people on the streets in India make more than people who work at some menial jobs. At least that’s what I’ve been told. I don’t know how real that is, but it doesn’t matter to me, they don’t have a roof over their head and whatever they get from begging can’t afford them one either.

I don’t want to talk about the politics of the matter…I don’t like politics and my brain will hurt too much. Anyway, if you’ve heard anything about politics in India, even if only 25% of it is true, your brain will explode!  I want to talk about what I see day in day out as I live and work as a foreigner in Mumbai.

So I give. Not as often as I’d like, cause I’m still struggling with this issue. It is incredible to see poverty in so many forms. When I’m people watching on the drive to work and I see the impact of poverty- stunted growth in children and adults, I don’t know…I don’t know.

So I have to give. Actually, I don’t ‘have’ to, really. I am compelled to. I have minimal needs and someone else has major needs. I have enough so that I can give. So I will.

As I write this last line, I think my struggle is over. This prompt was a blessing in disguise.

Some

Sometimes