Culture

Where’s my tribe?

Art attack

I’m beginning to think that everyone should be plucked from everything and everyone they know and dropped in a new location at least once in their lives. The disruption really makes you think about who you are and what makes you tick. Exchanging predictable outcomes for a life lived in the moment is challenging but like most things worth doing, the more you put into it, the greater the gain. (more…)

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The three month review

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Three months have gone by since we moved to Dubai so it seems a good moment to pause and take stock of where we are with the ‘settling in’ process. How do you know when a place feels like home and what are the significant factors that help new arrivals to feel at one with a different culture?

By its nature Dubai is a place that attracts people from all over the world. ‘Melting pot’ is a clichéd and somewhat inaccurate description of multicultural societies generally but in Dubai, particularly so. I love it that I live in a place that welcomes so many different nationalities but as a new arrival I needed to find where I belonged first and initially sought contact with other Brits. I am sure that most expats, wherever they come from, feel the same. I have had to get used to the fact that most people I meet are a good deal younger than me and because of that we don’t always share the same cultural references! (more…)

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Chickens, hens, eggs and chocolate

Chicken, hens and chocolate eggs

The title might suggest a bit of an Easter theme but I am not about to launch into a post on new beginnings, rebirth, fluffy animals or indeed, chocolate. The chocolate in the title was trespassing on serious cheesecake territory and the egg was more spherical than ovoid. Confused? Me too. It’s these misleading menu descriptions. They do it to me every time. They lull you into thinking that you know what you ordered. Too late, you realise that chef, in a burst of madcap inspiration (culinary genius that he is) has deconstructed your favourite dessert. The clues were there after all. I might have guessed that the passion fruit and yuzu cheesecake sounded too good to be true.

When the waiter leaned in, eyes reverently lifted skywards, whispering that chef’s ‘signature dish’ is a not a ‘traditional’ interpretation, my internal dessert alarm went to red alert. Afters was about to go down the Swanee. (more…)

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Brunch at the Billion Pound Hotel

Burj Al Arab 1

Before we made the decision to move to Dubai we came out for a week’s ‘recce’ to see if this was for us. Even before we got here the symbol of Dubai, the stunning Burj Al Arab hotel with its distinctive exterior design, based on a ship’s sail, cast a spell. There it was in the pages of the flight magazine and it kept hoving into view all week. When we checked into our somewhat less exclusive hotel we discovered that the rooftop bar afforded a tantalising view of this iconic structure. (more…)

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Bob G and Jack D in Dubai

Bob 3 IMG_0758

I may be in Dubai but I’m keeping a careful ear to ground for any news that Bruce Springsteen is back on the road. Shortly before we left the UK it was announced that all plans for a rumoured tour to Europe have been put on hold till 2016, so now I have a huge gap in my live music addiction to fill. Tim’s guitars are still making their way over here (another story) and until they arrive he will frankly find it a bit tricky to join a band. Air guitar can only get you so far. (more…)

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Stressful route to relaxation

Keep calm IMG_0588

At the start of this journey I made a promise to myself that I would explore the opportunities Dubai offered for self-improvement. If that sounds a bit severe then maybe it needs unpacking. I have never been a great one for taking exercise. I don’t remember the last time I broke into a run – probably around 1978 if I’m honest, when I was a teacher. Letting three dozen teenage boys arrive at the school hall, ahead of time for their weekly drama lesson, would have spelt disaster so I must have had the ability to put on a sprint at some point. (more…)

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Let’s do brunch!

Palace 18_0966

The UAE working week is Sunday to Thursday and I thought it would take me ages to get used to thinking of Sunday as a working day. Not a problem. I’ve come to realise you can take pretty much anything in your stride if the sun is shining. The weekends appear to come round a bit faster, if anything, over here and the Thursday night traffic suggests that people would like to get their weekend underway even sooner, if they could just get to their destination in time for the party. (more…)

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Bling it on

Bling IMG_0515

Understated, subtle, restrained and unadorned. Dubai does not understand these concepts, much less live by them. How very refreshing.

Perhaps it has something to with the dazzling sunlight bouncing off the city’s waterways and courtyard pools, or the way the glass and marble facades of the buildings appear to glimmer in the heat of the day. Glitter and sparkle seem almost natural elements here and quite appealing to this Brit, recently arrived, with skin as pale as whitewash from too many Yorkshire winters. (more…)

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Dubai’s desert heart

For three weeks Dubai has put on its best welcome for two sun-starved Brits that blossomed in the warm glow of UAE’s ‘winter’ temperatures. Since our arrival the need to even wonder about weather conditions has seemed slightly ridiculous because every day has brought uninterrupted sunshine and clear blue skies. We started to get confident. Big mistake. (more…)

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Taste for local knowledge

I have been uncharacteristically quiet on the subject of food since we landed here. Holed up in a hotel for two weeks brought some highs and lows on the eating front, particularly as we have been staying at one of Dubai’s less grand establishments on a bed, breakfast and dinner basis. We haven’t always taken dinner though – two days in we gave the ‘dish of the day’ a whirl and what they did to a poor innocent piece of tuna scared us off. Overcooked, to the consistency of a rubber ball it was hard to believe it was once a fish. It was almost impossible to swallow which is quite a feat of achievement on the chef’s part. Luckily, we could fill up on the salad buffet which, save for an overcooked pasta creation, had been prepared with minimal interference from the kitchen. (more…)

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