Have come Down Under for a few days of work, as well as to catch up with Danny and James, who I haven’t seen for years. James did the city end of my trip, complete with drinks at high-altitude bars, as well as a whistle-stop tour of the city. Danny took care of the weekend, including barbecue and road trip.
So, I can confirm the following: have driven past Palm Beach and seen the beach where they film Home & Away, as well as the Surf Club building. Have seen a wallaby, flying fox, possum, cockatoo and a bush fire. Ate in a posh restaurant opposite the Opera House and got bitten by mosquitos. Had all four seasons over one weekend. Tried six types of Aussie beer and none of them were Fosters or Castlemaine XXXX. Passed an island called Scotland. I still don’t understand Aussie rules. They watch way too much Jerry Springer here. Australian Idol isn’t as good as American Idol. Cathay Pacific should be renamed Crappy Pacific.
Off to Asia now, on the way back to Dubai.
There’s a new contender for the title of “coldest place in Dubai” – and it’s not the Ski Dome. The cinema at Ibn Battuta is positively arctic (much colder than the Metropolitan on Sheikh Zayed Road); I swear my whole system shut down about 45 minutes into a night showing of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
And after watching Tim Burton’s scenes of the first ever totally chocolate palace in the world, I reckon it’s only a matter of time before they build it in Dubailand.
Life’s a bitch and I’m her puppy.
Humanitarians are like vegetarians – they just eat people.
And finally, a beginner at a shisha tent asked: “Do I suck or blow?”
Today was a day of two cultures. First stop was iftar at Automatic restaurant on the beach road, where we had an authentic feast, washed down with the far-from-authentic music of The Carpenters. According to those fasting in our office, this year has been a lot easier than usual. Mo said: “There are so many good Arabic shows on television during Ramadan. Really, it’s just like American television – we’re waiting for Desperate Dishdashes.”
After iftar, Amber and I went to the launch of the new Christmas collection at The One
, where the interiors store invited the whole of Upper Umm Sequiem to wade through the baubles, velvet cushions and candles in return for an opening night 10 per cent discount. After two hours spent in the festive extravaganza, to the Christmas tunes
of Chris Rea, The Pogues and Smith&Jones with Kim Wilde, we had to leave, eyes weary from a fairy light-related visual assault.
Stumbling across a Mills and Boon-style site for romantic slush novels with a touch of Turkish Delight, Sonya and I are considering writing one of our own. Taking handy hints from novel-writing software, we figure it can’t be too hard. After all, the ingredients are simple: take one swarthy Arab, add one feisty Western female (no stereotype trolley dollies here), and throw in a few nights of passion – against her will at first – in a Bidouin tent.
Take for example, a story particularly close to our heart. In his determination to save his desert land of Ras al Hajar, Prince Hassan al Rashid decides to attract the world’s attention by kidnapping the beautiful fiery-haired English journalist, Rose Fenton.
Or what about this tale, which could almost be transposed to modern-day Dubai: public relations executive Genevieve Jordan travels to Kashkiri to plan an international conference and falls in love with brooding Lord Ali Ben Hari.
And here’s a dilemma for the modern working woman: to keep a lucrative account for her finance firm, Megan O’Connell travels to Suliyam with Sheikh Qasim, who tells her she must marry him in order to protect her from tribal leaders
For inspiration, the site lists the themes
available in the series, and readers can choose from meddling family members, marriages of convenience, and quickie weddings which all sound just too TomKat
(Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes) for words.
But the stand-out offering comes from Laura Wright, in her book The Sultan’s Bed
. Here’s the synopsis and an extract:
Every day in court, divorce attorney Mariah Kennedy pits herself against rich, ruthless men…and usually wins. Her new neighbor, the Sultan of Emand, Zayad Al Nayhal, with his arrogance and air of command, is exactly the type she had learned not to trust. But his mesmerizing good looks and irresistible charm soon chips away at her best defenses.
Excerpt from the book:
He said, “Perhaps I was looking for you.” Her heart literally fluttered. Foolish, foolish girl. “And why would that be?”
“Perhaps I wish to know more about this–” he studied her with a lazy, hooded gaze “–fiery woman who lives beside me.” Fiery! She nearly blushed. Nearly.
“Well, there’s not much to tell,” she said, running her fork back and forth through the fig compote. Lord, he had extraordinary eyes–so black, but flecked with gold. A woman could get lost in those eyes if she wasn’t careful. Good thing Mariah was careful.
With fig compote around, who said romance was dead?
According to The Telegraph, boot-cut trousers and kitten heels are dead. Not so in Dubai, says Martha, who announces that “Dubai’s like so a year behind in fashion terms.” A sigh of relief from the females in Upper Beirut (Dubai Media City) who have become surgically attached to their low-riders and strappy sandals. Martha continues: “Kitten heels are just so practical for a working girl – flats are too boho, stilettos too impractical.”
Martha’s got a bit of a shoe thing, but bemoans the fact that the Dubai climate restricts her footwear options. “Boots are my favourite but it’s just too damn hot. I have a zillion pairs, just wasting away.” Martha’s love of boots was inspired by her ex-boyfriend’s love of the same thing. “He used to ask me to keep on my Lycra knee-highs at all times – and I mean all
times…. At first it was great as I tapped into my inner vixen – until I got cramp in my foot. Goodbye vixen, hello cripple.”
There’s been an incident in the building; everyone stay where you are.
A typically cryptic message over the loudspeakers of one of the buildings in The City, which caused Amber to call me in a breathless panic. “Tell my husband I love him and in case you need to identify me, I’m wearing a denim skirt, red top, and clean underwear in case I have to go to hospital. Phew.”
Needless to say, the panic wasn’t entirely justified. Apparently, it was because somebody had been smoking in the bathrooms – not a good idea since The City is now non-smoking, plus it’s Ramadan.
Amber called me back, panic replaced by grumpiness. “I bet it’s one of the skinny-assed models from next door. It’s bad enough that they stuff their face with pizza in front of me, which ruins my no-carb karma. Then they parade around in front of the bathroom mirrors complaining about their non-existent butts. To ruin my day by illegal smoking is just rude.”