Tuesday 31 December 2013

New things in 2014

It's the last day of 2014 and I've been inspired by dear, lovely friend Linda of Pink Patent Mary Janes to list 52 new things I want to do in 2014, rather than do new year resolutions.

I like the idea of a list of new things to do and try, it's so much more positive than a list resolutions of things not to do.


So let's take it away (and I apologise Linda if I unintentionally, or intentionally, steal some of your ideas).

  1. I've been thinking recently how it's time to take on some work or train myself for new work. Then today I was approached to do some work for a really good magazine. Surprising to be approached and not chase after it!
  2. Take Arabic classes.
  3. Be more adventurous and go exploring with Darbs when the girls are at school.
  4. Join a sporting or social club.
  5. Meet more friends (see point 4).
  6. Plan and execute at least 3 trips overseas this year. 
  7. Read more novels.
  8. Go on more dates with Skip.
  9. Try new restaurants (instead of old faithfuls).
  10. Spend more time one-on-one with each kid.
  11. Exercise at least three times a week.
  12. Learn to cook Arabic food.
  13. Listen to some new music each month.
  14. Visit a Filipino restaurant.
  15. Go to the hairdresser before the situation is completely dire. 
  16. Entertain more at home.
  17. Do something charitable each month.
  18. Visit the camel races.
  19. Buy a piece of art.
  20. Have more weekends away.
  21. Go camping.
  22. Walk more (instead of driving, no easy feat in Dubai)
  23. Do more fun stuff with Darbs when he's at home during the day.
  24. Bake bread/pizza bases/etc.
  25. Learn how to make Umm Ali (and Arabic dessert).
  26. Sit down and write more emails home.
  27. Call friends and family more.
  28. Find fun and healthy things that my kids will actually eat.
  29. Cook more with the kids.
  30. Find a new hobby that's just for me.
  31. Find a hobby for the whole family.
  32. Play tennis.
  33. Give out more compliments.
  34. Find ways to eat more vegetables.
  35. Eat good quality chocolate (instead of crap).
  36. Make something (art/craft, etc)
  37. Buy more plants.
  38. Grow something we can eat.
  39. Talk positively about myself.
  40. Take more photos with me in them.
  41. Throw a big party.
  42. Do something that scares me (I definitely stole this one from Linda and love it).
  43. Read more international current affairs.
  44. Blog more.
  45. Play music instead of watch TV
  46. Go to the movies at least 3 times (and not see a kids movie).
  47. Make Skip laugh every day.
  48. Have one completely lazy day and do absolutely nothing.
  49. Have a full day out in Dubai from sun up until sun down.
  50. Help a stranger.
  51. Put every effort in to make a dream realised.
  52. Do one fun thing as a family every week.

So that's it! Exciting! Bring on 2014….

Monday 30 December 2013

Another year bites the dust

As the year draws to a close it's impossible not to think about what the past 12 months have held and what the next will bring. I'm a fairly nostalgic person so I quite like pondering on what has been and how things have changed since December 31 last year.

As a family, we've become more settled into our lives in Dubai. We've had adventures in the desert, on the creek and on the beach. We've brunched, we've played, we've sweated (a lot). We had a visit home to see loved ones with a fun stopover in Singapore, but we were happy to return to our life in the Middle East ready for new adventures. We ended the year playing in the snow in Germany. What a life! How on earth can I be anything but pleased with myself?!

The kids have grown so, so much. Lil-lil is a little lady, Goosey is a bright spark reading and writing and Darbs is our little bruiser.

Skip and I have too. The pair of us were having lunch the other day at a lovely restaurant and were saying that we still pinch ourselves that we live here and this is our life. The experiences we've had, the people we've met and now call friends. We still can't believe that we ended up here - we really are very, very lucky.

What does the next 12 months have in store? Well, I hope it has just as many adventures as this year. I hope we're just as happy as we are now. I hope the kids remain as healthy as they are and continue to grow and learn as they have. I hope there are a few fun surprises as well, as what is life without surprises?

I want all of us to push ourselves just a little in 2014 too and I've been inspired by a lovely friend to write out new things I want to do and try in the coming year. I'll hopefully share that with you tomorrow.

Friday 27 December 2013

A Christmas wrap

And so that was Christmas? And what have you done?

We had a lovely quiet time - eating, drinking and eating some more.

The kids fell into bed on Christmas Eve and were (amazingly) asleep quickly. I heard some noise at about 2.30am and I got up to inspect when I found the girls up with their bedroom light on, waiting to open their pressies. After a quick talking to and quite a bit of settling they went back to sleep until 6am.

There was then a flurry of wrapping paper and "oohs" and "ahhs". Everyone was very spoilt, I received a gorgeous handbag that I first spotted and coveted more than a year ago in Austria, as well as a beauty voucher and a gorgeous Georg Jensen dish. What did you receive? 

The girls received iPod shuffles and have been pounding their eardrums with Katy Perry and Taylor Swift ever since. We've been subjected to off-key warblings of "we areeeeeee never getting back togetherrrrr" ever since. 

The boy got an array of vehicles - cars, trains, bikes - but it's a small Lightening McQueen that stole his heart and has not left his grasp since Christmas morning.

Our turkey lunch was delicious and (fairly) stress free. We've had quite a few round of the big bird and with a friend, who's good on the tooth, have ensured that we're done leftovers. The highlight of Chrissy lunch was looking over and seeing a gappy Lil who'd lost her front tooth in a turkey and gravy roll. Which meant Santa one night, the tooth fairy the next! 

There have also been Scrabble games, Ashes watched at 5am, car drives and walks, trips to the beach, reading books while kids play with new toys. All in all a pretty good few days. 

The festivities continue today and Skip and I are going to sneak out for a tasty
lunch of sushi and French bubbles. 

I hope you're having a top festive season too. Tell me what you've been up to?

Tuesday 24 December 2013

A very expat Christmas

Christmas is a funny time when you're an expat. It's same, same but different.

Dubai is super quiet at the moment, it feels like half of the city has returned to their home countries (or somewhere exotic) for Christmas. For us, we wouldn't think about returning home this time of year - the expense of travelling this time of year, the fact that we wait all year for some cool weather and we want to save leave time for the hottest months means Christmas in Dubai.

Before I'd had a Christmas in Dubai, I thought it would be something we celebrated behind closed doors, being an Islamic country and all. Nothing could be further from the truth. The malls are decorated with lavish Christmas trees and baubles, there a Christmas tunes piped throughout and the radio stations have endless festive carols playing. I saw of wonderful sight at the mall earlier this week, about 50 women in hijabs waiting to get their photos taken with the elaborate Christmas decorations. I wish I could bring a few of those Aussies over here who complain on Facebook and Twitter about Muslims wanting to abolish our "Christian way of life".

Christmas Day is not a public holiday here, it's just a normal day of the week. So the upside of celebrating Christmas here means no pre-Christmas shopping mayhem. The supermarkets are calm and if I forget anything I can just go to the shop on the day itself. Most hotels and restaurants here also make takeaway turkey dinners, which means you can get a huge, perfectly cooked turkey with all the trimmings for not much more than it would cost to make it ourselves (which is what we are doing).

Another upside for us is being able to stay at home and have a quiet lunch without having to travel all around the countryside, which can be extra stressful when you have young kids who are always exhausted from the excitement and usually just want to stay at home and play with their new toys. Although not seeing family and friends is a downside.

I do miss the laid-back feeling this time of year in Australia - a trip to the beach, the smell of gardenias, long lazy days.

I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have a safe and magical day.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Regensburg - a medieval tale

The cobblestone streets of Regensburg.

We've now been home for almost a week and I  still haven't given you the last instalment of our German adventure.

We headed north from Munich on the train to the town of Regensburg – an important trading centre during the middle ages. The town is very special as it was the only major town that didn't suffer significant damage during World War II, so it was named a UNESCO Heritage site in 2006.

The gorgeous village with it's narrow lane ways and cobblestone streets enchanted me. The buildings were gorgeous and so old! We had a brilliant time wandering around the town, stumbling on small squares filled with a Christmas market. We ate more sausages on rolls and down more gluhwein. The kids munched on apple fritters and pastries too.

On our last day we lunched at a small restaurant on the banks of the Danube called Wurstkuchl. It's a sausage restaurant that has continually served up bratwurst, sauerkraut and rolls with sweet mustard for 900 years! It started serving food to the builders of the old stone bridge nearby. It was cozy, the food and beer was fantastic and we met some lovely German people who shared our table. The best end to our adventure. I totally understand why this place has been operating for so long.

Our last day arrived, we had a couple of kilometre walk to the train station that involved navigating some steep steps. We looked out and the sun was shining, it was difficult to catch a cab so we thought we'd chance the walk. We set off and after about 5 minutes it started to snow. It hadn't snowed the whole time we were in Regensburg. As I looked behind me on the Stone Bridge, I saw a flurry of snow coming our way and soon we could barely see. The girls ran around excitedly, Darbs in the stroller yelled at the snow blowing in his eyes and ears. We pushed on through the white and eventually reached the train station. As we stepped inside the station the clouds rolled away to reveal blue sky and the snow storm blew away. Typical!

We then wait for our train and waited. And waited. We waited 45 minutes before it pulled into the station. So much for the punctuality of German trains! I have to say we had more than a couple of late trains while we were there, so I'm starting to think it's a myth.

We started to get a little panicky about catching our flight, the snow had started to come down again and we still had a bus to catch to the airport after our train ride. We needn't have feared, we made the bus and got to the airport just in time. Just in time to be told our flight was delayed.

We boarded our flight an hour late and then sat on the plane for another 3 hours due to technical issues and de-icing. By the time the plane had taken off we should have been almost touching down in Dubai. After more technical issues once we arrived at Dubai airport we didn't arrived home until almost 4.30am. Kids hadn't slept and were pretty feral. I was pretty feral myself. It was good to be home, to sleep in my own bed, to be back in the warmth and the sunshine. Cold is fun for a week, but it's nice to get back to sunshine. Also, dressing the kids in all those layers was starting to do my head in! Give me sundresses and shorts any day.

We had such a brilliant adventure despite a few hiccups. It's so good to have these adventures as a family and although there are moments when you want to kill each other, the good memories always override the bad ones. While I was ready to swear off overseas travel this time last week, I'm already starting to wonder where we will head next.

Trudging to the train station.

The 900-year-old sausage restaurant.

Pretty Regensburg

Meeting old Saint Nick at the Christmas markets.

Thursday 5 December 2013


After a serene few days in Mittenwald, a picturesque town in the German Alps, it was quite a shock to arrive in the big city. 

There was hustle, there was bustle. I felt like our family of five was a bit of a circus sideshow. I don't think three kids is a common number for a family here. We seemed to get a number of "looks". I must admit it didn't set me up well for Munchen. Our accommodation was humble (so to speak) and not in a great part of town, I was starting to wonder what all my friends and family who raved about the place were thinking.

Starving, we were lucky to quickly find an authentic beer hall, filled with young local men in lederhosen having Sunday lunch. The food and beer was cheap, plentiful and very good. Things were starting to look up. 

We spent the next few days walking, walking and more walking. We saw all the sites of the old town -
Marienplatz, Karlsplatz, the Residenz, Hofgarten and the English
Gardens. We ate wurst mit semmel and more wurst mit semmel. We found gorgeous Christmas displays and Christmas markets. We walked until our legs ached and our ears were numb from  the icy winds. We got plenty more "looks" - I'm still not sure what faux pax we were committing. 

I must say the girls walked for miles and barely whinged for just how far they stumbled around town. 

As the train pulled our of Munchen central station, we were pretty damn exhausted, but ready for more German adventures.

I'm not sure Munich is my kind of town, but I'm glad I've been. It's also inspired me to write a series of posts on travelling overseas with children, which will be coming soon.

Have you been to Munich? Did you love it? 

Sunday 1 December 2013

Guten tag!

One of the best parts of living in Dubai is the opportunity to travel. This weekend is a long one in the UAE, including a surprise day off for winning Expo 2020 the girls had 5 days off.

So we decided it was time to go back to Europe for a week. We looked at flights, thought about what the kids would like, what Skip and I would like and settled on Germany. So right now, we're tucked up in the sweetest village in the German Alps - Mittenwald. 

Walking around Mittenwald is like being in a Grimms fairy tale. The gingerbread houses, the pine forests, the spectacular mountains. Plus everything is under a pure white blanket of snow. It's one of the prettiest places I've ever been. To top it off the people have been amazingly friendly. 

We've spent our time playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate and eating pork and cake. Heavenly.

I've spent every moment walking around amazed at the beauty around every corner. I feel like I'm living in a Christmas decoration.

Tomorrow we move on to continue our German adventure in Munich. Beer, gluhwein, Christmas markets and, of course, more pork and sauerkraut. 

Sunday 24 November 2013

The old man is snoring...

The weather is fairly predictable in Dubai, hot and sunny for the vast majority of the year. When people plan things for the outdoors there is never, ever a wet weather back up. Rain is just so rare here, that it would never cross your mind.

A handful of days a year it does rain and boy does it put the city into a tailspin. Last week, at school pick up there a few drops of rain, in Sydney you'd probably think 'was that rain?', in Dubai it had the kids whooping and running around with the greatest of excitement. There was talk of warm baths and hot chocolates when they got home - "It's 30 degrees!" I reminded them.

Then we awoke on Thursday morning to what the average Sydney-sider might call a shower. It was quite windy and it had all of us peering out the window in wonder. "They have to close the school," Goosey said. "Oh don't be ridiculous!" I told her. "It's just a little bit of rain!" Thinking that she's just jealous of her sister who was staying home sick.

I joked on Facebook that I was going to turn the AC up and grab my doona and pretend it was a real winter's day, when I got a message from school - there was an emergency closure and I had to go and pick up my child. What?! I looked outside and there were still grey clouds about, but the sun was peering through and I could even see blue sky. The government body had decided to close all schools in Dubai down, so I thought that they obviously knew something I didn't and raced off to collect Goosey, who was very pleased for the early mark!

It didn't rain again until 4am the next day. I think their intention was right - it only takes a small amount of rain to throw Dubai roads into chaos, but it did feel a bit silly when the big storm never came.

The rainy excitement continued over the weekend as we drove around the flooded streets - very few storm water drains mean that the roads can be flooded with a five minute shower. "Car WASH!" yelped Darby from the back as our 4WD drove through the soggy streets on our way home from the supermarket.

The sun is back today and so we return to blue skies - until the heavy seeded clouds come our way again! Here are some pics.

Thursday 14 November 2013


Darbs has been a little slow in the talking department, at least compared to his older sisters. I was never really worried about, knowing that one day he would open his mouth and words would come spilling out.

He's been 'chatting' away in his own language for a long time. Then more and more single words. Then in the past few weeks he's suddenly put it all together. Lots of long complicated sentences.

Wonderful, you're probably thinking, and it is. Although I didn't really need another chatterbox in the house - or the car.

My car trips with the boy used to be fairly peaceful. He'd sing along to the radio and peer out of the window.

Now my car trips are like this:

"Mummy, I want chocolate milk. Mummy. Chocolate! I want Chocolate milk. Mummy, I want the car wash. Mummy! Go car wash! Mummy, look! Ferrari! I want a Ferrari, Mummy! Mummy! I want chocolate, Mummy. Mummy! Mummy! Muuuuuuuuuuum! I want milk. Chocolate milk. Mummy look! Juice truck! And taxi! Yellow taxi. Mummy, big truck! Big truck! Biiiiiiiiig truck! Mummy! Look Mummy, plane! Plane! Mummy, dog! Grrrrrrr, woof! Mummy, beach! I want to go beach! Beach! Beach! Beach! Mummy, I drive car? Pleeeeeease! I driving car! Mummy, chocolate milk!"

And so on. And so on. It's rather exhausting.

From my end it sounds like this:

"No. No! I said NO! Oh, yes. No. No. Sure. No. No NO!!! When we get home. You can have normal milk. No. Yes, it's yellow. Not today. No. NO."


Sunday 10 November 2013

Party time

This past weekend, I put on my finery and drove up the driveway of one of Dubai's fanciest and grand five-star hotels. The valet took my car, leaving me free to waltz into the large foyer – marble, Arabic chandeliers and fountains as far as the eye could see while incense and the scent of coffee filled the air.

I strode up to the reception to see exactly where the Royal Villa, the party venue, was. I was politely told that a butler would soon meet me and escort us, if I wouldn't mind waiting just a moment.

I turned around to see Darbs attempting to drink from one of the fountains, Goosey chasing one of her schoolmates around on the slippery marble and Lil-lil dancing around in the smoke of the incence.

"Kids! Quick! What are you doing??!! Get over here!" I bellowed. Smashing the serene ambiance with my fishmonger's wife scream.

What was I doing with my kids in a posh hotel? Surely they belong at home on such a grand occasion, I hear you saying. I suppose this could be true, but you see we were there for a 5th birthday party. Yes, that's right, a 5th birthday party.

One of Goosey's local classmates was celebrating his 5th birthday with a party that would probably cost more than most Australian weddings. The mother of birthday boy wore an amazing designer ball gown and stilletos higher than I have ever dreamt of wearing and she was 7-months pregnant.

Despite the fancy surrounds and the sheer excess, at the end of the day it was a party. There was food, a cake, kids ran around on the grass and played games, they squealed with delight when they let the helium balloons drift up into the sky. Our hostess was so warm, welcoming, generous and hospitable as is customary in Arabic culture, there were absolutely no airs and graces. It was a great way to spend a Friday afternoon and see how the other half live. The kids really had no idea of how fancy the party was, they could have been at McDonalds for all they cared. The mums on the hand (it was a women's only party) were wide-eyed and amazed.

The kids and I made a quick exit before the other party goers were herded off to a private cinema to watch a movie. It was late and my kids are Aussie, they needed to go to bed (late bedtimes for kids is another very Arabic thing).

As I handed over my ticket to the valet and grabbed Darbs before he turned one of the luggage trolleys into a billycart, I thought, "This is one of the reasons why we are here!" It's certainly something I'll remember for quite a while.

Friday 1 November 2013

Such a perfect day, I'm glad I spent it with you

November is my favourite month in Dubai, the weather is warm but not sizzling. This sets the tone and life feels pretty close to perfection. So the first day of the months has not been a disappointment!

This morning I woke and slipped out for a run. The sun was rising over the skyscrapers and the sky a beautiful golden orange. There was a slight breeze making it the most perfect temperature.

I came home and ate breakfast with the family. We then did what we do every Friday morning and slipped into our swimmers and headed for the pool. Skip and I sipped on coffees as the kids splashed and dived into the water. The sky was a perfect shade of blue, the water of the Arabian gulf glistened like diamonds as the sun skipped across the surface and the breeze blew any heat away from our skin. The palm trees swayed above us giving just the right amount of shade.

We then played in the sand, threw the ball to each other, rode scooters and headed to the playground. All the while the weather and surroundings made the most perfect backdrop.

Life isn't always as perfect as this, but when it is it's about as good as it gets and you think: "Why would you live anywhere else?!"

Happy Friday!

Thursday 31 October 2013

Who needs a reason to celebrate?

It's almost the weekend (in Dubai at least) and it's Halloween. This morning I sent my little fairies off to school so excited and all dressed up (one was Tinkerbell, the other one of Enid Blyton's Tom Thumb Fairies; no scary costumes allowed only book characters were the school's instructions).

Seeing the Cinderellas, Sleeping Beauties, Harry Potters and Pirates from all four corners of the globe made me smile. It reminded me of this post I wrote last year.

I love the multicultural aspect of living in Dubai and this weekend is the perfect example.
Tonight we'll join some friends for a street party and then go trick'o'treating. Tomorrow after a good friend's birthday party we'll check out the lights that people have hung on their homes for Diwali (Hindu festival of lights). We'll then indulge in a three-day weekend in honour of Hijri (Islamic New Year). Skip will also enjoy that more secular celebration of Formula 1 (it may not be spiritual but it's fairly significant to him!)

As I looked at my Facebook feed this morning it was filled with a mix of people excited about and despairing over Halloween. It's a divisive topic in Australia! My thoughts? I'm happy to dive into any celebration that brings the community together and, most importantly, puts a smile on my kids' faces. Since living in Dubai we've celebrated many events that don't have any spiritual, national or traditional significance to us, but it's been a wonderful way to meet friends, build a community and hey, it's fun!

Enjoy your celebrations this weekend, whatever you celebrate.

Tuesday 29 October 2013


The past few days I've sat down to write and that blasted little blinking cursor didn't skip across the screen as I hoped. It just sat there blinking, mocking me. Was it writer's block? Maybe. Was I out of the habit of writing this blog? Perhaps.

Then this morning something hit me. Maybe I have become too acclimatised to this place. Everything seems normal. The things I used to finding jarring or unusual whoosh past me without notice. The fodder that I used to use to write about doesn't seem so worthy anymore.

As the kids got out the car for school, Goosey said: "Ooh it's a bit cool this morning", the radio had just told us it was currently 29 degrees at 7.30am, but after months of searing temperatures any dip below 30 or freshness in the breeze feels cold.

I then got in my car and drove home, when a large 4WD changed lanes in front of me almost hitting the side of my car, I was like : "Meh", no rise in anger or frustration, I almost expected it, I did expect it.

As the (Australian) radio traffic reporter read out where the snarls were, the street and suburb names that once sounded exotic are just the norm, "Hmm I'll avoid Al Wasl while driving back through Um Suqeim'" I thought to myself.

When I stopped in at the supermarket, Darbs and I  had to stop and talk to almost every staff member in the shop, "Have you handed in the loyalty card form yet, madam?" someone cried out to me. It would appear we're locals.

The other night, Skip and I went to a work function. We pulled into a luxurious five-star hotel where a row of staff waited, the doors were opened and we walked into the enormous foyer. You know, just chatting about the day, how the kids did their homework without fuss. Just everyday stuff. There was a time not so long ago that getting valet parking at an upmarket hotel would have been exciting, it would have been a thrill. Now it's common, and I don't even go out very much! Just that if you want a glass of wine with your meal you can't go to the pub or a local BYO with a bottle, you have to go to a hotel.

I've stopped converting dirhams into dollars when I'm shopping, trying to work out if something is cheap or expensive. I think I'm at the stage where I'm now converting dollars into dirhams!

We have an upcoming Islamic holiday, when these holidays occur are dictated by the moon. Yesterday the public holiday was announced, then the announcement was changed, then it changed again. I wasn't surprised.

The shiny excitement of living in a new country has dimmed a bit, the new everyday has become the old everyday. The honeymoon is over, so to speak. Not that life is bad or boring, far from it. I just miss that wide-eyed wonder a little.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Seven wonders

Being a mother to a 7-year-old is a wonderful thing. My 7-year-old is smart, sweet, funny and thoughtful. She'll sit and have long chats on all sorts of topics. She loves to make announcements. She'll sing and dance and draw until she falls into bed.

The journey I embarked on 7 years ago as her mother has been harder, more exhausting and far more complicated than I ever imagined. It's also been so much more wonderful too. I feel so blessed to have this little girl in my life, all arms and legs and heart. My life is so rich because of her. 

All she wanted for her birthday was dinner with her family (spaghetti bolognese and lamingtons) - oh and maybe a camera. 

Happy birthday, my sweet girl. And thank you for seven wonderful years. 

Thursday 17 October 2013

Desert delight

One of the greatest joys I've discovered in Dubai is the desert. It's a completely unexpected joy too.

When I returned to Australia, people would look at me puzzled and ask: "So, what do you in the desert? It seems a bit boring."

The desert holds a certain magic to it. The vast skies and the equally vast sandy landscape. Climbing up a silky, soft dune to discover an endless vista. It's beautifully quiet, the sky is an amazing blue and the sand is refreshing cool between your toes  – you're forced to use all your senses to soak it up.

For the kids, there is nothing better than tumbling down a steep, untouched dune or pulling out a boogie and surfing down it like a wave. It wears them out like nothing else too, prepare for a peaceful night after a day in the desert.

This week, the weather was finally cool enough (mid-30s) to head out to the desert again in the late afternoon. It was like a tonic for all of us.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich

Earlier in the week, Skip and I were sitting around listening to music. It's Eid at the moment which means everyone has the week off, so we were feeling a little celebratory. We had the music loud, knowing that before long our Saudi neighbours would have their own tunes blaring.

It hit me as we were listening to an old Triple J Hottest 100 album how comforting it is to hear your own accent and colloquialisms. How the way we say things and the way we use language is such an integral part of our identity, our voice (pardon the pun).

When we first moved here we had a BBQ with some Canadian friends, Skip yelled out: "Can you put the stubbies in the esky, I'm just going to chuck some snags on the barbie." Our guest just stared at Skip, certain he was speaking another language.

It goes both ways too, when an Irish friend asked if I could: "push her baby in the buggy", Goose was amazed that the baby could ride a boogie board! And when the same friend told me that something was "deadly" I didn't know if that was a good or bad thing (it's a very good thing, by the way).

I'm finding I'm often having to change words that I would say. If the girls ask for a lemonade, they end up with a lemon juice not the Sprite or 7-up they wanted. Ask for tomato sauce for your snag and you'll get a strange look,"Do you mean ketchup?". Don't even think about requesting a chook!

The girls are always making comments like "we say thongs, Lorna says flip-flops" or "why do you call it a rubber when my teacher calls it an eraser?". I'm always saying to them: "it's lollies, not candy" or "it's maths, not math", "it's a rubbish bin, not a dustbin or a trash can". Sometimes I'm fighting a losing battle, but I want them to speak Aussie, even if it's said in their mish-mash British/American/Irish/Filipino/Australian accent. (They're not alone, their Irish friend apparently speaks Irish Gaelic with a Filipino accent much to his family's amusement.)

It's all those little Australian slang words that can be just so comforting when you're far from home. I'm not someone who wears my national pride on my sleeve, I'm not going to be wearing the Australian flag as a cape anytime soon or chanting "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi". But, it's great to hear Australian accents in songs (we were listening to some Aussie hip hop last night) and on screen.

Listening to The Drugs' song The Bold and The Beautiful, they've turned something completely American in to an Aussie experience.

"Each afternoon there's nothing else suitable, Tea and bikkies with the Bold and the Beautiful."

We then listened to Butterfingers, 1200 Techniques, You Am I and the Hilltop Hoods all with their unique Aussie sound. It was like sitting back in a comfy old arm chair.

"470 to Circular Quay and ticket in his pocket for the TAB"

I'm not homesick, but sometimes it's nice to hear people who "speak-a my language".

What songs take you home?

Thursday 10 October 2013

Essential items

This morning I made the most basic of Dubai rookies mistakes. No, I didn't pash my husband in the main street or swig from vodka bottle in the school carpark. Nor did I wear a midriff top with a pair of cut off shorts (that's a rookie mistake ANYWHERE in the world).

I left my sunglasses at home when I did the school run. Which meant I spent the morning squinting and grimacing and generally looking and feeling uncomfortable. You see in Dubai, sunglasses aren't just a fashion statement (although they certainly can be) and they're not something you need on a warm, sunny day. Well, actually I take that back, because they are needed on a warm, sunny day, but every day is a warm sunny day in Dubai, which means sunglasses are a necessity.

So what else is a necessity here?

Firstly, and most obviously, is water. I tend to carry it everywhere I go. Though I must admit I do forget a lot, which means pulling up to buy a bottle or 5 from the servo, but that's OK but water costs about 25c a bottle here. When I was back in Sydney and was charged $8 for two bottles of water I almost died and then became much better at remembering to pack the water bottles when we out.

Then there's the Entertainer book. This is a book that has vouchers for discounted or 2-for-1 deals. In Australia, I think they're often sold for school fundraisers, here you buy them at the supermarket or bookshop and there are a few different versions (Family, Fine Dining, Travel). Everyone in Dubai has the Entertainer book and there is not the 'stingy' stigma here that it has in Sydney. It would not be uncommon to see someone whip out a voucher at a nice restaurant and if someone recommends a restaurant or an activity the standard reply is "Is it in the Entertainer?" I have even heard of a mum who's set up a Facebook page to swap Entertainer vouchers.

The mani/pedi. The hot climate means hands and feet are on constant display. The heat and sand does absolutely nothing good for your feet either. Which means that manis and pedis are a must. I have to confess I'm not particularly good at keeping up with it but I do try.

The scarf/pashmina. When I was in Sydney, a good friend gave me a lovely cotton scarf for my birthday saying "It's probably a silly gift when you live in a hot climate!" In fact, quite the opposite. Scarfs and pashminas are incredibly hand for a quick cover up when modesty is required, or when the sun gets particularly fierce (which both happen often). They're also for a quick picnic seat.

An easygoing attitude (but not too easygoing there are strict laws here). Things in Dubai aren't always easy, there is often a long process when dealing with government offices or banks or other institutions. There are a multitude of accents to understand and there's the being understood yourself. Roads change quickly here, one week a major thoroughfare with be there, the next there is an enormous flyover and you're headed in the opposite direction. I always have the mindset that things will probably go wrong somewhere and more often than not I'm pleasantly surprised when all goes to plan. I leave early for everything. I try not to sweat the small stuff. I expect that things won't turn up on time or a booking to be lost. It saves me a lot of grief. When things do wrong I sigh and move on.

A smile. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in Dubai who forget themselves. They get to live a life they couldn't dream of in their home country and it goes to their head. I have seen people like this treat security guards, shop assistants, cleaners, etc in the most appalling ways. I always try to smile and say a sincere thank you to everyone who assists me as I go about my day (and there are a lot of them). It doesn't get me special treatment, but it makes me feel a whole lot better about my lucky position. Also, my children are watching and absorbing everything, so it's important to be a good role model. Plus it's nice to greeted and share a 'happy moment' with a stranger, it makes for a happier day all round who wants to spend your time scowling and being angry?

What's an essential item for where you live?

Monday 7 October 2013

Painted little ladies

The one thing that always astounds me about living in Dubai is how life is always made easier for you if you have kids. Decent kids' menus, toys, colouring in, puzzle packs, free treats are all standard at a lot of restaurants. Restauranteurs know the benefit of keeping parents happy to sit in their establishments longer!

Many restaurants will also hire a balloon bender and/or face painter to entertain the kids too. Pretty much every birthday party or event will also have the standard balloon guy and face painter. I've lost count of the amount of times the kids have had their faces, arms and hands painted over the past year.

Over the weekend, we were at the mall (what else do you do on a warm Saturday afternoon?!) and stopped for a reviving coffee. Soon Goosey had got up and disappeared. Searching for her, I quickly discovered her at the restaurant next door, perched up at a table having her arm painted by a clown. We weren't even patrons there!

Standard Dubai weekend!

Thursday 3 October 2013

Meat and greet

One of the things I've had to get used to in Dubai, is the difference in the meat and the fruit and vegetables. Actually all products in the supermarket. While some things are the same, there are many things that are very, very different.

I have to admit that buying meat, poultry and fish scared me a lot in the beginning. Who's kidding? It still scares me! I quickly discovered that sausages here do not taste like sausages in Australia. I think it has something to do with the casings. Not halal perhaps? I don't know, but the snags are not up to scratch.

Then there's the chicken. The first time I cooked chicken here it ended up in the bin. It tasted weird. It was obviously off. Except it wasn't. Chicken tastes different, stronger, gamier. They're also a lot smaller. Unable to get a decent BBQ chook, I decided to roast a chook. I've never been one to do a roast chook, why would you when you can get a great BBQ chook for $10? Anyway, I bought my chicken brought it home and looked up to see what Jamie would do with it. I pulled the chicken out of the packet, to my horror it still had the neck on. What was I going to do with that?! Moving on, Jamie suggested using a 1.8kg chook, mine (the biggest in the shop) was paltry 900grams. Once cooked it would barely feed the kids. I've now gotten used to the taste, though I don't think Skip has.

Then there's fish. All these fish I've never heard of – Hammour, Sultan Ibrahim – I get confused.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, I can buy pork here. There is a pork section in the more Western supermarket, it's a separate room usually up the back and marked "For Non-Muslims only". There are decent pork products available from the UK, Ireland, France and Belgium. I tend to avoid the Kenyan pork products.

Beef and lamb is a lot easier. I've found a butcher that sells only Australian and New Zealand lamb and beef. Incredibly the quality is better than what I've found in Australia (except for the sausages) and cheaper. I don't know why this is. We enjoy delicious rib eye steaks more often here than we did at home.

Earlier this week, Skip asked if I'd cook a slow roasted lamb shoulder on Thursday night. I've made this dish many time over the years and it's kind of become 'my thing'. I haven't made one in Dubai, although I made a number of them when I was holidaying in Australia. No problem, I replied. This morning I went to the supermarket, I asked the butcher for a 2kg lamb shoulder. He came out with a cryovacked packaged clearly marked as Australian lamb. Yes, win! He asked if I wanted it cut up? Of course not, I replied, thinking why on earth would I want it cut up?

I got home pulled it out the packet there was the lamb shoulder and a whole load of ribs attached to it! Hmmm not quite what I'm used to at home. I probably would have completely freaked out except for the fact that the lamb shoulder that we ate in the Pakistani restaurant had ribs attached. So I figure any meat slow cooked in the oven with garlic, olive, salt and pepper has got to taste good, right?

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday 27 September 2013

Wonderful weekends

This weekend I'm having one of the times I love best about living Dubai. Last night, Skip and I went out to dinner with some people from his work. We ventured into the old part of town and went to a Pakistani/Afghani restaurant. It was bustling with Pakistani families as we stepped in so we knew it was going to be good.

We ate a platter of BBQ'd meats – a whole lamb shoulder, fish, chicken, mutton, prawns – on a bed of wild rice with pistachios, almonds and raisins. Chutneys and bread on the side of course. We gorged ourselves and washed it down with fresh lime and mint juice. As we licked the juices from our elbows we chatted about everything from Aussie Rules to daily life in Beirut to a confused conversation about Turkey (the bird and the place).

That gave us enough of a break to go in for dessert. I didn't know any of the names but our host informed us there was sugar and milk; deep fried sugar in ghee and sugar and wheat. Now sliding into a diabetic coma, we paid up a pittance and then stepped into the warm night air. Cars and horns and people heading out to the mall or to play pool or a late night feed.

The temperature has dropped this week hitting a balmy 37 most days and 28-29 in the evenings. This is a blessed relief from the scorching summer heat and a sign that winter is on its way. As we stood outside of the restaurant an almost, almost cool breeze blew, so we paused a millisecond before hailing a cab.

This morning we rolled out of bed (our bellies still full from our feast the night before) and headed for Safa Park (I've written about this 64 hectare park in the middle of Dubai before). The kids rode their bikes in the cool of the early morning and we let our toes stretch in the soft grass.

You'd be forgiven for forgetting we are in the desert some days. 

After about an hour or so, we headed to the beach and rinsed the sweat off in the sea water under the sail of the Burj al Arab. The girls surfed on their boogie boards while Darbs jumped over the waves.

Best of we're not even halfway through the first day of the weekend. There's still plenty of fun ahead hopefully. A BBQ with friends this afternoon and then tomorrow catching up with some Aussie friends who are stopping over on their way to Europe.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

You're not the voice, but it's your voice

Since having kids, I find my ideas and beliefs and constantly being questioned (by them and me). Before answering a question, I have to think 'why do I think like that' because surely enough it will be asked by little people. It's forced me to think more critically about beliefs and ways of thinking that I'd just taken for granted. It's brilliant and, I think, made me a better person.

Now the elder girls are at school there is a lot of talk about "smart". Parents at pick up wonder who are the "smart kids" in the class, are their kids one of them and why or why not? My kids ask if they're smart and they question themselves if they are. I hear talk from other parents about their 'gifted' children, their challenged children, how much homework they do, how advanced or behind they are. Being smart or not smart, it seems, depends on where you're pegged on the chart by the people who are supposed to know about these things.

As an adult I come across people who like to wear their intellect as a badge of honour, they use it like a weapon. They use big words and are completely condescending to those who they don't believe are as "smart"as they are. They are smart therefore they are right. I tend to think that they're probably not as smart as they like to believe.

Then there are people like one of my best friends. Possibly the most academically smart person I know. She has a PhD, she's co-authored a book and has enough cudos to walk around wearing the "smart" badge. But she doesn't. She has empathy, she's curious, she's respectful, she listens. She doesn't always believe she's right. She doesn't need to prove to all she meets that she's "smart". When I was working at New Idea she would much rather talk about Brangelina than her research. She has the confidence in herself to tell you that Sex and the City 2 is a good movie (and that takes confidence!). She's cultivated her own unique voice. And that to me is what makes her really smart.

Recently, I was watching Dave Grohl on YouTube talking at a music convention. I love Dave Grohl. If you have a spare 40 minutes and want to be inspired go and check it out. The speech is aimed at musicians but it can be translated into any aspect of life. It's about the importance of finding your own voice and believing it. Loving it and nurturing it. Not listening to anyone else. He says that he was lucky to be left alone to find his - and it obviously worked as he's been in not one, but two of the biggest rock bands of the past 20 years.

Dave asks why is it up to others to tell us what's right or wrong or good or bad. If it's your voice, if it's what stirs you, then that's what's important. He says imagine if a young Bob Dylan was around today and went on a show like The Voice... And then goes on to say that Gangham Style is one of his most favourite songs of the past decade.

If it's what's right for you that's all that matters. What things we miss when they're categorised as good or bad or wrong. That we all have a voice and it's there for the taking if we want it.

In the car on the way to school the other day, where the kids and I do all our big talks, the girls were talking about religion. Living in the Middle East, it's a topic that comes up a lot. As I pulled into the car park I found myself on the verge of ranting. "The most important thing is not what other people believe, but that you respect that belief. Never laugh at someone's religion. Never make fun of what someone believes because that's them, that's their person, that's who they are," I heard myself saying.

It's a good lesson for myself, because I do sometimes believe I'm smart and right and know best. Don't we all? I'd like to think I'm smart, but let's face it I had to have some explain to me multiple times the premise of the TV show Deal or No Deal (I still don't really get it) and I'm the one still working out five minutes after I've walked way from the cashier if I got the right change or not. Rather than convincing others that I'm right or smart or know best, I should focus more on myself. Inspire rather than hit someone over the head with my "smarts".

So rather than encourage my kids to be smart, I hope I can encourage them to find their voice, their passion. Most of all I hope I can instil the courage to believe in that voice, to work at that voice and find the strength in themselves not to let anyone knock down that voice, because there will always be somebody who knows better waiting with that sledgehammer (and who knows, it might just be me). I hope I can develop their empathy and kindness, so they can inspire others. Imagine being not just able to dance to beat of your own drum, but dance to the beat of your own orchestra.

As for myself, I still want to listen hard and find my voice, my passion because I'm not there yet. As a mother, as a woman, as a person it's really easy to stop listening and stop looking. Instead focus on work or family or washing the dishes or washing the car. I don't think it has to be earth shattering though, a little bit at a time. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good, that inspire you, that make you laugh, that encourage you. Read or listen to something that ignites something in you. Put the smart phone, the iPad, the remote away and just be for five minutes. Then go stir things up. Time to put the listening ears back on.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Knick knack paddy wack

When our family moved to Dubai, just over a year ago, we came with just a suitcase each. Filled with just our clothes and a few precious toys and books. 

We had to fill our home with quick trips to IKEA and Home Centre (the local Freedom equivalent). Filling a whole home in a few trips is a tough ask. You have the basics - a bed to sleep in, a couch to sit on, plates to eat off - but the house is not quite a home. You need photos and trinkets and knick knacks.

It's these momentos that make a house a home. It's these things that have taken me a long time to collect and start filling the gaps. Now we feel properly at home here, and hope to be here for some time to come (inshallah, see I'm a local!), it's time to really put those memories and soul into our house. 

Here is what I've got so far...

Photos are the easiest and most sentimental way to decorate. We've got lots of photos from our travels and special occasions around the house. I'm always adding to them too.

Another cheap and easy way - vases from IKEA in our home's colour scheme.

Mirrors. Another quick and easy add on.

Some of Lil-Lil's artwork which are my fave. Colourful and sentimental.

This gorgeous woven basket was made for me by one of my oldest and closest friends. She's a super talented artist as well. This tiny gift brightens my day every time I walk past it. It wasn't made for the wall but us very at home there. It's beautiful and precious and sentimental. You can check out Michele's work, attend a workshop or even pick up an artwork at www.tinytrappings.com.
I'd love one of her massive paintings on one of my big bare walls. One day...

This pewter container was given to me by my dad and has found its own special spot in our house.

This table runner was given to me by my brother and sister-in-law, it was bought from my cousins' home ware shop. It's also the exact colour of our house. The plant was a bargain buy from IKEA, it even lasted two months of not being watered in the middle of summer (Skip didn't realise it was plant?!)

Our kitchen wall art gallery is one of my favourites. It will change and get added to. The kids love it too.

Next on my list is some local artwork so we always remember this time and some Middle Eastern trinkets.

I'm not much of an interior decorator so what are your tried and true tips?

Sunday 15 September 2013

Cabin fever (aka a pox on your house!)

As I talked about last post it's bloody hot in Dubai at the moment. This means we're spending a lot time time cooped up indoors. To make things a little bit more difficult is the fact that the kids have had chickenpox. Lil-lil came down all spotty the first morning back in the UAE which meant a week at home. Then two weeks to the day, Goosey woke up itchy and unwell, which has meant another weekend in isolation (and at least another few days ahead).

This has led to a family who has seen the walls of our apartment for too, too long. Skip and I are starting to resemble Jack Nicholson in The Shining. It's not pretty. 

Sunday has arrived and Skip and Lil-lil have got to escape the house by heading to work and school, with, I might say, a spring in their step. The rest of us are looking forward to a pox-free weekend, where we may be able to have some fun (fingers tightly crossed that Darbs stays spot-free).

On the bright side, we did get our favourite takeaway on Friday night. The best Pakastani, nay the best food, you'll get and it was only 15 Aussie dollars. Best of all there was enough for two dinners. 

On an even brighter side, tomorrow I have to get the car registered. In Dubai, this means someone coming to pick up my car, taking it to get a safety check and then to the RTA to pay the fees and get the new registration. Then they'll drop the car and paperwork back to my home. How much easier is this??! No queuing at the RTA, no waiting around for a pink slip. That is definitely a win. 

What's doing in your house this week?

Friday 13 September 2013

Feeling hot, hot, hot!

There are three standard Dubai "things" that you always get asked about as a resident. Modest clothing, alcohol and the heat.

Yes, it really is very hot. During the summer months it's not unusual to hit 48 or 49 or even 50. This year has been slightly cooler. When I say slightly cooler there were less late-40s days than normal. At present the temperature is still hitting 41 or 42 with a low of about 30 at night. The two replies I get are, "we had a 46 degree day in Sydney this year", but imagine having that day for months with no southerly buster relief. 
The second is "but it must be a dry heat, so not that bad". Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it's humid during the summer months. Fog up your sunglasses, drenched in sweat humidity. It's quite odd one day the heat is dry and then one day in June it's like someone has switched a switch and it's humid.

The next question is "what do you do??" Well the place is really built for the heat, just as cold climates are built for thr snow. Everything is air conditioned, even the bus shelters. It is easy to escape the heat. What's not easy to escape is the cabin fever, especially with 3 young kids.

So we cope by going out early while it's still cool. And when I say cool, it's about 34 or 35 at the moment in the early morning. We head to the park or the pool and soak up as much outdoors as possible. 

During the middle of the day over the weekends, we go out for lunch or go to one of the huge mega malls. Otherwise we invite people over or visit friends. There is too much screen time. There are blind eyes turned to scooters being ridden in the house and kids jumping on beds. 

The super hot weather lasts about four or so months, then we are hit with bliss. The humidity disappears, the temperature drops to bearable levels and we all head outdoors. Alfresco dining, the beach, camping, walking, desert adventures. 

To tell you the truth, I don't mind the heat, though I do get sick of it. I do miss a good southerly. And I miss a rainy day. 
I do get sick of Darbs telling me 100 times a day that he's hot. I do get sick of doing the school pick-up in the fierce heat of the day and the freyed tempers and tantrums it produces every single afternoon. 

So for now, I dream of November and winter! 

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Home is where?

The past few weeks have been wonderful and strange and enlightening. Travelling back to Australia was fun but it was also hard work. Living out of a suitcase for 8 weeks, keeping control of 3 young kids in someone else's home and being separated from Skip was never going to easy. 

The strangest part was being in a place that's so familar, yet didn't feel like 'home'. I kept referring to Dubai as 'home' and that seemed to throw people. It was a great reassurance that we're right where we're meant to be though. Our life is here, in Dubai. 

It was wonderful seeing friends and family and spending quality time with them. Suring up the bonds and keeping them tight. It was lovely to see the kids reignite relationships with their own friends and family too. 

When it came time to leave, I wasn't sad. Rather, excited and relieved to move onto the next stage of our adventure.

Before we came home, we stopped off in Singapore with some old friends and had a ball. It was so fun to spend time with them, explore a new city, eat incredible food and see our kids become good friends. The best way to transition back to "real" life.

Now we're home. We've talked about how strange it is to feel 'home' in a place so far from home. A land I never expected to live in. 

There's no time for post-holiday blues as we've got many adventures ahead of us!

Thursday 15 August 2013

No such thing as a free lunch

Byron Bay is a beautiful place - green rolling hills that cascade down to the sparkling ocean. It has a certain magic to it. 

Because of this it attracts all sorts of people. Many people move here to find themselves, run away from themselves or reinvent themselves. It's that kind of place.

It makes for great people watching, which is one of my favourite Byron pastimes.

Last night Skip and I went out for dinner at the local Japanese and overhead a conversation that could only happen in Byron.

Hippie 1: I'd like to order the sizzling tuna but I'd like it raw.

Waitress: umm. (long pause) well I don't think that's possible...

Hippie 1: why not? Just don't cook it! I don't like cooked tuna.

Waitress: well, it comes on a sizzling plate and a bit hard to serve raw. The flavours wouldn't work. 

Hippe 2: we live in a tent. We don't care about that stuff.

Waitress: oh I get you, I really do, but it's the only cooked tuna on the menu, why don't you try one of the other raw sashimi tuna dishes? 

Hippie 1: I really want that one. The vegetables sound nice and there's rice.

The conversation went on like this for another few minutes, the hippie determined to get his sizzling raw dish. I guess we all want a bit of sizzle in our lives, even if you're on a raw diet. 

In the end I couldn't listen any more as I was laughing a little too hard. I know I couldn't be a waitress here - the nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, all natural, organic, vegan, raw, with a sprinkle of quinoa dishes would drive me nuts. And then it wouldn't be nut-free...

Saturday 10 August 2013

Heaven sent

I first came to Byron Bay when I was 18. I fell in love with the place. It was sunshine and beach. It was freedom and adulthood. I drank kaluha and milk and got my nose pierced. I chatted to hippies in the park and danced to the band at the pub. It was the most exciting place I'd ever been.

I've been back countless times since then, but Byron still holds a certain magic for me. 

After a crazy year of new adventures there's a certain comfort coming to a place you know so well. A place that holds so many memories from so many different stages of my life. 

This morning we got up early and had a coffee at our favourite cafe. We drove up through the green hills and looked back down at the sparkling Pacific Ocean. We did a little "What if we lived here..." dreaming as you always do. 

The kids were as excited as were to check out old haunts and there were cries of "I remember this place" from the back seat. 

Over the next week I plan on soaking in every moment and burn every memory on my brain as soon those green hills will be replaced by soaring towers and shifting sand dunes.

Thursday 8 August 2013

What's it like being back?

I have been asked this question many, many, many times over the past couple of weeks.

The answer is it's the same.

There have been things that have dismayed me:
- Sydney traffic and the woeful parking
- driver's who would rather run into than let you in
- the general rudeness of Sydney. (I'm looking at the guy who desperately tried to shut the doors of the lift before I got in)
- the racism and narrow-mindedness that seems more amplified
- the Australian pessimism (the sky really isn't falling)
- some relationships and expectations

There have been things that have overwhelmed me:
- people's kindness
- bottle shops (oh my, the choice)
- the prices of everyday groceries

There have been things that have warmed my heart:
- effortless friendships and shared histories
- laughing over things that have been misplaced in my memory
- being around good friends and family and realising that time apart really doesn't change those relationships that are rock solid
- seeing my kids re-ignite friendships

Most of all, being home has made me realise that I'm right where I'm meant to be at this moment in time. It's made me realise how lucky I am to be having the incredible opportunities being presented, and that in itself is a gift because sometimes when you're in the middle of them you don't realise they are opportunities or golden moments.

Thursday 25 July 2013

People are people

A few weeks ago, the kids and I joined some of my family for a getaway at Port Stephens. While we were up there we visited Stockton Beach and the sand dunes. I stumbled across this little fella, took a snap and sent it to Skip in Dubai saying something like: "Are we in Australia or Dubai?" (Actually I just sent it to him accidentally again while writing this post and he's probably wondering why on earth I did, until he reads this). 

Skip wrote back that of course it was Australia, the sand was completely different and look, they are clouds. 

I've been asked often what the people "over there" are like. There is often a wariness to their voice. 
The Middle East has always been painted to westerners as 'exotic', 'extreme', 'crazy', 'unsafe', 'backward'. Full of terrorists. 

The thing is that people are people wherever you go. They may dress differently, eat different foods, like different music, have a different routine to their day, believe in a different god, they may speak differently, but essentially they're human. Everyone likes to laugh, to connect with other people, to provide for their family, to live a good life, to just get through the day. The things that really matter are the same. We may like to believe (or the media/government would like us to believe) that we're intrinsically different, but we aren't.

When my kid has had a tantrum in the supermarket I've seen sympathetic, knowing eyes from behind a veil and an Indian man dash over from another direction with something shiny to distract the child from his screams. All parents know and understand the full force of a tantrum. I've seen Pakistani men and Filipino women smile with delight when they've passed by my children pulling faces at each other to get a laugh.

So while that camel above is an Australian camel, it's still a camel. I'm sure it does whatever Arabic camels do too.
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