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.