- Not there
- Staring at me the whole time
- Rolling his/her eyes that I’m such a hapless customer who hasn’t got a clue.
Dubai is described in vivid detail in the book – was this a challenge? Being able to describe some of Dubai’s most well-known locations and events, from the New Year’s Eve fireworks to a trip up the Burj Khalifa at sunset and afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab, was an absolute joy. I hope that people who know and love Dubai will enjoy reading these parts of the book, and that people who have never been to Dubai will finish the book wanting to visit. I tried to weave plenty of cultural information into the narrative so I also hope that readers who know nothing about the UAE will learn something about the country, and let go of any preconceived notions. You mention in the book that white lies on social media are quite common in Dubai. Why is this? I do think expats in Dubai are in pole position to win a Twitter or Facebook boast-off. Apparently, according to a survey, three out of five adults in the UAE have lied on social media websites to sound smarter. About the same number confessed to tampering with photos to make themselves look more attractive. I’m sure people do this all round the world (and who wouldn’t want their eyebags airbrushed, their fine lines smoothed?), but in this corner of the globe, there is a lot of pressure to stage manage your online presence. Even if someone is having a difficult time transitioning to life in the UAE, and questioning the reasons they moved here, they’ll still fill their Facebook feed with photos of blues skies, beaches and Dubai’s iconic sights, rather than admit on social media that they’re homesick. What’s next for Brittany? I’ve mentioned in the ‘blurb’ that this is her first diary, leaving it open for a follow-up diary, if she captures readers’ imaginations as she did mine. But I’ve also got a few more ideas for other books set in Dubai. Watch this space!
a. Lose the Dubai stone
b. Set parental controls on her kids’ devices
c. Stop valet parking
d. Figure out what to do with herself now she’s followed her husband to the Middle East and lost him to another woman At the start of the year, Brittany decides it’s time to get back on her feet. As she struggles through the ups and downs of her newly single life in the sandpit and tries to shrug off the ‘trailing spouse’ label she hated anyway, she turns for support to four very different friends: Adrianne, Natasha, her first ‘ex’ and a bottle of Prosecco. Welcome to Brittany’s first diary: a year of trail-blazing – with the occasional crash and burn – rediscovery. Click here to view the book on Amazon.
PRAISE FOR PREVIOUS BOOKS:“An uplifting and candid novella about one of the most difficult decisions any mother has to make. A truly funny, insightful and beautifully written slice of parenting life” – Cupcakes & Heels: I don’t know how she does it abroad “A great book full of entertaining and gripping stories of life in Dubai” – Circles in the Sand: Stories about Life in the Big D “I have met all of these characters in my day-to-day life” – Circles in the Sand: Stories about Life in the Big D
Last week it felt like every day had some kind of deeper meaning attached to it. My personal favourite was International Women’s Day. I got to gawp at the achievements of trailblazing women, but the best thing about the day, if I’m totally honest, was that the men at work bought all the women cake.
Hot on the heels of all this cake came Happiness Day. An email from school explained that this day would be celebrated by allowing the children to wear a colour to represent their mood, rather than uniform. A helpful mood chart was included with various bright colours on it.
I decided not to show my kids the chart. They could wear something colourful from their wardrobe. Easy peasy. What overburdened mum doesn’t love a themed day that requires no preparation?
Then Son1 saw the mood poster and decided (at 9.30pm the night before) that he wanted to wear purple.
“But you don’t have ANYTHING purple in your wardrobe,” I protested.
He looked at me like I had two heads. “Purple means creative Mum!” Determination flashed in his eyes.
“Yes,” I replied, trying to remain patient. “You are very creative, that’s true. But …” I continued through gritted teeth, “you don’t have anything purple!”
There was no changing his mind, so we ended up looking through both mine and DH’s wardrobe, hunting for purple attire long past bedtime.
Son1 sorted, I then had Son2 to deal with. “Mum, I want to wear purple,” he told me in no uncertain terms.
“Noooo. You can’t,” I said immediately. For the love of God.
“Because, you have nothing purple!”
Let’s just say I wasn’t feeling very charitable or creative by now – how on earth were you meant to relish Happiness Day when the initiative was causing such discord and mutiny among my kids?
“Alright Mum,” Son2 eventually conceded. “I’ll wear my red T-shirt.”
“Great,” I sighed with relief. It was what I’d suggested more than an hour before, and now they could finally get to bed. “Red is a very happy colour,” I said brightly.
Son2 practically bared his teeth at me. He too glared in my direction as if I’d sprouted a second head, and had told him the red t-shirt was covered in poo.
“Red is not for happiness,” he huffed. “It’s for ANGER!”
Happiness Day could surely only get better … (and just for the record was followed by Enterprise Day at school and St Patrick’s Day).
“Seems there’s a day for everything now,” commented my mum, who’s staying with us and from a generation that didn’t have daily vision statements force fed to them with their cornflakes. “Do they do any real work at school?”
It’s Book Week at school and what better way to celebrate than with a shelfie competition, where the kids submit selfies of themselves reading in weird and wonderful positions. Son2 managed to hang in the doorway just long enough for me to get this snap – DH, who handed him the book, is hiding just to the right, but you can’t see him! Don’t try this at home kids! Oh, wait, we were at home …
The week started with a huge bang at the Emirates LitFest with a fantastic performance from Jeff Kinney, the US author of the massively popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. There are 13 books currently and he delighted the audience by revealing he planned to write 20 in total. The series has also spawned four movies, which my boys love.
Kinney received a rock-star welcome from at least 800 fans, and enthralled everyone with an interactive, pun-filled “show”. “I used to do the normal, hour-long talk about my books, and sent everyone to sleep, so I decided to make it more fun,” he said. The new format was a winner, and I’m quite sure I embarrassed my sons by cheering loudly along too. Several brave mums even ended up on stage in a dance-off that was judged by Kinney’s mother.
Afterwards we queued for an hour and a half to get a book signed, which was well worth the wait to see how excited Son2 was to meet the creator of Wimpy Kid.
Next task is thinking up a costume for the dress-up day on Thursday. I think last year’s Wimpy Kid masks might just see the light of day again.
Today was my favourite day of the school year: International Day, when the parents hold a massive celebration of all the nationalities that make up Dubai’s cosmopolitan society*. The kids go to school wearing their national colours or traditional dress, and all morning there’s a huge and colourful food fair with delicious dishes from all around the world.
So much effort goes into the preparation and I always take my hat off to the mums who must spend days, if not weeks, organising the décor for their stands, and cooking and baking. (There was a rumour that Embassy help can be enlisted, with the Canadian Embassy apparently renting out a massive Mountie for such occasions – if you book it far enough in advance.)
I helped out on the US stand and a fellow mom told me she’s on the look out all year round for America-themed paraphernalia (stickers, flags, posters), and bulk buys on July 5th – the day after July 4th, when everything is discounted. To my amazement, this year the US moms were operating a proper, cinema-style popcorn machine and had even handmade a human-size voting box that you could walk into, complete with a curtain and stars-and-stripes on the walls.
What I’m trying to say is International Day is truly a very special occasion, and actually a microcosm of Dubai itself – a city that enjoys its differences and multiple religious and ethnic backgrounds. Today, our US stand was right next to Russia, and across the way Greece and Cyprus were jollying along next to each other with the most wonderful Mediterranean mezze. Think tzatziki dip, feta, olives, stuffed vine leaves. YUM.
“Really, you’re going back to Greece for the fourth time?” I laughed as my DH said he was off for more. He gets particularly excited by International Day, and was happy I even brought him takeaway later – the Thai ladies, with their lovely smiles and exotic clothes, brought deliveries to all the stands, which were very much appreciated by all.
The younger years (foundation stage and years one-two) were the first to attend the food fair. They were herded around by teachers and assistants, and were so sweet with their shyness and hesitancy, and the way they held their International Day passports out to collect stamps. Then came the older years who were more inclined to grab but also appeared to be loving the culinary adventure, or at least the fact they were missing lessons. Finally, my sons (now 10 and 13) showed up, who pretty much helped hoover up (and I don’t mean the floor).
I was, however, rumbled right at the end. You’ll know that I’m an honourary American (with a US husband and kids), and I’d dressed up in red, white and blue, brought Oreo cookies, and was patriotically handing out flags. But it’s a bit hard to hide my English accent, and I was hot footing it to the British stand for refills of tea.
A child, who I’d just given some stickers to, looked at me squarely, his eyes filled with suspicion. “But are you actually American?” he asked and waited for my answer knowing already he’d well and truly got me on that one.
*Dubai is home to 2.4 million people, of whom 83 per cent are foreign born.