Living in Dubai I sometimes feel as though I am living in a different world. And a world that on occasion is not the REAL world.There are plenty of things that I do here that I wouldn’t do in the UK, and as I sat waiting for my car to be filled with petrol (yep you read that right, I sit there and someone fills my car up) I mused on what I do here that I wouldn’t do in the UK.
And maybe I am becoming a bit of a “Marina Mary”
1. Get my car washed, at least once a week
Back in the UK I never washed my car. EVER! And when it was too filthy to see out of I half heartedly took it to the garage and threw it through the automatic car wash. In fact the last time I washed a car willing it was because my Dad was paying me a fiver.
Here, I wash the car, at least once a week. I say, I, wash the car. This is in fact a false statement. I pay for the car to be washed in the car park when I go food shopping at the weekend. Then every 6 months or so, generally after it has rained, the car is deemed “too dirty” by the portable car washers so I take it to the valet.
And they wash it. Inside and out. And on the bottom.
And this is considered normal.
I still think this is a bit weird
2. Phone for phone credit to be delivered to the house
I don’t think I will ever live this one down. Walking in Dubai is relatively difficult, not only because of the heat in the summer, but also because the pavements are only halfway completed and attempting to push my little Bugaboo Bee over sand results in a sweaty, red faced, gently swearing me, and a laughing hysterically toddler. And so, a lot of shops offer a phone us up and we deliver service. One I used a lot when we first moved over to get the water delivered.And once, when I ran out of credit on my phone, a recharge voucherAnd yes, you can top up online.And no, I didn’t think of that at the time.
And yes, I am ashamed…..
And no, it never happened again!
3. Takeaway delivery, two different people, two different orders, two different takeaways!
And not just the normal delivery you’d expect in the UK, coffee shops deliver coffee and cakes, most fast food outlets deliver, restaurants deliver. So myself and the husband often have different ideas on what we want to order.
So both order what we want.
From different places.
And McDonalds becomes McDelivery.
That is all I have to say on that!
4. Send my children to private school
Its bizarre, but we are in the process of school applications for the toddler terror. Who I may add is TWO.This to me, feels strange. To my husband, who was privately educated, this is normal.The toddler terror will be starting
school the September after he turns 3, lucky for him, his birthday is October so he will be one of the older ones in the year.But it still feels strange going through the application process at the moment. And knowing if we stayed in the UK we wouldn’t be doing this yet. And we wouldn’t be doing private school (for no other reason than we couldn’t afford it in the UK. And still, applying for school for my 2 year old?! He is my baby!! I don’t want to think about it yet.
5. Drive a massive car
In the UK we drove a Peugeot 207. My mum has an Audi A4 that we used to drive when we went to see her, and I hated it. I thought it was too big. And now I drive a SUV. Not a massive one compared with what can be out there. But a BIG MASSIVE car nonetheless.And I can drive it. Not always particularly well (and I only had one incident with a pole so far **touch wood**) but I can and do drive it daily.
6. Have Road Rage Galore
You’ve been sat 2 seconds at the traffic lights since they turned green.
You nearly swerved into my car.
Beep Beep. Beep Beep. Beep Beep.
I am not an aggressive driver. Well I never used to be. Here you need to be; people push in lanes, people beep you if you take more than 10 seconds at the traffic lights, people undertake and overtake, its crazy on the roads.
Back home (in the UK that is) I never beeped my horn. EVER.Here I beep once a day. At least.
And the toddler terror (along with knowing f*cking morons from Daddy; full story here Joining the Masses) now knows this as normal driving behaviour and will pipe up when we are stopped at red lights, “go, go, go, go” “beep”
It got to the point where when I took a summer trip home for 10 days, I kept trying to beep my mums car as I was
driving it (with stern glances off my mum that stopped me) I fear Dubai is turning me into an aggressive driver!
7. Terrible Driving
The cause of all things road rage is in fact the abysmal driving out here. It is truly shocking.
One of the worst stories I have heard is two cars bombing down Sheikh Zayed Road (think 6 lane motorway) at 120kmph (at least) with their windows down having a chat with each other and taking photos with their phones.
8. See a wide array of Super Cars
Shiny red thing.
Zoomy white thing.
Lots of chrome.
I see a lot. Doesn’t mean I actually know what they are yet.
And yes, the police have super cars too.
9. Have someone bag up my food shopping for me
In the UK when I did my shopping in Asda I always said no when they asked the dreaded words “want a hand with
your packing” I always felt it slowed things down and the bags were never put together to my liking. Fast forward to Dubai where people don’t ask, the checkout operator will throw the food down to the end where it is packed for you.
It’s gotten to the point where I look around slightly miffed if there is no one to bag up my shopping and I do it myself.
*mentally slap myself*
10. Have someone put my ticket in the car parking machine
You know, as you leave the shopping centre and pop your ticket into the machine the barrier rises? Here there is a man who stands and does that for you. *cringe*
11. Understand that Brunch is not a meal but an EXTRAVAGANZA
For anyone not in Dubai, you may know that Brunch is a pleasant meal between breakfast and lunch consisting of scrambled eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice. Those of you in Dubai know that Brunch is a fabulous extravaganza where you glam up, throw those fake eyelashes on and go all out on food and drink. Especially the drink. Isn’t that how you make your money?!
And if you can’t go all out on drink because you have the kids with you then you make sure you use all the entertainment available to you, petting zoo at brunch? Completely normal.
12. Spend less on petrol a week than I do on coffee
And not because I spend a fortune on coffee. I don’t. Well not as much as my husband thinks anyway. Coffee at soft play, coffee taking the baby to baby groups, coffee to stay awake. A few coffees start to add up, all of a
sudden I’ve spent 100 AED on coffee.
In real money (i.e. pounds) that is £17.67 as of today’s exchange rate. I dread to think how far £17.67 would go on petrol in the UK. Not far I’m guessing!
Not only that, but I can drive thru in my massive car to pick up my expensive coffee.
13. Valet Park
I used to think this was such an American thing. It probably is. And a Dubai thing too I guess. I even valet parked at the hospital. Then tutted that it wasn’t free as I was being admitted and spending enough money in there!
*another mental slap*
14. Have my handbag elevated to person status
And given it’s own seat when I’m out drinking all that coffee. You know, the coffee that costs me more than petrol.
15. Become an unidentified gender
Having people call me Ma’am is awful as it is. I hate it. Don’t call me anything. Especially not Ma’am. I am not old enough to be Ma’am. Even worse though is “Ma’am Sir” at least if you’re going to call me something at least call me something that identifies me as female.
16. Look forward to rain
I miss rain. And I like that here rain causes the same chaos that snow days do back in the UK. I can guarantee that my husband will be home on time because of the rain as he would leave early to stay safe on the roads
17. Buy winter clothes when its 30 degrees outside
The shops here still follow the seasonal wear of the rest of the world. So if I want to buy a hoodie and jeans and a parka in December I can. Ignore the fact that its still 30 degrees and sunny outside and I actually want a pair of shorts. That is not allowed. Winter clothes it is then. Saying that I am sat here now in jeans. And its 40+ outside. Never thought I’d be that person either!
18. Overhear my neighbour ordering a weekly block of ice…to go in the pool to keep it cool
19. See a Falcon riding in the front seat of a Nissan Patrol
Or elephants casually strolling through a field at Nad Al Sheba
20. Consider having a full time maid
I didn’t even have a cleaner in the UK. And I worked full time. Now I’m considering full time help and I am a stay at home mum because it is a luxury available to us. I am still only in the consideration stage of this one though!
21. Be a stay-at-home-mum
If we as a family were not in Dubai then I simply would not be a stay-at-home-mum. We would not have had the luxury of choosing for me to extend my maternity leave and eventually accept redundancy from my job. If we were in London still, I would have had to go back to full time work when the toddler terror was 9 months old, I had a nursery place lined up for the toddler terror and then the husband came home with the news that changed our lives. We were off to Dubai.
And being here, I haven’t had to work.
I have chosen to look for work. I have chosen to carve a little piece of me time again and using my brain by writing this blog. I haven’t had to for the financial welfare of our family, and for this I am grateful. I love the fact I have had 2 years with the toddler terror. That I have helped shape him into the little charmer that he is today. And that I get to do it again with number 2!
22. Be Pregnant (and now have Baby Boy)
On a similar note, if we still lived in London, I wouldn’t be pregnant now. OK maybe I would, but it wouldn’t have been planned like we did.
The fact of the matter is that moving to Dubai has changed our financial situation, being able to be a stay-at-home-mum has meant that we don’t have 2 extortionate nursery fees to find. That I am not working to cover the fees and have a little extra to live on.
But we did, and I am, and now we are soon to be a family of 4!
Dubai, its a crazy place, but it’s home (for now). If like me you are a fellow expat what are your “Dubai Moments”?