Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lululemon meets the Middle East, officially, at Dubai's Mall of the Emirates

Photo courtesy of Lululemon Athletica/Majid Al Futtaim - Fashion

Now this one is almost as hard to wrap my head around as all the Tim Hortons outlets I see around Abu Dhabi. Lululemon Athletica is just the latest big Canadian brand to hit the UAE, opening this week in MoE's level 2 expansion.

Snap caption: Well hello there Bon Jovi in Abu Dhabi

David Ryan, Jon Bon Jovi and Tico Torres (check out his interview with The National) just arrived in Abu Dhabi for their show at Du Arena Thursday October 1. I'm still trying to decide whether to brave the crowds, post-concert Yas Island, for this one. 

Snap caption: Well hello there cast of Star Trek Beyond in Dubai

I think it's so cool when film productions (and rock stars, and anyone else) do a press conference when they are in town shooting. It's just so much more upfront than casing them out for details, although as is the case with Jackie Chan's Kung Fu Yoga, that can be fun too.

Director Justin Lin, stars Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto and Idris Elba, etc etc, met the media this afternoon.

It's hard to believe how many big movies are shooting in the UAE this autumn (I used to say fall, but the British have knocked it out of me). There is a great roundup of what's going on here. I'm just waiting to bump into Brad and Angie and the kids at Spinneys next month.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Overheard in the newsroom: Chicken edition

I know people say Antman isn't a superhero because he's too tiny, but I disagree. 

I'm an expert dragger. It may be ridiculous it I am proud of it. 

I had chicken for breakfast. 

Oh, I know my mangoes. 

I think he's trying to watch Sharknado. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

End of summer: And then, just like that, everything is ok

I went outside this morning and voila, all of a sudden it dawned on me that this was the day I've been dreaming about since June: the day I could be outside again. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I could breathe. It was 93 degrees, and we got excited because the high was only going to be 102. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Overheard in the newsroom: Zayn Malik, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups edition

Last night I dreamed I met Zayn Malik and we worked on a horse sanctuary together.

That's part of a social observation from 10 years ago when I had hair and dreams.

I've never eaten peanut butter, except in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

He's delusional. I don't think he's well.

Can you imagine how much fluff that would pick up?

He was body-shaming my cat. In his defense, he isn't a very good-looking cat.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Nice List: Giraffe, AD Metalheads, Trevor Noah, Arabic Sesame Street and cheaper yoga

Do you like breakfast burritos? I like breakfast burritos. And I have found good ones are very hard to come by in these parts. So go to Giraffe, in Yas Mall, and order this:

You will not be sorry.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Humid in the city: When the heat gets to you, give it a month

Lots of Abu Dhabi windows look like this right now.

You can’t really go outside. You haven’t been able to do so in as long as you can remember, not really, not in a way that gives you any relief. Any fresh air. Any respite from the oppressive heat that has enveloped us for months.

What does that do to a person, really? Terrible things. Probably very unhealthy things, mentally and physically. Fresh air grass, water, sand, green things, nature: they all seem so terribly far away right now. What do you do when you can't escape the wet, foggy blanket that is enveloping you at every turn? That's basically smothering your face? 

Not much, I'm afraid. Not for another very hard couple of weeks.

I had a beautiful vacation in Bhutan at the start of August, one of the most amazing experiences of my life and ever since I came back, life has been hard. 

And so the person on the phone who doesn’t understand me bears the brunt. The shop keeper who seems to know nothing about the product I need - but they so should - is the recipient of my quietly simmering fury. It doesn't matter what the issue or the person the heat makes it worse: The irritating co-worker, the job that’s not going that well right now, the wobbly relationship, the child who needs that last ounce of patience no one has at the moment. 

The last few days here have been among the most horridly hot most people have experienced. No one can quite believe it, even those of us who have seen it repeatedly. The humidity is beyond belief. The simple trips from the car to work to car to home drain the life out of you. Knowing that it will drain the life out of you drains the life out of you. September in Abu Dhabi is like a long, dark, Ottawa, Canada winter, except you can bundle up against that, put on your snow pants and your toque and your boots and walk through the snow, and get yourself some fresh, clean air in those cells and when you get back home, rosy-cheeked and tired out, the world is right again. There is no way to do that in the depths of an Abu Dhabi summer. 

And because of that, you question everything. 

I see the havoc this weather wreaks emotionally every year, in myself and others all around me, see it playing out in all sorts of ways, watch as we all get pulled hither and thither, reacting, not responding, despairing, but not really knowing why, and still, knowing intellectually what’s happening, I have myself have succumbed yet again to the September crazies. 

Sure, many of us choose to live here and there are benefits that take us far beyond some heat, but that doesn’t make it any easier, does it? 

So what to do? The only thing you can do: give it a month. It will pass. Promise yourself you won't do anything drastic, like yell or quit or make any big changes you can't be sure you actually want. 

In the meantime, do anything you have to do to grab some patience and peace: have a long hot shower in the a/c, go to bed early, swim, do something amazing for yourself, go outside, even if it feels terrible, come back in and sigh gratefully at the cool, sweet, inescapable air conditioning, stop and breathe when you can (I like overly dramatic meditations myself), watch something gently funny, like Jerry Seinfeld interviewing some of the world's best comedians, seek out cold places, like movie theatres, the driver's seat of your car or the best Abu Dhabi summer antidote I've come across, listen to some gentle tunes to help you relax - I love this one - and just hang in there and do whatever you have to do to get through it. 

A friend and I sat outside for several very uncomfortable hours the other night by the pool at the Eastern Mangroves Resort & Spa by Anantara (I love that place, it's like my local hangout, can you imagine?). One of those giant mobile fans was blowing hot air on us, but not doing much other than drying our eyeballs out. We were very uncomfortable physically, each of us sweating profusely, but somehow, we just muscled through. I'm not sure it made anything better, but we needed it. 

On a trip to Dubai over the weekend, another friend and I realised we needed butter to complete dinner. The store was around the corner, and we walked. It was the hottest 10-minute round trip in recent memory. We actually panicked. But coming back inside? That was one of the most amazing chills I've had in quite some time. 

It will get better. I’ve been here for seven years. I can tell you with absolute certainly that it always does

So give it a month. Just trust me on this. It won't take that long. One morning you are going to go outside and there will be a sweet, gentle reprieve floating in the air, and you will be very glad that you did. 

How to be a happy expat

Because a cloud wall makes you want to take a selfie.  After 10 years living in the UAE, some of that time happy, some miserable and ...