June 8, 2010
Halloween Parties and Stage Fright...
I took my two older kids today to their violin concert at the American school in Jumeirah. No sooner had I stepped into the campus, that a wind of memories came upon me.
When we moved to Dubai in 1975, we lived in a 3 bedroom colonialist style single story white villa near the zoo. So close, we could hear the lions roar. In 1975, the Jumeira neighborhood was intimate and we could walk to the beach from our house, with a simple two-way beach road to cross (before The Bin Laden's construction group doubled it). Sometimes, on the beach, we waved at helicopters in the sky, which at the time, could even land on the beach or on another patch of sand not too far from our house. I took my first helicopter ride when I was 5!
At a walking (or biking) distance from the house, was the American school. Ironically, we attended the French school, at the other end of the world, in Sharjah. But the American school campus served as our playground. We would swing on their monkey bars, ride bikes around the school, play hide and go seek. There wasn't any Safa park in those days (that didn't happen till 1980).
The American school also had one of the two tennis courts in the whole city (the other one was at the AlBoustan hotel). My grandfather used to play at the court that was available. Proximity wasn't the issue: either would be a ten minute ride. Everything was ten minutes away, except for Sharjah which was 30 mins away by car.
When I walked onto the campus of the American school today, I did think of the playgrounds, and the tennis court and even of the Wizard of Oz school play which I watched in the inside air conditioned gymnasium (wow! They had an indoor gym). But what I did remember most of all were their Halloween parties, with the entire neighborhood participating (no bunkered school in those days with security guards and cameras). Those were scarrrrrrrrry Halloween parties they threw. Ghosts, witches, vampires and the weirdest things, like bodies being dismembered and screaming, and even a haunted train. Those images followed us in our wildest nightmares.
But today, my 5 year old daughter only got stage freight when I handed her the violin and bow and pushed her onto the stage. She refused, cried, and kept saying: "I need to practice". I took her then to the far end of the auditorium, so those playing their pieces on stage wouldn't hear her, and her older brother showed her strings. It was very hot at 4pm and her crying just made her face redder. Finally, convinced of her own capacities, she moved onto the stage and played her partition in front of the whole room. Her brother's turn came after hers, at which point, relieved she could actually enjoy the moaning melancholic sounds of the
I did promise her a doll (you go up there and you get a doll!) so we later drove on the Beach Road to the original store of Magrudis, another old institution of Dubai (where I did my first and last shop lifting experiment with a small bouncy ball my mom had made me return with much repentance, but that is for another entry!).