A pink taxi

A pink taxi

December 30, 2011

Music Matters?

My sister ignites the interest in the song. She bbms me the lyrics, asks me if I heard it before and before I know it, it does play on the radio and I discover it with delight: perhaps a song I didn't catch on to before.

I am an avid radio listener. I sit, put my seat belt on and fumble for the radio with enthusiasm. I enjoy the drive because of the randomness of the music. Not knowing what will play next.

Why does a song always sound better on the radio then on a CD? Why do I smile with glee when they play ColdPlay which I listen to ad nauseam on my ipod? Perhaps because I feel it's a shared melody. That many Dubayans are listening to it simultaneously.

Some songs are overplayed. Take Rihanna and Calvin Harris' Yellow Diamonds. It is a nice song but it doesn't stir anything because it sounds banal. They have recently played my favorite hits: Kate Perry's "In another life" and Gotye's "Just another person I used to know". My kids know not to converse with me when those tunes play. They either find me elated or quite down. Those songs give you mixed feelings. They stir the dominant emotions of the day.

Nothing like the first time you hear a song. It frequently happens at 6pm when I drive to bikram yoga. It was on such a trip that I heard Example for the first time. I even remember at which traffic light I was when I cranked it higher to listen closer. I also loved Cole's Trouble and immediately recognized it as my 15 year old cousin's favorite tune: she had it posted on her bbm status ages ago!

It is nice to follow the music trends with the younger generation. I look foreword to my children's future recommendations.

Just today, as we drove in a fleet of SUVs to the park, I got a local phone call from my sister who was visiting: 104.4 she recommended. It felt so cool to hear Kate Perry's hit on that request: almost like a dedication!

I dedicate this post to my very best and only sister, my soul mate, on her birthday. I am so happy we are celebrating it together!

December 28, 2011

Ambara Salaam's Spirit

It is the Reardon in me that makes me strive for an athletic lifestyle. I think of the brio of my American grandmother, mother of ten, who swam, practiced aeorbics and followed her children's sports activities. I look towards my aunt, in the same bikram yoga studio as me, and know that she does so much more, that she could be a professional kite surfer!

On my paternal side is the iconic Ambara Salaam whose story and accomplishments have featured on this blog. With her heritage in mind, I stand firm and resolute to march foreword in my ideas and actions. As an example, she has struggled to "remove the veil" and I refuse to forget her progressive efforts. I will never personally endorse the "wearing of the veil". I will always discourage it as a regressive step, one that impedes a woman's movement.

My great aunt Ambara was a thinker. She demanded to be educated, she studied with appetite. At the ripe age of 32, she married for love and her husband was from an intellectual family. At the age of 40, she translated the Iliad and the Odyssey. She corresponded with writers, of which the famed philosopher Gibran Khalil Gibran.

It recently dawned on me that she was my age when she lived this rich intellectual life, when she produced and exchanged her ideas. More important, I respect her bold steps, her confidence. She interacted with male counterparts and befriended them, while retaining an intact reputation. She appeared conservative, yet she had a liberal philosophy that offered her a rich intellectual development. My great aunt was born 70 years before me and she was avant-guard, as she played an active role in social development, well documented by Albert Hourani in History of the Arab People. She was a role model and her spirit invigorates me today.

Intrepid, she lived by her philosophy. And I pledge to live by mine.

December 26, 2011

Nothing Like a Mehra Christmas

As I consume a traditional piece of cherry pie my neighbor sent up, I reflect on the happy Christmas I spent in sunny Dubai.

"I was telling my son how many presents used to overflow from the room when we used to spend Christmas in Utah!" wrote my sister. I have celebrated the "heavy heavy hangs" tradition in last year's XMas post: one that consists of wishing much more to the giver of the gift, before we are told who he/she is.

We have sought shortcuts to that tradition because our maternal family, which is now divided geographically between Dubai and  San Diego, is so large that we could not muster the energy or even fathom the thought of exchanging gifts in that theatrical tradition anymore.

Christmas eve is a feast and a party at my Aunt's home. She gathers old timers of the village of Dubai, friends from the eighties that are now scattered in the Dubai metropolis. This year, the music was vibrant as it moved from the Gypsy Kings of the day to David Guetta of 2011.

Christmas day is held under the hospitable tree of my cousin, her husband and her triplets. Enter a home of endless hospitality where espressos are offered effortlessly and where my visiting cousin, her brother, toiled over the oven, making the best French toast I have ever had (move over laPetiteMaison!).

Opening the gifts, I observed a group of five young, handsome, athletic twenty something guys: my cousins! These recently graduated or college students spontaneously tried their new jumpers and fumbled with their new books. I was very impressed to see them exchanging literature as Christmas gifts! One of them received On the Road by Jack Kerouac and the other received David Foster Wallace's strangely titled Consider the Lobster.

These books drew me into their group, as we passed notes and exchanged our thoughts on Fitzgerald, the Beat generation, the Little Prince and Khalil Gibran.

My own children looked at these young men with bewilderment, one a professional rugby player, the other an actor, another one a talented chef, and two others in film, international relations and the last a freshman. When my son's arrow got stuck in a tree, the youngest of these men, jumped on a wall, shook the tree and delivered the arrow. My son discovered his hero.

It is during these festivities, family gatherings, that I realize how dynamic my family is, how my grandfather's spirit never died, how he would be so proud of that group of grandsons that caught my attention this morning.

December 24, 2011

Routine But With a Grip Change

The time has finally come. I have reached a stage in my golf development when the coach talks about routine.

I have participated in golf tournaments, essentially mixed ones, with juniors and parents. I have observed the highly qualified juniors and their beautiful skills and style. I have noticed their body language, their routine which consists of steps they do constantly before executing the next move.

At the T shot, they prepare in a certain way and on each of the nine holes, they will prepare in the same way before taking their swing. When they put, they remove their glove, they mark their ball, they study the line and perform. Each and every time. Their academy has trained them to do so. Everyone has a certain style, their own idiosyncrasies.

My coach has now instructed me to do the same, to play my routine, to slow my game down. "Think about your put, it may take time but it may save you two to three trials." Retain your habits, do the same thing each and every time.

But change your grip! I have played golf for three years and I am told to change the grip. This is a reflection on life: set your routine, get good habits but always fine tune and always work on improvement. Sometimes your grip needs a complete reform!

December 22, 2011


I have collected three adverbs in the last three weeks. I have caught them in my vocabulary net, as they "flew" by me.

The first word landed gently on my blackberry screen one early morning as I touched it with the tip of my fingers. It is a French adverb, a savant one, because it is only employed in written language. It is an antiquated adverb, used as seldom as "seldom" is used in English. The adverb "desormais" ( from now on) came to compliment another savant word, one that I had selected myself: "palmeraie" (palm garden). I savored the taste of an old adverb, I called it mine. I pronounced it all day, all week, all month.

In the same vein, when I exchanged a few words with my son's first grade teacher, as we frequently do at drop off, he used an adverb that may sound technical in English but caught my attention with the latin-charm of a Marsaillais accent: "systematiquement".

In pilates, in search of imagery and to qualify the movement of the cat, the instructor used the adverb: languorously. I liked its latin etymology. In an English context, it sounds savant.

This fascination with words occurs frequently, especially when I am reading le Monde. In fact, in that case, it is the expressions that fascinate me, the twisted syntax that makes it such an erudite paper.

But the collection of words, simple ones like the adverbs I have stolen from these 3 individuals, is well expressed by the tender Marcel Pagnol when speaking of his childhood:

 « J’avais la passion des mots ; en secret, sur un petit carnet, j’en faisais une collection, comme d’autres font pour les timbres [...]et je me les répétais souvent quand j’étais seul, pour le plaisir de les entendre. »

"I had the passion for words; in secret, on a little notebook, I collected them, like others stamps. [...] And I repeated them often when I was alone, for the pleasure of hearing them."

December 21, 2011

Why don't you stop the violin lessons?

I had an only child: he almost took 100% of my time. He was 18 months old and he was a big boy, he appeared double his age and he had double energy. I found a Polish teacher to teach him the violin.

My son could barely talk not to mention read notes! I rented the smallest violin from a stringed-instrument maker (otherwise known as luthier in French) in Geneva. We eventually upgraded to larger and larger sizes, as did his sister and brother. Ofcourse, violin playing became our own family tradition.

Why the violin with its initial squeeky sounds? Because it has a more an intuitive method of learning than the piano. Because the Japanese Suzuki method is "music made easy". Because ColdPlay introduced violins in VivaLaVida.

My son's Polish teacher was replaced by a Jewish American teacher, then by an Armenian teacher: all of them from communities that celebrate the violin as an instrument they can carry in their diasporic flight. Today, Palestinians produce world famous violin virtuosos.

Today my children practice with an easy going American teacher. They play the violin like others go to arts and crafts classes: casually. I am never behind them to practice ritually. I encourage them to play with pleasure. To touch upon music lightly.

The children probably only spend a maximum time of 45 mins a week playing their violin, scattered moments of music around the house. But it is during those 45 mins that they look at a music sheet, that they hold a fragile instrument.

Music matters and this is an introduction.

December 20, 2011

Beautiful People of Dubai

Everytime I go to a Sandance event, at Atlantis, at Palm Dubai, I am impressed by the number of beautiful people I see. They seem to have come out of the woodworks in Dubai, all converging on this island of artifice and to this event of casual festivity.

The majority of these people are young, single, fit and trendy. They are urbanites from around the world. Dubai has a smashing cocktail of people from all places and races!

They are not beautiful in the classical sense of the term. They are not a sophisticated crowd like you find in Saint Tropez, nor are they bling like in Beyrouth, nor are they groovy like in Los Angeles, nor are they trashy like they are in Ibiza.

I have had occasion to observe them closely, to dance to their rythme and to wonder where they nurse their hangovers. Are they dentists, bankers, gym trainers, advertising employees, waiters, teachers, hotel receptionists, shopkeepers, lawyers, chefs, cars salesmen, make up artists, housewives?

Dubai was once a port in the desert where beachcombers, generally men without their families, came in search of fortune. A decade later, they brought their families and Dubai became a family style haven, with very little entertainment. Then Dubai became glitzy and the glitz attracted the glitz makers and glitz seekers.

However what I am referring to with the Sandance crowd isn't the bling crowd at Cavalli, nor the eurotrash crowd of 400, nor the rave crowd of Trilogy, nor the exclusive crowd of Armani: it is a melange. I call it the "bikram crowd".

Yes, the hot room at Club Stetch does attract beautiful people too. Excluding the blogger-observer that I am, I would say it takes a beautiful soul to enter that room: courage, curiosity, strength and energy.

I have a funny theory that if I were caught in traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road and I took a sample of 200 cars, 10% of them would have tried Bikram yoga. 10% of that sample crowd is crazy enough to have tried at least ONCE.

Every session of bikram brings the fanatics, the once in a blue-mooners, the steadfast yogis and then there are the firstcomers. There will always be a handful of firstcomers at every single session. The ones that will never come back. In the hot room,  all these yogis look handsome in their attempt to perform. I have dragged my fittest friends and relatives, the knock out blond, the hunks, the beautiful brunettes, the muscled relatives, the rock star husband!

In this room, I have observed a handsome couple, the man is very tall, his face is chisled, his body is muscular. He comes with his partner, a striking brunette with perfect proportions and a relaxed disposition. They are frequent yogis. I have seen them at concerts: the Fletcher concert at Trilogy and the Robert Miles concert at Armani. They are the yogis turned party groovers. The beautiful people of Dubai.

When I dance on the beach at Atlantis to Example or Faithless, I can be sure that 80% of those beautiful people have tried bikram yoga.....at least once!

December 19, 2011

Albums and Blackberry Photos

Photo albums are the wealth of the exiled people. They are the first thing we carry out of our countries. Albums are precious. I have made sure, in the footsteps of my parents, to build albums for my children.
This is a multicolored process. Carry the camera, take the pictures, develop them and put them in albums. Suffice one of these steps get complicated and the album building falls apart. My favorite photo developer has realized that it is no longer lucrative to develop. People have stopped developing. Their albums are virtual, on their computers: hard drives, floppy disks.

And I now rush with my blackberry, saving moments, taking snapshots of the daily. These photos get shared on the instant. They get saved and looked at upon any random conversation, upon any random idle time. Like a photo you carry in your wallet.

On a trip to Lebanon, my uncle mocked us and our fascination with snap shooting with our blackberries. He should know that blackberry shots and iphone ones that you can design and manipulate are one of the funnest photographic activities we have got...to the detriment of our beloved albums.

All photos posted here are blackberry snaps. We have selected a few of the very best. The photographers will be proud but will remain anonymous.

December 17, 2011

My Study Habits

I am surrounded by talented friends. I know they work hard to attain their goals. They have chosen career paths and Dubai, the new eldorado, has offered its opportunities and markets. I observe them, busy bees, creating, producing, delivering and meeting their deadlines.

In contrast, I have chosen to bring up my family full time. No sooner are my children released from school, that they are taxied, tutored, fed, taught, instructed, played, washed, read to, organized and tucked into bed. It is a juggling act. But I concede, I do get my free time: time to coffee, to write, to practice my sports, to follow art and film....to sit under a palm tree and read. I make the time.

While the workaholics watch tv, I am tutoring and bathing. While the workaholics lunch, I am sitting under that palm waiting for my children to get out of school. To share their stories, their misadventures, to prep them for their homework.

Indeed, if anyone knows how to study it is me.  I think I studied more than the average student, be it the brilliant one who didn't need to, or the average student who didn't think it was necessary to do so. For two decades I deprived myself from outings, from television, from empty hours of chatting, from hanging out. I studied. I was a book worm, a library ghost. I never slept in. I always set my alarm very early. I always studied ahead. I always completed ALL my work, never skipping, never cutting angles.

Granted I was a late bloomer. I developed study habits in eleventh grade. I had three years to do all the catching up for the eleven years of daydreaming. In grade 11, given my unfriendly disposition and my school change, I sunk into studying. I never indulged at boarding school. I studied ahead, prepared for exams, devoured books.

During my university years, a decade long, my days and nights were exclusively academic. I haunted libraries, I frequented every student center in the state of Massachusetts, drank coffee over my study notes in every new Starbucks that emerged in the 90s. My notes were handwritten in three colored pens, my syllabus were highlighted in fluorescent colors of work achieved and I composed multitudes of papers!

Move over you workaholics! I have done my works due. While you were skimming readings, socializing and building your careers, I was learning. I am now enjoying the fruits of my hard labor.

December 16, 2011

Burj Khalifa: A Hollywood Star

I walked out of the Mercato movie theater and I imagined I still was on the set of Mission Impossible 4, starring Tom Cruise and Burj Khalifa. The tallest building in the world was glittering in our back yard.

In my opinion, those are the only two cool items in a somewhat jumbled, scrambled movie, with too much action and too much speed. Where was the suspense?

How I missed Tom Cruise! I haven't seen him in a good movie in a while! He oozes self confidence. He's got the biceps for that, the smashing green eyes and the sharp features. But he has put on some weight....

As for the Burj Khalifa, it looked splendid, sleek and sexy. The views were incredible, the stunts were awsome. It filled me with pride that our Burj had become a movie star!

Of course I screamed with excitement when they showed the scene I had waited 18 months for: Tom Cruise running underneath the arch of DIFC. I had just told the story of how I had seen the shot being filmed when they cordoned access behind our building for the shooting. From the 43rd floor I had seen Tom (the size of a peanut) run as the extras were orchestrated to move as he traversed the DIFC run. Then the cars on the all too familiar DIFC round about, that were literally "parked" in total stillness, began to move like a merry-go-round that resumes its turns.

How strange to see the effort of many takes and the suspension of activity in my neighborhood for half a day last only split seconds on film!

It was worth watching Mission Impossible 4 because of the scenes in photogenic Dubai! Tomorrow morning,  I will rush to its esplanade, to see the rising sun reflect in its shimmering glass. The esplanade that I frequently visit, alone or on coffee dates.

December 15, 2011


My son stole my ipod under the pretext that wednesdays are long days. I granted his request on the "hump day" but had all to loose in the bargain. My morning was rendered more dull, or less upbeat. Where was Chris Martin before my circuit training pushing me foreword with his "shoot an apple off my head"? Where was Chris Martin when I walked to the Fox glass statue chanting "I turn the music up ...and shut the world outside"? I soon realized that I had become addicted to the sound of music enclosing me in my own world as I went about my routine. I longed for it all day.

I once deprived myself of chocolate for two long months. I was training and chocolate just "defeated the purpose". Every night, at about 9pm, after the house was still and the dinner was consumed, the craving for chocolate assaulted me. I felt it in my mouth, like a scratch on my teeth and felt sorry for the nicotine addicts. Two months later, when I broke my chocolate fast, I feasted on a small square of dark chocolate, and I encountered a new passion, more intense!

All know my heavy dependence on coffee. It isn't a chemical dependence because I have tested the 10 days without coffee during the month of Ramadan when having a coffee at late Iftar just defeated the purpose. I made it through the day in the same way I didn't have either drink or food, but I wasn't the happiest me. Coffee enhances my mood, it intensifies the volume of energy and spark. It uplifts me. I love it!

I am really into golf. It is also uplifting because it is relaxing. You forget all issues when on the green. You are far away, yet so close to home. Far removed because you have committed 2 to 4 hours of your time. You play in a green kingdom. The manicured visuals are very beautiful.

I realized how hooked I was to pilates when I skipped a full week to practice my golf. It served me wrong to shuffle my addictions: I felt heavy and un-stretched.

Addictions are passions. It is during the withdrawl that you realize how much you are dependent.

December 14, 2011

Breakfast with Jafar Panahi

I had a late breakfast with the film producer  Jafar Panahi. I sat back and watched him choose his jam, his flat bread. His body language is Iranian. His surroundings are Iranian. He fiddled with his i-phone. It rang. He put it on high speaker and chatted casually, with his mouth full.

Then he told his story. In the perfect Farsi that I enjoy listening to. I listened to every word. Hung to every sentence because he was narrating a film scenario he was forbidden to produce.

"This is not a film", homage in its title to Magritte's "Ceci n'est pas une Pipe", is a story beyond the making of a film. In fact, it is the story of a film that was aborted by censorship. It is the story of a genius whose hands are tied, who is forbidden to produce.

Jafar Panahi and Abbas Kiorostami are considered to be amongst the top contemporary film producers in the world. I have had the honor to dine with Kiorostami, in reality. I dialogued with him. This film, in its strong resemblance to a reality show, was as if I had breakfast with Panahi and spent the rest of the day with him, listening to his quasi monologue. And his monologue was about his art.

Panahi mentions that he rarely filmed interiors in his past film, yet in this film, as he had wanted to do in the scenario of the aborted film, it was all shot inside. Panahi was under house arrest (he was subsequently jailed); the shots of his home and the casualness on camera made it a very intimate film. Almost a different genre.

December 13, 2011

Showers, showers, showers

My daughter had put drains in her ears for 18 months. She couldn't get water in them for that period of time. She couldn't shower her head and had to flip her head upside down for me to wash it. Then the doctor told her she could:

"A shower?" She cried out in celebration.

Who remembers his first shower? I remember putting my little babies under the shower head for the first time. A milestone experience.

But the first shower I remember was at my grandma's in Lebanon. I remember the smell of the soap we used. When I bought a certain shower gel at Boots' pharmacy the smell took me back to those quick winter showers in Beyrouth.

People are surprised that I shower at gyms: right after bikram yoga, at Aviation club in the past, and at UEnergy now. Perhaps they get inhibited by the fact that they are public showers. But I have been to summer camp and have been a boarder. I have also lived in college dorms and have showered at swimming pool locker rooms.

I am used to taking my shampoos and towels across the hall, or the dusty road in Vermont camp and wearing flip flops in the shower! I also knew the trick to use the shower as soon as it had been cleaned. Which means at the odd hour, right after class and before our study period. Therefore while all the girls took a snack after school and met in the kitchen, they would see me in my bathrobe at 4pm, heading out of the shower, wet hair turbaned in a towel.

When I lay in savasnah at the end of bikram, sweating as if I had swam laps, the shower is on my mind. I come out of the shower, still red and flushed but already enjoying the post-workout high. When I circuit train at UEnergy, the
whole experience would not be complete without the  indulgence of the ladies' locker room. The rain shower head is a luxury!

December 12, 2011

Writing a Novel

I have imagined writers at their desk, scribbling away. Typing. Composing. I have fantasized about Jonathan Franzen choosing his words, assembling his ideas, ending the Corrections. I have feared the frenzy of Salman Rushdie as he woke in the middle of the night to "throw up" a gem of a book: Midnight's Children. I have smiled at Jhumpa Lahiri's elegant composure as she described her community.

I am an avid reader and I connect with some writers more than others. I get acquainted, become familiar and then the passion kicks in. I know them well and imagine them at work. Writing.

I write. Daily. But where does my writing fit? Neither journalistic nor literary, it remains in a purgatory of an unknown category, in limbo. Is it really "graffiti with punctuation?" When will I leap away into the category of a novel? I have made a statement, on this blog: I would never write a novel. I take it back today.

Perhaps I discourage myself for fear of writing a "bad novel". A poor novel. What would I write about? An idea has crept into my mind recently and this idea is germinating. I wrote 5 chapters one morning and deleted them that night.

"From the top of the first page, till the end of the last page" sings Chris Martin about a novel, or about the story of an experience, in general. Perhaps, I am not as expansive in my expression as a novelist must be. I remain an essayist, gathering my opinions and feelings in free-association blog posts, that eventually gather up as a whole, no matter how disparate the thoughts.

I have now composed a beginning of a "noveletta", a vignette of a novel. Nine chapters relating a single narrative, a single voice, a single perspective. Only the chronology is mixed.  I am skeptical about my attempt. An essay of a novel, without wanting to spell an oxymoron. The etymology of "essay" is the French essayer, "to try". With courage, I had to "try" to write my novel.

My novel today doesn't have a title. It remains open ended too. I am living my novel, not just writing it. That is its basic story. Perhaps I will erase this second trial again, the way I have the first trial. But I know today that the novel is within me: the story and the essence.

Last year, I called my sister, very upset and panicked: "I lost three essays that I was planning to submit to the blog, can you please look them up on the email, retrieve them somehow?" We couldn't find them. Indeed, they were lost. My sister reassured me wisely:
"They are in your head. Write them again".

I can confirm. My novel is in my heart today.  I just have to write it.

December 11, 2011

Shifting Allegiances in Golf

There is a buzz in Dubai again: this week the film festival opened with  Tom Cruise's  World Premiere of Mission Impossible and the European Cup of Golf stole my attention during the weekend.

Who to follow when Tiger isn't in town? As we arrived at Jumeirah Golf Estate, our luck, pure Irish luck in fact: Rory Mcilroy was teeing off the first hole. He was the star player we had come for. We followed his every step for 9 holes before our homework called us home. He played on the stunning Earth course with its organically shaped white bunkers challenging the best champions. Rory got out of one with an awsome hook. He ran out of the bunker himself, surprised by his own performance.

The guy has a good attitude, in all interviews he shows good sporstmanship and reverence. He always speaks of Tiger with respect.

Young, charming, fit, talented. Perhaps not the best player yet, but it is his esprit sportif that makes him sympathetic.

This may be appear like a shift in allegiances, from Woods to Mcilroy. The same way I shifted from Agassi to Federrer. The shift didn't happen over-night, it happened gradually.  It may be that we will see Mcilroy more frequently in Dubai as he is sponsored by Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts. Tiger has chosen an AbuDhabi competition over the Dubai Classic this year, so I won't have the opportunity to stalk him the way I did last year, following him on the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club.

Besides Mcilroy is still young and my son dreams that he may join him in golf competition in a few years, when the champ will still be a player!

December 10, 2011

Cheer Leader

I don't remember anyone ever cheering for me. Granted, I just competed in swimming. My mom had convinced, small salary in hand, her youngest brother, the uncle I miss so much today, to be our "swim-uncle" for the summers. He drove my cousins, siblings and I to practice very early in the mornings and had to find the scattered locations of our swim meets in Salt Lake City. I do remember the music he played in the car, the teasing, but no cheering, even when we earned pretty bright ribbons.

But I am a natural cheerleader. Just watch me watch a soccer match, a tennis match! I have cheered my favorite French teams (soccer and swimming) and my Swiss tennis player with notorious fervor.

My parents watched the recent Rugby 7, in Dubai because they were following my cousin Cyrus Homayoun's progress in the UAE team. "Who is that?" They mumbled in embarrassment as they saw their very own daughter, wasting her Warholian minutes of fame, on live tv, cheering and jumping like an expert cheerleader with her aunts! Very proud of my cousin, I am!

And I woke up at dawn to take my son to his swim meet today, with his dad, who was bemused at how long these events really are. He swam four different races and it took no less than four hours for us to wait. No sooner than my son's turn would come that I would rush across the other side of the pool, make eye contact with him, with large waves and cheer, encourage, prep talk him, tell him to push all he can, to swim for his life. Perhaps it distracts him, perhaps he barely hears me, but he knows I am there, he knows I care, he knows I am proud!

December 9, 2011

TShirt Culture

"She wears short skirts, I wear tshirts" sings Taylor Swift.

My first personalized tshirt was yellow with a bird sticker glued on the front and my nickname YAYA, a name my nephew still calls me to this day, plastered on the back. I still have today, another personalized tshirt that my mother saved for me, with my name on the back. Even my sons have accepted to wear it for sentimental reasons.

As a teenager, I selected the imprint of a lipstick mouth on a white tshirt with a small Georgetown inscribed on it as a favorite that I wore in the 80s. I have not grown up, still wear tshirts to this day, while women my age prefer blouses.

Ofcourse I have a collection of preppy collared t-shirts, mandatory for golf, but also worn off the golf course. I have inherited the vintage Lacostes of my dad, from the eighties. There is something French, perhaps sentimental, about wearing the crocodile tshirt.

T-shirts are statements. I sport Madonna tshirts in allegiance, wear the flag of France during World Cup. I think its fun to wear Ed Hardy because Madonna wears them and he is a French designer after all. I have a preferred blinged geisha my husband gifted me.

I love the (Red) collection by the Gap because its for a cause and it has a poetic message, frequently an adjective: my favorite one is CULTU(RED), a goal I strive for daily. Not to mention the more "snobby" tshirts by Zadig and Voltaire claiming that ART IS A WORD or ART IS TRUTH.

My favorite tshirt remains a Norma Kamali gray with the effigy sticker of a large black winter tree. I wear it as a lucky charm.

And finally, there are the Petit Bateau, in their simple cotton bold colors, their recognizable round collars. I wear them with sentimentality, a reminder of the striped pink Petit Bateau undershirts of my childhood.

December 7, 2011

DIFC Rituals

I cross the beautiful wooden bridge that takes me to DIFC village. Before my circuit training, I sit in front of the Emirates Towers view and listen to music. I prepare for the physical challenge this way. After the class, I reward myself with a detour by Nadim Karam's fox.

And one day, as I was leaving the glass fox, the tamed friend of the little Prince, I got a blackberry response from my cousin in Lebanon. I had asked him a trivia:

"Shoot an apple of my head" who are these lyrics by? (It was predictably wasy)

The answer startled me first:
"Your Pakistani concierge in the building".

I spilled into a cascade of public laughter. I threw my head back to laugh with ease and then the ceiling of the DIFC arch caught my eye. I never cease to marvel at its architectural prouesse. When I sent the photograph to my father by bbm, he supplanted his nephew with the distinct raw humor of our family: "I am glad you don't do drugs!"

Working out at UEnergy frequently and lavishingly and eating at Petite Maison occasionally and festively, getting a caffein high in the coffee shops, lunching at Bateel on the balcony, eating a delectable Indian meal at Gazebo and dreaming of the chicken wings at Caramel every time my yoga instructor uses the image of chicken wings in class. These are rituals I love. I celebrate them in a beautiful serene environment.

This is why I am happy and content living a stone throw away. Crossing the street with my children, eager to play. They run on the lawns, throw a ball, even play mini golf. And I always take them to the fox, them and their cousins. Ask them what the tail looks like, how the face appears like a carrot if taken separately.

We love our neighborhood!