Day 11- Friday Flora


This is a tree in my backyard which, for a good part of the year remains all leafy. Come November and it gets enveloped by flowers. I don’t know the name of this flower, can’t even claim the tree as my own because, going by the huge size  it was probably planted eons ago, much much much before we moved into the house.

But today when we had had a slightly tough start to the day with my father-in-law getting hospitalized for a minor health-scare, this was a refreshing sight to walk into. R & I were greeted by this huge curtain of flowers. Though it was funny to see almost an equal amount of flowers lying on the ground like a carpet. The blooms and greens covered all around somehow gave us a certain kind of positivity, a certain kind of hope that we could hold on to.

Sometimes you appreciate a sight even more, no matter how ordinary it may look, because of the calmness it brings in you at a particular point of time. You just want to hold on to it and assure yourself that everything is going to be alright.

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So that’s that for today. R is on his way to be with his father. Here’s hoping tomorrow would dawn with something better to offer. Do keep my FIL in your thoughts 🙂

Have a lovely weekend!

 

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Jebel Hafeet- A Weekend Getaway

So yet another trip that was not planned in advance but took shape on a whim. The last one was when we had headed off for the Himalayas some two years back. This time around too a mountain only beckoned us.

Jebel Hafeet or Mountain Hafeet which literally means Empty Mountain.

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This rocky mountain which stands high and mighty at 1250m borders the city of Al Ain in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. A small part of the mountain also borders Oman.

We didn’t really know much about this mountain except for the fact that it boasted of one of the greatest driving roads on the planet! So needless to say, when I stumbled upon an attractive Groupon deal online, about a week ago, that offered a stay in one of the hotels there, I lapped it up. I shared the idea with R, Namnam & my father-in-law and together we braced ourselves for the road trip. With the limited time that we had, to prepare for the drive,  I had done some fair bit of reading up on the routes that would lead us up to the mountain top. And as the day inched closer I learned that R had done some research on the routes as well, which boosted me into realizing that he was just as anxious and excited at the same time as I was. Even though most of what was said and written online was promising and extremely encouraging, we still couldn’t be sure what to expect from the mountain. We had never really driven along such a long stretch at a stretch!

We took off on Thursday late afternoon with a bit of trepidation and a lot of enthusiasm. The only worry I had was about losing our way. If you have driven on roads in this region, you would know what I mean. The roads here are beautiful, wide, a pleasure to drive on no doubt..but try getting lost in the magic of driving only to realize that you’ve missed an exit! But fortunately our GPS was in a good mood. So we entered the city of Al Ain without missing any turns or exits in a little less than 2 hours as we had hoped ..

Soon enough the mountain emerged in sight to embrace us into its winding fold up ahead..

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As we began our ascent to the top, we were completely taken in by not just the stunning views unfolding in front of us, but also by the amazingly well tarred strip taking us up.

Let me share a video which my father-in-law took, just to give an idea about the delightful ride we experienced. I must thank Namnam here who edited this video by inserting some music and saved you all from the original background score of my non stop nonsense chattering !

 

 

Interestingly along the entire track, there were designated spots every few meters where one could park their vehicles and take a break. One of the bends even had a play area with a slide and a swing to engage the young adventure tots! So after a few miles ahead, we decided to take a break too. We parked our car in one of the parking spots and paused to take in the views…

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This was the long winding strip that we drove on to reach all the way up

 

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City of Al Ain and probaby a bit of Oman too( don’t ask me to point out where though 😉 ) from atop

Once the views had sunk in, we set out on the last stretch of our drive to the summit.

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At about 915m height stood Hotel Mercure Grand which was to be our point of stay till the next day. This hotel further gave out a smooth and friendly vibe as we geared up to take care of the check in formalities. We were in our room in a jiffy, and soon after Namnam and R ran out for a dip in the pool to refresh themselves while my FIL and I stayed back to take in the beautiful views and give our cameras some worthy opportunities to freeze them.

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View from our room

 

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View from another part of the room

 

Even though we could have ventured out and explored a bit of the city,  we chose to stay put in the comfortable confines of the hotel because firstly the weather wasn’t too favourable. It was still scorching hot during the day. And secondly we were already in a very laid back state of mind, with the focus solely on lazing around and relaxing. And relax we did to the hilt. The height of relaxation was when all of us sat glued to the tv watching a movie like Tashan and laughed at the dumbest of scenes!

There were no phone calls from office, no constant pull to run to your phones to check mails, no worry whatsoever over what to prepare for lunch.

It’s funny that sometimes even 24 hours in a day don’t seem enough to organize your life and think straight, and sometimes all you need is that one day where you can keep your mind from fluttering restlessly and just relax.

We got back home after a wonderfully refreshing stay only to find out that our AC wasn’t cooling, the water filter had broken. But I couldn’t care any less. I was zen. Anything could be tackled now.

Weekend is almost on its way out. Yet another week with its grinding routine is about to begin.

Bring it on I say, let me see what you’ve got, dear Sunday!

One year round-up!

Yes its been an year since our move to Dubai. And like the clichéd statement goes, time has simply flown! It is true. It’s been a roller-coaster year. So much so, as I was telling a friend, it feels as though we have been here much longer because so much has happened in the last one year!

The first month of our arrival whished past in house hunting. Believe me, much as the whole prospect of finding that right house was exciting, the process of hopping from one prospective house to the other, each time utterly dissatisfied, making us unsure of what we were looking for, was every bit daunting too. But, in the end when we did zero in on a house, we realized that the key was not in finding the right house, but turning the house into a home just right for you!

What made our transition far easier was Namnam. She was the first one to adapt to the move. And adapt, she did, beautifully! *touchwood*. She took to this place so well that I felt driven to chuck my own resistance to move on. Yes, she did miss her life back in Doha, but she didn’t allow that to come in the way of a new life that was waiting to unfold right here.

She welcomed different ways to occupy herself. She learned to skate-board.  She enrolled in a drama workshop, that provided her a new avenue to open up and express herself.

Of course it helped that she found this lovely girl for a neighbour on the very second day of shifting, who made adjusting to the new surrounding even smoother for her. Today, she is one of Namnam’s dearest friends. And it’s endearing to watch them both looking out for each other and helping each other blossom into wonderful beings.

Barely a month later, Namnam & I flew off to Delhi, since there was still time for Namnam’s school session to start. While Delhi was unbearably hot, we could sneak out for a couple of days to the himalayas with our parents. A memorable getaway in every bit of the way!

*Edited to add that, while in Delhi, I had the good fortune of meeting another one of my dear blogger friends, the very famed Monika, a baker par excellence. You can find her spinning tales of her baking delicacies on Sin-A-Mon Tales. Though both of us were on a tight schedule, I’m so so glad that we could meet up 🙂

We got back in Dubai in time to give a go at a fresh start to the school routine. While Namnam was excited about it, I had butterflies doing salsa in my tummy with obvious anxiety that gave way to some words of advice for my li’l big girl!

Soon after, it was time to celebrate the li’l big girl turning 8. She had already made some friends in the compound and in the class. It was a good chance for her to know them better. So we had them over for an evening filled with some rocket launching, jaw-dropping chemical reactions, bottle popping and slime-making!

The month after that was the month of Eid which brought us the best ‘Eidi’ we could ever ask for, when our friends from Doha decided to pay us a surprise visit.

Once the b’day and Eid hangover settled down, it was time to welcome my father-in-law. The one month that he was with us was spent in taking him around the city all the while giving him a taste of my “enviable” navigation skill! Read it here if you don’t believe me 😀

As the year drew to a close, I also had a chance to reunite with 2 of my batchmates from school. It felt great to revive friendships and relive memories that went as far back as 2 decades and plus!

Speaking of friendship, the year was also about getting together with 3 of my blogger friends with their families. Rakesh, Ash & Vimmuuu. It was an evening  filled with laughter, poking fun and of course music. C’mon where there’s Vimmuuu, there has to be music, right!

I’m finding it a bit weird to call them blogger friends because, for one, their blogging accounts are more or less shut and frozen; secondly  the bond that has connected all of us now has grown much beyond blogging, and for that I couldn’t be gladder! 🙂

The new year had me realize a much cherished dream. To have my parents visit us together. The month of February was one of the best months this year! I can’t express in words the sense of fulfillment I experienced while Achan-Amma came visiting. Here’s wishing and hoping I get to have them over more often now..

Edited again to mention another special moment of this year(Amma, thank you for pointing out the absent-minded skip in the post), when my cousin and his family came visiting. Although we are third generation cousins, we were very close while growing up. Still are. He is my one and only older brother, so to speak. And we always stayed connected and kept each other updated on each other’s lives. Yet, funnily, it took some 12 years for me to meet his wife and kids when they came over to spend a weekend with us, a couple of months ago! It was a good occasion to explain our family tree to Namnam, the bond all of us cousins shared in our growing up years. Moments like this make me wish I could hold on to them always 🙂

Oh and yes, in the midst of all this, I managed to get my car banged and even get penalised for wrongful parking! Oh both are two separate incidents BTW.

I was at a traffic signal waiting for the red to go green, when all of a sudden a car rammed into mine from behind. Although I could get away with just a slight dent, but the other car suffered a major blow. And the man on the wheel, with another blow to his wallet as he ended up paying a hefty fine.  Fortunately Namnam wasn’t with me at the time, so she was spared from any harm from the massive impact. Thank God for that!

The second incident was when I was out with Namnam and Ash on a chocolatey date. I was so excited about the prospect of having chocolate that I didn’t bother to check whether I had to pay to park at the parking lot. Result, I got slapped a ticket!

This year also had us zoom off on a couple of road trips exploring beyond the city of Dubai . One of the trips was thanks to Rakesh who had organized a New Year bash in Umm al Qwain, where he had the dubious honour of getting me drunk beyond comprehension!

It’s been an exciting school year for Namnam. Academically she has had a smooth switch over. She got to take part in a school production of The Wizard of Oz, where she played the role of the wicked witch of the west.

She went for an overnight camping trip from school which was a first for her. She has given a recount of it here. Not to mention the 1 lunch box, 2 hats, 3 water bottles and umpteen pencils and erasers(and still going strong) that she has lost in this year! 😉

We could even make a flying visit to Doha last month and have the most wonderful weekend with our friends there.

And now here we are, back in Dubai again, looking to stay another year in the city and maybe another year and another..

So if one is to ask us , how has it been so far? I’d say, so far so good 🙂

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Namnam,

You’ll soon be starting a new school year, ushering in a new chapter in your life. Much as it makes me anxious to know how well you will eventually take to the new surrounding, your excitement about the prospect of going back to school is just so infectious, darling!

I know you miss your old school, your friends and your teachers a lot. You constantly reminisce about the fun you had with them, the lessons you learned, sometimes amazing me with the knowledge you’ve gained on various subjects for which I have no-one but your teachers to thank, making it all so obvious how much you have cherished those moments. Why, you even asked me if you could keep your old uniforms safe and wear them sometimes just because you loved them so much!

And now you can’t wait for the new school to reopen for I can see how much you hope to recreate those experiences of your previous school in your current one just as well. I’m so happy to see that eagerness in you! May you always be as positive as you are, sweetheart.

But do keep one thing in mind, Namnam. While it’s fine to relate the experiences that you may go through here with the ones you had in your previous school, please avoid comparing the two for the simple fact that each school is different and each experience, each person that comes your way may be different.

Embrace each moment with open arms and mind while preserving the memories of the moments gone by in your heart.

I can see how eager you are to join your new school, but I can also feel in your words a feeble sense of uncertainty about fitting in well. It’s perfectly normal to have such uncertainties, Namnam. But let me tell you, there is no need for you to be doubtful in any way. Be yourself, your kind, loving, fun, adapting self and you’ll be just fine 🙂

That’s not to say that you should compromise over your views. No, never. If you believe in something, stick to it, be assertive. Having said that, be also willing to accept if you are in the wrong.

Trust me, you’ll feel much better and more confident to face not just others but also your own self, if you can recognize the mistakes, whatsoever you have made and learn from them.

Take your time to make friends. There’s no hurry. Don’t fret if you can’t get along with your fellow mates. Understand that its not possible to get along with all of them out there! Make friends with children who may not necessarily agree with you, but who understand and respect you for who or what you are.

However, there’s one quality that I would really like you to work on. And thats your shyness. You’re still wary of going out there and opening up to fellow kids. It’s perfectly fine to be an introvert, Namnam. I am so I know. But if you like someone, be bold and go upto the person and introduce yourself. You never know, he/she may turn out to be a friend waiting to be made for life!

I know I don’t have to tell you what I am about to, for you know this already and you have adhered to it beautifully so far. Still let me tell you again 🙂

You’ll be away from home for a good part of the day.

And you will be in the care of teachers who would be trying their best to bring the best out of you.

Do cooperate with them and hear them out. Give them the respect you would give your Papa and Amma. Do listen to them and speak up if and when you have any concerns or doubts. Your teachers will be happy to clarify any doubt for you. I keep telling you this..please do not keep your thoughts cooped up inside you. You have a beautifully curious mind, express it!

You have been extremely lucky to have been blessed with wonderful teachers who have always been able to bring you out of your shell, help you become more and more confident in every which way possible. I hope and pray that you are blessed with such teachers here in the new school too.

While I realize, with a heavy heart, that with each passing year, you’ll be moving further away from me and papa..oh how I wish we could keep you safely cocooned in our protective hold always.. it overwhelms me to see you growing into an independent confident girl with a mind of her own.

So go out there and have fun, dear girl! A new door filled with wonderful opportunities is all set to open out for you.

Papa and I will be standing right here on this side of the door, looking forward to hearing about all your experiences of the day.

May God bless you, kanna!

Love you

Amma