This year, my friends and I chose a Peruvian restaurant for our Birthday Iftar celebration. My friend’s husband’s birthday is on the 16th of July. My birthday falls on the 15th of the same month. So we’ve been doing a one day celebration with our groups of friends for the past two years.
Tesoro is a fine dining Peruvian concept located at the new Taj Hotel Dubai. The place has a very eclectic and modern feel to it. It’s also very spacious with a huge terrace overlooking the Burj Khalifah.
Thankfully, everyone had a great time and loved the tasty creations by the Chefs at Tesoro.
So, another year has passed. I’m 35, single and still looking for a suitable job or paid internship in Dubai.
I’m grateful for the good friends that I have in this magical city, and those who shared my special day with me.
I’m also blessed for being able to constantly learn new things and new ways to develop and grow – both professionally and personally.
I’m thankful for the experiences that I had and that I continue to have. Like doing random activities, meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures, and discovering something new along the way.
What’s my plan for future days?
Honestly, I think it’s time for me to be more self-involved and self-centered. Nothing can be more disappointing to a diva than investing time and energy into projects or people and not getting similar vibes in return.
Some people like to put their self-interests first, set their own rules, and then expect others to entertain them. Well, I can publicly declare that I’m not Mother Teresa and that I never will be!
When I give someone my time, it’s because I genuinely want to. But I also have realistic expectations to be treated in the same way!
Basically, it’s now time for me to focus more on my career and personal life. I need to eventually land a full-time role that I enjoy doing. I also need to find a loving and supportive partner.
As for this blog – a project that has been so exciting to work on, and very close to my heart. It was an honest representation of my life, my struggles, my dreams and aspirations.
The time for this website to end is getting near. But I have plans to start another blog with a different niche. You can stay updated with my news and new blog news by following me on social media:
My previous Top 10 List was about being raised by parents from the Gulf region. I come from a moderately conservative family. We are not liberal, but we’re also not extremely conservative or religious. Here’s a link for that post if you missed it.
Today’s list includes the top 10 things that I like about being a blogger. I started this blog in September 2012 to showcase my writing to potential employers. Now, it’s more of a hobby and sometimes feels like a full-time role!
I present to you the top reasons that keep me hooked to writing blog posts:
I can work from almost any location that I feel like working from. Writing blog posts can be done from the comfort of my bed, a cafe across the road, or even from the beach if I had the time and luxury of carrying around a laptop, and a beach bag full of beach essentials.
I can write posts at any time of the day. On most days, I have a couple of things to get done. So, blogging is something that might not come at the top of my priority list. That’s when I can write in the evenings – when most people are watching TV, reading, socializing, or out having dinner or drinks. This point can be a disadvantage to blogging too. But that will be discussed in another post 🙂
I get to do creative work, that I choose myself, without any supervision or editing from another party. Unlike working for a publishing house and adhering to certain rules and regulations, blogging gives the writer the freedom of expression and writing within their personal set of rules and limitations.
I get invited to review restaurant meals, spa treatments and other cool stuff. When I first started the blog, I was reviewing these things anyway, because I enjoyed it. After some time of hard work, the blog gained more followers and I started to get invites to review meals, and other stuff. The only issue these days is that, with my University course work, I don’t have the same free time I used to have when I first started the blog. That’s why, I don’t write as many reviews as I used to in the past.
Being a blogger means that I’m considered as a media person. This grants me access to events as press. It also allows me to network with other media professionals, and others from the media industry.
One thing that I really like about blogging is meeting other bloggers. Whether they are based in the same city, or on another continent, it’s always great to meet like-minded people. Most bloggers share many traits in common; they are interesting, determined and curious individuals. We love to learn new things, and we are pretty good in taking action.
Blogging allows me to share my thoughts, experiences, views and ideas with my readers. It makes me so ecstatic to hear that a reader found my post insightful, or that they learned so many things from it. It equally brightens my day when someone tells me that what I wrote resonates with their own experience very strongly.
I love that blogging has helped me practice – and hopefully – improve my writing skills. I think most of all, it gave me the confidence that I needed to keep writing. It helped me stay focused on my goal of becoming a better writer and journalist.
It helped me build on my social and networking skills. I started to attend all kinds of events when I started this blog. This was mainly to meet new people and to generate blog content. It was very exciting to meet people from different backgrounds and industries. At that time, I was mixing with people from the fashion, arts, food or media industries. That fitted well with the blog concept, as I was writing a lifestyle blog that covered all these topics. Nowadays, I still enjoy attending random events. But due to my time constraints, I have to be more selective with the events that I choose to attend. Of course once I’m done with my course, I should be able to attend more events and network with people from various communities.
Being a blogger who doesn’t outsource anything to another party means that you need a set of multiple skills. I truly enjoy being the following:
The editor who comes up with the idea for the post.
The photographer who takes the pictures for the post.
The writer and editor who writes and then edits the words and images.
The marketing and PR person who promotes the blog.
The social media person who promotes the blog and the posts on social media.
The communications person who attends events and tells people about the blog.
The entrepreneurial spirit who constantly goes through ups and downs, but never gives up.
As you can see, blogging is a very fun and engaging way to communicate with others and express your feelings and thoughts through words. I love hearing positive feedback as much as I love hearing critical remarks. So feel free to leave a comment or not 🙂
The next post will be a list of the things that I don’t like about being a blogger. So stay tuned for that!
Till then, Have a wonderful weekend ahead. No matter how you choose to spend it!
I don’t know why I traveled all the way to Hong Kong to escape busy, fast-paced and crowded Dubai! But, you can read all about my trip to Hong Kong in my earlier posts here.
Then, I decide to visit Muscat to relax by the beach and do some man hunting! (as in finding a partner basically). Of course I was only confronted with the fact that the nightlife in Muscat is struggling to survive.
I found out from residents of the enchanting city that all types of live entertainment have been banned recently in all hotels and establishments. Apparently, the new rules were enforced by the new tourism minister. This left only a few options for a night out in town. Half of them were chains that had branches in Dubai.
The stage for the live band at Pavo Real – a cool Mexican restaurant and bar – was still there. As if it was waiting for the live band to come back and play their regular tunes one day soon. Everything was still in place – as it was left by members of the band on the last day they were allowed to perform.
Since I now have less time for blogging – busy with University and other things – I decided to write this post in the form of a photo essay. It saves me time and makes it easier/faster to you readers to go through the post. So let’s look at the photos from my Muscat nightlife exploration attempt 🙂
Here’s a sum up of my Muscat night spots:
Pavo Real officially has the best long island iced tea in town.
The Left Bank had a strange crowd of expats, locals and pretentious people from Dubai. I felt like I was flown back to a pretentious Dubai bar when I was there. I truly hated my experience there.
Trader Vic’s at the Intercontinental hotel is quite spacious with a big outdoor dining area. It had a very upbeat and lively atmosphere. Everyone who was there seemed to be having a good time, dancing to Latin beats. No live band here either – just a DJ or playback music.
O’Malley’s at the Radisson Blu Hotel was by far my favourite place to hang out. It’s a casual pub with an Irish theme, and friendly staff. The food was great, the DJ played commercial tracks from different decades, and I met some nice people there. The funny thing is that no one told me about this place! I found out about it by doing some research online. I’m so glad that I ended up going there on my last night in Muscat. At least I managed to have some sort of fun eventually 🙂
Zouk night club: Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to check out Zouk on this trip. It was located right outside of my hotel, but I just didn’t get the time to visit.
I hope that this post was somewhat useful or interesting. Have you visited any of the places that I’ve mentioned in this post? If so, how was your experience?
You can view my previous post on the Muscat trip here.
This post might resonate with a good deal of people who grew up with Arab or Asian parents. Since both cultures have a lot of similarities – especially when it comes to the family and social issues.
If you need some introduction to the way things are in the Gulf Region, have a look at my previous post about the topic here.
Now that you have a general idea about our lifestyle from my previous posts about this highly complicated and rich subject, let me present to you the top 10 signs that you were raised by GCC parents:
1. Your curfew time is at around 9 or 10 pm the latest if you’re a girl.
Whether you’re a University student, an employed adult, or a teenager, staying outside the house for a late hour is a big no-no. You can try to beg or ask for permission politely to stay late at your best friend’s graduation or wedding party, but rest assured that all your pleas will be faced with a clear rejection. Note: This rule does not change no matter how old you are or serious the situation may be. So even if you’re in your fifties or sixties or spending the night at ICU, you still must be home by the earliest time possible!
2. You’re not allowed to have male friends.
If you happen to mention the name of a male work colleague, brother of a friend, or any other person from the opposite sex, then this must mean that you have feelings for him. Therefore, the two of you must get married ASAP. The simple and basic fact that you mentioned him in your conversations must mean something. You can’t talk about a man for no reason, right? this must mean that you like him, and this gesture must immediately translate to a marriage contract 🙂
3. Attending concerts, visiting another city/country on your own are all considered indecent acts for a single young woman.
Growing up in the Eastern Province of Saudi as a teenager, with neighboring Bahrain, only meant that we had access to famous artist concerts and shows. But I had to argue my way to each and every one of those concerts that I managed to attend! Yes, I’ve always been a rebellious one 😉
Now this rule doesn’t only apply to concerts, it goes for any type of outing that involves a bit of freedom. Examples include visiting neighboring Bahrain for shopping and movie trips, or just meeting up with friends. You can’t go alone, even if you’re in your twenties. A parent must tag along to ensure that the reputation of the family stays intact :p
4. Traveling abroad for leisure on your own or with girlfriends is another no-no.
Of course, for some liberal families, this rule can be broken. When I was in school, many of my friends were able to travel together in groups without their parents’ company. If not at school age, then maybe later in life – when they’re in their twenties. But for me, this scenario was out of the question. I actually went on my first solo trip for leisure purposes in late 2012. You can read about it here. This is not to say that I wasn’t lucky enough to travel abroad to live and study when I was only 18. But – as you might have guessed by now – I fought really hard for that privilege. My mother used to genuinely think that going away on a beach holiday in the summer is a silly and superficial thing to do! She actually thinks that my desire to do something that the rest of the Universe does – take a beach holiday – is a complete waste of time and resources. And obviously, is not acceptable by all means.
5. The house maid or house keeper transforms into a body guard to accompany you at the local mall.
I think this headline requires little or no explanation. For those of you expats who currently live in the Gulf region, you might have already noticed this phenomenon at the malls. Every so often, I see young GCC ladies walking around the mall with their house maids, and I’m taken back in time to the days when I had to be accompanied by my own house keeper. Luckily, she was a very warm and lovely lady. God bless her, but she did get on my nerves at times. You can’t blame her though, she was only following my mother’s strict instructions!
I also had my eldest sister accompany me to University in Bahrain. Even when she didn’t have classes herself. But that’s just going to make this point longer than intended. So let’s end it here 🙂
6. Your mom reminds you that it’s time to go to bed at around 9 or 10 pm when you’re in your early or late twenties.
I think this one also requires no explanation. Arab mothers like to take full responsibility for their children – especially the daughters. And this includes making sure that you go to bed at an early time and don’t spend any extra time hanging around or doing pointless activities.
7. Your dad tags along as you shop for under garments at the department store’s lingerie/sleep wear section.
Not sure what is worse; shopping for underwear at Saudi shops and asking for assistance from the male sales people (which I don’t recall doing), or browsing the high-end department store’s lingerie and underwear section (in Bahrain or other location outside Saudi) with your dad at your back in every step you take. Hmm…both are difficult situations to find yourself in – I must admit.
8. Your mother constantly gets you clothes and tops that are one or two sizes bigger than your actual dress size.
I think anyone who comes from a conservative family will find this point familiar. Traditional Middle-Eastern mothers think that a woman shouldn’t expose her figure by wearing tight-fitting outfits. This applies to all body shapes and sizes. So no matter how slim or flat you are, you are not encouraged to wear skin tight clothes that flatter your body. Even if you had a gorgeous body that you don’t mind showing off 😀
Note: Most of the time, mothers also decide what type of outfits you should wear and what fashion style you should follow. As a teen and a young adult, I always felt more comfortable wearing jeans and a nice top. So this didn’t really affect me that much. In fact, until today, I prefer to wear loose and comfortable clothes on most days. And only dress up for occasions. I guess I’m a bit of a tom-boy 🙂
9. Your mother continuously compares you to others.
Be it your class mates, your close friends, your relatives, you name it, she’s got it covered. Arab mothers see this comparison as a form of motivation. They think that by comparing you to others who are in some way or another better than you, you will be influenced in a positive way to become a better version of yourself. Of course when done on a regular basis, this causes serious issues of low self-esteem and diminished self-worth. When I say ‘better’, I mean various things. So it can be in their social skills, their fashion style, their attitude, anything really.
10. Your father makes all sorts of decisions on your behalf.
If you read my previous post about the lifestyle in the Gulf Region, you would understand this point. Basically, since the parents (mostly father) support their children financially even when they are adults, they also have the right to ask you to follow their own rules and visions for your own life. This means that your father will feel that he has the full right to make choices for your education (University level), career path, personal, marriage, and ultimately all life aspects 🙂 This is valid for as long as you are single and is being supported by him financially. And as long as both you and him are alive and well. They also tend to always think that they know what’s best for you – even when that’s not the case. And they feel privileged to make decisions on your behalf – as if you don’t exist really.
So the financial support also means that you must play by their rules – and only their rules!
Now I would love to hear your views on this topic…do you agree? do you disagree? does any of the points that I mentioned resonate with you? did you grow up in a liberal type of GCC family with very liberal parents? do you think I’m just a spoiled brat for writing this post?
Whatever your opinion is, feel free to share it 🙂
And because I always like to see the bright side of every situation, I must admit that having grown up with somewhat controlling and over-protective parents has taught me many useful life skills. One of these important skills is the ability to practice self-discipline in my daily life. So, I am thankful to my parents for that. I can say that I have a considerable amount of self-discipline that comes in handy at times. That of course is coupled with a huge lack of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth 🙂
I’m also thankful for being more privileged than many others who share my struggles. It’s true that I had to fight for what I have, but I’m still more lucky than many others who might not have the opportunity to get their voices heard or their side of the story listened to.
The photos in this post are by the highly talented Yasir Saeed. You can read my review of his photography session here.
If you need some introduction about life in the Gulf region, and a general idea of the social structure there, you can check out my previous cultural post, titled: The “Bubble” Life.
Today’s topic is somewhat relevant. It can also be considered more of a personal topic since I’ll be talking about my specific story.
Most Arab parents tend to be over-protective with varied degrees of controlling behavior when dealing with their children. You’d think that these strict and firm ways of upbringing would gradually lessen as the kids grow older, but the truth of the matter is that they never do.
Most Arab parents like to plan their children’s future lives, and be in control of their education, career, love life, marriage and daily life decisions!
Unless a daughter is married to another man and moves out of her parents house, she continues to live by the rules of the parents. No matter how old she gets, or what her status is (employed, jobless, student, PHD graduate), she is forever subject to the rules of the parents. And they are eternally responsible for her every move, decision, and personal freedom in general.
Of course, there’s always a positive side to every bad situation. Parents in the Gulf Region and most Arab countries also continue to support their daughters financially for as long as they have to. But that financial support doesn’t come without a price tag. It is coupled with the obsessive controlling behavior from the parents side.
My post is not meant to portray a negative image about the Arab or GCC culture. It’s more of a realistic explanation of my personal story and background. Since moving to the UAE in 2010, I constantly get asked by people from various expat countries about the method or way by which I am able to support myself financially, and that is usually followed by a certain amount of surprise and words like: “You are lucky.”
That’s why I decided to write a series of cultural, social and personal posts to clarify some aspects of Arab and GCC culture. I don’t mean to generalize though. I can only speak about my own personal experience and that of the society that I grew up in.
I also get asked about how we spend our weekends in the Gulf. Well, most of us in Saudi would either hang out with girlfriends at the local mall, cafe, or restaurant. We tend to spend some time at home too. We can have gatherings, dinner parties or house parties too! But, these would be exclusive to girls only. Since in Saudi and in most Gulf countries, the society is mainly gender segregated. You might ask, but who are you to talk about this lifestyle? Well, I grew up in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and I didn’t attend an International school. I actually went to an all-girls elite private school, where an Arabic curriculum was being taught. So I can say that I lived a traditional Arab lifestyle for the most part of my life…
I can elaborate about my life in Saudi in another post, but let’s get straight into the topic of this post. It all goes back to a quote that my dad made at one of his short visits to Dubai…we were talking about some general stuff, when he utters the words: “The way it goes is that one should only be going to work, and then straight back home.”
To make things clear, my dad is not a sociable person whatsoever. He literally practices what he was preaching in the phrase that I just mentioned. But that’s his choice, his life, his decision. And I don’t judge him for it, or wish if he would change it. Honestly I don’t.
But what I thought was hilarious and if I dare to say a bit insane in those words that he directed to me was this: If I choose to listen to his advise and to follow it to the nines, then how on earth would I possibly meet a potential partner?! 😀
I have somewhat weird parents. They have unrealistic expectations of the world, their own children and the people surrounding them.
They live in a bubble of their own creation, and they expect people, events, and everything around them to follow the rules of that imaginary and non-existent bubble. They live with the illusion that everyone and everything must match their own distorted image of the world surrounding them. They are extremely opinionated and will stick to their unrealistic and distorted views no matter what happens or what anyone tells them. They are also not open to hearing other views that conflict with their own. They will just cut you off, will stop listening and will not engage in any form of discussion. (That’s mostly my mom, although my father doesn’t like to listen to varying opinions either!).
They impose highly unrealistic rules, standards, and expectations on every life aspect you can imagine. These rules only exist in their “1960’s generation” heads.
This was only a brief and short explanation of my parents and the way they are. I can talk more about this topic in another post.
Now the problem is that these days, my University course requirements and blogging don’t leave me with much free time to go out and meet new people. So, instead of spending my evenings going out to night spots or events, I find myself sitting at Starbucks or on my bed writing blog posts! But that’s OK, because once I’m done with this course in two semesters from now, I should have more time to go out and mingle 🙂
Basically, I will make it my life mission to meet as many new people as possible. Truth to be told, it will take a lifetime for me to reverse my previously closed and restricted GCC lifestyle! I’m so glad to have the privilege to do that…and if you think I’m a super-lucky girl, just be reminded that each one of us has an equal amount of suffering. And that financial freedom and stability are not the only elements that guarantee a happy and peaceful life.
I hope that I could make part of my story more clear to some of you who might be intrigued to know. And for anyone interested in learning more about the Gulf region, its culture, and lifestyle, stay tuned to this blog…
So the plan was to take a creative photo with my new Nikon for this post, but because I’m tight on time and honestly too tired, I decided to just use an online image.
Many of you might be back from vacations or are close to ending your holiday season…but I am just about to start my summer getaway! It’s more of a mini getaway really – nothing major. I just need to take a break from the fast-paced life for a while…a break from social media, checking e-mails, running errands, thinking about what to have for lunch or dinner, and all the other nuisances of our busy modern society.
All I want to do is to read my books and magazines by the ocean, get pampered at a spa, and explore some new and exotic locations.
I wouldn’t mind meeting some interesting folks along the way too 🙂
Truth is, my blog turns two in September. I can’t deny that the journey resembles a roller-coaster ride. On some days, you’re ecstatic and doing fun stuff and on others, you feel like giving it all up. I get asked all the time about how blogging works and if I’m making any profit out of it. In my case, the main reason I started this blog was to create a portfolio for my writing to present to potential employers. It also gives me an opportunity to practice and improve my writing skills. Whether I generate any income out of it is only a small part of the equation. Mostly because when I decided to change careers from IT to journalism, my goal wasn’t to become a successful blogger! It was – and still is – to make a living out of writing. Basically to become a journalist.
So to all of you looking into starting a blog or who are working towards monetizing one, just make sure that you’re willing to be in it for the long run. Because it’s a long and challenging journey, that requires a lot of determination and a plethora of skills. Nevertheless, it’s an exciting and thrilling ride.
I won’t be blogging, tweeting, checking Facebook or e-mail for the entire time of my vacation. But it won’t be too long until I’m back with more innovative, interesting and insightful posts.
I wish all of you a lovely summer, whether you are spending it at home or have gone/are going away to a new and exciting destination.
Looking forward to telling you all about my holiday once I’m back.
Reflective Thought: Do you sometimes get the feeling that you just want to disappear from the face of this planet called earth? and possibly never come back?
Please share your thoughts on this, if only to confirm my sanity level :p
I must admit, I have a crazy obsession with lists. I make lists for everything; from to-do lists for the next day’s tasks, to grocery/random shopping lists, to future plans lists. My uncontrollable compulsive obsession with lists even gets me writing lists for the topics that I want to discuss with the people that I meet! sometimes these people are ones who I meet for the first time for business, but many times, they’re just friends who I’m catching up with over lunch or coffee!
I’ve always been super organized, and overly systematic in my thoughts, my plans and my life in general. Now while this may not necessarily be a bad thing, or anything to be worried about, the conflict that I face when dealing with others who don’t follow the same pattern of thinking or lifestyle was my main inspiration to write this post.
Anyone who lives in Dubai knows that it’s a melting pot of different ethnic groups, religions and nationalities. Each with their own set of values, cultures and lifestyles. This strong multi-cultured kaleidoscope obviously has its advantages and challenges. It’s always interesting and insightful to learn about other backgrounds and cultures, to hear stories from different voices and nationalities, and to connect with others who share your triumphs or successes.
At the same time, dealing with people from multiple parts of the world can be challenging and draining at times. Some of the differences between cultures can cause serious conflict between individuals, and lead to immense stress and misunderstandings. The value of time and planning are one of the main concepts of clashes between people from different cultures and backgrounds.
While some of us might be punctual to the minute when it comes to time, others may not think it’s a big deal if they showed up 20 or 30 minutes late to an appointment or a meeting. Planning is another one. While I like to plan the next day’s tasks well in advance, and arrange any meetings with people accordingly, those individuals who I’m meeting with may not have given that appointment much consideration and will therefore end up cancelling at the last minute, because they found out that they had other “commitments” and so won’t be able to make it.
For someone who occasionally plans their casual conversations with friends and family, I find it difficult to understand people who act so spontaneously and who make their plans up as they go about their lives. Not only do I don’t get them, I also try my best to avoid meeting them or working with them, resort to distancing myself from them, and sadly, I also loose most of my respect for them.
I’m not saying that relying on your wits and doing things randomly is a no-no at all times. Sometimes, being spontaneous leads to fun experiences, gets you to explore new things, and even brings the things that you need the most your way!
This is why, I think a balance between planning and improvisation is the best way to go. You shouldn’t be totally against going with the flow, as you never know where that might take you. Making room for spontaneity is essential in keeping our lives rich and vibrant, away from boring routines and monotonous activities and lifestyles. So, despite not being totally against being spontaneous, I am a firm believer in planning and setting daily goals for yourself.
I always wonder how non-planners know when they’ve reached a specific goal that they have set for themselves? Or do they not bother with setting goals and working towards them in the first place?
In my opinion, the only way that you can progress and improve yourself and your life is by setting definite goals, working towards them, and then changing them along the way. Not sure how that works for people who don’t like to make plans. I tend to set all types of goals for myself; personal, career, financial. And in the end, they are all connected to make up who you are and what kind of life you are – will be – living.
I always aim big, then lower my goals according to reality. I set very high standards – sometimes unrealistic or unachievable – and then work my way towards them. Until I either reach those exact goals, others that are close, or decide on new goals and work towards those.
OK, for the sake of not wanting this post to turn into a self-help book (article in this case), I will end my post by asking you to tell me what type of person do you consider yourself to be – an avid planner or someone who likes to be creative and make things up as they go along? Do you mostly rely on your instincts and just do what feels right for that moment in time? or do you have endless to-do lists and planner books filled with daily tasks, and plans for next year’s summer holiday maybe?
I have to admit something: originally, this post was going to be yet another rant about being single! This time, with my 34th Birthday celebration party in the background. But something happened that made me change my mind about how to write this post…
Well, I have received countless e-mails, Facebook messages, what’s app chat messages, blog comments and face-to-face conversations opposing and disagreeing my constant whining about being single!
The most recent one being a comment on my Where is He?! post – where I talk about how I feel about the subject – that I saw as soon as I logged in to my account to write this post! Obviously this is a clear sign that I shouldn’t be talking about this topic anymore! What all the comments, e-mails, messages and in-person conversations have in common is this: They all support being single, that it’s better than being with the wrong person, that you can still be in a relationship and feel like the loneliest person on earth, and that happiness is not guaranteed with a partner or a lover…
OK, I think that with that said, the content of this post cannot be centered (or even mention) the topic of being single…I’ll leave that for another future post though…when all these comments have cooled down a bit 😛
Moving on to the main topic of this post: My 34th Birthday…I’m a Cancerian….I turned 34 on July 15. Yes, proud to be a ’90s chick….I still believe that those were the best years of my life…I grew up in the simple days of “Full House”, “90210” and “Saved by the Bell”…before technology and social media took over our lives….I used to play video games with Atari. Boulder Dash (the game), Super Mario and Sonic the HedgeHog were my idols 🙂
I could go on and on about my ’80s and ’90s childhood and teen years…but this is not what this post is about…This post is a way to say Thank you to all of the friends who joined in the celebration of my Birthday, to everyone who took some time off of their busy schedule to sit at our Iftar table – it was Ramadan after all…A month of rejoice, and reconnecting with old friends who you don’t get the chance to see as much as you would like throughout the year.
This post is a celebration of life, of genuine and meaningful connections, of the great people who are in our lives for a reason, of all the wonderful times that we shared together and will continue to share….
In the end, whether we are single or in a meaningful relationship, the most important element is to be at peace and content with ourselves. Because no external source or even the most loving partner can bring you eternal happiness or inner peace…
How many of you agree to this?
I am signing off before I get too spiritual (actually, that’s just me copying what everyone else keeps telling me) :p
Next year, I would love to celebrate my Birthday in another country….Let’s see what the future holds….
Upon observing my long-term single status and extremely selective approach to men, a friend directed this question to me: “What do you look for in a man?”.
I answered with some simple traits like someone who is mature, wise and understanding. I also like people who are very deep and intellectual. But I forgot to mention a highly important quality that is probably at the top of my list – except that it’s not something that is constantly on my mind. My response to my caring friend’s question would’ve been something like this: “I’m looking for someone who doesn’t view me as a business opportunity or investment.”
I don’t know about you, but I grew up with controlling, highly opinionated and self-centered parents. They would always put their careers and business matters as a top priority, and wouldn’t let anything else get in the way. Even if that other thing that required their attention was their own children! Now I won’t get into too much detail as this article won’t be sufficient enough to talk about this subject, but I will give you some examples to make my point clear. Throughout my school years, my dad would often ask me about the names of the fathers of my friends and what they did for a living – not out of simple curiosity – but purely to see if there was an underlying business connection that could be of interest to him.
While on a leisure trip to a nearby Arab country, the private cab driver – who we hired for the short trip – noticed how my mom’s commutes revolved around her business and relevant exhibitions or meetings. After a few days of the same routine, the witty and observant driver asked my mother why she wasn’t giving any attention to my needs or my interests to visit places for the main cause of any leisure trip: fun!
But now that I live relatively far away from my mostly selfish and business-obsessed parents (the UAE was the furthest I could go for now), I was recently faced by another similar situation. A specific incident is what inspired me to write this post. Having visited a highly reputable dermatologist in town a couple of times, I was incredibly shocked at the way she ended my last visit to her. She has decided that since I am no longer continuing with the skin treatment that she has prescribed to me (due to undesirable side effects), that she no longer needs to see me again. Now, what was surprising is that I still had a few months on the medication and I was asking her if I could come back for a follow-up once I am done…but she made it clear that she doesn’t want me to come back for a follow-up. The thing is that the follow-up session is not free of charge, and most dermatologists usually see their patients at the end of any skin treatment to review the results (I’ve been going to dermatologists since I was 10), but what I concluded from my visits to her and from her business mindset, she didn’t want to see me again because she had more important (and most likely more valuable) patients on the waiting list!
When did medical care that was created for the sole purpose of “caring”, accommodating and supporting people’s needs turn into this greed-centered and purely commercial game? Why was this popular and experienced dermatologist treating her patients as business entities and cash flow machines? Does she think she is in such high demand that no one would ever complain or spread negative stories about her personal ethics and immoral ways of dealing with patients?
My parents and the extremely greedy dermatologist are not the only ones who have contributed to my hurtful memories and scarred soul, but I will leave the rest of my stories for another post.
So to answer my loving and caring friend’s question about what do I look for in a partner, it’s as simple as this:
I look for someone who doesn’t see me as a business opportunity or investment. But someone who is genuinely interested in me and in who I am as a person and a human being. Someone who is truly loving and caring, who will constantly support me and be there for me through thick and thin.
If what I’m looking for sounds too idealistic and unrealistic for today’s world, then I’d rather live in eternal solitude than repeat the painful story of my past and sadly recurring present.
As most days in the city of Dubai, it was hot and sunny and I was walking at the Marina promenade after a nice breakfast at a cafe in the area. And as I was lost in my own trail of silly thoughts – mostly about planning what to do next – a certain sight caught my attention and brought back intense and sad memories.
The image that made me look was that of a teenage girl wearing a loose fitting grey T-shirt and short denim shorts speeding away on a skateboard. While this could be a very ordinary sight for most people from Western countries, for me; this was nothing but a purely broken dream!
As a Saudi teenager living in Saudi, and at the same time being exposed to the Western world and lifestyle through TV, books, travel or the city’s expat residential compounds, I very badly wanted to own a skateboard and ride it somewhere (even if it’s in our house’s garden). I must admit that I was more of a tomboy back in those days. So being able to skateboard was my ultimate dream at the time. But because I was living in a country where you had to adhere to certain rules and regulations, and because I was the daughter of highly over-protective and controlling parents, my dream was buried and never saw life.
When I reflect on this incident today, as a 30-something year old Saudi living in the UAE, I can say that my restrictions have diminished, but surely haven’t been completely eliminated. I believe that even after our physical restrictions have been removed; in my case it was my parents’ controlling and over-protective behaviour, the effects and imprints of those conditioned beliefs continue to haunt us.
The ironic part of it is that I’ve seen this kind of unconscious attachment to restricting thoughts or actions in some of the people I have met who don’t necessarily come from strict countries or cultures. We all share one thing in common though, we were raised in a restricting environment, and have been trained to always act, behave or speak in a specific manner. We were always under the scrutiny of someone, whether it was our parents, spouses, family members or even the communities we lived in.
It’s astonishing how we continue to limit ourselves and our life experiences long after those boundaries and restrictions have been removed. Sometimes, our thoughts follow the same confining patterns that we have developed over the years. And it becomes almost impossible to break free from limiting behaviours and thoughts that we don’t agree with or want to possess.
After many years of being confined, oppressed, and judged for the simplest of things, an imaginary bubble is created. Sadly for some of us who have lived in that bubble for the most part of our childhood, adolescent and adult life, breaking away and bursting that bubble for good proves to be a highly challenging and time-consuming task.
Luckily, the Universe has helped me meet some good people – who later became friends – who share my “bubble” life story, can understand my struggles, and can strongly relate to my dreams and aspirations. Despite the fact that we are all still relatively living in that bubble, I believe that with the support of a strong social circle, we can all grow and evolve to become the free spirits that we were born to be.
Having said that, I’m not so sure how I would look wearing a casual T-shirt and hot denim shorts while skateboarding in my fifties! As it might take me a while to eventually get to that kind of personal freedom. I guess we’ll have to wait and see