Thursday, February 24, 2011

shadow patterns

Don't you just love the way something how simple like a window grill in the sunlight makes a beautiful pattern on the wall. Before I started taking photographs in earnest, I never used to notice them, but now I look out for them all the time, and am thrilled each time I find a new pattern, often from the same space.

shadow of the window grill falling on the calender in my sister-in-law's home

a beautiful pattern created by the window grill and the sheer malmal curtains in my room at my parent's home. This is what I woke up to the last two months of my pregnancy, and it made me happy and filled with wonder each and every day.

it's good to be smart about one's food

Lately, I've been very good about my diet. Well, not that I'm usually bad, but mostly forgetful. I keep forgetting to take my vitamins or don't have enough water (which is really bad if you have the air conditioning on all the time like we have to have) or skip the fruit for some flavored yogurt (well, it does have fruit at the bottom, doesn't it?) but now I've realized that it doesn't make any sense not to be serious about taking one's daily vitamins. Everyone has some deficiencies in their diet and they take care of it, that's it. So simple.

are you social at the grocery store?

Maybe it's just me, but I love to see what other people are buying at the grocery store. I try to figure out the combination of foods they will make and wonder if there is something that I should be adding to my list as well. What else does one do when one is waiting in the checkout counter lines anyhow? Yes, I know I can browse the tabloids and celebrity magazines, but I'm not going to learn anything new except maybe what the best weight loss products are or some such thing and is that really going to help me.

If I find something interesting in someone's shopping cart or see someone selecting some veggie that I know I should try, but don't quite know how to cook it, I'm not shy in asking them for tips. That always leads to interesting results, and I once got a great veggie stew recipe from a very helpful shopper. And I've often been asked how to cook okra when I'm selected mine! Oh, and if you're interested, I like mine as a dry stir fry, just mix it with dry spices and a tablespoon of gramflour (dry not wet) and toss it around and they fry it in a few tsp's of oil. Voila, yummy yummy and oh so quick!

Bastakiya in Dubai

I've been wanting to write more about Dubai lately, to share a bit of our lives out here in the desert, to include you in how it's changing and growing.

One of my favorite haunts in Dubai is Bastakiya, which is the oldest part of town...something new and gleaming for another day I suppose....I love the textures and patterns of Bastakiya. One can spend a lot of time just photographing the area, go back after a week and find yet more angles and perspectives.

One of the earliest settlements in Dubai, Bastakiya is on the banks of Dubai Creek and was reconstructed some time back to a series of courtyard houses, they way they used to be I suppose. Now, these have a mix of art galleries, boutique hotels, cafe's, gift shops for traditional items and several museums as well. It's most lively on saturdays in the winter, when it takes on a carnival atmosphere, and even has a few camels for joyrides. My favorite part of Bastakiya is the restoration house, where artisans lovingly restore and create new gypsum tiles like they did in the old days. When I visited they even gifted me a few tiles, which I truly treasure.

More information on Wikipedia.

could you give up your cravings?

Did you know that the best way to enhance your lifespan is to control your diet and change your lifestyle. These are the two sure fire but long term ways to ensure that you not only live longer and are healthier, but also are stronger, more agile, and better equipped mentally. Simple tips and tricks but also the hardest to actually put into practice, right? There are other ways though, modern day tricks I suppose you can call them, such as acai berries that can work wonders in the right circumstances. Whenever I see acai reviews in magazines, I find that they also talk about making lifestyle changes to make it effective though. As for me, I give in to my cravings every once in a while. Ok, it's actually, like everyday, but then I balance it out with cutting out other things.

is it time to start attempting to look younger?

There comes a time in one's life when suddenly one realizes that one is not a young girl anymore, one spots stray gray strands, wrinkle or two, and starts thinking maybe the advertisers of anti-aging products have something valid to say. So you log on and search for the best anti wrinkle cream and wonder if it'll do the trick by using it for a week or two like they profess, or will it be another one of those jars sitting on your counter never used. Yes, I've started to ponder about all these things lately. And the more advertisements I see on the telly and in magazines, the more I think, yes maybe it's time.

Now is the right time to visit

The recent events in the Egypt and now several other countries in the region have led to an increase in tourism to Dubai in the past month and will continue to do so for the remaining winter months as well. This is the season to visit Dubai, there are sunny skies, warm sunshine and cool breezes that are perfect for lazing on the beach, exploring the various souks and maybe even going for a nice relaxing cruise in an old fashioned dhow in Dubai Creek. It's the time the locals come out in throngs to the park for picnics and enthusiastic games of soccer and stroll along the corniche at sunset.

There are so many trip planners who specialize in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, but many often just end up giving the same old boring tours and have not done anything to incorporate the new area of the city, to capture it's vibrancy as well as delve into the past cultures. When one of my friends wanted to visit, she planned her trip using Lets Go 2 Dubai Holidays that seem to tick all the right boxes on how to create a great holiday for both families and more party inclined people as well. Often, using a tour guide to plan the entire trip can get staid, unless they are creative about it, including new hotels on their list of offerings, as well as new developments in this rapidly expanding city. I find that the best way to really enjoy a city is to do a bit of both. Talking to the concierge and other people at the hotel and to taxi drivers gives a keen insight to the "real" city, not just the showcase. That's what makes one a traveler instead of a tourist.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

photo: cheesecake at home

I baked New York style Cheesecake yesterday. But I cheated...this is the picture of the last time I made it. I took some shots of it today, but still haven't downloaded the photos from the camera. We ate it today with some strawberry's in syrup along with some tea (although this is coffee here) to celebrate some birthdays and anniversaries in the family.

what's on your grocery list?

It's been such a hectic time lately out here. There's a viral going around everywhere you go and as much as we tried to avoid getting it, my hubby caught it and then my daughter. So far, I'm ok, and I hope it stays that way. When someone in your family gets sick, even if it's just a viral fever, nothing else is important, just to nurture them back to health. My shopping lists this week have been all about things that will make them feel better, honey and ginger tea, chicken broth, orange juice, heartwarming soups. I'll pass on the thermogenic fat burners right now, thank you very much. All I can think of is for ways to get my baby back to feeling her chirpy self again. Despite all the hectic time, I did get to do some baking this week :-)

what's important right now

I was talking to a friend about an hour back about how one's life gets taken over once one has kids. Nothing seems to be in one's control at times and you can not do what you really want to most of the time. Bringing up a child has it's ups and downs, the easy-going fun times and sometimes the mind-numbing days when one becomes a zombie, like I seem to be these days with my little one having a viral. Suddenly, things like having clearpores seems the last thing on my mind. All I want is for my little baby to get better quickly and I'm not quite bothered about styling my hair and things like that. They can wait, but cuddling with my baby is the most important thing right now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

laptops vs desktops: which do you use?

We're all a bit too addicted to our electronics aren't we? I use my laptop almost every day, the almost is thanks to my self-enforced rule of keeping at least one day completely computer-free, and love being able to do everything from the usual mails to sorting out photos to email family, to checking the bank account etc online from the comfort of my home. Having a laptop makes it all so simple. I've often considered whether we should get a desktop instead or in addition to our individual laptops, and even though some of them are so very affordable, I always tilt towards the portability and size of laptops. You can get some discount desktops for a real steal these days and that's really very tempting to make the switch. So far, I'm sticking to laptops!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I live in Dubai, you know that right?

                A photo of a foggy day from our bedroom window.

Even though I blog pretty regularly, I don't write much about where we live. In fact, some of you might not even know that I live in Dubai. I do write a lot along with my photos on flickr about our lives here in Dubai, especially about my daily walks in my old neighborhood. Somehow, I like the short format of writing a little note along with a photo when I post them on flickr.

Monday, February 07, 2011

good customer service deserves to be publicised

Customer service in this part of the world (ummm, it's Dubai) is not the best as anyone who has lived here already knows, so when someone goes out of their way to do something, it's really something. We had a problem with two of the wheels of the crib when we moved, maybe something in the packing got them all messed up or something. Anyways, so I called one of the stores where I had bought the crib...not the branch where I had bought it though....and the salesperson immediately gave me the telephone number of the installation and delivery department. So I called them and to whomever I spoke, I was assured that this would be sorted out immediately. It wasn't the manager that I spoke to, just a regular employee, so that was quite something. He never asked me when I had bought the crib, where I had bought it, if I had a receipt or any such thing, just asked me if I remembered the name of the crib and since I didn't asked me describe it. Then he said that someone would be calling me to come over to replace the wheels in a few hours, and by the end of the day, the crib had 4 new wheels. That's good customer service. And the name of the store, BabyShop. Good job you guys!


I'm back to blogging. It was a nice short reprieve, and although I did come online to check mail and transfer funds to my credit can one avoid these things, one can't take a break from them as well, can we? I browsed through several blogs, some old and many new ones, so I really wasn't completely offline, but I just wanted to be quiet for a while. Sometimes, it's important to take time out to gain a new perspective for something that you've been doing for so long. And I've been blogging for close to 7 years now, so yes, it does get old and boring at times. As long as I take mini-breaks or sometimes even mega-breaks it's all fine.

And, how have you all been?