Well, our first month in Dubai has certain gone quickly, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was freezing my bum off in Tassie with Cath. Not any more however, it’s getting hotter and hotter here. Each day Myles, Lewis and I go for a walk in the mornings around Deira. We were going around 11am then coming back home for lunch, but we have had to start going at about 9am as by 11 it’s way too hot for poor Lewis in the pram, and for Myles and I as well! We have discovered some interesting things on our walks so far, namely some very beautiful Mosques which Myles finds fascinating. I have also discovered a chocolate shop which makes handmade chocolates which very nearly compare with Anvers. I don’t think they will replace Anvers as my favourites, but it’s certainly been a good find regardless.
I have been trying to find a school for Myles for the past few weeks, but with little success until this week. We have finally reached the stage of actually going into one school for an appointment, whereas previously I had only been able to get onto endless waiting lists, some of which they actually wanted you to pay for (that’s right, you pay to go a list, when you might not ever actually get a place!) The schools here are quite different from Australia, most are private schools and all seem to have endless waiting lists. There have been a lot of expats leaving Dubai lately though, so it looks like some places might finally start opening up. The school year starts in September here as well, but I’d love to get Myles into a school as soon as possible as he is starting to get bored staying at home with me and Lewis all day. It’s quite difficult where we are living at the moment as there are no parks within walking distance and it’s too hot to go out by mid morning, meaning we have to stay inside all day. This is certainly not what Myles is used to, but he has been finding lots of ways to keep himself busy. He has started learning how to write, and is progressing well through the alphabet.
Last week I got my Dubai drivers licence, and since we now have a car this week the boys and I have been on a few outings. We went to Creek Park again on Monday morning. We were the only people in the park when we got there at 10am! People here tend to go out later in the day and in the evening, which is quite different from what we’re used to in Australia. The one advantage though was that Myles had the whole park pretty much to himself, which of course he took full advantage of – running around yelling his head off and generally having a blast. We also made yet another trip to the local shopping mall to do the grocery shopping. That has been quite an experience so far, as every time we have been there it has been absolutely packed with people and quite difficult to find anything that we’re looking for. We usually just grab the essentials then escape as quickly as possible. We went early this time though, and again found the place to be almost deserted. It was good to actually be able to have a look on the shelves and see what’s available. We have found a few familiar brands so far (Milo, Kellogs, Nestle) but have also had some difficulties finding some products. Most of the labels on things are written in Arabic, so it’s hard to know exactly what you’re buying sometimes. I suppose it’s been good in a way though, as we have certainly tried some different foods from what we would normally eat in Australia. The shops where we go have a good selection of Australia meat though which is good. They do have Australian vegies as well, but they are nowhere near as good as what we get back home. That’s one thing that I am definitely missing!
Dubai is also very family-friendly. The locals here absolutely love children. It’s hard to walk around the shops at times because they always want to stop us and look at the kids. The children here also like to just walk up the Myles and Lewis and touch them on the face, which Myles thinks is fantastic. Lewis is probably not so sure yet, as he has copped a few fingers in the eye from over-enthusiastic kiddies! I haven’t had any issues here so far being a female yet either. At some of the shops, I have found that the Arab men will act as though you are not there and push in front of me in the queue, but I haven’t had any other dramas. I have found the streets here are very safe to walk alone for a female. I sometimes walk to the corner store after dark and feel completely safe, something which I would not normally do at home. I’m not sure why I have the feeling of being so safe here. There are a lot of police, but it’s just a feeling that you get walking around. People here, especially the locals, are generally very friendly and very helpful to foreigners.
We have a Nepalese security guard in our building named Manoj. He is a lovely guy who does the day shift for our building (12 hour shifts, from 6:30am – 6:30pm). He has become quite fond of Myles and Lewis, I think especially because he hasn’t seen his own family in Nepal for well over a year. There are a lot of workers in Dubai who do the blue collar jobs like security and construction who have come from countries such as Nepal, India and Pakistan. These workers get paid what we consider to be very low wages (around 500 AED or $180AUS a month) It is however a huge increase on what they could earn in their home country, so lots of them come to work here, and then send all their money back home to their families. They work very long hours though, and generally don’t get any days off at all (maybe one a month).
When I first arrived here, I discovered that Ryan had been employing our building’s cleaner Sathi to clean our aparment (floors and bathrooms). When I found out how little these workers were paid each month, I was quite hapy to let him keep cleaning our apartment once a week. We pay him extra (around 50AED) which is a huge help to him. It has been quite hard for me to not feel guilty about going out and spending money, or going to nice places and then coming back to the building where Sathi and Manoj have been working all day. Despite this, they always greet us with huge smiles, and offer to help me upstairs with the kids and shopping. It has certainly made me appreciate how very lucky we are and also what a wonderful country Australia is.
All in all I am thoroughly enjoying Dubai and all the new experiences we have had so far. I’m looking forward to lots mre exciting adventures over the next month or so. Will keep you posted.