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Posts tagged ‘Nakheel’

I like to ride my bicycle

Since leaving The Company, I used to drive to the supermarket, the gym and make occasional forays to proximate shopping centres – Ibn Battuta or Mall of the Emirates. However, most of the time the car sat in the garage collecting sand and ‘CLEAN ME’ messages on the windows.

Upon moving to The Springs, Husband and I often discussed getting bicycles, but . . . look, I can’t even think of a decent excuse. To be honest, laziness was a large factor. We agreed that it was such an effort even TALKING about getting bikes, what was the likelihood we’d ever dredge up enough energy to cycle the things?

However, before Christmas Husband brought me shopping and I picked out a mountain bike, which he accessorized with front and rear lights, bell and basket for Christmas. Danny got me an XXXL reflective jacket.

And so I am a familiar figure around the community, carefully cycling along on my bike, basket brimming with toilet rolls and celery sticks.

The other morning I set out to cycle up to Ibn Battuta. Rather than risk my sanity on Sheikh Zayed Road (which would have been, I found out later, illegal), I thought I’d blag my way into the Jumeirah Islands Residential Community adjoining our neighborhood, which lets out the other end at the mall.

As I cycled towards the Jumeirah Islands Security Post, I decided the best course of action would be to charge by at a fast clip. Unfortunately, I am not well practiced with the fast clip, my top speed being more a gravity-defying wobble. The Security Guard, unimpressed with the ‘White European Female’ royal wave which nearly brought me down, shot out of his shed and held up an authoritative hand.

“You can’t pass here,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Jumeirah Islands is a private development.”


[I’ve noticed that the damsel in distress routine cuts it less and less. I think you need a quivering bosom for full effect, and now that I was stationery my bosom was commensurately immobile.]

“Look,” I said. “If you don’t let me through I’ll have to cycle up Sheikh Zayed Road and I’ll die. You wouldn’t want that on your conscience now, would you?”

I detected a slight hesitation.

“Madam, do you have friends or relatives residing in Jumeirah Islands?”


“Yes! Yes, I have both friends AND relatives living in Jumeirah Islands.”

“Where do they live?”

[So. He was going to make me lie for it – and as you are aware, I am just so very very bad with the porkies, the evidence for which I am about to conclusively demonstrate.]

“Er. On top of the hill. Over there,” I gestured vaguely. “By the er, island.”

“And what is your . . .”


“What is your friend-who-is-also-a-relative’s name?”

“Bob,” I said with authority. Having observed The Master (Husband) for over eight years, I know that successful falsification requires Authority. If there had been a table to hand, I would have thumped it.

“Bob who?”

“Marley,” I said instantly. “No! No! I meant Quealy. Sorry, Quealy. Not Marley.”

“Which is it?” said the Security Guard with no small measure of impatience, although I’m pretty sure that somewhere deep down – or not so deep at all – he was enjoying himself immensely.

“Bob Marley Quealy. With a hyphen. Marley-Quealy. He was formerly a Quealy but married a Marley. No, that’s not right, hang on. No, yes, that was just his name. IS his name, I mean – he’s not dead. He’s very much alive and living in Jumeirah Islands, on top of the hill beside the island in the middle of the desert. Please don’t ask me any more questions. Can I go now?”

No doubt because I had provided more entertainment than the man had seen in WEEKS, the Security Guard waved me on.

Since then I have found a shortcut through the perimeter fence and most days I cycle up to Ibn Battuta to write in peace in The Lime Tree Café.

In the four weeks since, I have become more proficient with the cycling. After days of daring, I finally mastered The Kerb Wheelie, although on two occasions I inadvertently head butted the pavement. The first time, although I successfully popped the front wheel in the air, I misjudged the distance by about a foot, give or take three. The front wheel landed in front of the kerb and I got intimate with the handlebars followed swiftly by the pavement.

The second time, having got the front wheel up the kerb, I was so overwhelmed with my own skill that I paused to give a victory salute, thereby neglecting to pedal. When the back wheel encountered the kerb I promptly toppled over.

Even when trundling around in Tank Central (the Yukon), the road conditions here – ie drivers – are beyond terrifying. When cycling, I stick to the pavement where possible. Even this route is fraught with danger, what with rabid dogs, psychotic toddlers, and uneven paving stones.

I am often required to cross the two x two-lane road in The Springs, which is equipped with the odd pedestrian crossing. The crossings are a bit hit and miss and, lthough I generally aim for ‘miss’, I would probably have better luck betting on the geegees as to whether and which cars might stop at the pedestrian crossings. Most drivers like to speed up for them. Occasionally, when I’m paused at a crossing waiting for both lanes to clear, a misguided driver will pull to a stop, which results in enraged drivers thundering past in the other lane blaring horns and shaving my eyebrows off.

Despite all this, I love getting around under my own steam and being out in the fresh air. By ‘fresh air’ I mean the chemical-laden fug masquerading as oxygen around these parts.

I realize that perhaps I haven’t painted the most idyllic picture of me and my bike, so here is a whole list of perquisites:-

1/ The sand blast/dermabrasion effect that Cleopatra’s Spa would undoubtedly describe as: “Fine sand hand-picked from the Arabian Desert gently massaged into every pore of your body,” for which it would charge Dhs500

2/ The glorious scenery: buttercup strewn fields, country lanes wafting honeysuckle, charming villages with giggling children running after you down the narrow cobblestone streets

3/ Cycling with no hands – which I’m sure will be a big thrill when I master the trick

4/ The daring intrepidness of it all

5/ Ringing my bell. It’s great

6/ There’s got to be another reason. Oh, how about the health benefits? Big thighs: there’s number six

Dancing in the New Year

On New Years Eve, we took Raff and Carole up on their totally spontaneous offer to host a party. They are one of the first to take up residency on The Palm Island Jumeirah, on the ‘trunk’ of The Palm. They bought a fifth level apartment (technically the fourth floor, since the ground floor is level 1).

The Palm is still largely a construction site, an aural cacophony of drilling, hammering, revving, piling, beeping and scraping. But Raff and Carole’s apartment looks out on an expanse of sea with the Burj Al Arab in the distance and Sheikh Mohammed’s private island in the foreground. If you squint out their living room window, beyond the scum at the waters edge and heaps of construction detritus, you can really see the potential.

The party was on New Years Eve and we didn’t fancy our chances of catching a taxi later in the evening. Raff and Carole offered us their sofa (presumably for sleeping on and as limited to their premises) but, although we packed bedding and toiletries, Husband was not mad keen. After a stressful evening of self abuse there is no substitute for falling into your bed. It HEALS you: slumber is more even, the hangover less vicious and – let’s face it – it’s always preferable to drool into your own pillow.

“We could always walk home,” said Husband.

“It’s ten kilometers!”

“Ah, come on now,” said My Beloved (this being one of his favourite expressions since Raff, Carole and I tortured him with Father Ted screenings for weeks on end). “It’s probably not more than six.”

“I’m not bloody walking,” I said. “Tell you what though. I could cycle.”

“Great idea! And I could run.”




“Yes, run. As in jog. To put one foot in front of the other, quite fast.”

I didn’t say anything as he packed my bike into the back of the car, followed by his running shoes and shorts. I figured he would probably be incapable of STANDING at the end of the night, never mind putting one foot in front of the other, quite fast.

When we arrived at Raff and Carole’s, Husband bonded with the beer while I got stuck into the margharitas. We spent most of the evening on the balcony which was lit up with fairy lights and candles and was unspeakably charming until it was gate crashed by mosquitoes. They were like armadillos with wings.

We repaired inside, where Raff put on ‘Finding Nemo’ to demonstrate the quality of their new plasma screen. One of their friends, who was blitzed when she arrived, had for some reason been talking about tap dancing. Carole and Husband were drunkenly exhorting her to shake her funky stuff, and she was going: “No, no I couldn’t, no really – oh, alright then”.

She started dancing across the room, accompanied by herself and considerately giving us a tutorial as she went: “Tap-dancing is really just one move, where you TAP! the ball of your foot against the ground. It’s a shuffle, like this. So let me see – HAPPY FEET! I’VE GOT THOSE HAP-HAP-HAPPY FEET! Shuffle left, shuffle left, shuffle shuffle shuffle left – I CAN’T CONTROL THE DANCING DEAR TO SAVE MY SOOOOOUL! Shuffle right, shuffle right – THOSE WEARY BLUES CAN’T GET INTO MY SHOES!”

I understand she learned the routine when she was seven. There was something frankly disturbing about a grown woman singing ‘Happy Feet’ with that level of gusto – or any level of gusto, for that matter.

Meanwhile, Husband and I were engrossed in the gripping tale that is ‘Finding Nemo’, but this woman was tap-dancing across the screen, and we were bobbing our heads around trying to follow the action

“Are you watching?” she shouted.

“Absolutely,” said Husband, trying to see through her flailing arms, “but Marlin and Dory are about to go searching for Nemo and it’s a very tense moment. If you could just move to the left-“

“HAPPY FEEEEET!” she bawled. “You’re not WATCHING!”

“I am,” said Carole with a poker-straight face that made me see my friend in a whole new respectful light.

At around half two in the morning I was trying to scare away a slavering-fanged mosquito by pulling faces at it, with not a lot of success.

“Shall we go?” asked Husband, clearly fed up with the insane tap-dancing lady.

We said our goodbyes and, at the car, I donned the reflective jacket Danny gave me for Christmas while Husband swapped his shirt and trousers for singlet and running shorts. And then he started jogging, while I wobbled along behind him with my flashing rear light.

Husband started strongly, powering up the overpass towards Dubai Marina. I stopped every half a mile to text status updates to an incredulous Carole. The number of cars on the road at 03:00hrs on New Years Day was mad, although maybe they called their buddies when they saw us: “Hey, I’m not sure whether I’m drunk or . . . yeah but I’ve just passed this bloke JOGGING and . . . and there’s a bird behind him in an evening dress on a bicycle. Get down here and take a look.”

Husband was slowing down coming to Interchange 5, going slower and slower, and by the time we hit The Springs entrance he was practically in reverse. His knee had crapped out and he was starting to whine.

“Go on, Niamhie, give me a backie.”

“Dude, I mean it: step away from the bike.”

“Aww, come on!”

He attempted to forcibly hitch a lift but I was giggling too hard to cycle. Somehow he talked me into relinquishing my beloved bicycle and taking a backie. Since it’s a mountain bike, the crossbar is not level: from the handlebars it slopes down to the saddle support. Three seconds later I was firmly wedged in Husband’s sweaty crotch, getting rhythmically kicked by his sweaty knees.

We finally made it home at four o’clock in the morning in one piece – although I was severely dented in the left hip region

The little things: raisins

Raff and Carole left this morning. We thought for a while they might be with us for Christmas because, although their apartment on the Palm Island is more or less ready for occupancy, the Electricity and Water Authority is refusing to turn on their water and electricity.


Finally they decided that even erratic electricity and cold water was preferable to cohabiting with Husband, and they abandoned us. I miss them (I totally forgave Raff spilling Bombay Mix on my keyboard.) The margharita detox only intensifies the feelings of loss. Carole left a big pile of chocolate bars in the fridge and every time I snort one whole, I think of her.


During the time they spent with us, I managed to indoctrinate them with Father Ted. In honor of Raff and Carole I feel compelled to share my top five moments from Father Ted. Note: these are NOT in order of preference because that’s just impossible:-



Mrs Doyle: Won’t you have some cake, Father? It’s got cocaine in it. Oh no, hang on, it’s not cocaine, is it. What do I mean now? – the little things . . . Ah yes. Raisins!



Dougal: God I’ve never seen a clock at 5 am before!



Ted: What was it Jack used to say about the needy? He had a term for them . . .

Dougal: A shower of bastards.



Father Dougal: Ahh, lets see, I’ll have the Hindu Curry, Steak and Chips, and a glass of Coke thanks.

Policeman: Do you know where you are? You’re in a police station.

Father Dougal: Oh right. Well, in that case, I’ll just have the Satay Chicken.



Ted:Dougal, you can’t sit around here watching television all day – chewing gum for the eyes!

Dougal: Oh no thanks Ted, I’ve got these crisps, here

Perverts can’t swim

This morning I struggled down to the beach at 08:00hrs. Carole bravely accompanied me, although she was a bit concerned about perverts. There has been a lot of publicity recently about men loitering on the beach for a leer. I haven’t been, er, exposed much to that sort of stuff apart from one morning when Róisín was over. We’d chosen a spot next to the outdoor shower. There was a bloke having a wash and upon seeing us, he plunged his hands down the front of his shorts and administered a really very thorough cleansing.


“Róisín!” I whispered. “That man! He has his hands down his shorts!”


“Don’t worry,” she says. “I’m a nurse.”


I felt she wasn’t so much missing the point as totally losing her grip on the space-time continuum.


“Róisííííín!” I hissed urgently. “He’s got his mickey out! He’s floppin’ it around!”


“Ah sure, all power to him.”


If I’d been on my own, I would have had no qualms about saying: “Put that thing away immediately,” but Róisín seemed unperturbed so I left her to it. Once I’m in the water I’m not that fussed; controlled studies have shown that perverts can’t swim very well.


Since there were no perverts in evidence this morning, I left Carole power-walking up the beach. I think I might still have been drunk, because I was in blistering form. I was pounding towards the shore 2000m later when I swam into a stingray. There are plenty of them about, usually buried in the sand where all you can see of them is their outline and a pair of beady black eyes.


This time I was in about five feet of water and he gave me quite a shock when he rippled beneath me. I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to a ray before and I’m not keen on repeating the experience.


That said, according to Wikipedia: ‘stingrays don’t usually attack aggressively’ (which prompted me to wonder whether there is any other way to attack? Can you attack kindly? Peacefully? I suppose friendly fire is a sort of sociable assault, is it?)


Viv is organizing a swim around the Jumeirah Palm Island in February and I suspect I might have accidentally signed up for it. It’s a distance of 20 kilometres and I’m a bit dubious – I mean, that’s nearly as far as the English Channel – well, only 14 km less. But Channel swimmers train from the age of three. Also, Nakheel is still dredging; in this part of the world there’s a distinct possibility of being sucked up and having your skull become a feature in Posh and Beck’s garden

The Pat strikes again

Róisín spent a lot of time giving out to me for my Expat attitude. We were in Spinneys one day, and the woman in front of me had brought her maid along to pack her bags (all two of them, but in fairness there was a pack of heavy cotton balls in one). When presented with the bill she flipped open her wallet. It was brimming with credit cards.


“Drat,” says she. “I’ll just pop to the cesh mechine and get some money. Just a moment.”


And off she goose-stepped for rather more than a moment.


After a dramatic beat wherein he examined his cuticles, the cashier started blipping my groceries through. I had handed over my card when M’Lady returned, elbowing me out of the way and flapping around wads of dirhams.


We were walking out to the car when I said to Róisín:


“Look at that poor maid,” I nodded in her direction. “Lugging around that mouldy oul slapper’s groceries. It’s outrageous.”


“Outrageous,” agreed Róisín. “Er . . . would you mind helping me with the bags?”


According to Róisín, I am a crusty old Expat who clicks her fingers to attract waiters and addresses them as ‘Boy’. (I would like to emphasize that I have never called anyone ‘Boy’, but Róisín says it’s present in the tone of voice.)


I dropped Róisín to the airport yesterday morning and miss her already. We are now expecting our friends Raff and Carol around the middle of November for an indefinite stay. They are returning from a six month sabbatical in the UK and US, and expected to move into their new apartment on the Palm Island Jumeirah at the end of November. However, Nakheel recently announced that the properties would not be ready until April (they didn’t specify which year).


Andrew has thus far stoically borne the intense socializing, but has started muttering darkly about the unprovoked invasion of privacy and lamenting the fact that he can’t wander around the house in his underpants.


This came as some surprise to me, since I had never really noticed that much Y-frontage down the living room. Andrew maintains that it’s The Principle of the Thing.


As far as I am concerned, if my hub wants to express himself in his knickers, he should feel free. However, I’d have to buy him some decent scants before a social outing – I am disgraced by the state of his boxers. He argues that they are vintage; to which I can only respond that while an aged quality is desirable in teapots, hardback books and certain items of clothing, it does not usually extend to under garments – ESPECIALLY crotchless boxer shorts.


[I should stress that his boxers don’t start out that way, in case you get the impression he’s a bit kinky. Yesterday Andrew told me that he prefers being robustly lampooned in my posts – he finds any form of mild to gushing praise embarrassing. So he should LOVE this public airing of his underpants.]

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