Tag Archives: Burqalicious The Dubai Diaries

Burqalicious Bonus! Deleted Pics…

9 Mar

So, here it is. The latest in my series of deleted entries! Not so much an entry, this one – more a series of photos that there wasn’t room for in the book. If you haven’t read it yet, GET CRACKING, but if you have, you can look at these along with the part about the Iransion, when Stacey and I set up camp unwittingly on an Iranian inventor’s landing. Ah, memories. We stuck it out for a good four or five months I think, creeping in and out of his massive villa, trying not to piss ourselves every time we saw the fleet horse sitting on the driveway. This is it, in colour:

The fleet horse is an invention powered by… yup, a horse. He stands on that little treadmill there inside, behind the driver. I think the vehicle (if it can be called that?!) has a little motor too, but mostly it just moves when the horse starts to walk. Its awesomeness still astounds me, it really does. I often wonder what he’s done with it. You can still see his website here! I don’t think that’s a real horse in the photo, by the way… he must have just superimposed it in there for the picture’s sake, but you get the idea. He fricking LOVED this invention. There’s a piccy of it in the book of course, but I don’t think black and white does it justice.

Anyway, in the book I’ve also mentioned the inventor’s artistic streak. In the days when he wasn’t tending lovingly to the marketing of the fleet horse, he was creating beautiful works of art that he liked to dot about the villa. We lived in a room off his landing upstairs (he had the whole bottom floor), and we’d often come home to find new pieces stuck to the walls. To set the scene, here’s the landing we lived on:

Beautiful isn’t it? He really made it very homely for us. And you can probably see the poster of the children on our bedroom door there? In case you can’t, here’s a close up:

We often thought he might have stuck it there as a representation of Stacey and I, two roaming orphans at a crossroads in our lives, Dubai being the dusty equivalent of this lonely, windy moor. But we never did find out. It just haunted my dreams the entire time we lived there, as did this one:

This one was actually on the wall in our bedroom. We never dared take it down as the Iranian obviously thought he was doing us a favour by displaying his lovely, special piece in our room, instead of somewhere downstairs, where he could look at it more. Mind you, he’d quite often come into our room to discuss his latest inventions with us… and ask us to work with him… so who knows, maybe he was just looking for an excuse to check we were still admiring his mysterious lady painting.

I have a few more, but I’ll have to dig them out. Seems like so long ago now! You know what… I actually miss not knowing what to expect when I come home these days. Sometimes there’s a cat shit on the floor, or some white fur, or maybe a cockroach, but on the whole, life in Bondi isn’t half as exciting.

Burqalicious deleted diary entry. “The Crush”

25 Feb

Before the mighty edit of Burqalicious – The Dubai Diaries (did I mention I have a book out?! ;-)) I wrote quite a bit about Stacey’s “friend”, Haaris. Unfortunately I had to cut him out, not because this big hulk of man was boring, but because there were just too many other things to cover. Luckily I have the old manuscript here, so here’s a Friday treat: another deleted diary entry I call “The Crush”. Hope you like it! xx

“Stacey has of late, found herself in a bit of an awkward situation. In an attempt to stop the dreaded Dubai Stone attaching itself to her person, she decided to take up kickboxing, which is allegedly an enjoyable affair hosted by a very nice man from Iraq, called Haaris.

Haaris is huge. Width ways. He looks a little bit like a squished version of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime; a little bit shorter, but with the same muscular frame that makes you want to beg: “Please, can you just ask me one more time if I want some tickets to the gun show?” as you whip out your mobile phone for a photo to show your gran. He’s very healthy and he never drinks. And when he stands up, he looks a little bit like a baboon about to beat his chest; always straight, always seeming taller than he actually is.

He sometimes does commercials. We’re not exactly sure what kind of commercials, as we’ve never seen any, but it’s something he seems very proud of and he’s too scary for us to ask him any further questions about it. He’s also been a bodyguard for various celebrities in a host of different countries, so as you can imagine, he’s the kind of guy who unwittingly commands a certain type of respect.

The other night after class, Haaris invited Stacey back to his place to “drink chai” and seeing as they’ve become friends and she didn’t have much else going on, she agreed. He then asked, over the top of his teacup, if he could kiss her. Stacey was quite understandably shocked. She had no idea prior to this abrupt request that Haaris felt this way about her. She looked down at her chai feeling rather uncomfortable, before stumbling something along the lines of “Er… no… we’re just friends!”

Unfortunately, over the course of the past few weeks, Haaris has taken it upon himself to fall completely in love with Stacey. Yes, our very own brown-haired beauty has officially bent, stretched and high-kicked her way into his heart.  But whilst she respects him greatly for his lovely personality and all of his past and present ventures, Stacey, sadly, is just not that into him.

Haaris was clearly mortified to learn of this. Stacey watched as he put his teacup down slowly on the table. His eyebrows knitted together in the middle of his bronzed brow. He then raised his head in a defiant manner and announced: “We cannot be friends. I don’t have any female friends. That is impossible.”

Stacey wasn’t sure if this also meant she couldn’t take part in his kickboxing classes anymore, which would have been a shame as she quite enjoys them. She wasn’t too sure what to think at all as she sloped out feeling rather guilty, and caught a cab. But thankfully, just before the next class rolled around, Haaris called her up and offered to drive her there, straight from her office. She gratefully accepted his offer, glad that they were still on speaking terms, only the traffic was so bad that they sat stationary for over an hour in awkward silence, missed the class and stood up an entire group of people.

Things clearly weren’t looking good. Realising that he’d already tried and failed the take-her-home-and-try-to-snog-her approach, Haaris gave up, turned around and drove her home, which irritatingly for both of them took another 40 minutes or so, thanks to even more traffic.

But it seems dodging a chai fuelled kiss and being forced to endure hours of silent car torture wasn’t enough for our Stacey. Determined to prove him wrong having been informed that he doesn’t have any female friends, she decided she wanted to go and support Haaris in his doorman duties, at a club in the Grand Hyatt Hotel. He’d been telling her to come along for ages, but she’d just never found the time or inclination. Now however, she had something to prove. She could be his friend, godammit.

And so it was that M&M and I found ourselves accompanying her to one of the weirdest establishments in Dubai; a nightclub on two levels, full of Polish, Indians and Filipinos, pumping out trance music. A good few hookers also found it a prime time to shake their thang all around us on the dance floor and as it happened, Haaris only had time for one orange juice before having to resume his door duties, leaving us all stuck there out of politeness. “You enjoy!” he called, turning his back on our torture.

All’s well that ends well, though. We definitely saw a smile on his face once we’d all summoned the confidence to walk past him and out into the safety of the night. We endured three hours of trance. It was a hefty price to pay but we’re pretty sure he’s forgiven Stacey for rejecting him.”


Burqalicious – Deleted Diary Entry…

16 Feb

Behold! It’s time for another deleted entry from the book. And no, not just because I’m feeling unoriginal and can’t be arsed to blog properly today (well, OK, maybe a little bit). This one was written and photographed shortly after Ewan and I moved into our new place together on the building site. Can’t believe we actually lived like this, haha!

04/08. An unfortunate blockage…

This. Is. Bullshit. Seriously, the last thing I need right now is to find my entire apartment block cordoned off for no apparent reason.

My building faces the desert. I knew this when I moved in. I also knew there was no corner shop in the vicinity, so buying milk and loo roll is an expedition I have to plan three days in advance and one that, thanks to the climbing temperatures, I cannot face without a bottle of water and a taxi.

Exhibit A – helloooo, can anybody reach me?

Getting a taxi was no problem before the barrier went up. One could simply wade across the driveway/nine foot stretch of sand to the main road, and flag one. But now, as seen in exhibits A and B (taken from my building’s porch) I am expected to walk a mile in either direction in order for one to stop.

Exhibit B – I’m over here, I’m starving, I’m really hot and sweaty!

In true Dubai fashion, we have not been informed as to why this barrier has appeared. There are no signs of explanation, no posters for residents, apologizing for the inconvenience. The doorman muttered something about them extending the road, but quite where they’d put it is beyond me. Are they doing away with the lobby of my building, now? Is my apartment so old and decrepit by Dubai standards that it has to be demolished altogether? It was built in February, 2008, after all.

Also baffling is the sudden appearance of a bus stop, as seen in Exhibit C. Quite how the bus is supposed to stop in the middle of a main road, with such barricades in place, is beyond my realm of understanding. Are the passengers expected to take a running hurdle into the vehicle, over the unfortunate obstacle? The bus stop didn’t exist when access to the road was available. Come to think of it, I haven’t even seen a bus for months. It’s clearly a tease.

Exhibit C – WTF?

Exhibit D displays the birth of a mysterious invisible entity, which is so rare, so precious, that it requires protection from a gaggle of traffic cones, blocking access to the five inches of tarmac left for us to use as a pavement… forcing us once more, into the sand dunes. Again, there is no explanation. No apology. No nothing.

Exhibit D – WTF? (part 2)

I am VERY angry. Like I said, I do not like to dwell on such a list of negatives, especially as our apartment, once we get inside, is actually starting to feel like home, but what the fucking fuck is this a-fucking-BOUT? (Rage).

(Oh yeah, if you like this, there’s another deleted photo entry here)

The PEAK of it…

13 Feb

Thanks to Daddy Wicks for sending me the piece my local paper, far, far away in Spalding, Lincolnshire, ran on the book the other day. I won’t paste it all here obviously, cos that would be embarrassing, but I do have to mention the sneak ‘peak’ they inserted from the text. Not a peek, mind you. A peak.

I think this must be different to a peek, as a peek is just a glimpse inside something, whereas a peak is a huge climax… the point at the top of a mountainous task from which you sit and go “aaaaaaaah, thank god I got here in one piece.” I’m glad they posted a peak, in this case, as it’s way more impressive; even though the peak at which the extract ends isn’t very climatic at all.

There are about 500 more words in this piece that weren’t printed, probably because all the page space was taken up with a giant photo (ugh) so you really just end up with a rather pointless bit of blabber. A bit like this blog post really.

Burqalicious Bonus – behold the missing Kebab Cake footage…

11 Feb

A CAKE MADE OF MEAT you say? Oh yes, you’d better believe it. My good friend Ric was kind enough to send me two snippets of forgotten footage from the day I got to slice the world’s first kebab cake in Dubai – as featured rather prominently in Burqalicious – the Dubai Diaries. I’d forgotten about them until a few weeks ago, when I suddenly remembered that durrrr, of course we videoed the occasion. It was my 28th birthday for a start, but also, it’s not every birthday you get to cut a cake made of kebab, is it? With a Sheikh!

“This very item — due to go in The Guinness Book of Records (category yet to be decided) — was cut by my very own hands last night in a lovely new restaurant called MerCURRIES in the Dubai Financial Centre. I was given the privilege because of it being my birthday week. In case you’re wondering, it tasted just like a kebab and the point was, quite simply, to prove that cake, birthday or otherwise, doesn’t have to be sweet or served as a dessert. We also learned such things are great for Arab families too because you don’t even have to be drunk to enjoy this type of kebab!” – p113

In Ric’s own words: “it’s the kind of thing that inspires love and fear in equal measures, and if it were made common knowledge I have absolutely no doubt that wars would ensue to protect the recipe, and countries would fall. So be careful, yeah?”

As he’s hosted these videos on two separate websites I can’t seem to drag them off and host them on this blog itself, but that might be a good thing. You’ll find the videos here and here.

Like he says, be careful, yeah? Even if you think you can guess how to bake a kebab cake, don’t tell anyone. Else it just won’t be as special anymore!

Burqalicious in VOGUE Australia…

9 Feb

Because several people have asked to see this, here it is. I love how my BlackBerry acts as a camera/scanner. As I took this pic, the guy next to me at work, who didn’t know I had written a book asked what I was doing. I gave him the mag and told him I was in VOGUE. At which point he looked at the model in the coat opposite and said “Oh, don’t you look different!” (sigh).

It’s really scary, being on the radio…

8 Feb

I just had to do a radio interview – the first of two I have in my diary (eeek!). I didn’t know it was about to be broadcast live when I sat down, though, THANK GOD. I fluffed up a word because my mouth was all dry and I was a bit nervous, but it’s OK, because after I fluffed it, I apologised.

YES. I know. Error. I instantly regretted it. Pros don’t apologise when they fluff lines, do they? Because if you apologise, people realise you’ve fluffed up. It’s like farting and then telling everyone.

I’m sure the rest of it went OK. I hope it did, anyway. We had a laugh and he didn’t ask too many awkward questions, and those ones that I thought were a little bit difficult, I managed to skip around and change the subject, hurrah!

However, I’m a bit disappointed with myself about the fluffing incident because when I worked at Nova I used to spend all blimmin’ day in the studios with radio pros and I thought I had a pretty good idea of what sounds good and what doesn’t.

But when it was just me, on my own in a room wearing headphones, talking to a lovely man far, far away in Hobart, I forgot all that and for a few painfully slow seconds that must have had Tasmanians frowning into their afternoon tea cups, I forgot how to speak basic English.  MUMMY!!!

As a writer, you never have to reveal how it sometimes takes a zillion tries to get the right message across. Thanks to this experience, I now appreciate how hard it is being on the radio. Those peeps I worked with at Nova not so long ago are so TALENTED! Even more talented than I realised at the time, and I always knew they were awesome. It’s so nerve-wracking, conveying the correct message without a delete button.  And it’s reeeally hard sounding natural when you’ve got all those things you can and can’t say, and questions to ask and answer, and timings and songs to work around. Wow – I now respect them even more!

One man sent a text for me during the chat, which was very nice. He drew attention to the fact that they serve camel burgers in Dubai’s McDonalds, which I had to admit I never knew. Do they? I can’t believe I missed that. My experience over there was far from complete and there I was thinking I’d done everything. Sheesh!

Anyway, one down, one to go. At least it was good practice. I do need a drink though…

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