Tag Archives: Burqalicious

My first video review!

17 Aug

My friend ‘Stacey’ sent me this link, which must have slipped my radar, seeing as I’m being one of those travelling people at the moment (seriously, you can hardly see my arms for the handmade bracelets). It’s my very first video book review, I think, by a lovely New Zealander called Sarah Gumbley. Thankfully she liked it and wrote it up on her blog, too! How cute is this… awww, thanks Sarah!

More blogging to come… if I can lift my arms to type with all these bracelets on…

Burqalicious – Deleted Diary Entry…

22 Jan

Seeing as the original manuscript for Burqalicious – The Dubai Diaries was over 125,000 words long (what? I’m a rambler!) I had to cut a significant amount out before it became the glossy book about to hit shelves around Australia. So I’ve decided to post a few extra bits here for your perusal. There might also be a few more on the eBook version when it comes out, which WON’T be on this blog, but more news about that later.

So here’s the first deleted diary entry, which I call ‘The Incredible Journey’. I hope you like it! This one’s from fairly early on in my adventure.

“To demonstrate how much my commute has changed from the arduous trek across London (Mile End to St James’ Park on the District Line), I thought I would photograph my route from home to work as it is right now. If you’d like to walk it with me, set your British alarm clocks for 5.45am and scroll down this page. It only takes four and a half minutes, but I think you’ll find it’s quite exciting.

Imagine I exit my apartment block and turn to my immediate left. I pass a building site, on which they are apparently erecting an apartment/office block in the shape of an egg. It looks fucking stupid on the roadside sketchings, if you ask me – who wants to live in an egg? No one wanted to live in the Gherkin and that’s actually cool in a vibrator shaped, cock sort of way. An egg’s just an egg. But anyway, carry on down the road and you come to:

Exhibit 1.
The Mound

I call it The Mound, because I’m not entirely sure what it is or where it came from. On either side of this gargantuan pile of soil and sand is a fully occupied, 12 year old building and a construction site with no signs of any digging having ever taken place. Like most things in Dubai, it might well have been imported because someone else, in a country far, far away, had a slightly bigger Mound, and they wanted to buy it and better it. If you look, you can see little people at work, erecting a fence. I’m not sure even they know what they’re doing it for. Perhaps they’re going to shift The Mound into their newly constructed compound when they’re done and call it something like “The Transition”, for art’s sake. I have no clue. It’s bloody unsightly though, isn’t it. If Charlie Dimmock walked past, she’d have a heart attack, and I don’t even know what my mum will do when she gets here in three weeks. She’s been known to pull weeds out of lawns that don’t even belong to her. She’d have a field day with that lot.

Carry on a little and we find: 

Exhibit 2.
The Mini-Mound

As you can see, this is a hole in the carefully slabbed sidewalk, which appears to be a mini version of The Mound. Now, knowing the rules Dubai’s planners seem to follow, this was dug purely as an example to the workers appointed to begin on The Mound. When you’re working on building “the biggest of everything” and you don’t speak English, and you haven’t had much of an education, you probably need things to be spelled out to you. I’m sure they’ll cover it up now that The Mound is as high as the building next to it, (perhaps no one instructed them to stop?) but it’s a hazardous pitfall in an already treacherous trek, none-the-less.

Directly to the left we come across my least favourite part of the journey:

Exhibit 3
The Scrapheap Challenge

This changes daily. Sometimes I can pass with ease and sometimes I am forced back onto the road as my size 10 frame is rendered too large to pass without severing a limb on whichever piece of disregarded trash has been submitted overnight. On this particular occasion, the wire mesh frame accommodates within its monstrous jaws a housing project for the homeless – a sort of, DIY-without-IKEA affair. These cardboard flats will not be here tomorrow, and neither will the bicycle… although it might take longer to shift the smashed up car in the foreground – a prime example of how Dubai’s dangerous roads forced me to live within walking distance of my office in the first place.

Straight ahead we march, towards 

Exhibit 4
The Sandy Stretch

As you can see, the council gave up on paths altogether here, no doubt a result of people relocating to the road in light of the aforementioned Scrapheap Challenge. Walking this in flip-flops takes a whole minute, and if I choose heels I can expect at least another two on top. There’s another mesh monster lying in wait at the end, but thankfully, this is never as foreboding as the first.

Exhibit 5
Chilli Alley

Here, we stumble upon the side entrance to Chilli’s – the American chain restaurant that graces the area daily with a spicy, meaty aroma. Stacey and I have never been in there. And judging by the forlorn looking chilli lying like a beaten carcass on its side right there, neither has anyone else, for quite some time. Whenever I pass it I thank God I’m not 18, in my first year of uni. Like the Middle Eastern trade off for a traffic cone, I would have had that sexy spice in my bedroom, weeks ago. On we go now….and we’re almost there when we hit:

Exhibit 6a
Garden of Eden

Almost as an afterthought – an apology for the previous four minute-long abuse of the eyeballs – somebody thought to introduce some greenery here. As you approach this sudden display of nature, it’s advisable to watch your footing. The sprinkler system works in such a way that walking the pavement either side varies between a voyage of dehydrated desert proportions, and an ocean you’d be forgiven for wanting to caution even Moses over. This patch of greenery also houses the odd surprise, as we can see here in:

Exhibit 6b
Dubai wildlife

Initially invisible, if you journey a little further into the Garden of Eden you’ll see a little kitty cat. That’s about as far as the wildlife goes I’m afraid. You might spot the odd oversized ant from time to time, but these generally crawl into a patch of light and perish on a sizzling paving stone. Very sad, really. There is a beautiful cactus here too, look, which I have to say I’ve only just noticed. Outside my old office, we had a Benjy’s and a Natwest Bank. Now we have a cactus. That’s kind of cool, I reckon.

And that’s it. Well I said it was only four and a half minutes. Turn to your immediate left and there you have the office car park. And what begins inside is not half as exciting as the journey there, if you ask me.”

A millionaire’s launch party…

6 Jan

Just as I expected, planning a book launch is not going to be easy. I thought I found an awesome place yesterday, right in the funky depths of Sydney’s Surry Hills, called Souk In The City. How fitting! But I just got an email back:

“Thank you for taking interest in Souk in the City, and for the opportunity of hosting your upcoming Book Launch function on Thursday 3rd February 2011 for approx 50 -60 guests.

The Price per person including all the food, champagne cocktail, wine and beer on arrival is: per person for 3 Hours $115.00. For your Event we can provide that to you for 3 Hours $110.00 per person or 4 Hours $120.00 per person.”

So yeah, they’ve offered me a bit of a discount, but still, I can’t afford that can I?! If 60 people actually do turn up, that’s $6900 out of my own pocket, just to keep them all supplied with booze and canapes. That’s the price of a 7 day cruise round the Caribbean. And if I had that much spare money in the bank I’d be ON a cruise round the Caribbean. Hmmm….

I don’t think I’m expected to pay a price per head for this thing, as much as I’d love to. That would be one helluva party and everyone would DEFINITELY buy my book! Maybe even two copies each if I got them pissed enough. But seriously, I have to find another way. Surely there’s a funky bar space out there that will let me hire it without forking out so much cash?!

ANYWAY, I’m off to get my book now, wahey! I’ll worry about the launch later I guess…


Affluent Arabs on speed…

27 Oct

If those affluent Arabs want speed, thrills and the ability to judge nice cars in light of buying a few more of their own… well, why not devote 200,000 square-metres of desert to the dream? I guess there’s plenty of room. Who cares if your wife/girlfriend/babies and kids will have to stand on the sidelines in a torturous cave full of air-con and car sounds, screaming in terror as you whiz about around them, loop-the-looping all over the joint, instead of taking them to Disney World?

Yes. It must be a fabulous feeling indeed for everyone involved in Ferrari World, the largest indoor theme park on the planet (naturally), which opened today in Abu Dhabi.

Other “family friendly” activities on offer at this brand new attraction in the middle of nowhere are:

  • A tower ride that shoots riders 203 feet in the air, enabling all involved to feel the same G-forces as a racing driver.
  • A gourmet Italian restaurant.
  • The option of walking through a Ferrari paddock, handling tools used during races and perhaps training to be part of a pit crew, for example, learning how to change tyres on an F1 car.

WOAH! I wish my mum and dad would’ve taken me somewhere like this when I was a kid instead of that effing Flamingo Land. What were they thinking, lubing me up with McFlurries and sticking me on a merry-go-round when I could have tucked into a nice Zabaglione ice cream and puked up my balsamic blueberries on a gravity-defying ride of doom, previously mastered only by astronauts and Michael Schumacher? How dare they have patronized me with the ghost train, when I could have been perfecting the craft of car maintenance? Jeeeeeez. I missed out.

Anyway, it’s lovely that they’ve finished something for once. Good luck with this Abu Dhabi. Let us know how it goes for you.

A very thoughtful gift…

26 Oct

Woweeeee, I am so excited! Look what I got given tonight! Not one but TWO pens with HarperCollins Australia engraved on them, plus a letter. How nice is that?! Awwww, I feel so lucky now. I’ll be framing this letter and putting it on my wall, along with my balloon ride survival certificate and the one congratulating me for lowering myself 80 feet below Fremantle prison last month. I LOVE PENS!!!

The letter says they hope I’ll use them to sign some copies when the book’s published, which is very nice, isn’t it? Even though… I hate to say it, it sort of makes me nervous. Eeeek. Well, there’s a strange discomfort that comes with being gifted such items, you know? It seems like a lovely way of saying welcome to the company, good luck with the book and all that… which it is of course. But what if the book doesn’t sell at all? Shit. Seriously… if that happens I’ll feel especially bad now, like I’ve let them down… I mean, they’ve given me some nice pens! The least I can do is not be a complete failure.

God, I hope I don’t fuck up.

Awww, I really do love them though. This is almost as good as when I started work at McDonalds and they gave me unlimited extra value meals for free! Imagine. I thought life couldn’t get much better. But then it did… at least in the career stakes. And plus, these pens are much better for my arse than complimentary quarter pounders. What a thoughtful present. Yay!

Did you facebook LIKE Burqalicious yet?

Photo of the day: the curious roadside rider…

25 Oct

In the UK, or Australia, most roadside billboards feature the likes of the latest chicken sandwich from KFC. Of course, they have those in Dubai too, but more interesting, I think, are billboards like this. I think you’ll agree, THIS IS SPECIAL.

My friend and I used to welcome this roadside rider on our daily walk home from work, when we first arrived in Dubai. I’ve mentioned this sweaty, polluted journey throughout the book but needless to say it was a voyage you wouldn’t to make yourself too often, consisting of multi-laned motorways, 100 per cent humidity and stares from Arab drivers thinking we were mental as they whizzed past in their humble, air-conditioned Porsches.

This artwork of equestrian excellence features the Sheikh, or the Sheikh’s brother, (or someone of equally high importance) and served to lighten our foul mood every single time we walked past. Here we are worshipping its presence. We don’t actually know what it was advertising, but it didn’t really matter at the time. It was just awesome. So awesome in fact that I have surrounded it in a Photoshop halo. Aaaah.

Photo of the day: the unfortunate accident…

25 Oct

Imagine my delight when, upon leaving my office building one fine afternoon in Dubai, I found THIS, right on my doorstep. It’s one of my favourite moments to recall when remembering the city that was built quite literally around me. Fabulous!

Luckily I had my camera on me, so before the hour was out, everyone in my entire friendship circle was able to enjoy this unfortunate accident along with me.

It’s a shame I didn’t have a video function at the time, too, because then I would’ve been able to share the looks of absolute misery on the poor construction worker’s faces as they skidded about under the wrath of their furious manager: “WHY IS OUR CRANE IN A HOLE, YOU IDIOTS!!!!” (in Arabic).

Eventually the crane was lifted out of the hole by another crane – which was nice. Lucky there are so many of them around.

Did you ‘like’ the Burqalicious facebook page yet?! (oh go on)

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