Everyone likes presents don’t they? What can be better than an unexpected parcel from home, sent with love? When my Mom told me in December that she had posted us a Christmas parcel I was really pleased. Being an expat means you don’t often receive gifts from your family back home that actually coincide with the event they celebrate – so when you do visit once a year you are handed a bag containing your last birthday gift and one for the coming Christmas. And let’s face it, with the prices of postage these days even the smallest thing can end up costing more that it’s worth to send to someone halfway round the world. I find it easier to buy things online in the country where the intended recipient is actually living, and send it directly. It’s not quite the same though is it as being given something that has been hand-picked and lovingly wrapped and labelled? But as they say “it’s the thought that counts” right? I hope so.
This year Stu and I decided, well actually to be fair it was Stu who suggested, that we should try a proper traditional Iftar. We had been to Iftar last year at the end of our Fundamentals of Arabic course, but we wanted to do something a bit more interesting than the normal buffet-style meal that is on offer at most of the hotels during the holy month. Coincidentally Stu then read, and I also heard on the radio, about an Iftar meal being hosted at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in the Bastakiya section of Dubai. This is the area in Dubai that has retained some traditional-style homes (complete with wind-towers) and is wonderful for walking tours. Iftar is the meal taken on breaking of the fast, just after sunset (Maghrib), during Ramadan. The timing of the prayer depends on the setting of the sun and is published in the newspaper each day. So we were required to be at the centre for 6.30pm, as Iftar was scheduled for 6.59pm that evening.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Today, the 8th of May, is Mother’s Day in South Africa and the US. Here in Dubai we had Mother’s Day on the 21st of March, the same day as Bahrain, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Kuwait and Yemen. If you live in Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, India or Pakistan you will have to wait until the 10th of May for your breakfast in bed ladies. Mothering Sunday in the UK falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which this year was the 3rd April. In Mauritius it’s the last Sunday of May.
I was tickled pink yesterday to discover that I been awarded a 2011 Expat Arrivals Blog Award. I know it’s poor form to blow my own trumpet so to speak, but I am too chuffed to resist!