Comebacks and Second Chances

Would you like to know what is The Number One Question I get asked all the time? It is not “What’s this- water ?” (ok this was a crew joke and unless you’ve ever done a round of drinks you are not likely to understand it.) And strangely it is not “Where are you from?” (oh – how much has my life changed in just two years!). The one thing people always seem to want to know is how long am I “in it for and what’s next?”. How long am I gonna stay in Dubai and have I considered what I wanna do next? As if it is quite impossible to believe that I would want to stay in Dubai forever and fly until I can’t lift my cabin bag no more. 

Dubai is so conveniently located which is one of the reasons why the Airline I work for became so successful. It connects the East and the West, it makes travelling to and from Down Under so much more bearable and brings Asia to everybody’s doorstep. You can now take a flight that’s shorter than 6 hours from pretty much anywhere in Europe, spend a layover in the glorified Sandpit and travel on refreshed a couple of days later. Which is what everyone seems to be doing. The popular opinion is that none in Dubai is here for the long run. All of us expats have come for a more or less a layover that can sometimes last years – to have our fun, earn some tax-free cash, travel as much as we can whilst we have the rest of the world within our reach… and then eventually return back and start living the responsible life. Nobody moves to Dubai to establish themselves. Or do they? Having read back my latest post it occurred to me I could have left you feeling like I don’t particularly like living over here. Which would have been a very wrong impression. I love Dubai and my life here. I don’t love it all day every day. But I love it enough every day to consider it my home and staying here for as long as they would have me.  Not to mention the fact that -unlike many others- I don’t really have anywhere to go back to. See – I don’t do comebacks. When I left Czech all those years ago I always knew that was it. I was never to come back and live there. I do adore my country and I would proudly ramble on about its wonders to everyone who is or isn’t willing to listen. But it’s just not for me. Ever since I could remember I never saw myself actually spending my life in Czech – it was never even an option to consider. So I lived there for as long as I could take it or for as long as it was necessary to come up with a plan and then took off. I never looked back. I never doubted the decision to leave a respectable job in a respectable company where I was earning twice as much as anyone else my age that I knew (I was 22 then). My heart just wasn’t in it. My heart was in the hands of a guy I thought I loved then. So much I would have followed him anywhere in the world. Oh wait – I actually did that! Many years later this romantic affair has ended in a disaster but despite that or maybe just because of that I decided not to run back “home” and heal my wounds but to stay right where I was and make this new life work for me. And so somehow I found myself living in the UK and liking it. But me and the English don’t seem to agree with one another. My relationship with the country has followed the same pattern as the relationship with the guy – after being initially smitten with each other we started to see each other’s flaws in the everyday life’s light and slowly but surely we have come to a point where none of us could take it anymore. I was allergic to pretty much anything the country has laid my way and in return it seemed to have rejected me. I was ready to move on. The only issue was – I was much older than when I so carelessly thrown a great job opportunity away and followed my heart. I was worried. My life wasn’t going the direction I had wanted it to but I felt I was too scared to change it completely. And so I waited. And waited. And waited, For what I did not know. I think I was waiting for the brave 22 yo old girl to wake up in me and take charge of our live again. And as the time passed me by I started to realise that wasn’t going to happen. I was going to have to (wo)man up. And so I did and moved to the Middle East. When I told my family I didn’t get a single “Oh but..” not a single eyebrow was raised not even a little bit. They all knew just like myself that that’s the kinda person I am. The kinda person that takes “moving on” literally. And then up a notch. How was I feeling leaving the UK for Dubai? Relieved most of all. I have come to the end of the road and for all I knew I could never see myself coming back to live there. Because as I told you – I do not do comebacks. Ever. To anywhere. Or anyone.

And that’s where my job comes in. After more than 18 months of flying – it turns out not only do I do comebacks. I also give second chances. Who knew? I most certainly did not. August 2014 saw me give a lot of second chances. It had me coming back to many places I have visited and left behind before too. August 2014 has been one big learning curve, one big journey into the depth of my own self and mind you – it is still not over yet..

 

Exploring new places and flying to new destinations can be exciting… as much as it is tiring. Sometimes all I want from my roster is for it to be easy, short and familiar. And as Asian as possible. And my late summer roster has turned me into the Queen of Asia. Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong on top of Rome and Frankfurt. I could not have been happier or more familiar with any of them having visited all of these places at least 3 times before. Sometimes it is just so nice to know what to pack, where to go, what to eat and how to behave. It’s also nice to give another chance to a place I wasn’t too sure about. Like Singapore. It’s a great place no doubts about that. It’s just not the kinda place I thought I would ever want to visit again once I’ve seen it. Singapore is quite spectacular with its clean green and luscious streets, friendly people, big expensive cars and delicious food. It’s also a little too high maintenance for my liking. I feel like I should try hard and harder… like I can’t really let go and be myself in a place that has literally made it to the top of world’s capitols. I always feel a little lost when in Singapore. And as I was wondering and wandering in the SinCity I suddenly found the one spot I needed to calm my slightly agitated senses. I little beach bar on the Sentosa Island. A piece of heaven. A sanctuary. The Bikini Bar. Where they played good music, served mean frozen Margaritas and I could read my book undisturbed. And just like that Singapore and I became friends for life. Because as it turns out I don’t need that much to be friendly. Just a little time and space to be myself…

 

The Bikini Bar

                       The Bikini Bar

 

As for the other comebacks I have mentioned – well not much new has gone down in Bangkok and even less so in Shanghai. And I’m not about to bore you to death talking about my massages . I guess one very successful return I should tell you about was to the Friday Brunch at the Atlantis hotel – the crime scene of my mad birthday bash back in January which I have still not been able to blog about… Some stories should remain untold. There was no particular occasion to celebrate this time apart from Salma coming back to Dubai and with the pressure off we simply let go and enjoyed ourselves to the fullest. And Saffron has not disappointed us.

Brunch in Jan

           Brunch in Jan

Brunch in Aug.. same same

Brunch in Aug.. same same

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OK- this post could go on for hours. Yes I indeed have so much on my chest about second chances and comebacks. But I’m gonna spare you this time since I also want to tell you about a few first times I have gone thru in the past month or so… Y’all just wait :)!

Lots of love 

G. 

Living the Reserved Life

I always knew it was gonna happen. I mean I would be foolishly kidding myself hoping it wasn’t. I managed to escape it for so long but no matter how hard I tried it was always something beyond my control. It is something that absolutely has to happen to all of us at one point or another. And avoiding it for much longer would have only made the anticipation that much harder.

I’m of course talking about the reserve month. That dreadful thing crew so hate to see on their rosters. I was told of all the stress it entails and zero social interaction it brings. The terribly horrible flights people get pulled out for. The irregular sleep I was to look forward to. For those of you not familiar with the term “reserve month” – it’s basically a full four weeks on standby without a fixed roster. We get to check our schedule for the next day every evening and it can be pretty much anything from a day off to a 9-day trip.

It is now the 27th – meaning have served most of my reserve already (note- ok it is already August, but at least you can see I have been writing just not publishing:) . And I can honestly tell you – I have never had an easier month. I have not slept so well, regular and much since I started this job. I never got to see so many of my friends and so often. And as for the flights… well in June I have flown exactly  FOUR TIMES. Yes. Four times times. The rest has been a very generous dose of days off and one very easy and uneventful Home Standby that I spent quietly in my bed watching TV.

So what did I do with all this free time of mine? Well I decided to restore what once I used to called my social life but what has recently been limited to mostly Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook and Skype. Oh yeah – that’s how much fun I have been.  I made the effort to see friends I haven’t seen in ages, I even went way out of my way to go and see them (meaning past the borders of the Sheik Zayed Road:). I went out a few times. Yes – as in out out – to places with music and drinks and other people having fun ! Sounds crazy I know :)! I went to see my friend’s graduation ceremony (but more on that later) and saw a few new blockbusters that are out at the moment. As in I actually went to the cinema instead of streaming them at home. Simply put I have been living la vida loca!!!

The Flights 

Reserve month is a bit of a lucky dip where flights are involved. I know people that claim their best rosters were created by reserve and I know people who would rather walk the Sahara Desert and back just to avoid having another month like that. I’m somewhere in the middle. With only three flights in three weeks I can’t really call myself overly busy. Compared to May which had me flying up and down every couple of days I feel like I’m on holiday already. There is a downside to all that of course – every time I do get pulled out for a flight I feel very inconvenienced and rather disturbed. But I don’t wanna fly! I wanna stay right here in my warm bed, eat more chocolate and watch even more films ! Don’t make me work please! Luckily the destinations have so far been attractive enough to get me out of my hibernating mode, don my uniform and show up at the airport. Number one was a very surprising Luanda, which is the capitol of Angola (in case you-just like myself- didn’t know:) . It is a former Portuguese colony and portuguese is still the official language.The latino influence is so strong I felt like I have landed in the Caribbean rather than The Old Continent. And as usual as it happens every single time I get to fly to Africa I fell deeper and deeper in love with Her. Ghana, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Nigeria and now Angola. I loved all of them. Equally and unconditionally. What is it that Africa has that everywhere else seems to lack? Is it the friendly people or the fantastic food or the absolutely stunning landscape I so adore to watch from the cockpit? Is it the music or the local art ? The weather perhaps? I can’t quite put my finger on it. It is just so imperfectly perfect in its own way…

Another first time of June has seen me to Adelaide, Australia. I did not really have time to prepare myself let alone get excited about Down Under again since I was pulled out of the standby lounge with the speed of light. I have literally signed in, took the jacket off and sat down to eat my sandwich and the agent on duty was already calling my name. I sadly wrapped the prawn sandwich again and asked where am I off to secretly praying for something short. Well not this time… 13 hours later I landed in cold and rainy Adelaide wondering how the heck am I going to recover from the massive jet lag that was knocking on my door. Well I didn’t. My lazy body clock so used to the regular afternoon naps here in Dubai refused to adjust to the Aussie time for measly 24 hours and let me down. I tossed and turned in the hotel bed praying for some sleep that eventually came in the early morning hours (that would have been late night in Dubs) and woke up just in time to get my regular dose of Boost and get ready for the flight back home. All I managed to do in Adelaide was to get soaking wet when purchasing some local wine that’s supposed to be the best one in Australia.

I wasn’t too bothered tho. Layovers like that happen every now and then. Plus just a few days earlier I have spent some quality time chilling by the Mediterreanan sea in Malta. That layover I enjoyed to the fullest. You may remember this wasn’t my first time to Malta and since I managed most of the sightseeing last year I just walked around the beach, ate a lot lot of seafood and soaked in all the fresh breezy air I’m going to be deprived of for the next three months or so here in the Middle Between the Sun and the Earth. It was a mini holiday from my reserve holiday.IMG_1584 IMG_1579 IMG_1566 IMG_1526

I’m on yet another night standby tonight. But since I promised myself I would not be flying more than once a week during my reserve I’m focusing on sending a very positive “no flight” vibes out. Fingers crossed. If I don’t get called out that will be a very sweet end to a very sweet month. See you again in half a year !

The Social life

I have been meaning to post about my hermit style of living for a while now but that post never seemed to have come together. So to cut a long story short since my crazy birthday bash in January that took its heavy tool on me I have decided to stop that crazy lifestyle I was leading and give my body a much needed break. I stopped drinking I stopped going out and I started to take care of my health. The chance I saw was so radical and enjoyable it even came to a point where I began to think I may never party again. But old habits die hard. I still don’t drink … well now at least only very rarely and very little. Would it sound really weird from a Czech to say I don’t like the taste of alcohol anymore? But nowadays I don’t turn invites down and I have come to realise waking up with sore legs after a night out spent dancing is much nicer than waking up with a sore head after having had too much to drink.

So I took June as an opportunity to re-introduce myself to the Dubai nightlife (and day life)  and boy did I have Fun! Yes- Fun with a capital F.  I made sure to spend plenty of quality time with my girls.. and my boys … all over the town!IMG_1725 IMG_1686 IMG_1494

Dubai is a crowd pleaser. It caters to a very wide audience with its mainstream music and it’s not easy to find something that would stand out. But it’s not completely hopeless. There are a few places I always like to go back to since they are bound to be memorable night outs. Like The Act for instance. The idea of The Act came from the States (or so I was told by its director) and has thankfully successfully established itself over here. The club is just fabulous – the DJs never ever let me down , the shows that come on every hours or so are always shocking, sexy and just generally fantastic. The drinks are strong and fun and there is an actual space for dancing which strangely enough is the one thing most Dubai clubs seem to lack. If you ever feel like you are in need of a very good Thu or Sun night out give The Act a go. You will not regret it. 

Then there is BMI which I have already “reviewed” a few months back. I’m still besotted and still trying to return. Haven’t succeeded yet but it is bound to happen sooner or later! 

But the one club that has stolen my heart completely the moment I stepped inside (or rather outside) is The White. The White is located on the rooftop of the Meydan hotel and gives the most stunning views of the Dubai skyline by night. It is also an open air club that is absolutely vast and ABSOLUTELY amazing. I got the opportunity to get in (which is unfortunately not the easiest task) for the closing night before Ramadan. I couldn’t have imagined bidding a better farewell to my freedom I was about to lose for a month. If there is anyone out there willing to gimme a free seasonal pass to The White I will be forever obliged ! Thank you in advance 🙂 

But it wasn’t all about going out clubbing in June. It was mostly about spending a lotta quality time with people that matter. Like Jana for example. I met Jana about a decade ago. She was or still is my uni-mate turned friend turned flatmate turned best friend turned colleague. Life is just so funny from time to time. We used to sit in cafes and bars all around Prague discussing school, boys and the general meaning of existence. That was ten years ago. Now we do exactly the same – we talk endlessly about work, men and the lightness of being and we are still no closer to any kind of conclusion than we were back then. But we still love doing it nonetheless. Jana has joined me in Dubai about a year after I moved over here. And so her graduation from the Airline College came at about the same time of the year as mine did the previous one. I remember how much that day actually meant to me regardless of how much I tried to hide it. And so I made damn sure I was there for the big day of one the biggest people in my life ( I mean that figuratively not literally). I missed Jana’s first and The Graduation from uni a couple of years back because I was otherwise occupied in a different corner of the world. So I wasn’t gonna miss out on my second chance this time around.  And I’m so glad I didn’t !! 10462455_10203108313921043_841110545423129778_n

I was also trying to enjoy as much of my little baby boo Salma. The same day I officially welcomed Jana into our vast crew family I found out I’m gonna have to let go of her since she has decided to follow her heart back to the Land of Oz… As sad as I am to see her go I couldn’t be happier for her. And for myself for having met her. You could put all seven seas between us but I know that some friendships will never drown in them ! Such as ours. IMG_1613 IMG_1426

And so she has left… after a very successful goodbye party. And because one farewell bash just wasn’t enough she came back for more earlier this month. And left again. So now we are Salmaless but we are doing our best to keep her legacy going. Because if we didn’t at least try -without Salma here the Dubai nightlife would just slowly die off. 

And so that was it. My Not-so-Reserved Life in June. I’m sure you know appreciate how busy I was keeping myself with other stuff and blogging are slowly forgiving me for the long long long silence.

So much love and happiness 

x

G.