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

IMG_7239 IMG_2782IMG_7274 IMG_2828

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. 

What Time Was My Train ?

A very close friend of mine got married last weekend. I’m not gonna lie – it scared the sh*t out of me. No – you do not understand. I have gotten used to my Facebook wall being flooded every Monday with wedding pictures of my old high school mates, it has been happening pretty much since we left it almost 10 years ago. Then about two years back a new trend had started. Pictures of newborns, pictures of little toddlers messing with their first ever b-day cake, videos of their first words and steps. Got used to that too. This is different. This friend is not someone who lives in the far away universe I call The Real Life. This is not someone who travels twice, three times a year max and if at all then for holidays, someone who wakes up to go to work in the morning and goes to sleep at night, someone who has a mortgage, has an office job, has sales targets to hit, has a Sunday lunch with the family once a month, someone who’s 5 best friends come from the same country or at least from the same continent. In other words someone “normal”. The kinda “normal” I left behind the moment I decided to live in the Middle East. This is a friend I made here in Dubai. Who drinks the same water, breaths the same air, does the same job… who should be infected or shall I say inflicted the same way I am.  

I have been peacefully living scrolling down FB, skipping hen-do invites and ignoring the fact that out of the 32 girls and guys I have attended school with I’m one of a very few, perhaps already the only one that is not committed to anything in any way. Because I always had the very comfortable explanation (or an excuse) of all of them living a very different life. Well – of course ! Aren’t we all tho?! In my happy little bubble I would see everybody making adult decisions with their lives and somewhere in the back of my mind I’d think “One day that is maybe going to be me too. One day in a very very very far away future.” That one day when I’m living that different kind of life. 

That fact, that someone so close to me (not only in geographical sense) , someone with a not-so-different lifestyle has gone and effortlessly created a bridge between them two worlds that seemed so incurably incompatible to me has made me realise that I may have missed my train. No- I haven’t just missed it. I wasn’t just late. I haven’t even purchased a ticket. I had no idea there was a train to catch. Nobody told me. I was just gonna walk. And quite possibly the opposite way. In fact that’s exactly what I was doing. Cheerfully skipping down the road, with my EarPods in, all on my own when I suddenly saw the train rushing off in a different direction. With all of my friends and acquaintances aboard. And I’m just standing here in shock. In complete disbelief that I didn’t get invited to this “Happily Ever After-party”.

Does this make me sound desperate? Well that would only make sense. Not because I’m a single girl. Not because I’m living in Dubai. Or because I’m dating (or well -at least trying to). Because I’m a single girl living in Dubai and dating. And last time I checked that was the new definition of desperate over here.

It’s a jungle out there. No- let me rephrase- it’s a war zone. My parents always use to say how lucky my generation was to be given the chance to grow up in a Como-free, revolution-free and a war-free environment. Little did they know I was heading into one when they congratulated me on my new exciting job in the skies. I can just feel your raised eyebrows and feel you clicking away from this post. You think I’m being overdramatic and exaggerating. I swear to all I hold dear – for once I’m not. It is hard to believe unless you lived the experience of the Dubai dating scene but let me try and paint you its true picture. 

Imagine a buffet brunch. A massive buffet brunch. All kinds of flavours in huge quantities catering to all kinds of tastes and appetites. And you are starving- you haven’t eaten for days because there is quite literally nothing but the desert all around you. Just this buffet you have been waiting for. And now you have all this tasty, delicious food harvested at its best, prepared to its best and presented at its best – all of it nicely laid out in front of you. Up for grabs. All you need to do is reach out and choose. Are you imagining it? Ok – in that case you are the guy in Dubai. 

Now imagine being that poor little courgette or a lamb chop and a chocolate tart, laying there on a plate surrounded by tens and hundreds of others just like you. You are the girl in Dubai now. Being brought out here into the open and scary world and being scrutinised by every single pair of eyes. Are you the biggest, the juiciest, the tastiest looking? Or what if he doesn’t like courgettes? Maybe he is more of a carrot-type of a guy… Maybe he is sick of lamb and wants chicken, maybe he doesn’t like chocolate and vanilla is his thing. Maybe he doesn’t like sweets at all. You simply do not know. You are hoping you would be The One to at least his pair of eyes and look – he is reaching out just about to choose you… But wait they just brought out a new plate of freshly prepared courgettes and that’s the end of it. See – that’s the thing about Dubai. You can be the funniest one, the sexiest one, the fittest one, the tannest one, most fashionable one but you will never be The Newest One. The Freshest One. The Most Exciting One. The moment you go out with the guy you have become conquered (sex doesn’t even have to be involved, not even a kiss). You have been seen, talked to and evaluated. Let’s move on, lets swipe right again, let’s see what else is out there. Because this is the brunch buffet of Dubai – aka the Brunch Buffet of Bigger and Better. “I’m perfectly happy with my medium rare steak cooked to perfection and seductively bleeding onto the plate. But I HAVE to go and check if there isn’t a piece of sashimi that COULD taste better. Because that’s what it says on the tin – and I want and CHOOSE to believe it. Even if I possibly cannot eat any more. There must be a little space somewhere in my stomach for a little more. Because c’mon once I leave this brunch when will I ever get the chance to eat and taste so much ?! “

“Oh I’d so very much enjoy a brunch in Dubai” is probably what most of you guys are thinking right now. Yeah well – it’s not all just pearls and diamonds. Actually – that’s precisely what it is! Going to a brunch in Dubai is all about status. You have to book the right table, wear the right clothes, turn up in the right car. If you are driving anything less than a Lexus just take a cab honestly. Otherwise you are walking off from this brunch and still starving. It’s also a very exclusive event. You have to book well in advance. Try turning up at the last minute and wearing jeans. You are gonna be laughed at for weeks on end. And probably banned from the place for the rest of your days. But let’s say you managed to get in and at last you are holding your plate and about to choose your first dish. “Oh my- look at that beef stew! I always liked beef stew, reminds me of my granny and my granny is the one person that loves me the most, because she knows I’m just the best thing since sliced bread. My granny is awesome. Man- I’m definitely having some of that stew it just smells so good. Especially in comparison to that awful overcooked fish stir fry right next to it. Ewww – fish ! Fish makes me sick, not to mentioned this one comes with green peppers and I’m allergic to green peppers. Last time I had them I broke out in hives. Yeah let’s have that stew.” And just as you are about to have the tastiest looking stew of your life you notice a guy to your right helping himself to the fish stir fry. The flash of his Omega watch is what caught your attention. “Why does he get to eat the fish stir fry?! Wait- do NOT eat it all you dick,what are you doing I just told you not to ! What do you mean I said I was allergic to it?! Well now I’m not and I want some of that. What? What beef stew ?! I don’t even like beef. Gimme that fish ! I want fish!”

But let’s say we all got thru that brunch successfully. And the courgette was lucky enough to be the tastiest thing on the menu that day. And the guy wore the right clothes and drove the right car the courgette was happy with. And nobody is already married… altho -ehm ehm – even that doesn’t seem to stop some of us… And there is date number two. A dinner this time. Then perhaps a movie night. A couple of drinks the next time. First kiss. Goodnight and good morning texts. Then the “sweet nothing and I miss you and when are you back” texts. And then you seal the deal. Or so you think. Because apparently having slept with somebody you have been dating for some time doesn’t make you guys exclusive anymore. Nowadays it goes more like ” Dinner, drinks, kiss, sex and I may see you next week unless the other girl I’m seeing is available in that case I will see you the week after that or maybe you will not hear from me for a few months and when I get back in touch I will be married”. Welcome to Dubai. You are gonna have the time of your life. It’s gonna be the best party you have ever been to. The only thing they forgot to mention on the flyer was that this is a BYOB (where the B stands for boyfriend not beer) kinda party. 

I dedicate this post to all my fellow Dubaians. To my fellow fighters. I salute you and gracefully surrender. I’m done with Dubai dating, especially the online type. I suck at it anyway. I’m gonna stick to doing what I do best. Which is sit around cafes smoking shisha and blogging. So if you are an available single guy with singular taste and see me around sometime- don’t Whatsapp me. Don’t Snapchat. And definitely do not look for me on Tinder. Just come and talk to me – it’s worked for thousands of generations before us maybe it will work for us too! 

Love 

x

G.