Monthly Archives: July 2013

Pre Ramadan Escape

Before Ramadan started a group of us escaped to Dubai. My first time out of Kuwait since arriving in February. To say I was excited was an understatement. I haven’t been that excited by an airport since I was 7 years old and about to fly on a plane for the first time ever. And believe me, there is little to Kuwait airport to get excited about!

After hot footing it out of the office and in to the airport lounge we availed ourselves of the free food and drinks. Quite soon our gate was announced. We went skipping through the airport because freedom was within sniffing distance. Ok, not so much ‘freedom’ as a lukewarm miniature bottle of cava off the trolley as soon as the wheels were up. Landing in Dubai was tedious. Nearly an hour long queue to get through immigration. The flight was only 90 minutes. Thankfully a man in a dishdasha spotted our British-ness and plucked us out of the queue or it would have been 2 hours. Time to step outside…

Now Kuwait is hot. It’s dry, 45+ heat during the day and at night only drops a few degrees. It’s dusty, dirty, burning heat. Dubai is 10 degrees cooler, and worse! I have never known humidity like it. It was gone 10pm and I was sweating just standing at the taxi rank. If that was night time temperature I didn’t fancy my chances in daylight.

We arrived at the, rather upmarket, hotel and hit the hotel bar, luggage still in hand. Never has a glass of prosecco gone down so well. Well, maybe the other 6 did.

The hotel rooms were lovely (we each had our own) with balconies overlooking the sea and bath tubs you could swim in. Not to mention the walk in closest in which to hang my two dresses! After a lazy morning of sitting on the balcony and swimming in the bath I got ready for brunch. I had often been told about brunch by friends who had visited Dubai over the years so was fully versed on what to expect. We went to one of the more expensive places (about £130 a head) but with the free flowing champagne, the 10 food stations and the vodka station we thought it was worth it.

Don’t get me wrong, it was. But for those of us that have been to a Royal Air Force Officers Mess summer ball I wasn’t as excited as most. Oh look a vodka luge, oh look a Chinese buffet, oh look a massive seafood buffet, oh look a dessert room. Been there, done it and it came with men in uniform. I stuck to the hog roast. Give this girl a massive plate of roast pork and Yorkshire pudding finished off with ham, bread and fois gras and she’ll get her money’s worth.

What struck me most was the sights! I don’t mean the beauty of the hotel, I mean the people watching. At what point exactly did Essex throw up in the desert? I have never seen so many bandage dresses and sky high heels in one place (other than a red light district). Is it the thing to dress like a slut to stuff your face these days? (Don’t answer that).

Brunch completed and we hit a bar, went back to the hotel to freshen up and hit another few bars. Then not much else happened. Nothing that couldn’t have happened in any other club in any other part of the world. We spent a lot of time in cabs, couldn’t get in to some places because they were full and my feet started to hurt. I had a row with an idiot boy, I met a nice boy that kissed me and I drank black sambucas. Pretty standard night out by all accounts. And bloody expensive. So for all the fuss and bother I left Dubai feeling it was all a bit overrated. She says. I’m going back in November with my two best friends. I have a feeling my opinion may change with those two in tow!

Ramadan Week One

So the part of the Kuwait experience I have been half dreading, half waiting for expectantly has come around. Ramadan. In the words of a Muslim colleague ‘a beautiful, spiritual time where all Muslims come together in prayer and fasting’. Or as a British colleague put it, ‘a month of the locals acting even more f*cking crazy than usual’. But in my head it was a month of working reduced hours and potentially kick starting the diet again. How hard could it be?

Ramadan involves fasting from sunrise to sunset. Nothing shall pass ones lips during daylight hours. No eating, no drinking, no smoking, no chewing gum etc etc. I figured a nice big breakfast would set me up for the day and a snack when I return home at 4pm. I didn’t factor in that my blood sugar has a tendency to drop quicker than a tart’s knickers and the affect no water would have on my mood and concentration. I also didn’t consider what would happen if I picked up a stomach bug at the start and not want to eat.

Ramadan started on 10th July. On the 8th we had a ‘is it tomorrow or isn’t it?’ evening. You see, the Americans have it right (for once). They use science. Over here a man in Saudi stares up at the sky and decides if the moon looks right. Thanks to a sandstorm on the 8th he couldn’t see the moon and Ramadan was delayed. One more day of eating! (I’m sure it’s more technical and symbolic than a man and the moon, but essentially still correct).

Day one struck and I had toast as well as my cereal. Drank a cup of green tea and headed for work. By 12pm I was confused, spaced out, queasy and tired. I could not stop yawning. I had to hide in an empty meeting room with a bottle of water and a cereal bar feeling very guilty that I couldn’t even hack the first day. Day two I prepared better but still had to slyly eat cashew nuts in the toilets whilst swigging my contraband Evian.

Thankfully day 3 and 4 were a weekend. Although I spent both days with the Kuwait version of the noro virus. Great for that diet kick start, pretty awful for staying rehydrated. So day 5 I have to drag my sorry, weakened self back to work feeling dehydrated and scared that breakfast was going to make a dramatic appearance during my first meeting. I could only stomach some toast, orange juice, water and two slices of pineapple which weren’t enough. It was the longest working day of my life. Imagine going to work with a hangover and not being able to eat or drink anything, and it’s 49 degrees outside. That was my day, minus the fun night beforehand.

So day 5 completed and I am laid on my back on the sofa too exhausted to do anything. I have a meeting tomorrow I haven’t prepped for, a banging headache, the diet has been shelved because I need chocolate to bring my blood sugars up and I’m beyond moody! Not that there’s anywhere to go. All the shops are closed until sunset because it appears the locals’ way of dealing with Ramadan is to eat all night and sleep all day. Anyone else think this is cheating?

So 25 days left to go. I apologize now if I descend in to a starved psychotic state and rant endlessly about this ‘spiritual time’. I’m Catholic, we serve wine. I know whose side I’d rather be on!