Literaturhaus at Nadi – an ode to literature at Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue

Literaturhaus at Nadi – an ode to literature at Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue

Earlier this month, I attended the launch of Literaturhaus at Nadi, which is a literary event that will continue to be hosted at Nadi Al Quoz every Saturday until September 30. The first Saturday was helmed by Afra Atiq, an Emirati spoken word poet. She was mesmerising, to say the least. This was my first time attending a poetry slam performance, and I really enjoyed it.

Afra used themes she identified with personally, and certainly themes a lot of people in the audience identified with as well, considering the applause she got in response! Starting off with an ode to true love (food, and its fickle nature), to schoolyard bullying, to being labelled ‘different’, to dealing with heartbreak, Afra used the power of words to really bring a sense of energy and empathy in the room… I know I was nearly in tears at some points.

I love the vibe Dubai’s culture and literary scene has right now, and Literaturhaus at Nadi seems like an amazing opportunity for people to sample what the city’s literary artists have to offer. It’s not just poetry, the programming offers up authors, historians, musicians and much more.

The events are free to attend, but there is limited space to do RSVP.

All info on the link here

Want to try Zumba in Dubai? Here’s where I go!

Note: I will update this list as I keep trying Zumba classes around town!

A few years ago, I discovered Zumba, and oddly enough, through work. My company regularly hosts “Wellness Weeks” every few months, and during one of these weeks, a Zumba dance studio (now unfortunately defunct) was offering classes. Since then I’ve been hooked.

After that dance studio shut down, I have been more experimental, trying different classes across Dubai. Right now, I’m exploring exercise classes in Dubai via GuavaPass (click here to get AED 100 off your first month through my referral link btw), and I figured I might as well share my favourite Zumba classes across the city – and to tell you it’s not necessarily about the studio, but it’s definitely ALL about the teacher. So even if the studio isn’t your favourite, if the teacher is, then you *will* return.

I’ve grouped these into the studios I have frequented, and mentioned who the instructors are. Happy dancing!!!

Iconic Fitness (previously known as CoreFit)

One of the earliest places I tried was CoreFit (now called Iconic Fitness), and while the instructors have changed from years ago, I’ve never been happier. One of the instructors is Jed (or @masterjedai as he is on social media) and the other regular is Leonardo (@zumbaleonardo on Instagram). Every now and then, the venue hosts Zumba parties, with not just Jed and Leo, but also Enzo Maglaque (see GFX, below) and Joseph DeLeon – I’d highly recommend these parties. High energy, full of fun, and great music and dancing.

CoreFit has Zumba classes every day, so take your pick! It’s located in Dubai Marina, right next to the tram station in front of Horizon Tower, and there’s usually quite a bit of parking – especially for the weekend classes! The studio is very large, so it’s great to spread out and dance without worrying about walking on someone else’s foot!

Couple of videos… One from Jed’s YouTube!

Another one from Leonardo’s YouTube:

Tempo Dance Center

So, Jed really is one of my favourite instructors and when I discovered he also taught at Tempo Dance Center in JLT’s Red Diamond building, I had to try it out. As I said, it’s in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, but not within the clusters. It’s towards the back on the road between JLT and Emirates Hills. Google Maps will definitely show you the exact way! Tempo Dance Center is on the first floor of the building and has three rooms for dance classes. I’d say about 10-15 people can fit comfortably, so do book in advance. There is parking below, but on some evenings it can get crowded, so bear that in mind before heading out there.

Dream Master Studio, Al Quoz

The first time I did Zumba was with Monica Pulgarin, and it’s really down to her that I’ve stuck it out so long. She now has her classes at the Dream Master Studio in Al Quoz, and these are a mix of Zumba Fitness and Zumba Toning. Often, she and another amazing instructor, Maira Lorena, team up for the “14 Day Zumba Challenge” which they share on their Facebook pages, so keep an eye out for these events, and don’t hesitate to sign up if you can commit to all 14 days. So, the challenge is two hours every night for 14 days, except for Friday. And it’s one of my most favourite things to do when it comes around!

GFX

There are two GFX branches in Dubai, one in Business Bay and the other in Mirdiff. I haven’t been to the latter, but have to the former. Every class I’ve done at this studio has had Enzo, and I will guarantee that he’s always going to put you through an intense workout. The studio is located on the first floor of the Bay Avenue Mall, and is compact, but can fit in a good number of dancers. He offers a regular Fitness class, and a Toning version, so you have a few options. I haven’t tried Mirdiff’s studio, but if anyone tries it out, do let me know!

So, which Zumba classes have you tried out? Let me know if there’s something I have missed and should try out.

Thoughts on getting fancy schmancy nails done

People who know me very well will know I can’t really be bothered with make-up, or manicures, and so on. But with a three week-long holiday upon me, including a full-blown Indian wedding and then Christmas, I decided to take the plunge and try this long-lasting nail polish thingybob I’d heard about.

I was told by reliable sources that there are two types of long-lasting nail procedures: Gelish and Shellac. My parlour (YES, YEGADS, I HAVE ONE!) does the former, so I was set.

I chose to have a French manicure, which was a big mistake (more on that later). Essentially, they keep applying goop on your nails, then plonk it in a little box that “cooks the nails” (the parlour lady’s words, not mine) and then voila… nails that don’t chip. Which is, frankly, a miracle when it comes to me. I’m the girl who gets a manicure once a year then smudges it within 7 minutes of leaving the parlour. I have, on occasion, done it while still inside the premises.

But nope, errant zippers and my own clumsy will were befuddled this time as my nails lived on. As if they were done yesterday.

So why was the French manicure a mistake? Mostly because after two weeks my nails obviously grew longer and there was this weird shadow effect on my nails where the white bit of the manicure was shorter than my actual white nail underneath and it just looked odd. If and when I do it again, I’d probably go for a block colour to prevent zombie nails from returning.

And I didn’t even take a photo…

Stationery I love: Surat Journals, your little blank book

Stationery I love: Surat Journals, your little blank book

On December 13, 2014, I stumbled across a little pop-up market at DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates. I’d just gone there to return books to my library (it’s called The Old Library, if anyone’s interested, and it’s fabulous). While I browsed the stands, this one caught my eye. Books – an easy way to get my attention.

It turned out to be blank books (‘little blank books’, even) created with leather from the Philippines, and recycled paper. Shut with a strip of leather, I thought the books were stylish, eye-catching, and an attractive companion for people who take notes, and enjoy stationery. Very affordable too, as you can see from the pictures. The one I picked up was AED 80, and it was to be a Christmas present – and the recipient seemed to love it, so that’s a job well done! I now regret not getting one for myself, so that’s on my to-do list.

The founder is a man named Ken Surat (hence the name Surat Journals) and here’s the Surat Journals Facebook page if you’re interested in getting a book for yourself.

Lush’s 12 Days of Christmas

Lush’s 12 Days of Christmas

I’ve loved Lush for a while now. I can’t remember when I first discovered the gorgeous smells the company produces, but I was instantly hooked. Recently, I wandered over to the Lush Christmas event in Dubai, and boy, was that literally a feast for the senses! New products, new colours and beautiful gift boxes everywhere.

Some Instagram photos from the day here:

Happiness would be a @lushuae buffet – like this! #lushchristmas

A post shared by Devina Divecha (@devinadivecha) on

Christmas penguins! Cute and smells good #lushchristmas @lushuae

A post shared by Devina Divecha (@devinadivecha) on

Very cute hedgehogs and snowmen, and BRIGHT colours! #lushchristmas

A post shared by Devina Divecha (@devinadivecha) on

Gorgeous "12 Days of Christmas" #lushchristmas gift box. Yup, 12 products inside! @lushuae

A post shared by Devina Divecha (@devinadivecha) on

At the end of the media preview, we all walked away with this beauty: the 12 Days of Christmas box.

12 Days of Christmas box

Here’s what I found when I unboxed:

I haven’t started using these yet, but I tried a few of them at the media preview, and I cannot wait to pamper myself. The Christmas range should be available in UAE Lush stores this week – are you tempted?

Do you have a favourite Lush product? Which one is it? Let me know!

Special needs event on Saturday, Feb 22, in Dubai!

Running a press release which I received about an event in Dubai this coming weekend, which aims to raise awareness about special needs kids and allows them to enjoy themselves in a relaxed setting while interacting with kids who go to mainstream schools.

Also, it’s Karan’s birthday on February 22 … so go celebrate! 😀

PRESS RELEASE:

TRIBE WATSON to Organize 7th Annual reaching you “party in the park”
(formally known as reaching you “family fun day”)

Dubai, UAE – 16th February 2014 – Under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, ‘reaching you’- a programme created to increase awareness and integration of children with special needs across the UAE- will be holding its 7th annual Party In The Park (formally known as ‘Family Fun Day’), at the Mega Bowl, Zabeel Park on the 22nd of February 2014 from 12:00 until 18:00.

Invitation to Reaching You party in the park

A complimentary day full of festivities, the reaching you “party in the park” is committed to providing a relaxed environment for special needs and mainstream children to interact and enjoy a fun filled day of activities, merriment and health.

“We see health and fitness as a key element in enhancing children’s lives and integrating them into their community,” said Nick Watson, Co-Founder of TRIBE WATSON and reaching you. “As such, we wanted to create a worthy cause, which encouraged this involvement, sharing with parents and the UAE community the wonderful joy this can bring to children of all abilities.”

“In Dubai alone there are over 6000 children with special needs, however caring for them is not always at the forefront of people’s minds, thus events like the reaching you “party in the park”, help in bringing us all together,” said Mr. Watson.

In its 7th year and expecting over 5000 visitors, the reaching you “party in the park” promises to be a fantastic day full of activities including – DJ’s, bouncy castles, obstacle courses, climbing walls, Dubai Drums, art work, puppet shows, theatrical shows, games as well as face & henna painting – delighting children in this renowned family affair.

“It is my personal belief that every individual has the right to receive the necessary support needed to live as a member of the community and benefit from experience and social relationships. reaching you and its various initiatives are a perfect way to achieve this,” concluded Mr. Watson.

Nick and Delphine Watson are parents of Rio, their beautiful boy who has special needs. Inspired by their own experiences, in 2006 they were motivated to establish the program reaching you, using their own understanding and appreciation for the cause, as the currency for their success.

Details of Reaching You Facebook page-
https://www.facebook.com/reachingyoudubai

Cars, carrots and coping

People watching is an interesting thing, and when you’re cooped up on a flight for nearly seven hours, it is inevitable. Especially when watching a movie that bores your brains out. This post has two parts – a spoiler-filled review of Fast & Furious 6, and thoughts on my fellow passengers.

PART ONE: THE MOVIE
I’ve a confession to make, I’m a fan of the Fast & Furious series – I love the cars and the action. I hated the second movie, went against the tide of haters for the third (seriously, I thought Tokyo Drift was a whole lot of fun), and kept going back for more.

I’ve been trying to watch the sixth one for ages, but never managed it. So on a flight when I saw the movie in the list, I had to press play.

And how royally have the franchise screwed it up with this one! I got so bored I started getting distracted by people around me.

Okay look, you have to understand it takes a lot for me to not pay attention to a movie. When The Rock started spouting lines about wanting wolves, and protecting chickens from the foxes, I wanted to set dogs on him.

And when the climax scene with the tank (c’mon everyone has seen that scene in the trailer) came to an end, I actually laughed at the absurdity – behold, Vin Diesel can fly. When Han mentioned Tokyo, I was all, DON’T GO YOU WILL DIIIIIEEEEEEEEE! When the stupid cheesy last scene as played I felt more awkward than the actors on screen looked. When someone mentioned going to “the other side” all I could think about was Jason Derulo’s song courtesy it being overplayed on our radio stations. And I don’t know whose idea it was to outdo the tank in the movie… But WAS THAT RIDICULOUSLY UNREALISTICALLY MASSIVE PLANE THE MOST SENSIBLE IDEA?!

PART TWO: MY FELLOW PASSENGERS
I had an aloo (that’s ‘potato’ for you non-desi folk) sitting next to me. An aloo means more than just the vegetable – it can be used to refer to desi men who look like overgrown potatoes. Not only did this aloo take up my space, he kept dropping things near my feet, and drank around three mini-bottles of vodka. Bear in mind the flight left Dubai at 9am. Looks like someone was intent on riding the free train! Then him and his wife spent five minutes trying to decide what to eat. It’s not an extensive menu, geniuses. The aloo then asked, when the lovely stewardess came by to ask what he wanted for breakfast, why the lunch options were not available at same time, and looked genuinely disappointed he only had limited choices. This is economy class dude. You’re lucky you HAVE a choice.

Anyway while I was getting bored shitless with uninspiring quips on Fast & Furious 6, my attention was caught by a man two seats over watching a South Indian movie with English subtitles, where a man whom I guessed was the hero was wooing a woman in a song by eating a carrot in slow motion. No, really. Someone, anyone, explain this. This was followed by the girl he was wooing doing some kind of light aerobics in salwar kameez on the street with around 20 aunties behind her doing the same. Then the hero decided kissing a baby while grinning creepily at the woman on his dreams was the best idea. She was not impressed. Neither was I. Then some men appeared on screen talking about hair dye. Ummmm.

On the other screen, a man was watching Star Trek into Darkness and I kept getting distracted by the mesmerising eyes of Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch. Mmmmm.

I’ve survived yet another flight. Hurrah.

These shoes were made for dancing…

Those who know me well know I’ve been indulging in the one form of exercise that doesn’t make me want to gag with boredom: zumba and/or dance-based exercises.

I have grown to love doing this, so much that it’s become a regular activity for me, not a fad. And so I realised once my two regular pairs of sneakers had to be thrown (due to overuse over 9-10 years!) … I needed new shoes.

After those two flat-ish sneakers were thrown away, I had two pairs left. One is an open-back-but-with-elastic-thingybob and a weave pattern, which is great for casual walking, and super comfy. However, I could try dancing in it but because they aren’t completely closed, they will probably detach themselves from my feet and become projectiles aimed at someone else!

Then there’s my pair of running shoes. I tried these in class for a bit but they made me feel like I was slipping on the slick dance floor, and my exercise mostly was about trying to balance myself and not fall flat on my face as opposed to actually getting my booty shaken. As running shoes, wow they’re so awesomely padded and so comfy…running has never been so good. As dance shoes… ummm, maybe not.

Then I researched, and found that most brands have a range of ‘dance shoes’. I even found ones I liked… but all the brand’s stores in Dubai didn’t have my size (I have giantess feet). So I stumbled uncomfortably until last week … they had my size…

I PRESENT TO YOU … THE SKECHERS DANCE WEAR!

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I’m really, really happy with these now for my dance classes in the studio. They’re flat – as they should be – and shaped right. I dance with more confidence now, and don’t have to worry about slipping anywhere. They’re called Jazz Hands in some places, but here they were called “dance wear” and that was it.

Anyway, if you’re looking to indulge in studio stuff like zumba, hip hop, etc, then seriously, get yourself a pair of dance/studio shoes. And you can stay brand loyal … most brands, as I said, have a range of these!

Remembering to laugh at myself, aka ‘playing cats and ladders’

I used to blog a lot – not here, somewhere else – and it was fun. I had time to write, I had time to recount experiences … but today I realised that perhaps I’d forgotten to laugh at myself. My old blog posts used to make fun of myself and of ridiculous situations I found myself in. Of course my anonymity made it easier. But hey, something absolutely ridiculous happened to me yesterday … so why not share?

I’ve blogged before about a stray cat in my garage. Well she’s still in my garage and I still feed her and give her water and clean out her litter tray which is in our garden.

I call her Vader and whenever I park my car outside my villa, she normally rocks up, miao-ing and rubbing herself against my feet, or if she;s hungry, mewling rabidly until I give her something. Last night however, that didn’t happen. She was mewing all right, but nowhere to be seen. I felt weird about it but went in. Ten minutes later I went back out, calling out to her. More mewing but no Vader.

Now really worried, I Skype my friend. He urges me to go look for her but I said I couldn’t see her anywhere. Panicking now, I demanded he taxi over to help me look. He does. We use torch lights, we find her in the neighbour’s … on the other side of the six-foot high wall after we peer over with a ladder. And behold, the cat who can’t jump walls. *facepalm* as they say.

We dangle a long bedsheet on her end hoping she’d latch on to that. We try and reach for her. Nothing.

My friend suddenly says: “Did you ring the doorbell before you called me?”
I wailed: “BUT NOBODY’S HOME!”
Him: “There’s a light on in their kitchen.”

Oh.

I wander to their front door, ring. The owner opens the door. More *facepalm* at this point. WHY DIDN’T I RING THE DOORBELL BEFORE?!*

I mumble: “Well there’s a cat, she’s not my cat, she’s a stray but she’s sort of my stray cat and she’s stuck in your garden, there.”

The owner looks at me amusedly: “The door to the garden is open.” **

*MASSIVE FACEPALM*

So, to recap: I hear the cat mewing, I know she’s stuck, I know WHERE she’s stuck. I didn’t ring the doorbell, I didn’t try their garden door just in case. Instead, I call a friend over in a cab, climb ladders, dangle bedsheets, and wail.

Vader is safe. My friend is amused/annoyed at me for my stupidity. And I’m just laughing at myself for ignoring the obvious and being a silly billy (SEE WHAT I DID THERE, DESI PEEPS?).

Whatever. One day I’m going to have two cats – one called Kirito and the other Kogami.

*I should add that I moved to where I live in 2004, so nine years later and I’ve spoken to my neighbour like…three times. And waved to him if I’ve ever seen him or his family maybe 10 times. Which probably led to me hesitating in the first place. Massive fail, as the Twitterati would say.
** The idea that their garden door would be open was unthinkable to me mostly due to my family’s OCD-esque behaviour of making sure everything is locked and double locked, and nothing is open ANYWHERE. I mean, my Mom refuses to even leave the key out under the doormat on nights when I’ve forgotten my key. She insists I wake her up. So you can imagine how guilty this method makes me when I rock up at 1am having to call her to let me in just because she refuses to put the key under the doormat or hidden in a plant pot.

Swan Lake ballet in Dubai

Swan Lake ballet in Dubai

When my friend Hannah-Farah asked if I wanted to accompany her to watch Swan Lake, performed by The Russian Moscow Ballet, I said yes. I had only seen the ballet once before, in Sheffield, but I had enjoyed it very much. So we booked tickets immediately and last night, we were off to the ballet (with some awesome Vietnamese food to sate our hunger before that).

The Russian Moscow Ballet tour in Dubai is sold out now (I checked this morning) but it was a fun experience for us, especially as it was Hannah’s first time at a ballet.

The dancers wowed both of us – their pirouettes were beautiful! Also amazing was their stamina… jumping around yet looking so graceful. It helps that I love listening to classical music even though I am no expert. Good music just makes me bob around like a very happy person, and that’s what I was last night.

My only disappointment last night was the setup in terms of seating. I wish that all seats had a good view of the stage, as I think ballet/theatre venues should do. Paying AED250 for the cheapest seats, if you were at one end of the area, then you couldn’t see when the dancers moved closer to the back of the stage. Fortunately, this wasn’t a lot of the time, but even so. I can imagine people sitting in those areas were disappointed.

I would definitely recommend a ballet showing to anyone interested in wonderful music and graceful dancing … and especially if The Russian Moscow Ballet comes to town.

View some photos here:

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