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

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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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Meet Vader. She’d like a home.

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As I mentioned in my last blog post, there’s a cat coming around near my house and I want to find it a home.

I thought she was a stray, and two weeks ago, with the help of Bin Kitty Collective (thanks for the suggestion Karla!) I managed to get her to a vet so she could be neutered and saved from any pregnancies. Massive shout-out here to Feyaza who loaned me her cat carrier for that purpose.

But a few hours after I dropped her off to the vet, I got a call which went something like this:

“Hello, this is regarding the stray cat you dropped off this morning? Well, we prepped her for the neutering, and as part of the procedure we clipped her ear. But when the doctor opened her up, we found there was no uterus – she’d already been spayed. And when the doctor looked further, we found a microchip.”

When I met the doctor that evening, he said that while the microchip details have been passed around clinics, it’s highly likely she’s an abandoned cat. She’s six years old. And if you haven’t read my first post, I’ll tell you again: she was starving when we found her, she was like a bag of bones.

Needless to say, I was seething. Boiling mad. Hopping angry. Her owners abandoned her and left. She had to go through a pointless surgery…and she’s alone.

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Again, if you haven’t read the original post (please do), she is currently living in my garage and front garden. I feed her and put water out every day. I’ve even bought her a cat litter so she stops pooping in my garden (which was making my parents very, very angry).

I’ve named her Vader – she’s got a black coat, but a white underbelly. THE FORCE IS STILL WITH HER!

She’s a really calm cat. She loves the garden, but I think she’d like a family where people will love her and not leave her … she’s pretty low maintenance as far as I can tell, she likes to rub against your feet when she hasn’t seen you for a bit. Even the vet said she’s one the calmer cats he’s had to deal with.

She’s six, and yes, she now, unfortunately, has a clipped ear. But she’s clearly already trained in things like using litters, using her food and water bowl and will return to the family that feeds her and loves her.

Anyone who’s interested in adopting her, please, please, get in touch. You can contact me through this blog, Twitter, or Facebook.

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Autism awareness month supported by Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi

Note: I don’t normally post press releases on my blog, but I felt this one warranted a post 🙂 There’s a few activities for members of the public to get involved with, so if you’re in Abu Dhabi around that time, why not?

As part of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts’ international Global Month of Service, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi has partnered with Abu Dhabi Cause Connect to support World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) through a full month of initiatives to raise awareness on autism.

“As part of our on-going commitment to Hyatt Thrive and our local community, hosting and organising weekly activities throughout April (World Autism Awareness Month) was undoubtedly an important yet easy decision as it is a cause all our employees are committed to,” said Ashwini Kumar, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi general manager, in the statement.

One in every 88 children is diagnosed with autism and each year, more children are diagnosed with autism than with juvenile diabetes, AIDS or cancer, combined.

“Awareness is the first step to early detection. It is important for us to engage the community so that there is increased dialogue about how to recognise autism and how to find the proper help and support for your child,” said autism consultant Nipa Bhuptani. “Early intervention plays a large role in increasing the quality of life of children, family and their caregivers.”

“Our employees are volunteering their time towards increasing awareness and acceptance of autism families in Abu Dhabi,” added Kumar.

These are the activities Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi is working on:

Hotel Fundraising – 2 April
From WAAD until the end of the month, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi will ‘Light it up Blue’ by switching all of its exterior building lights to blue – the recognised hero colour of Autism Speaks – to mark its commitment to the cause.
Guests visiting Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi will have the opportunity to assist children with autism by adding a ten dirham donation to the end of their bill at any food and beverage outlet, Rayana spa and at check-out.

Employee Education – 2 April
To ensure all employees of Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi are able to share informed knowledge about persons with autism, awareness and early detection, Nipa Bhuptani will provide an educational seminar to not only increase awareness amongst hotel staff, but to also allow staff to share their learning with all guests they interact with. All employees will be wearing a colourful puzzle piece ribbon on their lapel throughout April, and thus the hotel encourages all guests to please speak to its employees about this important initiative.

Art Display and Auction – 7 April
To celebrate the unique talents and skills of people with autism, from 7 – 30 April, various art pieces will be on display on level 18 of Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, in reception, the lounge and the hotel’s signature restaurant, 18 Degrees (18˚).
Painted and drawn by children with autism, approximately 25 pieces will be displayed and showcased to all guests entering the hotel. Art pieces are available for purchase at a price dictated by the buyer as a donation. All monies received from the sales will be put towards purchasing ‘wish list’ items for autism schools and centres.

Fun Day – 20 April, 9:30am
To warmly welcome and embrace children with autism, a day for these unique individuals and their families will be hosted by Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi at the Corniche Beach. The hotel will not only be donating snack boxes for the children, but employees will also join the event to personally play and engage with, and support all that attend.

Inaugural Launch of Support Network for Parents – 24 April, 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi will host the launch of Abu Dhabi’s first parent support network for autism families, led by Nipa Bhuptani. Although the prevalence of persons with autism is high in the capital, no formal support network currently exists. All parents that have children with autism are invited to attend the launch.
For parents in need of additional relaxation, a complimentary coffee break and yoga/meditation session will also be hosted from 6:00pm – 7:00pm by Rayana Spa, located on level 19 of the hotel. Prior registration is required and availability is on a first come first serve basis.

For those wanting to attend the Fun Day and / or Launch of the Support Network, please contact Nipa Bhuptani at nipa@nipabhuptani.com or +97150 7929965.

Black cat roaming

Perhaps two months ago, a cat started coming around my house. This is not unusual – there have been many cats who roam around my house, some venturing into the garden to relax on the big swing we have, and once one cat decided to birth her litter there. She was getting food at her real owner’s house, so no idea why our garden was deemed fit to have her babies.

But this one was different – this black cat kept mewling when she saw any one of us leave the house, and looking rather sad. She also looked really hungry. I felt really, really bad for her. Especially as she seemed to belong to no one, and was clearly hungry.

I kept ranting about how mean we were not to feed the cat – and my Mom caved. We got cat food.

Now she’s started pooping in our garden and my parents are beyond unhappy. I said I’d clean it up, but they’re still not convinced.

Anyone want a black cat? She’s fairly calm … I don’t know how old she is, but she definitely is not starving like she was when I found her. You can contact me via Twitter @DevinaDivecha or email me at contact[at]devinadivecha[dot]com if you’d like to give her a home.

Black cat

Yas Waterworld, Abu Dhabi

The latest water park on the block in the UAE is the Yas Waterworld, Abu Dhabi.

I was extremely lucky to get to attend the grand opening on January 19, 2013. Getting there is quite easy, it’s about a one-hour-and-a-bit drive from the Dubai Media City end of town, and signs on the road will tell you how to get to Yas Island (Alternatively, I can tell you that Google Maps was spot on).

I was surprised at the size of the park; it was like a TARDIS … It looked small on the outside and was huge on the inside! It’s a lot to do with, I think, the way in which the rides sometimes intertwine around each other, making it look compact, but actually it has a lot of things for you to do.

I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat, so I was unknowingly pushed onto the insane rides – the Falcon Falaj and the Dawamma, the latter of which is MENTAL! You enter a 6-person raft in both, and basically get pushed off a cliff on a never-ending screamfest. In the Dawamma, there’s this huge barrel thing that you eventually end up in and it’s so big, you wonder how it’s possible to escape. Yet you emerge laughing out onto the pool. I LOVED IT. Top marks for those rides…I kept wanting to do them again despite being scared out of my wits every time.

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The other stuff is cool too – there’s the Liwa Loop, which I didn’t try but entails getting into a little capsule, and having a trapdoor released underneath your feet, with the momentum making you go feet-first into a loop and emerging gasping. Most people who came out from there ended up screaming, “I DID IT!” or “I SURVIVED!” or “WHAT WAS THAAAAAAT?” So. Pretty good then.

There’s a lazy river, and another lazy river filled with waves. There’s the snake slides, with the Rattler being the one that throws you into a mystical cavern with laser lights shooting all around you before releasing you from the creature’s mouth. Then there’s the slides where you clutch on to a sled-like thing and jump headfirst into the slides, almost as if you’re flying on a magic carpet. And then there are more slides, one called Halool’s Humps (Due to its shape) and another called Jebel Drop (it quite literally drops you down). And a roller coaster… and … a surfing area… and… a place for kids only…and…

My point is, there’s a lot to do at the water park. I was in a position where I didn’t have to deal with too many crowds at the event I went for, but with the awesomeness of the rides, I can see it being a wait for some of them. So be patient, you’ll have some fun regardless of queues.

I’d like to see some more food options at the waterpark though; maybe some pizza like my friend suggested?

If you’ve gone to Yas Waterworld, let me know what you thought…but till then, check out some of my pictures!

Check out the official website for all the information you need; the price of a general ticket for an adult is AED 225.

Save The Humans

Love this post by my friend Shaahima. It’s simple, but gets across the message instantly.

The Kaftan Writer

Save The Humans

The stateless Palestinian. The Rohingyan asylum-seeker. The Syrian refugee. The defenceless in war zones. The unwanted girl child. The Dalit. The raped. The gang-raped. The child being molested and too afraid to speak. The starving. The ill-treated labourer. The discarded orphan. The jailed without justice. The physically abused. The emotionally beaten. The homeless. The victim of hate. The children killed at school. The children killed for going to school. The soldiers dying in a war they don’t want. The voices silenced. The journalists white vanned. The cheated sports fan. The innocents killed at the hands of an authorised weapon. The political scapegoat. The unpaid worker. The jobless. The addict. The woman unmarried for lack of dowry. The misunderstood disabled. The philanderer’s spouse. The trafficked. The citizen of an oppressive regime. The mothers of children who never returned home. The misrepresented. The uncounted.

 

But before all else. Save the apathetic.

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