Thursday, July 23, 2015

Making The Cut - Finding The Right Hairdresser in Dubai


Moving to a new city or location often forces us to build new connections to replace the ones we've left behind. In my case, a trustworthy hair cutting professional. For someone who likes her hair to stay above shoulder length most of the time, i never realised how hard it would be to find stylists willing enough to cut hair that short.

And thus, a list explaining my needs was created. This list will definitely differ in terms of an ideal stylist, but there are some general expectations i have yet to experience in this city. Before reading on though, keep in mind that everything on this list was already experienced from frequently paying a visit to a single stylist for five years straight; till i left Bombay and moved to Dubai. Which is why i'd like to meet one here who is...

1. Not pricey
I don't see why anyone should have to pay more than AED 50 for a decent haircut. To create a simple style, a stylist need only use a pair of scissors, clips, a spray bottle of water and a blow dryer. Asking for AED 250 for just that and not even following instructions on length or style is just ripping people off.

2. Genuinely friendly
This might seem like it shouldn't feature on this list or like i'm asking for too much. It's not. In fact, it would increase my chances of a repeat visit if the person cutting my hair has a decent set of communication skills and knows how to use it. For someone who is used to a chatty person since their every first visit, Dubai has so far been comparatively disappointing. Still hunting, though.

3. Unafraid to cut hair short
This is the main beef i have with hair professionals i've experienced with in Dubai. It's almost like they cleverly avoid cutting shorter length hair styles and instead, brainwash their clients into maintaining longer tresses. 

From the last three visits these past few years, i have been unfortunate enough to try out two different top hair salons in Karama and Dubai Marina. I made a return trip to the second salon with a different stylist and was still left dissatisfied with the results in terms of hair length and style.

I'm too queasy to try out another for a fourth time, now. It's always the same excuse, with minor variations, about how a longer mane is more fitting for a girl or it's the hottest fashion trend right now. Ugh!

To me it sounds more like an excuse to cover up for their lack of creativity. Not every woman finds long hair appealing or wants to look like a cover model clone with arm-length hair.

4. Clever enough to judge styles that suit
I don't mind having a new do every once in a while; but cutting a style just because that's what everyone else is asking for, or is faster to do, doesn't mean your client is going to like it the same way.
___

Long rant short, all i want is a nice chin length hair-do from someone who likes to go beyond small talk. It isn't that hard to do, is it? Is it? I'm way too stressed out about this!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Picnic At Khorfakkan Beach

Going by June's titles so far, it's safe to say nature and travel has been the theme of the month. No fancy restaurant dining, or enclosed spaces. Nothing but greens and blues all around, deep breaths of fresh air, this time with a hint of salt.


For our most recent escapade, we headed straight for Fujairah's Khorfakkan beach, one sunny afternoon. Being a weekday, there weren't many people around either, leaving the view pretty much undisturbed. Like our recent trip to Fujairah, the drive was long and the mountain ranges along the way were great company too. Perfect kind of getaway for couples looking out to escape the city and work reminders.

Unlike our previous trip, this time we did a little pre-preparation to make it more interesting. Planning a picnic for two is easy, especially when you're both adults. Just ensure you have enough food an water and some memorable conversations.

For lunch, we went old school. No boring packets of crisps or sodas. The one thing we really loved about picnics when we were kids were the sandwiches. And that's precisely what we carried along. Spicy chutney sandwiches are the best! Just add boiled and spiced meats along and you're done. We even carried a few boiled eggs. Can't go wrong with those. And to quench our thirst, there was plain old water. While we didn't carry fresh juices with us this time, it's definitely on the list for our next trip.

Choosing a picnic spot was real easy. There's plenty of soft grass all over and the trees make it easy to pick out the shady spots. Picnic tables are equally distributed too. We chose to bring along an old bed sheet and just get comfortable on the ground.

With so much of our time spent on smartphones, tablets, and the sort, we figured we ought to leave those distractions out for the day. Only work mails were allowed. There was no checking of social media timelines because that would't make it a fun picnic. Besides, the internet could never compare to a calming view of the beach, the cries of seagulls and crashing waves around you. Bliss.

A deck of cards or a frisbee would've been great if we carried them along to pass the time. Instead, we made do with pens and spare notebooks to play 'Name Place Animal Thing'. Anyone who's been to school in Bombay has probably spent many a hilariously educational hour, or three, playing that game.

Before we knew it, the sun was starting to set and we had to pack up our things back into the car. The beach was in the opposite direction of the sunset so we got no view of that before leaving. We were so busy being goofy, playing games, and generally having such a good time together that we'd have missed it anyway. Can't wait for more of this!

City life is great. Makes days like these so much more beautiful.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bali Memories And Friendship Bonds

Left to Right: Jen, Clarissa, Cynthia, Ivy, Philo, Tanya* and Gloria
Today's post is inspired by a warm chapter of friendship; one that blossomed during those budding school years and continues to grow, brimming with a lifetime of journeys and memories. This isn't my story, though it's a kind of bond i look forward to with the special ones in my life.

You know what they say about how it's better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times, that's exactly how it feels when you hear how these ladies have been setting out on trips together every chance they get. Kudos to them, leading on with their friendship goals so effortlessly and respectable enough to teach any generation a thing or two about what a lasting friendship looks like.

So without further ado, here's Gloria's telling of the tale with the girls on their adventurous trip to Bali. 
___

I've always wanted to visit Bali and was happy to do this one with my school friends.

We flew Malindo, an airline that I'd never heard about! (The others very wisely, took out heavy travel insurance, except me. I did a sasta online one). But the aircraft was new, spacious and surprisingly great. The hostesses wore lacy white tops with a long skirt, very pretty, very feminine and as we learnt later, very traditional.

Bali is one of the 17000 islands that make up the archipelago of Indonesia and is most popular with tourists.

Most roads are narrow 2-lane affairs but driving is disciplined and drivers are patient and not noisy like us in Mumbai, honking even at red signals!

Our guide, Sutapa, told us that in Bali, buildings could not be higher than a coconut tree - approx 17 mtrs. So that explained lack of high rises. But we were not complaining! The greenery was abundant, lush and somewhat similar to Goa, but aesthetically, much more clean and pretty.

Getting used to the Indonesian Rupiah was a total riot though! Prices are in thousands, hundred thousands (lakhs) and millions! Felt like lakhpathis while paying the Rupiahs! Unfortunately, 1 lakh Rupiahs equals approx Rs. 560/-. However, you could bargain like crazy in the smaller shops.

We stayed at the Risata Bali Resort & Spa in South Kuta, 1 km from the airport. Had a free evening the day we arrived, 14th, so we headed for a massage, which is a must do in Bali. It was unexpectedly relaxing but a bit embarrassing, for a first-timer like me! We were required to strip, wear only a disposable panty and were then pounded, kneaded, pulled and pressed to the nth degree for almost an hour. It ended with a body mask and flower bath. Quite an unforgettable experience, eh Iv?

15th - did a tour to Celuk, and saw the silver and; gold workshops. The showroom had some fab pieces on sale.
Had a buffet lunch at Sari restaurant which afforded super views of Mt. Batur volcano and lake.
Saw traditional paintings being done at Ubud and viewed the many paintings which were casually displayed in large halls. Nothing casual about their prices, though.
Visited the Tampaksiring Holy Water Spring temple where the fish were really fat! Back at the hotel, some lounged by the pool while the others had a dip before heading to Jimbaran for a seafood dinner that was Ivy's birthday treat. Dinner on the beach was another great experience. Got back to the hotel and brought in Ivy's birthday with tiramisu cake and Irish Bailey, (sponsored by Cy and Iv, respectively).


16th - The banana boat ride at Tanjung Benoa, was fun as was the glass bottom boat
ride to Turtle island where we held turtles, a python, an iguana, and even a toucan. A couple of owls and bats obligingly tolerated us, as we took photos.
Had a marvellous lunch with cocktails and Bintang - the local beer.
When we returned to the hotel in the evening, a live band was playing and some of the guests were belting out American Pie. We joined them and had an enjoyable sing-song. Tanya requested the band guys to sing Happy Birthday to Ivy, so it was quite a chorus with the firangs also joining in lustily. As we all trooped back to the room for a nightcap, Iv was quite surprised to see a little cake kept in the frig for her, from the hotel. So naturally, we had to sing and cut the cake again!

17th - strolled the streets in the morning and purchased a few souvenirs. Evening was the Bounty Dinner cruise which had live music, traditional Balinese and modern dances. As there were other tourists from India, they played/sang a couple of Hindi songs. Lots of legs were shaken!

18th - free day so we caught up with some more shopping, some did a second spa session, some headed for the beach and since we discovered a RC church nearby, two of us 'holy janes' attended mass which was in Indonesian. Later the vodka-finishing session before dinner and the gift-finishing session after was good fun.

19th - we headed back home happy to have enjoyed ourselves and sad that it was over.

Nasi Goreng, Mee Goreng, satays are tasty, cheap and easily available all over the place. You get them with beef, chicken or seafood. Nasi Goreng is served with some sago papads, kimchi salad and a fried egg. Most dishes came with sticky rice, sambal, sweet soya sauce and an onion salad which when mixed with the rice was yummy. The fresh fruit juices too were amazing. There were other cuisines available including good old McDonald's, Burger King, even Bread Talk, but I really enjoyed my fried rice n noodles and didn't get tired of eating it. Tried babi gulang (pork spare ribs), which was a bit gamey, but tasty.

There are innumerable branded  goods for shopholics in malls, and plenty of street shopping if you want cheaper stuff. But the most amusing were the wooden penis bottle openers that were shamelessly displayed all over the place! Got a bit of a shock to see it the first time in a Govt. shop.

Getting back to Mumbai was fraught with anxiety on account of the flood situation. Our flight was circling for almost 35 mins before landing, 45 mins late. So you can imagine the rush as fights were landing tapa-tup. But walking out of the airport without waiting in the serpentine queues and without any baggage check, was the final icing on the cake, thanks to Cynthia.


Glo
___

*FYI, far left and second from right are two very special people in my life, my dearest hubby's mum and his lil sis who tagged along.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Nature Trip: Dubai Butterfly Garden

Staycations can be tricky. Dubai is doubtless, a great city because there's always another novelty to check out. Butterflies surviving the Dubai heat? Now, this needed investigation! It's not like you get to see delicate insects freely roaming about, everyday. And especially when you're an expat from Bombay, you crave for patches of nature. So Dubai Butterfly Garden made the list.

The experience isn't anything like Dubai's Miracle Garden, with flowers blooming beneath the shining sun. Instead, you'll find them fluttering about in temperature controlled spaces and not out in the open air.

So off we went to see the butterflies in their makeshift home. The entrance to the domes includes a gallery of colourful butterfly art that is aesthetically arranged and quite eye-catching. The ambience in the domes is mildly humid and cool with plenty of chirpy sounds to make it feel as realistic as possible. Guides along the way will tell you about the common species and teach you how to get a butterfly to perch on your hand or fingers. Don't try to pinch their wings and catch them though, else you'll injure the little critters.

The butterfly garden is on the way to Dubai Miracle Garden, so you can see the two together. There is a separate gate for either of the two locations if you aren't up for them both. Though, do phone in advance as the flower garden is seasonal and is usually closed for the summer due to the extreme weather conditions. Admit for one is AED 50 and if you have kids, they visit for free.

Below is a video taken at dome one. Plus, bonus video of the butterfly art gallery. Enjoy!

About 12,000 species of butterflies imported from the Philippines, Columbia and Costa Rica here. Three air-conditioned...
Posted by Epicgrammatic on Saturday, 20 June 2015


Friday, June 12, 2015

Park Essentials For An Enjoyable Read


Sundays in Bombay were all about catching up on a good book or preparing for exams at the little joggers' park about five minutes away from home. After you walk along the joggers' path, a quarter of the way in and straight across the gate was my favourite place. On the way were floral plant specimens with display boards spelling out their names in English, Hindi and Marathi.

At the end and to your right, you would find a small partially enclosed corner with a single row of five or six, wide marble tables with matching benches. Sort of the kind you might find in a cool, dusty library. My favourite was the last one because it was right at the back, in the corner by the high outer wall of the park. A partial wall partitioned the spot from the jogging area giving you a view of the people and the netted sports playground to the left of the jogging footpath. Boys in shorts playing football is all you'd see there. And against the high park, the wall by the benches was surrounded by greenery. Was always just great to take it all in before going for the books.

On a good evening, the only people you would find were the quiet, studious kind. An unfortunate evening would include gossiping aunties and teens, though if you're an expert reader or student, you'd have mastered the art of tuning people and noise out by now. All of this made it the perfect reading spot.

Since moving to Dubai, there hasn't been a park anywhere near me with benches accompanied by tables. There is a nice park close-by and walkways by the beaches, of course. Sadly though, they all come with regular benches, which isn't all that bad i suppose. Can't be too picky when you're in a city like Dubai.

Needed for a good read
Trusty bag
I have my own favourite shoulder bag (pictured above.) It's dainty, light and durable enough for me to carry around my e-reader. Space is the tricky bit since you might want to carry some other items, but it's better to keep it to a minimum.

Meet my e-reader
Your e-reader should be your one and only sidekick for days when you just need to get away from people, their vehicles and other noisy things. Ideal for when you require much needed peace and me-time.

Behold the darling of my bedside (other than my ring-bearer*.) Of course it's a Barnes and Noble Nook. Certainly isn't a Kindle. It's not that I mind reading out of regular dead-tree print books, occasionally i do; though, lugging them around just isn't my cup of tea.

Status badge
This isn't necessary, for obvious reasons. But it can be useful for warding off any unwelcome folk passing by who think it might be a good idea to make casual conversation and ask you out to coffee. Because duh, that's not why you're at the park. All that sort of engagement is for book stores and coffee shops. Anyone asking you for the time and then going away after you've provided the required information is acceptable. Exceptions can be made for a good conversationalist or a cat.

Cats are always a welcome distraction, as petting one would most likely bring you good luck on your future adventures.

Smartphone
Should you need to make emergency calls, you'd require to have a fully-charged phone at hand. Though that's hardly ever the problem, it's usually around so one can snap a nice and meaningful paragraph off a page. There's always a good quote you want to remember.

A bonus reading tip--- switch off your internet data so annoying notifications do not plague the peace.


*ring-bearer - my beloved husband

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Whose Line Is It Anyway: Improv in Dubai

WLIIA - Line-Up
It was a fine ambience. There was wine and beer flowing and the whole place smelled of guzzled wines once everyone got their dose of laughter. Or maybe it was just the guy next to me. Either way, made for a very comfortable setting.

A good number of us from the millennial generation grew up watching American TV skit comedy, Whose Line Is It Anyway. The show featured Drew Carey as the host, and the usual line-up of Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, another guest star or two, and plenty of props to go around. Improv comedy, whether at comedy theatres, on the radio or on TV, it'll undoubtedly leave you with aching sides, face muscles, some stray tears of laughter and a good mood; precisely what we  were in for right here in Dubai!

When hubby booked our tickets last month, he though we'd be getting the old US line-up. Instead, we got to be a part of a live audience in front of this seriously funny lot. And these guys at the Madinat Theatre in Jumeirah were hilariously outstanding. The guys were well-versed in popular culture. I mean, they could perform on situations from Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Bollywood, Game of Thrones, Sherlock Holmes, you name it. One of them hadn't even read Harry Potter and it was still funny. There was even an unheard-of-before job known as falcon sexers (you just had to have been there). Fitting enough, the most popular word for the evening was, 'Gouda'. Yes, the cheese. Don't even ask!

The nearly two-hour performance began with Steve Steen. Don't go by his picture in the image. He's got a nice roundy paunch and white hair doing its own long wavy business on his head. Steve introduced us to Andy Smart, Stephen Frost, Ian Coppinger (my personal favourite) and guest performer, Joe Rooney. Quick, sharp, mildly vulgar, witty, very UK: that's how the jokes were and exactly how hubby and i prefer our comedy. 

Scene Replay,
Freeze Tag,
Foreign Film Dub,
Party Quirks,
and more.

Duh, the price is hidden under my thumb!

Show specials
The audience creates the script. All the guys did was act out the kind of scenarios we all yelled out in an orderly fashion. That pretty much explains the Gouda and falcon sexer. So much you can learn about a crowd by their choices.

There were NO SMARTPHONES being checked. Absolutely nobody dared to take out their phones during the show. Why? Because if they did, Steve or someone else would've been all up in their business and been like, "Oh hey, you there with your face lit up by your phone. Yes, you. It's really obvious, you know."

A running joke happened on the side, with a green tape stuck to the back of Ian's shirt so he looked like a little money-box about on two legs. Was completely apart from the show. Oh, and one of them managed such a good bottle toss that it landed right on a floor speaker and caused the mesh to come undone at one end.

Oh and it's a good thing there was a 15 minute break in between. Not just for the funny boys. This wasn't a special, obviously. But honestly, everyone rushed to the loo after that first session. All that laughter really got us all wanting to take a piss. There was this long snaky line for the ladies even. Everyone watched the doors hoping to have their go at the potty and then uncomfortably stared at while you wash up and wipe after. Nobody escape without a thorough washing of their hands that evening.

Sometime before the end and during the, someone on the first row had to head to the loo and without missing a beat the three guys, one word at a time burst out, "Where. The. Fuck. Do. You. Think. You're. Going?" Poor thing, so embarrassed. So funny for the rest of us.

Ends
We'd totally go again whenever they're here next. Absolutely fabulous. Nothing like a good two hour session of laughter!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Better Things To Do When Depressed

From the ShoKo Show
In case you've been missing out, here's the first post talking about depression today and a few tongue in cheek confessions we can all relate to. As the last instalment on the dark days series, here's a list of a few things i do to clear my head. Hope they help you or a friend out!

Have you ever thought of making a done list instead of a regular to-do? It turns out to be more encouraging when i know i've done something rather then knowing there's a whole other list to care about. Other options include hanging out with pets at an animal shelter, they're way better than people, or hang out with people because hey, free food.

It's okay if you haven't heard of  TED videos yet, doesn't mean you've really been living under a rock. The talks are really inspiring and often funny but most importantly, listening to people talk confidently about the very things they are so passionate about can bring back a few sparks of encouragement. Sometimes, somebody else's energy is all it takes to get you back on your feet.

I've always saved a copy of a beginner's yoga book that i used back in Bombay and now in Dubai. I just automatically feel better after a routine of controlled breaths and balanced poise. There's a feeling of calm right after you're done and eventually you grow to look at things differently. I've found it much easier to venture into the great outside after a session. Brisk walks or swimming work well too.

That's exactly how i started out blogging nearly a decade ago. Writing in a notebook seemed to take up too much space and could be easily found at home. Today, i'm not afraid of letting my fingers type out my feelings for the world to read. If you like to paint or play the piano, that would be a helpful too. 

Skip the air-filled bag of chips and soda. Cooking isn't hard and can be done with 5 ingredients or less. Simple activities like stirring, whisking, measuring or pouring, while the time away, keep you on your toes and can be all you need to perk up your mood.

Often enough, the simple acts of changing out of your comfort clothes, breathing into fresh air and observing things around you, the very world outside your comfort zone can be all that it takes to calm a stormy mind. What makes it even better? A friend. Take someone along who you genuinely enjoy being with. Once you're back home at least you'll know you did something today that's different from yesterday.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Earthquakes And Humbling Thoughts

Lake Pokhara, Nepal

"If there is one thing an earthquake reminds us of, it is how fragile this life is. And how connected we are as a world family. The tectonic plates don't care about the boundaries we draw over Mother Earth.
To think that in just a split second, this reality we have built up around us can be destroyed, is a humbling thought. If today were the last day of our lives, would each one of us be truly content with who we ARE within? If not, it is time to start working towards becoming the persons we want to be. Not so much in terms of professions and designations, but as people - as living, breathing manifestations of soul energy.

Sending thoughts of peace and prayer to those affected by the earthquake in North India and Nepal."

It's been doing the rounds on the interweb and figured it could do with a share. Our hearts and prayers are with all those affected by the tragic Nepal earthquake.

A Request - Readers, reach out in whatever way they can to those who have or know others who have been affected by the earthquake. Even emotional help can make a huge difference.


Note: If anyone knows the origin of the shared content, do let me know so i can update this post.

13 Confessions Of A Depressed Mind

Source
1. We're crying softly at night into pillows and sheets, in ladies' rooms and at unexpected times.
2. We're afraid of how our depression will affect you or someone directly related to us so we might not open up.
3. Going outside is the second most hardest thing to do.
4. Getting out of bed is the hardest thing to do.
5. Sometimes we don't want to open the door when the doorbell rings. We don't want to see new faces much. We might not answer calls or reply to messages for similar reasons.
6. When we cry it's hard to stop, and usually we haven't much of a clue about what's causing the waterworks. It might be a side-effect of certain medications, but not everyone is that lucky. 
7. We don't want to burden you with our problems. We're certain you won't understand. You're not emotionally equipped for this. We know.
8. Not all of us can afford treatment. So we learn to cope and find distractions. Sometimes self-help is all we've got. That's life, we deal with what we've been dealt.
9. When we fail at committing suicide, sometimes we're too afraid to give it another go, in case we fail again. Other times, we find strength in wanting to live for family or loved ones. On some rare occasions, we tell ourselves that we're meant to survive. We might not try it again till the next tsunami of depression comes along.
10. There are times when we can rationalise our feelings and understand that there's something amiss in the mind, but we're also crying while this is happening; it is both, very annoying and terribly confusing.
11. "What is wrong with me?", asked every depressed soul, ever. Really, you could quote us on that;, and it's our favorite question everyday. Maybe the answer is related to the meaning of life.
12. Of course we want a hug, but we're not going to just ask you for one. Or maybe we're tired of asking and gave up. Although, when we do get a really genuine hug we're very grateful and cherish the hug and the hugger.
13. People who are acquainted with us think we're smart, funny, teeming with potential, and assume they've got us all figured out. You're all Jon Snow!

---
This post is the second of three on Depression; read the first.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Talking About Depression

Source
You may have heard of Akhil Mehta (not pictured, duh). Like so many others, i followed his handle @AapChutiyeHain. Like just about every other Twitter user, i read and scrolled past his witty tweets on a variety of topics. Almost everyone could relate to those tweets. Then i found out that he died on March 28, 2015. My gut did a wobbly somersault as i read about it. So wrong it felt to even tweet about this tragedy or mention his handle knowing he's never going to respond to it. So midway i stopped and didn't. Cause of death, suicide. Do you know what helps a person decide if they want to remain alive or not? Their state of mind. Did he suffer from depression? Yes, severely.

Deepika Padukone said that it's okay to admit you are depressed in a recent interview on how she battles with depression. So lucky she is to have had her mum to confide in. When you watch the "My Choice" video, you realise her hair flows like a lion's mane would if he had access to cosmetics, hair artists, image editors and fans. But more importantly, she looks fierce and mentally strong. More so it may seem because you know she's been through depression. Thankfully, she's alive. Does she still suffer from depression? Quite likely, though privately. 

Similar stories, older and forgotten are all over the internet. It's depressing to even read about depression. Sadly not everyone can afford to be treated and not everyone can find someone they feel open enough to tell them how they feel. Why? They're all afraid of being shot down and grossly misunderstood. Isn't that what happens most of the time anyway? A lot of non-depressed people prefer to just pretend depressed people will get better soon.

My most depressing phases of life include my teenage years (raise your hands if you were a depressed teen too), when i was torn from my family and whisked to Dubai post the big wedding, and lastly, whenever i'm out of a job in Dubai. When you're depressed it's hard to get out of bed or off the couch. The light is trying to penetrate your soul, so the curtains need to stay drawn across windows.

So this April end is now Depression Week on Epicgrammatic. Those of you who aren't into this kind of topic may steer clear till May arrives. Though, i'd prefer it if you didn't. Two more posts on the subject will follow. You have been warned. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Golden Sandstorm

The bedroom wasn't its usual daylight colour, one that i was so accustomed to waking up to. There was an eerie glow that came through the dusty window panes. This isn't what a typical morning looks like in Dubai. Not at all this shade of orange or yellow. Even the evenings here don't glow in this particular hue. As i crawled out of bed, i figured it the time was ripe for some serious investigation.

The hall was another scene altogether. Shadows were heavier with the curtains drawn, but the deep, warm light that filtered through was completely unusual. As i drew the pale yellow and floral print hall curtains apart, the world outside looked a little terrifying yet, stunning. Everything was a shade of orange; like straight out of a dystopian themed movie scene about the future.

There have been one or two sandstorms of a lesser degree, strong enough to move fountains even. This one though was my first major sandstorm in Dubai, and i spent it indoors. Everything outdoors basked in a dusty golden glow. It looked every bit the majestic storm it was. Visibility was slightly low and parked vehicles were coated with enough sand to make it look like they weren't used for ages.

I can only imagine how horrible it must've been for the pilots. Though I'm pretty sure car washes made a good profit out of this sandy day.



Saturday, April 18, 2015

Now Officially Ecpicgrammatic.com


Here's an announcement. A move contemplated on for a few years now and after much stalling, procrastination and fearful doubt, finally it's been done. I registered for and bought my own domain at GoDaddy!

Considering it was an impulse buy in the middle of the night, i hadn't really expected it to be up and ready so soon either. Of course, everything still remains on Blogspot. While WordPress may be famous for its plugins, user-friendly, theme variety and likelihood to get noticed and shared, Blogger always feels like home. And thankfully, all my posts get auto-redirected so there was no question of staying.

Before the decision for getting my own domain there was shameless bombarding of questions for @Prithvirules while he was on holiday. All of which enlightened and confused me but it got the ball rolling. Also, i didn't dare make the move without doing a little reading up on where to register, what other friends had to say about where they registered and what to do once the high after purchasing your domain slowly dies down.

It certainly seemed like making the switch was going to be hassle-free. And it was! It's not too tricky, but if you follow the instructions provided on various helpful websites and use your head a little, it should all be okay.

Blogger Tips
There are plenty of websites out there to assist you during the transition. These two particular posts from Helplogger were especially useful for me. Everything gets easy-peasy after that.



Happy blogging!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What Goes In Tiny Purses?

We live in a world of online shopping and been to every fashion store at malls. We know every, single label for all the fashionable things we love; but if there's one thing, of numerous other things i don't understand, is why would anyone carry a tiny little purse, commonly referred to as a clutch. What goes into one of them on any given day? I can barely begin to imagine even.

Take for example, this ever-so-petite little purse pictured here. Where do my sunglasses go? I know what I'm always carrying in a handbag or a cross-body bag. My smartphone certainly wouldn't fit in it. What about cash, credit cards, tissue napkins, lip balm, deodorant stick, moisturiser, pen, hair brush or comb and other necessities? Where do all of those go? Why do i not know?

It's not like i don't own a clutch. I have exactly two. One i bought so that i could fit in at a party and the other came free with a slightly tacky brush set. I still don't know how to use either. The one time i did carry one, i had to ask hubby to hold on to the other essential stuff that couldn't fit in. So inconvenient. 

Till then, here are a few, very discreet, useful and light items that will fit in a clutch quite snugly and even possibly all together.

Condoms - For when you're not sure where you might end up when morning comes.
Spy pen - Slyly record incriminating conversations to use when it's time to dish out some revenge.
Salt and sugar sachets - Sometimes dishes might not be up to the mark and you can fix it.
Mint sprig - Waiting at restaurants for people doesn't mean you ought to remain hungry.
Threaded needle - You never know when it could come in handy.
Folding spork - Just in case; you never know.
Adhesive bandages - New shoes can be your worst enemy.
Feather - Seductive device or tickle tool? Your choice!

Does anybody out here know how to go out with a little clutch and have all the rightly necessary items with you? I'd like to know in the comments immediately!

Friday, April 10, 2015

An Abra Experience


The first time i rode on a Dubai abra was on a cool and breezy January morning with its perfect weather for taking in the sounds of the souks and seagulls. In all honesty, the best single Dirham spent in this city.

The whole experience was amazing: great weather, the hustle 'n' bustle of people, seagulls flying overhead or splashing in the water, the delicious salty air, the light swish-swish of the shimmering waters......gosh, it really was just so wonderful!

And there'll be many more rides to come, just like this one.

Monday, April 06, 2015

My Antivirus Protection Expired And I Got Ads

How many people out there have similar stories? A lot! Believe me, i did a Google search just to find out. I've lived my entire virtual life protected by various anti-virus programs during the past decade or so. I have never known what virtual life can be like without protection. I have never waited till after an expiration date to renew an anti-virus subscription. Such an act would be unthinkable. Then one day i found out what surfing the net without protection is like.

Hubby's Sony Vaio was so much more easier to type with that i abandoned my own five year old Samsung gifted for my birthday by my dad. I was trained well enough to care for it on my own and i always knew exactly when to renew services.

It wasn't like the service on the Vaio wasn't notifying me. It did, and i ignored it each time till it finally expired and i wasn't even aware of it till i noticed certain keywords on a recent blog post turned into clickable links that led to nowhere in particular. 

To Raj, a close friend and SEO expert, i narrated my immediate problem and all he found was that my reaction to my hopeless situation was hilarious. He did offer suggestions and truth be told, i was freaking out and blowing the situation out of proportion, but that wasn't the point.

It didn't matter what page i was on. If it wasn't pop-ups expertly blocking my view, it was these invisible ninja ads that got clicked on even when i thought it was just blank, empty space. It was so terrifying, i was afraid of moving the cursor even. I was very close to singing Virus Alert.

A subscription update to the laptop's antivirus was needed, immediately. Thankfully, i had other chores and activities to tend to so i just shut down and got down to getting other things done. Once i found hubby sitting peacefully enough, i got him to update his own service. After much ad avoiding and unavoidable ad ignoring, we did manage to get our subscription renewed and the plugins that kept enabling themselves on my browser. This will hopefully never happen again.

So whatever you do, update your subscriptions on time and stay protected; you could get ads.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Proverbial Bucket List

I've been told that the easier your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. The good thing is, lists can change and there's always more to do once you're done.

1. Read self-improvement books and autobiographies
I read novels in lists. Most of the time these lists don't include stories about real people. Obviously, i need to create better lists. The thing is, i tried a self-improvement book once but then life pulled me away. I'd like to finish one and gain something out of it. Perhaps that'll help me...

2. Be more inspired
Everyone needs good experiences to be inspired. I want more of those. I want more laughs, more walks to nowhere, more stories to hear, less gossip and fewer lies. I want to be relaxed enough to find a banana peel inspiring. I've just got to find that missing spark.

3. Spend more time with family
Sometimes i regret having left home after getting married. But what kind of wife would live away from her husband? I actually like living with him too. Society makes up dumb rules and i couldn't let my family look bad. I spent an entire 6 months in Dubai with wet and salty cheeks at night because it felt like my life was ripped apart. Most people want to get away from their families. I never wanted that but you take what life dishes out, right? So now i'd like to take actual steps to spend time with loved ones.

4. Decide on whether to have kids or not
Most women i know are naturally kid-friendly. All kids are apparently cute, must be spoken to in kiddie languages (kiddish?), and carried about while speaking 'kiddish'. I'm not anti-kids, i just don't feel the same way. Single, married, divorced, you name it; they all want one. Did i not eat enough spinach growing up? Is it that chappatis (Indian bread) are missing in my life? Maybe i should have watched and read more lovey-dovey stuff? Or worse, gossiped? What is it that makes people want kids? And why is it so hard for me to know if i really do or don't. I hope to get to the bottom of this someday.

5. Make new friends you can relate to
I have great friends. Really, i do. Some may read this and think how ungrateful i must be to have something like that on this list. I'm not. I just want new friends with new experiences, new stories, new secrets, and so on. Maybe someone with the same taste in books, who likes to read aloud in parks together and go star gazing maybe. I'd like that. Would that be really hard to find or am i just from a different time?

6. Keep hunting for that 'perfect job'
One of the most miserable feelings in life is being unhappy at work. Being thankful for a job and a pay that lets you survive through life is one thing. Working with people and facing challenges you look forward to everyday is another. I know it's out there. I can feel it; but it hasn't found me yet.

7. Donate yearly
Back in Bombay, donating clothes for Christmas was the best part of the season. That, and preparing sweets. We'd bundle up old clothes that were good enough and knowing that someone else was clothed better because of me always felt great. In school, we'd donate basic needs like toiletries and food supplies. Sometimes they'd even let us meet the children or people we were donating to. Here in Dubai we get to donate meals for labourers during Ramzan. I'd like to do some more of this as an adult now.

8. Travel
What kind of bucket list would this have been without a single mention of travel? Of course I'd love to travel some more! I'd like to see beautiful and breathtaking places. I'd like to get out of this city some more and lie on the grass and enjoy a little butt-spanking without being worried about the cops watching. I'm my most inspired self when on vacation. Everyone deserves more of those.

9 . Fall in love with a woman
Meeting a woman i can truly connect with, fall deeply in love and for her to feel the same is something i've longed for, for years now. I'm not talking about some pornographic lesbian 'sexcapade' here. All i'm looking for is someone to share secrets with, to kiss passionately, to hug and to feel as comfortable with as i do with my husband.

10. Get a cat
With the way things are going, it's quite likely i might have to wait until retirement to have a cat of my own. I'm willing to wait it out though. I've grown up with various cats in my life and not having one now just makes me feel incomplete. For now, i've just got to make do with being a godparent to Koko the cat.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fashion Unconscious in Dubai

Dubai is known for its fashion consciousness. The closer you are to Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Road, or any swanky office, the more obvious this becomes. Even bloggers here love to talk about fashion. I do enjoy good taste in style, and i know there are other kinds of blogs out there, but they just don't seem to be getting as much attention as a fashion blog does. Fashion advertisements are plastered all over the everywhere of everything in Dubai. Oh, what's that you say? But Dubai's known for its fashionistas? Yea well, i'd like to believe there's more to Dubai than that!

So the question remains, is it alright to live in Dubai and be unfashionable? Don't strain your brain; of course it's okay! But are you someone who gets away with it? Do you think you've got what it takes to be fashion unconscious?

Let's find out. Below is a short personality quiz to help you decide. The scenarios include some everyday situations you may go through and you pick the options that make the most sense to you.

1. You're at a store in the accessories section looking for something to match a new outfit, you think...
a. Yes, that poppy-coloured bead necklace is somewhat what I'm looking for but I know I can find something better in that other favourite store I usually shop at.
b. None of these are the right colour. I'll just pick one that's close enough.
c. A simple pendant like the one I'm wearing goes well with everything. Matchy-matchy stuff can't be worn very often anyway.
d. Ugh, why am I here even? That new outfit has enough sparkles to blind someone anyway. Who needs accessories?!

2. You're at a fashion show. All that's running through your mind is...
a. This designer has done better during a previous season's collection. 
b. I love this designer and all his/her creations. I cannot believe I'm here, even!
c. Not sure where I'd wear one of those but at least it looks good on the models.
d. What is the point of this even? How am I supposed to do a feature on a designer who's stuff I could care less about?!

3. At a party, your close friend is wearing clashing colours from top to bottom. You wonder...
a. I should've been in charge of dressing him/her up. That tie just cannot go with those shoes.
b. How hideous! I'm just going to pretend I don't know him/her.
c. That ensemble doesn't look right. Let me go compliment him/her anyway. No point in ruining a lovely evening.
d. I can't find the sushi section. Where are they hiding it? Oh no! What if there's no sushi?!

4. Forty-five minutes remain before you head out for work. Your beauty routine is to...
a. Straighten or curl your hair and perfect your make-up routine.
b. Try out some new styles you saw on your favourite telly show. If it looks good on them it'll definitely look great on you.
c. Continue with your standard style with little tweaking. The rest of the time is spent planning out the rest of your work-day's schedule.
d. Spend fifteen minutes on exercising, another 10 on bath-time, five to get ready and the remaining fifteen is for catching up on the news or a book.

5. Your opinion of a good skirt is...
a. Should first and foremost be of the right hue to go with my silk blouse. Nothing too tacky.
b. Any skirt will look great on me. I enjoy trying new styles all the time.
c. It should flatter my body shape. Nothing too baggy or tight that could hinder my movements.
d. A pant. Skirts aren't friendly when i'm 'manspreading'.

Results
Mostly As: You are a 'fashionista'! It's possible you may have never worked on a village farm feeding chickens, pigs, goats and other domestic animals.

Mostly Bs: You just want to be one of the effortlessly, best dressed. You believe that if others can do it, you can too; and you do. Rules are not for you!

Mostly C: You prefer functionality before fashion. Good books always inspire you.

Mostly Ds: Hi, I'm looking to make new friends and i think you might be the one.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hello Diva Cup, Goodbye Tampons and Pads

Whilst several companies in Canada, UK, Germany and South Africa are in the meantime offering this product (menstrual cups) it is still surprisingly little known. One reason might be that it is difficult for the companies to make much profit from this product as one single menstrual cup can last a girl or woman five years or longer. - Wikipedia

If for whatever reason, you're a girl who's squeamish about touching your own vagina, getting your fingers a little bloody or grossed out by the very concept of a menstrual cup in general, woman-up and read on anyway. Better yet, share this post with girls in your groups so they can clear their doubts, learn about how menstrual cups work, and decide for themselves.

Source
Before writing this, i posed a few questions to a handful of girls; if they've heard of the cups, ever used one and if not, would they want to try.

While most of them had read about menstrual cups, for many, the very idea grossed them out. Some wondered about the kind of gymnastics that would be involved, others asked if it's uncomfortable, a few were really keen on trying it out but said the cups weren't easily available.

So this is for everyone who's still deciding if a menstrual cup really is worth it or not. For the shy ones, anonymous commenting is available for any further doubts. Comments are moderated.
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What is that Diva Cup thingy in the image about?
It is a medical grade, silicone-based menstrual cup you insert into your vaginal canal to collect menstrual fluid. There are many other brands in the market.

Whaaa? And how was it?
It's actually quite safe to use. There's little to no discomfort. I experienced a leak once because i didn't fit it in right. The rest of the time, everything was peachy. The instructions that came with the box are very helpful on how to correctly wear it and take it out. It's expected to last me five years or longer and is easy to clean. The box also comes with a little breathable pouch to store your cup.

How did you find out about these things?
I read an article about menstrual cups about a year or so ago that mentioned the Diva Cup. This led me to the original website and negative user experiences on forums. Why read those? Because they tell you if it's a user's mistake or a product error.

Was the hunt for a menstrual cup easy?
I did an online search for the  Diva Cup in Dubai and found an old Expat Woman thread that said a store stocked it. So finally, hubby drove me to the store, i bought what i needed, and we left. Easy-peasy.

What made you try one?
Having a cup in my vagina didn't disturb or faze me and i did thorough research on the product and its reviews. It's safe, economical and is eventually biodegradable. What's not to like?!
But where do you get them?
Dubai folks can order the Diva Cup online from the links below. There are two models to choose from, A and B for AED 160 each. 



The only problem is...?

Calculate how much you spend on buying your favourite brand of napkins for five years, compare it with the cost of buying a single menstrual cup and maybe some liners and figure things out for yourself.

Tips for new users?
  • Always wash your hands and the cup in warm water with mild soap before you insert the cup.
  • Once the cup is inserted, clean up around your vaginal opening with a damp tissue or napkin to prevent staining your undergarments. Or wear a liner.
  • You don't have to wait for 12 hours to pass. Empty the contents of your cup in a sink or toilet bowl every 6 to 8 hours during the day when period flow is heavy before you leave it in for the night.
  • If you're on your heavy flow days, wear a napkin or liner at night till you get used to the cup.
  • Leave the cup in boiling water for 5-10 minutes before storing it for your next cycle.
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Links you should visit