Straight to the Point

One of the things I enjoy about living as an expat in Abu Dhabi is being surrounded by people from so many different countries, each with their own languages, customs and cultures. I’ve been privileged to get to know people from here in UAE and from across the globe. The cultural differences are sometimes subtle, sometimes stark, but always fascinating.

Being English, one of our stereotypical attributes is to be reserved, polite and maybe even a little dithering….think Hugh Grant in full rom-com mode. I am one of those who does indeed fall into the category of apologizing to people who bump into me in the street, thanking people walking through the door when I held it open for them, and so on. I also try to be rather careful about what I say. Over the years, particularly in my professional life, I have worked hard to develop tact and diplomacy skills that could get me into the UN.

In the midst of this cultural melting pot, I’ve learned that unlike me, some people actually shoot from the hip, get straight to the point, no messing. No dressing it up, no hesitant English-style dancing around a subject.

This is generally refreshing and makes a welcome change.

However, when the straight talking gets personal, it can still be a tad surprising to me. This is where my ever-thickening skin comes in handy. I generally take such comments in good grace and eventually see the funny side. I have a multitude of tales I could tell from my time in Abu Dhabi so far, but here for your amusement are my top 5 sharp-intake-of-breath moments:

My ‘face enhancers’…..

  1. ‘Your baby looks like a boy, you should get her ears pierced’ – from a random stranger in an elevator, when the baby was dressed in head-to-toe pink, I might add.
  2. ‘You have gained weight, you looked better before’ – I’m with you my friend, but I didn’t really need to be told.
  3. ‘Your face looks better with glasses on’- from a well meaning colleague. How does one respond to this?!
  4. ‘You look a lot better now you have lost some weight’ – not long after giving birth, from a waitress in a coffee shop I visit frequently.
  5. (Not mine but my husband’s, however it’s included as I love it) ‘You must thank your wife, you have lost weight’ – on the assumption I do all the cooking….

I’m pretty sure my thickening skin is significantly contributing to number 2 above…. but oh, how it comes in useful.

In fairness, some of these are probably true, but I maintain my baby girl does not look like a boy!

Anyway, I’m going to sign off here and head out to purchase several new pairs of glasses….

 

 

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Jim’s Kitchen Table – A Hidden Gem

If you ever needed a reason to go to Masdar City, here it is – a new Abu Dhabi eaterie called  Jim’s Kitchen Table. I visited recently along with Mr O and Little O and feel compelled to ensure that people know all about this rather lovely family-friendly place.

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The outside

It was hitting 43 degrees Celsius when we pulled up outside, so I’m glad to report there is ample parking a short stroll from the door.

After a warm greeting we were seated and a nice sturdy high chair provided for Little O. There’s a play area at one end of the cafe, with padded flooring and plenty to keep the ankle biters occupied including a massive chalkboard for scribbling on the wall and a TV showing cartoons. Little O was a bit small to enjoy it but there was a merry band of children seemingly having a great time.

The place is large and has various seating areas including a mezzanine loft area, perfect for those seeking a more peaceful experience, away from the play area.

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The menu is varied and covers meals from breakfast, lighter bites, mains and sweet treats with a range of specialty breads and lots of drink options. As a person who always checks out the desserts before anything else, I was not disappointed.

We visited at lunchtime. In celebration of losing a kilo this week I decided to forget all thoughts of slimming and just order what I fancied (the irony of this does not escape me).

I selected lamb rogan josh followed by banoffee pie. Yes, a classic combination I thought.

Lamb Rogan Josh

Lamb Rogan Josh

The rogan josh was tasty, plenty of lamb and a rich sauce with a generous sprinkling of fresh coriander. I felt it could have been a bit spicier but that’s just my taste. The rice was, well, rice. The chapati which Mr O chose as an alternative to rice was the slight downfall of the meal, being quite stiff and chewy, but overall if our empty plates were anything to go by, it was really quite nice. The generous slice of banoffee pie was delicious, although I’m glad we shared it, as even with my childlike sweet tooth I couldnt have demolished a full one.

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Banoffee yumminess

For the little ones there is a fairly extensive kid’s menu. We selected the cute sounding ‘Teddy Bear Toast’ for Little O which comprised toast spread with peanut butter served with banana, blueberries and a strawberry. Most of it ended up on the floor but this is no indication of how good the food is, every mealtime with Little O ends this way!

The cafe also has a retail section with fresh flowers, art, candles and a range of high quality food items for sale including Hawkshead relish all the way from the English Lake District.

Shelves full of tempting things....

Shelves full of tempting things….

I found our jaunt to Jim’s Kitchen Table to be a great change of scenery, in the unique surroundings of Masdar City. Very close to the airport and well-signposted from the main road, Masdar City is easy to find and has other attractions including an organic shop. It would be easy to while away a few hours here.

Try it, I think you’d be hard pressed not to like it!

*I should point out, this review is totally independent and not sponsored by Jim’s Kitchen Table*

 

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The Next Big Thing

The elusive wooden activity cube

The elusive wooden activity cube

Been there, done that....

Been there, done that….

Nobody can accuse me of not having my finger on the pulse of Abu Dhabi motherhood. I’m pretty certain of the Next Big Thing.

A celebrity parenting-advice-giver? A utopian soft play area which allows parents to enjoy cake and coffee inside its padded walls?

No. The Next Big Thing for all the cool kids is….. wait for it…. a wooden activity cube. Previously it was the Jumperoo, but that’s soooo last season.

Furthermore, the cool kids know that buying such items NEW (shock horror!) is for Rookies. Those in-the-know seek out the nearly new.

Is it just me or do the facebook selling pages have some kind of magical powers that lure us in, whispering ‘buy me gullible parent, buy me!’?

Something spooky definitely takes hold of my fingers and forces me to type ‘next please’ each time I spy an age-appropriate, clean-looking piece of baby toy heaven.

In my previous life I wasn’t known for buying second-hand but since Little O arrived, I’m all over it. It started with Jumperoogate. Everyone NEEDS one, I’m told. Little O showed a passing interest whilst observing a fellow baby bounce around in one. Cue a fervent, obsessive search for a second hand jumperoo at the best possible knockdown price. We also hunt in packs. A fellow mum-in-the-know helped get me in first on a facebook posting to claim a Jumperiffic bargain. I am forever indebted to this wonderful woman. The Jumperoo was an excellent purchase. It continues to amuse Little O and keep her safely in one place whilst I indulge in luxuries such as quickly grabbing random cold stuff from the fridge for lunch, or dashing for a quick trip to the water closet.

It’s not just an Abu Dhabi thing, believe me. Reliable sources tell me that cities far and wide are awash with mothers scouring facebook for baby tat with the diligence and dedication once reserved for our day jobs.

Somehow, the toys being scouted follow definite trends. Actually, its really quite logical that swarms of mothers with babies of similar age search for the same things at the same time. Which brings me back to the wooden activity cube. I’m now the smug owner of said item. There remains a large group of babies within a 10 mile radius being deprived of this item until such time the nearly-new supply catches up with demand. For those with one to sell, have a heart and list it quick!

In the meantime, I’m furtively eyeing up the most popular toys at mum-gatherings and polishing my crystal ball ready to predict which item will soon be all the rage. Smart trike, anyone?

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