Thursday, 6 May 2010

Jumper Goes Home

It's the time of the year again to deliver one of the biggest duties as a daddy to my little girl Aimi. It's her 8th birthday and it's written on my calendar to drop whatever I do and fly home to be with her. I skipped my son's 5th and 6th birthdays, he grumbled but I can handle it by offering toys that his mother wouldn't allow him to have and he still thinks I'm the coolest dad. But it's kind of different with Aimi, who can be quite unpredictable. Just at the thought of her biting her lips and holding back tears in her eyes if I were not there  on her big day, is enough to tear me apart. So dutifully, I took the flight home.

Her birthday was on Thursday. My wife took a day off and so we drove the kids to school. In the car for that morning trip and many other trips for the whole week, I was overdosed with the Glee Soundtrack, Volume 1. I have never watched these series of high school kids in their act of grouping, performing  and outdoing the cheerleading squad. I thought it was lame. But now, ask me anything about Rachel, Mercedes, Finn, Artie and others  in the Glee cast. I have been well informed about their characters, songs, love and life's issues. Thanks to my kids who supplied me, unconditionally, all the titbits as if they were written in their school's textbook. Aimi thought I was cool, when she noticed that I know the words in her favourite Glee songs like,  'Can't fight this feeling' and 'Alone'. She doesn't know yet those songs were originally sung by REO Speedwagon and Heart, the bunch of people whose songs I grew up with in the 80s.

The school bell rang at 8 AM to start the scene like in the Serengheti National Park. The school kids responded by making a stampede straight into their classes. The noisy kids were muted by the presence of the teachers. Once they all settled well to start another day of classroom adventure, I walked into the headmaster's office. I told Mr Headmaster that I just came back from the loneliest desert and after missing my daughter for 4 months, I would like to take her and her classmates hostage for an hour, to feed them with fried chicken, cakes and drinks. Mr Headmaster said, "Oh Well, go ahead.... feed 'em well and make 'em happy". Damn, why didn't I have headmaster like him when I was a kid?

I returned to the school to take charge of Aimi's class from 12:00 noon, just around lunchtime. The kids were happy to see me, probably because I dressed in an orange shirt, looking like Nemo's dad, Marlin, the clown fish. I distributed the party pack accessories for the kids to wear and made them rehearse the birthday song a cappella. My wife, at the other corner, was busy being a proper mother setting up the candles, cake, food and drinks. I thought of bringing lots of chocolates, but then I remembered, Chris, our Corporate Affairs advocating adamantly, as if her life depended on it, "We, at Mars, don't promote chocolates to school children.......".Consequently, no sweets and chocolates. I felt sorry for the kids. Yeah, go ahead and adore us...the most responsible and ethical chocolate maker. 

Aimi's teachers were supervising us. They were easy going and friendly. It surprised me when one of them played Lady Gaga's, Bad Romance, to get the party started. Awesome. Damn, why didn't I have teachers like them when I was a kid? Sorry that I repeated myself unneccessarily. Well, the kids just had too much energy that towards the end of the hostage, they had become a little too hard to handle, asked too many questions and I decided it's time to hand them back to the talented teachers. They kids said together, almost like singing, a loud and long farewell and thank you. It's chaotic yet it sounded so sincere as it came straight from these young hearts. Very touchy, indeed. Later in the evening Aimi told me that her friends think it's the best birthday party they have had together. I asked her what she personally thinks. She smiled and looked away. That's her typical way of shielding her own emotion. 

If only Aimi knew how nasty a ladybird is, she might not consider her cake to be made like one.
Nevertheless, it's a colourful and lovely cake. It couldn't be more perfect than this. 

A busy day for the mother, escaping the hospital for a day to become a party maid.

Dressed in an orange shirt, I was Marlin, the not-so-funny clown fish.
The orange shirt is courtesy of Ploomer by The Last Resort. I have done my duty promoting to these kids. They are all excited to grow up to swing the world highest Canyon Swing in 10 years time. 

She is now officially 8 years old, making a wish...

The teachers are very sporting, they are more than happy to be relieved by Marlin.

Another teacher striking a pose! I told you.... this kind of teacher rarely existed in the 80s.

Most of the kids in the class are 8 years old. Can you spot an underaged, 7 years old boy, sneaking into his sister's birthday party?

Marlin, giving support to the neurologist who got a little neurotic while conducting the procedure to dissect the ladybird into portions as an attempt to locate the nerve responsible for ladybird's cannibalism nature....

We had another round of celebration late in the evening at our house. The guests invited were among other, my  grandma, mother, mother-in-law, aunt, brother, sister, sister-in-law and the kids' babysitter. So you can imagine Jumper has aged again, sitting in the tribal council, while his daughter unwrapping her presents, one after another. Loving home, how appropriate...

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Three Amigos' Night Out

Jorge has got a new job in Mirdiff and he felt on top of the world. Erik wanted to feel extravagant and glamourous before he ended his first trip in the Middle East. I just wanted a different ambience after completing a 12-hour shift. So we were the three amigos on the loose and we found our way to the Burj Al Arab. Reluctantly, the security guard let the barrier down at the grand entrance of this self-proclaimed 7-star hotel to let us in, in a dirty navy blue Jeep.  I heard myself said, "Damn, I should have it washed", when my Jeep was temporarily parked next to a shiny Maserati, infront of the glittering lobby.

When we entered the lobby, we were greeted well but our expectations were mountain high. We expected a garland of flowers fixed around the neck by beauty queens with a kiss as welcoming gestures. We hoped for a flying carpet instead of an elevator to go up to the mezzanine floor. We wished that we get to see things we have never seen before, like real rainbow  inside the buiding and a pot of gold at the end of it. Then, we realized that we only pay 185 dirhams each for this event and so we stopped dreaming and being realistic. It worked wonder and we started having fun.

The most natural thing to do at the lobby is to look up and then everyone can tell that it's your first time there.

That night the lightings inside the building were minimal to create the romantic and relaxed mood but it was enough to make the extravagance clear and visible.

The water works at the slope next to the elevator was brilliant. It jumped on air as if it has a life of its own.

The three amigos

We started sober having those juicy sushi, tempura and even satay.....

and then came the two rounds of drinks when the amigos got a little tipsy

Jorge belittled the famous MH, Malaysian Hospitality when his Mexican persona made him march to the kitchen to meet the chef who prepared our sushi. He thanked him wholeheartedly like it was better than Nobu's. I was then re-assessing my taste buds...was it really THAT good?

Check this out, the best offer at the spa, the one and only, Rose Rejuvenation Ritual, 1600 dirhams for 115 minutes...but we ain't no roses and we ain't that rich either, so thank you very much.

Nevertheless, curiosity took us to sneak into the spa and we made ourselves rejuvenated there....

The spa ritual ended with a sweat up session of floor mopping....awesome!

Erik has forgotten his room number and looking around for familiar sign to find his way back

Can't really blame Erik. Just look at all those rooms...they were so standardized and obsessively organized.

Erik didn't make it to his room, but we found our way out...

Burj Al Arab, near and far....