May 16, 2012

Things my mother taught me

My mother lived without me for 27 years when I was far away in Canada. What she taught me as a child still resonates with me today as she taught me discipline, honesty, compassion, patience, a hard one for me, and responsibility. Here are some of the things she taught me.

• How to make a good cup of tea by making it in a little kettle and having it with hot milk and a crushed cardamom.

• How to make tomatoes and eggs, a Sunday morning favorite made with braised tomato in the pan seasoned with chili and poached eggs on top of the base of tomatoes. It is still a favorite today, even by the ex husband.

• How to make good treats from scratch for my sixteenth birthday and how to make creamy chocolate cake.

• How to behave when I got my first period and she said to me, ‘my girl, from now on you must be careful when you play outside. Keep your legs together and don’t let anyone touch you’.

• How to protect yourself in a marriage by telling us girls that she wants us to be educated so that we can put our feet under our own table one day and never have to take a man’s crap.

• How to treat visitors when they come to the house by switching off the television and leaving the room so that there is no noise, and to make a pot of tea without being told.

• How to be friends with boys our own age by inviting them to the house for coffee and cake so she can take a look at them. She was a fun mother and enjoyed meeting our friends. She insisted however that they come to the house. That kept us out of a lot of trouble when party girls did not mean slut.

• How to be honest by always telling the truth and to remember that not saying something and leaving it out is the same as a lie.

• How to discourage a boy when he asks you to sit alone with him in the car and he tries something; keep your legs together and scream for help.


Defending Rafael Nadal

I’ve been following the career of Rafael Nadal with interest and awe since the time he stepped on court as a professional. I’ve watched him develop over the years and had tears of admiration when he finally became number one. There have been a lot of negatives things written about him and while I would agree with many of them, I think the Spaniard is sometimes taken out of context because of his youth, his great looks, his athleticism, and sometimes it is just plain jealousy. Otherwise why write negatively of his piƱatas and sleeveless shirts, and losing his hair? He is a kid still, for heaven’s sake. And what has his hair got to do with it?

I look at Nadal as a little puppy that has much to learn and occasionally has an accident and wets the floor. He has a way to go yet with humility. But who are we to judge? He has to please the people around him; his coach Uncle Toni, the sponsors, his fans, and everyone’s eyes are on him. Put a tennis racquet in a child’s hands at the age of three, teach him resilience and a stubbornness to win, this is what you get; a hard-working athlete who has to learn to deal with fame. I too have cringed here and there at some of his actions and remarks, but put it down to achieving fame too early in his life.

Another thing; if Nadal makes a noise about the blue clay courts it is held against him. If Djokovich on the other hand says the same things and echoes Nadal, he is praised for it. Yes, Nadal has his quirks. He has rituals before serving the ball. He picks at his clothes and lines up his water bottles with meticulous precision under his umbrella and keeps people waiting. So what? Maybe he has a compulsive disorder. Do you laugh at that and do we blame him for it? He’s not Mr Federer. He’s just a colorful, brazen sportsman who sometimes gets ahead of himself. Federer is known as the gentleman on the court, but he has his ambitions. Nadal just hasn’t learned yet how to hide his. He is a little jumpy these days but it is no surprise when you’re a former number one. As for the journalist at who wrote the scathing article; you posed the question as to whether it was your discontent or Rafa’s. It is definitely yours.

Visiting Dubai for the first time

Located in the Middle East on the Arabian Gulf, Dubai is one of the seven emirates; Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain – and shares borders with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and the Sultanate of Oman. Dubai is the largest and most populated emirate and seems to be the new babe on the block for vacations and business. Collectively known as the UAE, Dubai is the most popular place to visit. Hot, with an arid desert heat, and in the cooler months, November to March the temperatures are a comfortable twenty degrees. The planes getting you back and forth are Emirates Airlines, a luxury in itself.

Consumption of alcohol Dubai is one of the most liberal emirates in the Middle East, but it is still a Muslim country and there are certain observances to take cognizance of. The first thing you will be made aware of is that alcohol cannot be purchased in supermarkets unless you have a license and can only be purchased at a duty free shop – four bottles only – on your way into the country. Alcohol cannot be consumed on the street and there is zero tolerance if you are caught, especially if you are drinking and driving. On certain holidays and for mourning no alcohol will be allowed.

Dress code in Dubai Bikinis and swimwear are allowed on the street but you will be well advised to cover up on the street. Topless bathing, nudity, and thongs are regarded as offensive to families on the beach. You don’t have to wear a robe, but you should take care not to show your bosoms and your legs; in another country you should follow the rules.

Drugs and medication There is zero tolerance if you are caught with any drugs. If you are carrying Tylenol because the doctor prescribed it, it would serve you well to carry a letter from the doctor stating you are on these medications. Do not carry more than a three month supply of medications you need. Codeine in medicine or drugs is also restricted.

Behavior Act modestly in Dubai and do not have public displays of affection. Same sex couples are not permitted in any part of the UAE. Unwed couples should not sleep in the same room.

Hospitals and medication Hospitals are well-equipped and have all the modern technology and the best specialists, but make sure you are properly covered with insurance.

Miscellaneous Don’t even think of bringing firearms and religious propaganda into the country, or even fruit and vegetables from cholera infected areas. Also make sure you understand the visa requirements to enter the country. Local currency is the UAE Dirham. Do NOT change money on the street. Dubai has many banks.

Driving If your visit is for less than two weeks, use taxis instead of driving a car. If you have an international driver’s license you can drive. Remember that penalties are strict in Dubai and can range from fines to imprisonment which can include a lashing. Respect local laws.