Long title short: I met Aalia last week!
Get some popcorn and come back, I'll wait, settle yourself comfortably.
After a crazy hecktic week of trying to finish my first final submitted art work for publication by the first deadline (YAY!) AND weaning my son before the 10th of July when he turned two LUNAR years, and staying cooped up in the house, I needed a break. Hubby was going to Abu Dhabi on business and offered to drop me off someplace. WHooo Hoo I called up Aalia and told her the good news. We went back and forth for the next 24hours deciding how and where to meet. I prepared everything I'd need for the long trip (2 hours) there with squirmy kids... food, toys, blankets (cause my daughter freezes with the AC on and my husband burns with it off, an epic car battle for AC control), and something for me to do on the way up there if my dream comes true and they sleep. I pack it all and put it by the door, get everything prepared. I have a 11am appointment to be at Aalia's house for lunch. I was determined to get there on time! By 9am me the kids were up and dressed and ready to hit the road. Hubby was still in bed........... 0_o
"It's 9am! We are going to the car!" I say pointedly. Hubby gets on the ball then announces we can not possibly be seen in AbuDhabi in our dusty sand strewn minivan. He has to manually wash the car himself..... I'm fuming at my timings ruined. So we sat in the van watching him wash it. The kids were bouncing all over the seats. I wore a very nice blouse since I wanted to look nice in Aalia's home where I figured we'd have the chance to take off hijabs, even matched my amber jewelry to the glossy brown shirt. It was starting to get hot though.... I thought about changing but my next best shirt was in the laundry. :( And... i had taken all that time to coordinate my not-often-worn jewelry. Normally I only wear it on Eid now that I have kids lol.
Naturally he then has to shower and change into something for business.... so at 10am we left and on the way he had to make copies of paper work he had forgotten to do the day before. So I call Aalia to let her know we are running late and we have a big confrence about our Lunch Location. LOL everytime we'd solidify something and I'd put the phone back in my bag and reach around to feed the kids she'd call again and change it..LMAo and I'd be jugling juice boxes and sandwhiches and hunting for my phone in the diaper bag/backpack of doom. She'd then announce a change of plans...hahaha... but it was alright. Finally we firmed up on going to Marina Mall. It's on the far west tip of AbuDhabi past the Presidential Palace, on a jut of sand. I folded my map happy I knew how to easily get there. Me and my maps, let me tell you, are inseperatable.
An hour into the ride the kids nod off after fighting over the pillows and blankets. Knew I shoulda brought four instead of two, silly me thinking two children need ONE blanket apiece.... rediculous. I sigh happily, my motherly duties satisfied and pull out a Sci-fi book I took half an hour to choose last night. I start reading it and get no further than the 8th page then I notice Hubby looking bored.... ah, time for wifey duties. I check the page number for mentally bookmarking (I never use bookmarks subhanAllah) and then tuck it back into my bag.
I strike up a cheery convo to make the ride and drive more tolerable. Not that the view isn't awesome with massive sand dunes everywhere you look but they border the highway with large trees and small shrubs to make you forget you are actually in a desert.
The main topic we chose is my future business after I finish this publishing project. We threw ideas and plans around much like a G8 Summit. Some ideas more sound than others. Most ideas begining with the phrase, "Ok well IF we had a million dirhams, what could we do?" LOL.
Eventaully the buildings get closer together and then they start growing like some Iincreadible Hulk Movie. They go from being maximum two stories high to 20 or 40 stories high...(ok I exagerate as I havn't actaully been in the massive building's elevators to see a button floor count).... still that is a funny thing my Husband noticed the first time we left AbuDhabi, you can tell your way out of the city by following your way to shorter buildings. HAHAHA.
I call Aalia to tell her I'm on the edge of the city so she can get ready. Our monetary discusion by that time has turned Islamic and we are loudly discussing our opinions and that wakes the kids up hehheh. They stare in wide-eyed wonder at the tall buildings. Ya gotta love seeing the world through the eyes of children.
As we continue North West towards the Mall we pass the Presidential Palace and as my daughter is obsessed with Princeses and such, I tell her "Look at that Castle! It's a Palace! The President is like a King (early political education there eh?)" Her eyes were HUGE saucers of awe..... Awww.... ;)
Finally we get down to Marina Mall and park. Realizing in all my careful planning I forgot the stroller. Oh well, they just napped and could use the walk. So Hubby withdraws 100dhs ($27usd) for me telling me to spend it carefuly (IE... stretch it out). YAY! So he takes off to head back out across the city. I have just enough time to get my kids to the bathroom, do a diaper change and a quick hair brushing before Aalia phones she's there. I return to the main entrance with butterflies in my tummy..... oh wow! Gonna finally meet her! After years of online talking.
Then I can't find her.... What the heck? I look around the main front circle looking for a niqabi or full face veiled sister with a toddler. Finally in a sitting area between the escalators I spot a cute little Toddler and nearby a glamorous Emirati dressed looking woman sitting casually on a bench, but she looked nervous (body posture, as her face was covered). Ah that must be her. As I walk up she stands and we finally greet each other and we give a very long (and over due) real hug. I'm just thrilled. She coos over my kids hehehe and I coo over her adorable son masha'Allah. I do take a moment to study him. A beutiful mix of Canadian/Emirati. Emirati nose and features but a softness that comes purly from Aalia. Adorable for sure!
We head off slowly towards the cafe she's planned us to eat at. Slowly because my son is almost 2 and has short little legs and he dawdles looking at everything. I point out the haram statues of a pretty dolphin fountain, they ohh and awe over the rainbow lights and colors. ;)
We fianlly get there and I'm surprised it's the same cafe featured on the ramadan TV feature Khalik Cool (Stay Cool) where they stage pratical jokes on people. The man from that show was imported from Lebanon where he made it big doing the same pratical jokes on the streets of Lebanon. Anyways, I inform Aalia of this trivia hehehe.
There are THREE waitresses standing around cooing over the kids (especially Aalia son). Then comes the hard part of finding a table. The waterfall looks pretty but Aalia's knowledge surpasses that idea that it's a bad place to sit. We wind up at a long table, her son in a high chair and mine on the large chairs with a donut shaped back. There is a group of four Emirati men chilling behind where I was sitting and three groups of Emirati men upstairs able to look down at our table. I mention this because on Aalia's blog Chasing Jannah she often mentions how they harass her and in Al-Ain there just aren't as MANY sunglasses-IN-the-Mall wearing Emirati men so I never throught it was SO BAD, and they were EVERYWHERE. Everytime she barilly got to peep her face veil up a bit some goon would walk by. Eventaully the upstairs men left and we got to play Musical Chairs and switch her to the other side of the table so she could lift it up but every two minutes some dude would be walking up behind her past our table and I'd have to warn her. Those DUDES ARE SO ANNOYING.. ...GET A LIFE CREEPS!!!!
Meanwhile my son is having fun leaving his chair and bringing me table settings from other tables (unoccupied alhamdulillah) and that is majorly distracting me from ordering and trying to decide what I want. SO much yummy stuff! I don't even remember to look at prices!
We ate the shrimp rolls, oh wow are they ever tasty! Then club sandwhiches (which we only managed half and saved the rest for later cause they were massive!) The kids had these yummy pizzas with fries, my daughter ate the pizza, my son ate the fries. As another family cleared out I finally got a baby chair and forced my son, kicking and screaming, into it. Distracted him with the the delicious thick mango juice. It was so big me and my kids could share it. Afterwards the kid meal comes with ice cream so she split hers with her son and I spilt mine with my kids.
After we chit chatted here and there about things we got the bill. Whoops I had forgotten her post on the cafe saying average bill was 80 dhs or so, and sure enough split between us it was 85 dhs each.... lol I heard my Hubby's voice in my head saying to make the money last.... ah well, so much for good intentions lol. I paid my half and we walked on around the mall a bit.
Now as much as I love wandering around malls with my kids it was very weird for me this time. It has been THREE yes 3, years since I went browsing malls or chilling at malls with another sister. My typical Malling means I hit every child related shop where they can explore toys or if they knock something over it wont cause me to pay damages. I don't go to Clothes shops, I don't go to Jewelry shops, I don't go to Make-up Shops....I don't go anywhere that I used to before I had kids (in the plural). One child is easy to manage in these kinds of shops but two or more no thank you. You're asking for trouble. So most of me was longing to hang and check out girly things like shoes and purses and glam glam thank you mam stuff.... the other part of me was wanting to head directly for the nearest kid store where the kids could roam and I could manage to talk more with Aalia. But she needed to buy a gift so we went over to an Accessories store (Jewelry) and my kids saw all those shiney things and went nuts! I nearly had to break their wrists in my firm grip on thier hands. Everytime I'd get something out of my daughter's hands explaining we didn't have jack money to buy anything no matter how beautifully princess or fairy themed it looked, my son would be picking out a pair of purple ballarina shoes for himself or a lovely fluffy pink tiara.....the dangling multi colored necklaces were too much for his hands to resist too. I spent my entire time dealing with them that when i fianlly got around to where Aalia was I had time to only make one comment about awesome swirley earings before we left. I sighed exhausted from pulling the kids along. Aalia having wheels on her son (stroller) was able to walk faster and LOL she's always have to slow up to match pace with my son. Thus the title of this post that I'm chasing her ;)
Despite the awkwardness I felt in Malling with a Sister after so long I loved hanging out with her. She's so sweet and funny. As we passed the Starbucks I randomly commented on Iced coffee searching for a common like with her when she swirls my arm around. And I'm just shocked by her surprising strong grip, she looks so dainty in the Emirati clothes. She orders me to have a coffee on her. Still shocked by that strength, no wonder she can chase down street beggars!!! I followed her in and we ordered. My kids were tiring out by then and were thirsty but the water at Starbucks was 6 dirhams for a dinky little bottle!!!! The same size bottle in Al-AIn costs 1dhs and at Malls 2dhs. So I refrained from buying any until consumed by guilt with my kids begs for water I had to spend 5 of my last 15dhs on a bottle of water from a different cafe. They guzzled it down and poof it was gone! Later as we passed the same area Aalia wanted to rest and I had to fork over 6dhs for the Starbucks water as the kids were dying of thirst again. I tucked the water in my bag though so it would last longer if they didn't see it. I had three large full bottles of cold water in our van! The next day when I told my husband about the water prices he looks over the bottle and goes..."cause it's imported from SCOTLAND!!!" YA ALLAH!!! Ah well, six dirhams for a taste of my ancestors homeland I guess isn't so bad :p
We also stopped down stairs at the masjid to pray Thuhr. ARG my kids were so BADLY behaved I was embarrassed. They were taking all the prayer rugs and laying them out in all directions while I Prayed and then running in circles around them and my daughter was hopping from one to another like in her movie 12 dancing princess where they hop from stone to stone....UGH! I had a serious talk with her after folding all the carpets back up about Masjid behavior. We go over it many times but it never seems to sink in that she really shouldn't run around crazy in a masjid. Everytime I tell her the story I made up about a fictional girl being naughty in the masjid she says she'll never be like that, then enter a real masjid and poof, story forgotten...
By now Aalia's gone out of the masjid and I have to chase her down again hehehe. Finally as I stare around the mall wondering where she dissapeared to she pops up out of nowhere. LOL scared me a bit! We head back upstairs. By then it's 4pm and we are all tired and worn out. She calls for her ride and I call my Husband. He's not ready to pick me up until Maghrib. I'm stuck at this Mall with 4 dhs, a half bottle of water, and two tired kids......... Lovely Aalia graciously takes pity on me on me and invites me to go with her back to her house. Alhamdulillah cause I woulda had to resort to filling the water bottle from the bathroom sinks LOL. We have a wonderful chat on the way to her house. Finally we get inside out of the sticky humid heat of abu dhabi and I really was not happy with my blouse sticking to me. I will never wear it again there EVER! We break out the take-outs of the Club Sandwhiches and have a snack cause the kids are starving again. My kids eat or drink every hour it seems.
AND I KID YOU NOT, I HAD THE BEST TASTING FRESH LEMONADE EVER MADE IN THE WORLD!!!! I COULD NOT STOP DRINKING IT!!!!! Aalia you'd make a fortune getting that stuff bottled and selling it for 10dhs a piece. Hehehe. We had sooo much fun laughing at the kids. They were zooming around the living room an fighting over one large yellow lego piece. My kids were just happy to fianlly get to run around with him cause he was napping in the stroller in the mall about half way through. He was having mixed feelings about these kids running through his house and touching his toys. LOL he was getting agressive (jealous as most kids that age are when other kids enter their territory) which my son hates but it's ok it all worked out well and was completly understandable. I just felt bad cause Aalia wanted a nap but didn't want to be rude by going off to sleep so she stuck it out. LOL We just lounged around drinking lemonade and laughing at the kids who had all this amazing pent up energy! My daughter stopped to rest and struck up a long conversation with Aalia about movies lol.
From the window Aalia pointed out to me the famous beggar chase scene. It was hilarious imagining her running below through all the cars! Eventaully my husband called saying he was ready to get us so I got out my trusty map and guided him the way and then the sad part came where I had to bid Aalia goodbye. Aww her son was so upset. I was sad too, when would I get the chance to get back to Abu Dhabi and chill out again? Probably not anytime soon :( . With another warm hug and cheek kisses we left. Certainly a wonderful Sister, Aalia is. Cannot say enough good things about her.
When I got downstairs my husband was missing!!! He had gone off to pray while i was saying goodbyes. I had prayed Asr at her house so I didn't need to follow him to the masjid. What was up with people disspearing on me! Hehehe. I circled the building looking for our van. Finally I found it and loaded the kids in. When Hubby returned he said he was starving, kids said they were too. I was so full of lemonade I certainyl wasn't, so we went off to find the nearest McDonalds or other fast food. We finally found one and had a bite. The kids had so much fun playing in the tubes in the kid's playground. I can't belive they still had so much energy after running with Aalia's son!!! I ate an ice cream while they played. After all the lemonade i needed something creamy lol.
This McD's was FULL of asians. We were the only non asians in the place and for some reason half of them kept staring at us... so weird! One even slyly took my pic with her camera phone..... WTHECK!!! First Emirati men now asians? Do poeple in Abu Dhabi have a staring problem? I never get this in Al-Ain..... We finally hit the road again. After a half an hour the kids slept and I covered them with blankets and pulled open my book only to find Hubby getting sleepy at the wheel.... I looked at page 9 and closed it and struck up a convo about business again. We chatted all the way back to Al-Ain. The kids wanted to wake up and play...we put our foot down though cause we were so tired and went to sleep.
That was my crazy and wonderful trip to AbuDhabi and meeting the awesome Aalia.
Believe me this story could have been longer but I left out many details lol. It could have been shorter too like Aalia's version on her blog (look for the cute cat picture), but I wanted not only her to see what was in my head all day but for evryone to see what happens when two bloggers meet up. :D
Actaully it was hard sometimes to think of what to say because we already know the same old questions of past history because we have it on our blogs lol. But we had fun!
Love ya Aalia, can't wait to get to Abu Dhabi again or you come down to Al-Ain..... if you come don't forget the Lemonade k. ;)
Long title short: I met Aalia last week!