giovedì 19 dicembre 2013

At last...today

I closed all my open work assignments 
Shopped for Christmas 
Wrapped my gifts 
Packed my suitcases 
Changed my bed sheets
Hoovered the floors 
And am now on my way to the airport wearing every possible item I own that resembles a jumper or rain coat...

Goodbye Abu Dhabi and see you in 2014. It has been a challenging yet rewarding 8 months and I will come back for more. 

One thing I will miss for sure over the Christmas break is the lovely weather of the past weeks. Having said this, am actually looking forward to see and smell the rain. 

Europe, here I come. 

mercoledì 18 dicembre 2013

And there she was ...

...across the bar. Among many new faces. One familiar smile gazes back at me. We smile.

K:"Ma che ci fai qui?" [What are you doing here?]
G: "Ma che ci fai TU qui?" [What are YOU doing here?]

The last time Giulia and I met was around 2004 (so she recalls) when we where both at LSE. Our roads kind of crossed, as we were both in Brussels at some point in time. But never contemporaneously. Sometimes, we exchanged emails. She gave me some EU-jobs tips. But then our roads parted again. I knew she was somewhere far and exotic. But could not keep track (these EU people). This was true until yesterday. There she was, with her usual hyped up spirit (don't know how can such as small person have so much energy). Man, it has been almost 10 years. But she looks the same.

I get to meet her husband (who is British with Indian heritage and invited ME to taste his "pesto"- no comment, Giulia frowned), see pictures of their little Anita, hear all about her 'Kenya- Abu Dabi commute', the former where she lives with her baby, the latter where her husband lives. I am ecstatic! Such a pleasant and unexpected surprise. This alumni meeting isn't that bad after all. In no time we get introduced to another Italian, Simona. Then, one, two and many more nice ex-LSE students.

I am not getting over excited, as Abu Dhabi has rather disappointed me on the 'people front'. But this time I have a good feeling... stay tuned.

lunedì 16 dicembre 2013

LSE get together

My old beloved university is organising a get together for Abu Dhabi Alumni*. Exciting!!! I am looking forward to meeting them tomorrow. I wonder whether Essex University has a similar group!

*As an Italian it always amused me how some latin words are pronounced in English, for example (my own transliterations... ehm):

Alumni: EN- alamnai, IT: Aloomne
Quasi: EN - Qooasai, IT: Qooase
Ceteris paribus: EN- Seteris Paribas, IT: Tsceteris Pariboos


When teaching at LSE I always pronounced them the right way. The Italian way.

#RescueKamilahCampaign - Abu Dhabi 2013 (Part 5)

Sara, was the last dedicated supporter to the #RescueKamilahCampaign 2013. It was so great to finally have the chance to sit together without rushing our catch ups during my brief Genoa stays. It was finally Sara and me, no time constraints, no boyfriends around, no mad driving up and down across town for a brief coffee or aperitivo.

Thankfully she is a very independent traveller, who spared me two trips to Dubai, but not a fourth visit to the mosque and a second safari ;)

It was a relaxed quality time with a precious friend... long overdue. To lure her into Abu Dhabi, I advertised the country as a hot sunny place. Who would have predicted that she would arrive in the middle of a storm that paralysed the entire Emirate for a couple of days.... Che culo!


#RescueKamilahCampaign - Abu Dhabi 2013 (Part 4)

Then it was the Super Dupers Time! my super dupers are busy bees, so they could not all come together due to busy work schedules. On Wednesday I pick up Merge from the airport. I simply could not believe it. I had a grin all day long, on my way to the airport, at the welcoming gate. I was the happiest bunny in Abu Dhabi. We had not seen each other since April. Thanks to my flexi work I could leave work pretty early on Thursday and spend most of the time catching up on the pool side or sipping cold drinks on my balcony.
Friday, it is time for another super duper delivery, but this time the pick up is in the city centre where Merge and I pick up Rasoul!! Rasoul is one of those best friends for life. He is also an ex-Matrix as he moved back (for a while) back home to mystical Tehran. Yes, Tehran. Thinking that my friend came from Tehran just for my birthday and to reunite with his ex colleagues makes me grin and giggle....
 


We spent the next day doing more catching up, eating, drinking and getting some vitamin D on the pool side.  On Saturday night it was time for yet another ride to the airport to pick 3 gorgeous super dupers. I was very moved, happy, excited, emotional, thrilled. I was having 5 best friends all for me for more than a week. They were ALL here! in Abu Dhabs!! And all for me!
 
 
Again, thanks to flexi time I only had to spend half a day at work before rushing to get supplies for the coming days. The time we spent together can be described using few words: laughter, happiness, sun, beach, sand, music and ladies nights. Sleep was not a regular on the menu, but who needed sleep when you had so little time to spend with people you consider your family.

They say pictures are worth a thousand words. Here are a few:

I think this was one of the happiest birthdays I ever had simply because I was finally serene, happy and in very good company.

The departure was inevitable. But thankfully it happened in stages: Rasouls, then Mirja, then Meena and Emily then Louise.... They were very tactful and loving in doing so!

Super Dupers, you are the best! I love you all very much!

domenica 1 dicembre 2013

#RescueKamilahCampaign - Abu Dhabi 2013 (Part 3)

After one week spent recharging her batteries in the sun, it was time again to say good bye to Oriana and get ready for the event of the month with the Di Bella: The Etihad Formula 1 Race. What an event!!!

I bought three tickets back in April, soon after I arrived, as I thought my little cousin would join her parents. So when she decided not come I reluctantly decided to join the family, after all I had a day off, the weather was good....so why not. Furthermore, even if I had no interest in the races there were some good concerts lined up: Muse and Depeche Mode.*






The F1 was a wonderful and amazing experience, which I am 'definitely' repeating next year no doubt. The event was superbly organised, with different activities scattered around the F1 village. 

There was music, food, F1 related stands with driving simulations, free henna tattoos, free manicure to pamper the ladies, Abu Dhabi cultural stands... Etihad F1 planes air show...you name it. Not a chance to be bored.






Our tickets gave us access to the Hill, which was in my opinion the best place to be. You could walk around, sleep on the grass, watch the sunset, the air show and...






... make new friends! In fact I met Chris (from London) and Kevin (a bit like me, all over the place, an American previously living London and  Abu Dhabi but now in Indonesia). They are two friends who regularly meet at the Abu Dhabi F1 event. I saw them the first day of the race and but we clicked the second day.



On the last day, our crews joined forces and we made our ways to the Depeche Mode concert. What a beautiful ending for  this long Abu Dhabi week end!


*Note for Emily: I was tempted to write "the" Muse and "the" Depeche Mode :)

#RescueKamilahCampaign - Abu Dhabi 2013 (Part 2)

Two days after saying goodbye to mamma and sis, it was time to pick up one of my "donne", Oriana.
Oriana needed a well deserved break from Brussels' weather and soak up in the Abu Dhabi sun. 

To my surprise (or maybe not) the 30 something degrees were not enough for this Sicilian. I challenged her to come back in July to get a taste of heat ...  Lemon and mint mocktails, were a a must during Oriana's stay, which we sipped on a regular basis after long days on the pool side (tough life indeed!)

After 4 days of "us-time" catching up on the pool side, or indulging in mouthwatering food and drinks, it was time for another trip to the airport to pick the Di Bella Family: my uncle Sergio and his wife Juana. Sergio and Ju are my loyal visitors, who punctually came to visit my new homes whether in Brussels or London and Abu Dhabi was no exception. They are independent travellers who did their homework before arriving. They were far more knowledgeable about what was going on in Abu Dhabi and Dubai than I was (easy task though). So the Italian caravan with the Di Bella's and Oriana took off and we dived into what the UAE had to offer: A desert Safari .... infused with sun, sand, camels, Henna, and local food...



... and a wonderful one day trip to Dubai with its colourful spices, scents and gold souks.






One of the funny memories of this trip is the number of oils and scents that we smelled. It was like Oriana and Ju were possessed and were making a pit stop (for my uncle's delight) at every shop and stall selling oils, incense and Oud (also known as Agarwood where 1 kg can cost up to 6000 Euro(!)). I think the ladies managed to go home with a stack that can last them for a full year if not more!

#RescueKamilahCampaign - Abu Dhabi 2013 (Part 1)

In the last two months I did not have one dull day. Since early October I was a regular at Abu Dhabi airport, picking up or saying goodbye (I prefer the former) to family and friends.

During each visit I did many activities for the first time! I am slowly starting to get my head around this city and I can see that the #RescueKamilahCampaign will soon have to turn into #BringKamilahBackCampaign...but we will see about that!

My tourism season started with the arrival of my mother and sister. Some unplanned circumstances changed our plans from spending a week in Zanzibar to staying in Abu Dhabi. It was not that bad after all. It was a long due reunion of the "Trio". I had not seen my sister in almost a year.




















With my family I visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque for the first time. Few words can describe the magnificence of this building, which looks like it was taken from a Disney cartoon!





It was nice, to have a slow couple of weeks with  my two favourite ladies. Exactly what I needed to get ready for the coming weeks of hosting!



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