Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Extention of a Middle Eastern Holiday

People flock to Dubai nowadays. The sun, the sand, the atmosphere- its a gorgeous sky scraping paradise. The popularity of it has just taken off in the past few years, but before that when the indulgent buildings and mega million pound compounds were coming into play, i never really thought anything of it. When i thought Dubai, all i would think about was the desert and possibly a camel or two. So you can probably imagine my shock, when my parents came back to a little 12 yeared old me, after a 'business trip' in Dubai and announced that we would be packing our bags and moving there in the upcoming summer.

My mum 'wanted a change' as she put it. There was no sense of inspiration and happiness in England. She wanted us to move there and experience a new and safer way of living and get more in touch with our religious Islamic roots. Almost immediately, i pictured myself riding a camel to school, dressed in a burka and struggling to see. My mum saw my anguish and sat me down and told me it would be fine and that Dubai has jumped leaps and bounds from my prehistoric imagination. I would enjoy myself, make friends and lead a new and fulfilling life. Being so young, i didn't really have time to argue my case. Without my dad ( who had to stay in England for his business), we spent that summer packing and moving our whole lives across the Arabian sea into Dubai and unpacking.

The shock of this sudden move became more evident for me and a bit frightening, when i first stepped foot of the place. My glasses steamed up from the humidity in a second flat. I was left wiping my glasses down, whilst processing the palm trees lining the airport and the thick musky scent of the locals. My brain was bombarded with new visuals, new people and a new environment. Me, my mum and my two brothers spent the first week of our move living in a dull,gravely inspired 2 bedroom apartment. I remember waking up on my second day and collapsing in the loo. The heat had gotten too much for me and an ambulance was called. It was scary, but i learnt from it. Finally we moved into the gorgeous Al-Attar Tower on the crazy Sheikh Zayed Road ( known for having the most road accidents in the world !!)My new life had officially began.

The question is did i love living there? Of course- because not many people can say that the apartment they lived in was a green and gold architectural luxury. They also can't say that they were chauffeur driven every morning to school, or that their tight group of friends included Canadians, Australians, South Africans and Koreans. Many people also can't say that on their 'school field trip', they drove through a vast and spectacular amount of never ending mountains to remote deserted beaches.Instead of hanging out at the movies every weekend, many people don't really hang out at water theme parks. They also couldn't say that they lived a life of pure luxury on a genuinely average family income. And most certainly they also couldn't wake up to sandstorms and mention that it had only rained once in a period of two years.

Looking back i was blessed to be given this opportunity to live and be part of such an extreme lifestyle, which compared so differently to that of Britain. Of course there were a few downers. Waking up the sun beating down your back and coming home to it not ready to let go, became a bit of a nuisance. Sure i love sunshine, but the UAE took it a tad bit too far. Also, Thursdays and Fridays were our weekend. Saturday we were back at school. It messed up my conditioned weekly timetable. Its something that i or any other Brit would never get used to- And although religion was never really SHOVED down my throat by Dubai, we had to sit through painful Arabic lessons as one of our 'core' languages alongside French. So much as drop a ruler by accident, and the delightfully strict Dr.Musa would send you to the 'corner'. Many a times i had to stand there for an hour with my head facing the noticeboard full of pictures of smiling students. In a funny way, it became a bit of a game, to see who could get sent to the corner the most.

Life was drastically fun, yet the distance between us and my dad got a bit too much. Plus the cost of living in Dubai began escalating along with its business prospects. We arrived back to England in the summer of 2004. Sure enough i missed my global friends, and the thought of walking out barefoot on the sparkling roads, and where my favourite past time was desert safari's, but it was that 'smell' of England, that slapped me back to reality. This time when i stepped off the plane in England, my glasses steamed up but this time it was due to the the middle of June. I smiled and thought to myself 'Welcome back'. Now, its back to hanging out at the cinema on the weekends !! :)

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A Weighty Issue

Growing up, I've always heard the words: 'there's nothing there. Nothing behind her eyes. A blank personality. An emptiness to her aura'.

To the people who know me closely now, and the people i continue to meet, that might seem like somewhat of a shock. I pride myself on being a 'ball of emotions' now and take great pride in striking up a conversation with new people. It seems natural now, but it never did. The relationship i used to have with myself never permitted me in being open, which is another world away from today. Nowadays, i might as well stand up on top of a building and yell out how i truly feel with all my might. Some may even argue that I'm too open- But i don't care. I'm loving my new found freedom. It gives me chills to think i can feel this way, but all this came with a lot of help. From a lot of strangers that i will never forget.

Two years ago, i was at my ends wits. What people thought of me was probably true. I didn't want to talk to anyone really and the only emotion i showed was evident anger. It would never really be anyone else's fault. I would just get frustrated with myself, which catapulted into anger if someone even so much as even looked in my direction. The main root of this tension was my dire self esteem issues. I was an overweight teenager and had always been my whole entire life. As a child, other children would always look at me negatively, fishing out ways to get under my skin- with my appearance as their main point of call. Rolls of fat didn't seem to gel well with miniature girls parading around in figure hugging jeans and skimpy tops. They looked flawless and in some sense accomplished. Their self esteem issues never held them back, and whilst they were out pursuing the world of gifted extra curricular, i would be hidden inside, in mounds of baggy jumpers and my trusted bulky coat. In my late teens, i think i just came to the conclusion that i would be this way for the rest of my life. My weight was a problem for me, it may have been a light hearted joke for every one else - but for me it was my biggest enemy.

Push came to shove and i realised i didn't want to intrude into my future at university with the same sense of insecurity that i almost became accustomed to living with my whole entire life. Wishful thinking led me on to applying for a summer at 'Wellspring Camp'. A weight loss camp in New York for girls my age. The initial shame of spending a desperate summer, kept me from telling anyone apart from 2 close friends. I couldn't face the ridicule that i had dreamed up in my head. Little did i know that this was going to be one of the best experiences of my life.

During the next month, i had built a support system( my group at camp in the picture above). Getting up at stupid times for early walks was regular routine, nature was my new best friend, climbing mountains got my motivation wondering, and a couple of injuries along the way were not a big deal. Excessive counselling along the way, made me realise how stupid i was not to talk about my feelings before. I felt better, like a weight had been lifted off of me, even if it was after talking to a stranger. Life seemed pleasant for the first time and the weight began to shed off. Saying goodbye to the lifestyle that my health considered luxurious was probably the most devastating thing i ever had to face. I remember boarding the connecting flight from Burlington, Vermont to JFK, NY and crying. I tried hard to make sure no one noticed, as it was dark and people were trying to rest, yet the businessman next to me put down his newspaper and handed me a tissue. He didn't say a word to me, because he knew that he wouldn't be able to understand my turmoil. Instead, he smiled and tapped me on the shoulder. The tap seemed to tap into my soul, a bit like a voice saying 'Get with it soldier. You have the rest of your life to think about.' That was probably the longest plane journey i had. A lot of realisations were hit upon.

Two years later and I've made immense progress in what I've always wanted to become. From a point of some people seriously telling me to consider 'anger management' ( i know!! ) to a peaceful sense of living. I like to go out and laugh and have fun. I'm nice to everyone, even if people out there take that opportunity to walk all over me. I know their doing it, but in a way its their loss. I'm a good person and I'm usually always willing to do whatever it takes to put a smile on peoples face. Life isn't so serious anymore, yet i have the positive energy to think about my future. My life is going places. My frustrations may have been replaced by my weirdness- I'm sooo open now that i usually bite off more than i can chew. I say weird things, at weird times, but that's they beauty of being free.

Its not all happy times though. I do sometimes get anxious when i go out in daylight. I don't feel as loose as i do at night, but the social setting is different. I feel like people are always staring at me and picking out flaws, but that's probably due to the insecurities that replay in mind every now and then from my childhood. There are certain things and moments that will forever haunt me. However, its fine, i have no intention of being 100% perfect. I'm glad i polished up my act, and now I'd rather have people dislike me for being unusual or too forward, rather than miserable and distressed.

Now people have no right to look at me square in the eye and say theres 'nothing there'. Everything is there. Just make the effort to get to know me.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Bat for Lashes

Growing up and being blessed with an array of fluttery lashes, I know only too well of the confidence that can come from the narrow ‘pointy things’ that stick out from the bottom of the eyelid. The eyes have always been legendary in nabbing someone’s attention. Attractions can be formed just because that certain somebody has that ‘twinkle’ in their eye.

For girls who already seem to have themselves working wonders in the sight department, mascara always is the best option. For me, it’s the classic mascara, Maybelline Colossal, which has won over British hearts by our fine young ladies voting it the no. 1 mascara. I personally love the drama and the elongation it provides, whilst bringing out your natural eye colour. For a fiercer look, I recommend companies such as Clinique and The Body Shop for their new unique range.

However, to really go all out, fake eyelashes are ALL the rage. I’m not much of a fan of that over the top dramatic, glittery, sparkly, disaster of a pair of lashes. What you need, is a gorgeous natural pair of lashes; natural curves give you that much needed definition. Just do your research before you spontaneously end up buying a pair. Sometimes the application glue can cause a melt down before a wild night out. After trying a few myself, Girls Aloud’s Eylure range seem to do the best. All five girls have their own unique designs- something to suit everyone’s tastes. Also, the best thing about them? They look natural for it even to be acceptable for day wear. The glue actually functions unlike other brands and application is probably one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. My personal favourite? NICOLA’S!!
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