Customer Service

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now, but I’ve only just managed to actually turn on my laptop about two days ago.  For the first time in two weeks!

Anyway, so it’s about customer service.  And doing things the right way.

As you probably already know, we went to Dubai for the Christmas holiday.  

On our way back, it was just V and me.  Alone.  I was dreading it.

We flew Qatar.  Yes, I know Emirates flies direct, but it’s SO expensive.  Qatar is so much cheaper, we were able to fly back Business Class (which was amazing).

Anyway, at check-in in Dubai the man behind the desk asked me if I was pregnant.  No.  Bastard.  (That has nothing to do with anything.  I just thought I’d share)

After checking-in we had to go through immigration.  Airport staff saw I was struggling with my very heavy handbag, Vinay’s even heavier carry-on luggage and Vinay (who was refusing to walk).  The guy took me through another channel, where there was no queue.  Same with security checks.

Then there was the long walk into the departures terminal.  I need not have worried.  There was an airport golf cart thingy waiting.  The driver whisked us off to the lifts that would take us up to departures.

We went up in the lift, and there was another golf cart waiting when the doors opened.  He drove us to the lounge.  

I’m sure it would have taken us at least forty-five minutes to walk on our own.

Our gate was very near the lounge, so we were ok to walk there.

Qatar Airways staff onboard were fabulous.  But that could have been because we were sitting in Business Class?

Once we reached Doha and got to the Premium Terminal, airport staff gave me a pushchair for Vinay.

The Premium Terminal is amazing.  They have a fully equiped nursery – DVDs, books, crayons, paper, etc.  And even a cot!  The whole idea is to leave your child/ren in there with your nanny while you enjoy the lounge.

Unfortunately we were without a nanny this time, so I got to experience the nursery as well! 

Our wait in Doha was seven hours (from midnight to seven in the morning).  

Once Vinay had enough of the nursery, we went into the lounge, found two reclining chairs and slept.  Blankets were provided!

Crew on our flight from Doha to Lagos were excellent.  And the food was SO good.  Again, probably a perk of travelling Business Class – but still.  They were so nice to Vinay – stopping to play and chat with him.  He wasn’t amused.

We reached Lagos (after a VERY long eight hours).  And we had the longest walk of my life.  Vinay refused to walk.  REFUSED.

The airport is being renovated, so the walk was longer than usual (through Departures, weirdly).  There was no one to help.  No one offered the golf cart thingy – though there are several parked in the airport.  

There was no one to take us to the front of the immigration queue.

Nothing.

I know it’s like that in most places, but maybe it’s time to rethink the rules for people travelling with small children? 

Interpreter

If you know anything about me – you will know how worried I was about V not talking.  Understanding everything – but not talking. 

Until a few months ago, of course…  When he started talking ‘properly’. 

He started talking and now we can’t stop him!

I am one proud mama.  Not only is my child able to express himself and make his needs known, but his understanding amazes me.  Every day.

Of course there are times when I wish I could just point the remote control at him and ‘switch him off’!

He has come such a long way in a relatively short amount of time.

So maybe you’ll understand my dismay when I received his report card last week (yes, another bloody report card)…

Speaks clearly – Just beginning

Can use recognisable words – Sometimes

Carries on simple conversation – Not yet

Hmmm…

Not everything he says is clear, that’s true.  But most of his words are recognisable.  Aren’t they?  And of course he can carry on a simple conversation. 

To be honest, I kind of dismissed the report.  Obviously his teachers don’t know him as well as I do.  (Bloody hell… I’m turning into one of *those* parents faster than I thought!!)

We arrived in Dubai two days ago. 

And everytime V says something, one or both of my parents say, ‘What did he say?’  And I have to translate.

My mum is always looking for something to be wrong.  Last year she thought he may be autistic.  This year she suggested we go to a speech therapist.  *eye roll*

What the hell is wrong with people?  Can’t they understand him?  He’s not speaking another language, for God’s sake.

Am I going to have to interpret everything for everyone for the next two weeks? 

Or longer?

 

Mercato

I thought I’d make an early start today.  Go out, do some shopping, etc.  So didn’t happen like that!

We decorated the tree in the morning;

Img_0382Img_0385

with a combination of decorations that we’ve used since we were children,

Img_0383

and new ones 🙂

Img_0384

Img_0387Img_0386Img_0391Img_0390

After napping, V decided he wanted to go to the mall and drive cars (he didn’t have to ask me twice!)!  I took him to Mercato.

Img_0392

Vinay had a great time ‘driving’ the bus 🙂

Img_0394Img_0395

This made me laugh!

Img_0396

Mercato is a very pretty mall, I wish I’d taken some pictures actually (no doubt I’ll be going there again at some point).  But the stores are so-so…  I went into one and asked the sales guy for a pair of trousers in a UK 14. 

He replied, ‘Sorry ma’am, we don’t have big sizes.’ 

Jesus – since when has a 14 been a big size?!  I won’t be going there again.

Wafi City

Day one in Dubai has been quite uneventful…

Because we didn’t get home from the airport until 5.30am, we spent most of the day lazing around.  Everyone had an afternoon nap – apart from me.  I’m kicking myself for that now – but hey-ho.

I wanted to take V out just for a while in the evening, so he could see stuff.  We went to Wafi City for a bit.  Here are some pictures…

I loved the big Christmas tree and decor.

Img_0370
Img_0371

V spotted this little play area…

Img_0374

And went straight to the kitchen area.

Img_0372

Meanwhile, Mama spotted THIS!

Img_0373

We walked around for a little while.  V wanted this…

Img_0376

But was happy to kiss him goodbye when Mama said, ‘no’.

Img_0377

Look at these Christmas tree decorations I spotted.

Img_0378Img_0379

We didn’t see much, I know – but it was definitely interesting.  And what did V enjoy the most?

That’s right…

The escalators!

Dubai

Finally.  Finally we are out of Lagos!  I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks…

V and I are in Dubai with my parents.

As our departure date drew nearer, I became more and more nervous about travelling with V (again).

He’s so different each time we fly, I never know what to expect!

This time he had his own seat.  I’ve been preparing him for weeks, and we’ve been reading Busy Airport – just so he realised that he *had* to sit in his own seat and wear his seatbelt.

As soon as we arrived at the airport, he started asking to sit on the airplane.  We still had three hours until boarding!

He was tired.  And I’d given him some cough syrup to make him drowsy. 

He sat so well.  I was so proud of him.

He watched tv and even used the headphones for short periods of time.  He’s NEVER used them before.

V got a bit restless near landing time, but was distracted by the iPad.  He started complaining about ear-ache during the descent and I kept making him drink water.

That’s when it happened. 

He threw up.  Everywhere.

Luckily I’d put the iPad away already!

And then twice more.

Oh well…  At least he didn’t throw up throughout the flight!

 

Use Your Feet!

When Vinay turned one, one of the presents Hub and I gave him was a Little Tikes car thingy.

Little-tikes-anniversary-edition-cozy-coupe-ride-on

He loves it.  He loves being pushed around in it.  And in the late afternoons, when it is cooler outside, we take it out into the compound and he has a little ride.  

While we were in Dubai, I took Vinay to a soft-play area in one of the malls.  He was a bit overwhelmed, but quite enjoyed himself.  Attached to the play area was an arcade.  They had loads of little rides and things.  I put him on a couple, but he just screamed.  He was, however, very happy to sit in the Kiddy Kart or in a trolley in every mall we went to (there were a number of them) and just be pushed around.  He would sit for a couple of hours at a time, which worked out perfectly for my mum and me.

Img_1603

Vinay in Kiddy Kart (Dubai 2012)

At playgroup, they have several of these Little Tikes ride-on cars.  Vinay has never given them a second look.  Until now.  He seems to have discovered a new-found love for them (I blame the malls in Dubai).  And none of them have the base attached.  This is so the children’s feet can touch the ground and they can push themselves along and zoom around wherever they want.  That’s great.  IF your child knows how to use his feet to do that!

So…  Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, he spots the cars as soon as we walk in.  He looks around for which one he wants and sits in it while I go and pay.  When I come back, he lets me know that I have to push him.  So I do.  And it’s hot.  VERY hot.  So I’m sweating like a piglet before 10am, trying to push him about and shouting, ‘Use your feet, Vinay!  They’re going to get stuck underneath the car!’

I’ve been trying to convince him to do activities indoors (where it’s air conditioned).  

‘Vinay, do you want to see the horse?  Shall we go sit on the horse?’  He looks interested for a split second but then turns away.  

‘I know!  Let’s go read a book!’  He goes and sits in another car.

‘Shall we go see if your friend, X, is inside?’  He looks at me briefly, but decides against it.  

‘Shall we go play with the trains?’  Hooray!  It worked!

He enjoys playing with the trains and in the kitchen, etc.  I tend to stand back and watch him and as soon as he seems settled, plonk myself on the ground near the air conditioner and start a conversation with another mum.  

I think he has some sort of radar, because as soon as I’m comfortable (and cooler), he zips out of the room.  

One second he’s there and the next he’s gone!  

Back to the bloody f-ing cars!

I’m very happy for him to sit in them.  I’m also very happy to push him around.  Even though it’s sweltering hot.  But I’m so scared that I’m going to hurt his feet if they get caught underneath!

So how do I get him to use his legs to push himself along?  

And how do I (selfishly) ‘encourage’ him to stay indoors?

 

Good Music

Since we’ve been here (in Dubai (on holiday), I’ve had the opportunity to listen to a *lot* of music.  English, Indian, Arabic.  The lot.  

It has been *so* good to listen to old and new music – songs that I’ve not listened to in a long while and songs that I’ve heard for the first time (although they’ve not necessarily been new).

I’ve been to Trader Vic’s (twice), Caramel, Mahiki, Sho Cho, Okku and a couple of other bars and restaurants, which have all played excellent music (according to me).  We’ve also had long drives to Sharjah (twice) and Ras Al Khaimah, listening to Virgin 104.4 all the way.

I’ve sung along to Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ (which would sound much better if I knew all the words and could actually sing), tapped my foot to David Guetta and Rihanna’s ‘Who’s That Chick?’, been reflective over Katy Perry’s ‘The One That Got Away’ (especially since I’ve only recently seen the video), shimmied to Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’ and full-on danced (even while sitting down) to Pitbull and Ne-Yo’s ‘Give Me Everything Tonight’ – you know…  It’s the ‘Grab somebody sexy and tell them ‘hey” song.  Yep – that one.

I can’t understand, though.

I can’t understand why, if I’ve been listening to such great music, all I’ve got stuck in my head is…

Hickory Dickory Dock

Anyone?

Fitting In

BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER, PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS IN NO WAY MEANT TO OFFEND ANYONE – IT’S JUST A BIT OF FUN.  GET OVER IT!

I’ve not been in Dubai long.  Only a week or so.  But since my parents live here now, I guess I’ll be spending more time here.

If I’m going to spend more time here, maybe I should make more of an effort to ‘fit in’ and *be* like other women.

After carefully observing numerous women, in various situations, over the last few days, I have seen that in order to ‘fit in’ and be like them, there are certain things I have to do…

1.  Wear make-up *all* the time.  Not light make-up during the day and heavier at night.  No, no.  That just won’t do.  It has to be full, heavy make-up all day.  Smoky eyes and red lips included.

2.  Wear trendy clothes at all times and do not look ‘sloppy’.

3.  Wear high-heels.  Even to the mall.

4.  Wear short dresses when going out to dinner and/or a club.  The tighter the better.  Said dress should not show much cleavage, but it should show a lot of leg.

5.  Make sure hair is long.  At *least* shoulder length.  And cut in layers.

6.  Make sure hair is blow-dried at all times.  It seems that if you are Indian, it should be styled with a few well-placed curls to make it all bouncy.  You know, Bollywood style.  Arab women seem to prefer theirs straight.  I’m just generalising!

7.  After blow-dry, whip out hairpiece(s) to be attached so that hair looks ‘fuller’.  This must be done when there is a long queue of women waiting to have their hair done.

8.  Make sure hands are manicured and feet are pedicured at all times.

9.  Carry designer handbag.  The more expensive the better.

10.  Wear lots of jewellery.  Gold and diamonds must be real.

I’m so glad I’m a tourist!  

And even more glad that I don’t want to be like other women!

Child Friendly

The other night, Hub and I decided to go see Mission Impossible 4 at the cinema.

There were no tickets left for the 9.30pm show.  And the seats left for the 10.30pm show weren’t together.  So we went to the 11.30pm show.  It was rather late, but we’re on holiday so it didn’t really matter!

As we waited for the endless number of adverts to finish, a young couple arrived and sat in front of us.  With them was their son.  He looked as if he may have been about Vinay’s age.  Possibly *slightly* older.  No more than 18-20 months I’d say.

The poor child was actually very well behaved to start with.  But he soon got fidgety.  He cried a little.  He wanted to walk around.  He wanted to talk to his parents.  He wanted to sleep.

His mum took him outside several times.  His dad held his hand over his mouth when he cried.  And at one point he smacked him lightly.  At no point did they offer him something to drink or eat.

I, of course, couldn’t concentrate on the film because I was too horrified by what was going in the seats in front of me.

I have, so far, found Dubai to be very child friendly.  There are children everywhere, all the time.  It surprised me a lot to see children out at restaurants at 10pm for the first day or two, but I’m used to it now. 

However, isn’t taking a toddler to an inappropriate movie at midnight and expecting him to be quiet absolutely ridiculous?  And I suppose it’s not exactly ‘child friendly’ to smack your child.

I was absolutely livid, but there wasn’t exactly anything I could do except fume inwardly.

I think this is where cultural differences become more apparent…

Closed!

Yesterday morning, Hub and I decided we would take Vinay to Sharjah to the Wild Life Centre.  There *is* a zoo in Dubai but I’d read some awful reviews about how the animals aren’t particularly cared for, and decided we would NOT go there.

Hub rented a car and driver for the day and we set off just after lunch.  It took us an hour or so to get there.  Vinay was not thrilled to be in the car for that long and the others weren’t thrilled when we got there and realised that the Centre was CLOSED on Tuesdays!  I insisted that the website did not state that it was closed then, but when I went back and checked…  Oops.  *feels very silly*

Rather than heading back to Dubai (since we’d come all that way), we went to the Sharjah Aquarium.  I was so excited to take Vinay – he hadn’t been to an aquarium before, and I couldn’t wait to see his reaction.

Img_1366Img_1367Img_1372Img_1368Img_1369Img_1370Img_1377Img_1376Img_1378

They also had a little playground outside, which he was very happy to spend a little time in!

Img_1383Img_1381Img_1382

(He is still learning how to sit on the slide properly!)

In the evening Hub, my sister and I went to The Meat Co. for dinner.  The steaks were delicious!  The restaurant is in Souk Al Bahar.  It is a beautiful place – but unfortunately I have no pictures 😦

I’ve eaten so much I’m going to have to roll into bed!