Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Married Men

Some of my closest guy friends are married. No, ALL my close guy friends are married. I seem to land up spending more time with them (without their wives), than with my single guy friends.
No matter which part of the world I have lived in, no matter what state of mind I have been in, no matter what stage of my life - they have been there.

No, there is nothing other than friendship between us, and cross-my-heart-hope-to-die I have never had (and never will have) an illicit relationship with a married man. Why would I want to put myself through that agony anyway? No vale la pena. Ex-girlfriends are pains enough, let alone having a wife in the picture.

We get along like a house on fire, we can laugh together, we can talk for hours and we can tolerate seeing each other more than a few times a week. It's just a cool sence of platonic belonging - like with any friend.

'Beta, you will never find a man if you always hang out with married men,' is what my mum keeps saying with a tone of resignment. Like I'm wasting my time with these guys. But find me a single man who I connect with in the same way and I will surely reassess the division of my time.

They just don't exist. Yes, the time has come when I have to say - all the happening men are married, some even have kids.

Perhaps it has got to do with sex. When you hang out with a single man - spend a lot of time, all he is hoping for from you is some fun in the bedroom.

With married men, sure they want sex too - but not necessarily from you. So your relationship automatically goes to another level where sex is not in the principal picture, and other things - the things that last - like humour, respect, care and just being, rule the relationship.

Ok, I'm single and ready to mingle, but why are these married guys hanging out with me? Other than the binding mental connection and understanding we have, I think it's the safety factor.

These guys have been my friends for anything between 4-10 years. If something was to happen between us, it would have happened by now, and the fact that it hasn't, asserts a sense of safety in their minds when they hang out with me. Like they can hang out, be themselves and enjoy some female company without being worried of any uncomfortable circumstances or consequences.

It's weird but I'd be inconsolably upset if any of these men had to take an exit from my life.

I wonder how it will be when I get married? (if I get married) I think I'd be totally fine if my husband had a close female friend, because I totally believe that a guy and a girl can just be friends. Afterall, I'm a standing example.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Have I lost the plot?

A 6-month break in Spain, 4 well paying job offers in Dubai on the table, yet all I can think of is moving back to Spain and writing. Have I lost the plot?

A good friend of mine thinks I'm afraid of getting back to a job here, because I think I will like it and get sucked back in, and then not go to Spain again.

Friends are getting promoted, traveling the world business class for work, investing in houses, climbing their career success ladders, driving BMW's.

I quit that life and am learning Spanish. Why? Because that's what I want to do. Why? It's fun. What will I do with the language? no friggin' clue.

I have a bit of money in the bank, and I believe that if you are educated, have common sense and a drive - money will always come in. My objective in life is not to own a Ferrari, or have a house on the beach, or to be a CEO, I just want to live life to the fullest.

People spend all their lives working their asses off, saving money for later. For when exactly? What about now, when we are young, free and kicking? It's not like we will be on the street if we do what we want now, right?

I guess it all depends on what you want from your life.

It's difficult for me to get a good job in Spain. Mainly because I'm not fluent in Spanish yet, and nor am I an EU citizen. Work permits and visa regulations put alot of red tape, which if I get through - I wouldn't even earn 1/4th of what I might get paid here.

So why am I leaving this comfortable job-in-hand haven to live a completely unpredictable and unstable life?

Does it scare me? No. Do I doubt my confidence? Sometimes.

My 4-years in the corporate communications world were fulfilling. And though I still have a lot to learn, the thought of getting back into it - especially in Dubai - is repulsive to me.

If I can afford to do what I want to for another year or so, why shouldn't I?

If people can make a living, living abroad and writing - why can't I?

Nothing I have written has been published yet. This could take years. Often I loose my confidence and this little voice inside me says, Abha get real - you had your 6-months of fun in Spain, now get back to reality. Get a job and focus on your 'career'. Today was one of those days when all I did was read success stories of people who have done what I want to, and have succeeded.

If you don't try, you will never know. This is what I want to do.

Living abroad, traveling, learning a new language, writing, teaching English does not equal being a bum.


All I know is that if I give up now - I will regret it....

Have I lost the plot?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

White Lies

I hate people who lie and I hardly ever lie. But I totally believe in white lying. Lying about something stupid, to avoid hurting a person. Eg. A friend spends $$$ on a T-shirt with a donkey on it. He loves it, you think it's really sad - a true waste of money. When he asks you what you think, you say 'cool man'.

Another example: a very good friend in town keeps calling you to go out. You have seen her over 4 times in the same week, and yet the calls keep coming. You love her company and enjoy hanging out, but today you just don't have the ganas. Try telling her that you don't feel like seeing her today and hurt her, or instead, say that you have diarrhea. Works beautifully. She doesn't feel bad, you get to do whatever you want.

You might say, a lie is a lie is a lie. But when you lie about trivial things, to avoid complications and unnecessary misunderstandings - it's a white lie and it's ok.

I rather white lie and not do something, than do something under obligation. You hardly ever enjoy doing things you really don't want to, so what's the point.

A friend is getting married next month in a small village in India. We were good friends in school and our families are friends too - but I have hardly seen him over the last 10 years. As much as his wedding would probably be fun and a trip down memory lane, for me it involves taking an overnight train, bus and taxi after I get to Bombay; there is nobody else I really need to see in that village. The wedding is four days - no way am I spending 4-days out of 12 there, and going for one day just doesn't make sense.

He totally thinks I'm coming. I've told him 'I'm trying to get a flight to make it, it's difficult as it's peak season, but I'm pulling some strings.'

Before you jump to conclusions: in Indian weddings there are normally over 500 people. Tables aren't booked by name of person attending and no per-head money is lost. The bride and groom are so occupied doing the 1001 rituals over the four days that you would be lucky to get more than a 'hey so good to see you' and a hug. So, no love is lost.

I'm very happy for him and wish him the best from the bottom of my heart. If it was more convenient and I had a bit more time, I'd go. If he'd understand my simple reasoning, I'd tell him the truth but he wouldn't, and probably never speak to me for the rest of his life. So there you go, I white lied again.

I guess it's just easier to white lie sometimes. And as long as your intentions are good and heart is clean, I really think it's ok.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

'Dance Bars' Dubai

There is a certain special friend of mine S who, for the last year or so has been bitten hard by the Bollywood bug. On any night out, as long as he gets his chicken tandoori and gets to listen to some bollywood hits where he can imagine himself doing some Sharukh Khan moves - he is rocking. And for some reason, I always seem to forget about this before we decide to go out - [perhaps I'm hoping the bug has worn out] leaving me inappropriately dressed for the night to come.

Anyway. I go pick him up from the Fairmont Hotel - home to some of the best bars in Dubai. 'Come to the Cigar Bar,' he says. YAAAAYYY - 'We are chilling here tonight!', I think.

Yeah right, the next thing I know we are heading out in hunt for some Bollywood hotspots. A few phone calls to those on the underground Bollywood scene and we have 3 places to visit.

Place number 1 - Mehfil: Located in a 2-star hotel in a dodgy area over the bridge, we enter this nightclub/bar which is almost pitch dark, the only lights being dark red ones. Once our eyes got accustomed to the darkness, we notice there was nobody in the bar - however all the tables were reserved. Indian temple music - bhajans - were playing in the background and a group of young Indian girls, dressed in everything from an Indian sari to a short skirt with heavy make-up, were sitting on the stage in the club. 'What's happening here tonight?' we ask. 'Madam one show - vill estart now only in fiwe minats', says the dude with a full-on Indian accent.

Show? Girls? Temple Music? we decided to stay. Happens that the girls - known as dance girls of dance bars in India - were praying and asking for God's blessings before they begin strutting their stuff.

About 10 minutes later, the ritualistic music changed to a 'boom boom boom boom' bollywood song and one by one, the girls began coming to the front and doing what I would call some mixed form of bollywood movie dancing and pole dancing.

It wasn't sexy. It wasn't professional. The girls were not pretty. But the men - who started flowing in within half-an-hour were loving it. I felt quite sorry for the girls.

I was the only non-dancer girl in the whole club. Perhaps that's why the girls kept looking and and flashing wide smiles at me. Surely those were meant for the men, what were they thinking I would do? were they trying to lure me in? were they trying to tell me 'look what fun we are having here while you are sitting there'! or just happy to see a girl in the audience for a change - I really don't know.

What was more interesting to see was the sort of people that visit these bars. Mostly Indian, one Arab in his kandoora with his three sidekicks. All men. Age-group 25-60. Seemingly lower-middle class, probably sadly employed in some depressing job in Dubai, probably all living in Karama [a relatively cheaper, mini-India area in Dubai] Definitly all married. Definitly all sexually frustrated. Definitly all regulars.

We ordered food, had a few beers, the girls weren't very pleasant to watch, we left.

We ruled out spending more time in such bars. Landed up in my Columbian salsa hole. What a relief.

These are the sort of clubs in Dubai you will never hear about outside the city. As much as it was an experience of a kind, I would never go there on my own and was most comfortable only because I was with friends. I would never go there again.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sangria disaster

Yesterday my family had the whole building over for dinner. About 35 people. [Yes, parents always wait for children to be home to do these sort of things!]

I offered to make Sangria [well, my version of Sangria]. It is a great drink, easy to serve and always does well.

I make two large bowls of the drink. The colour was deep maroon, the fruit was fresh and the alcohol had just the right kick. My dad was really excited to serve it.

'May I offer you a glass of Sangria - this Spanish drink that my daughter has made for today?' says my dad to the first set of guests that arrive.

Here I need to mention the fact that they were all Indian couples, with children.

A blank stare with 'what is it exactly?' were a majority of the replies. My dad has the gift of the gab, so quite effortlessly he managed to thrust a glass to everyone who wanted an alcoholic beverage.

Once they had the glass in their hand - the whole taking-a-sip-from-your-glass equation took new meaning.

First they look at it quizically. Something red with bits in it. Then they smell it. They they realise it has fruit in it and wonder - is this a drink or desert?

They can't throw it, nor leave it on the table and ask my dad the bar tender for another drink, so they forcefully take a sip with an expression that says 'what's this fruity pink thing I'm drinking on a Friday night, where's the whisky!?'

You'd think they'd atleast finish the meagre glass full that they were given but leaving it on the table for an extended period of time seemed like the better option. However, some of them actually did drink it all; infact they drank the glass so quickly that all the fruit remained in the glass and then they asked for forks to eat the fruit (!). And nobody asked for a refill.

What a disaster!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Arrested in Germany

I was arrested at Munich International Airport [on my way back to Dubai] for not having the right documentation to land in Germany. It was just like the movies.

Innocent morena enters airport. Two large and burly and very German men approach her, flash their ID and ask her where she's coming from and to show them her passport.

'Sorry but you do not have the right documentation to be here, and you are under arrest for being an illegal trespasser.' What?

Yup. See I had a visa issued by Spain - not by Schengen; but Spain is Schengen right? Nope, not with the visa I had. I knew I couldn't travel outside Spain, but since I was only in transit - I didn't think it would be a problem. Lesson learnt - even if you are 100 % sure, check again!

Sat in German police headquarters at the airport for about an hour. Totally confused and a bit scared to be between armed men, somehow I had a nerve to bombard them with questions.

I was surprised at how nice they were to me. There was nothing Hitler about them, answered all my questions in monosyllables, but answered them nonetheless. Perhaps it was because I was a girl.

Then they brought out a filled Criminal Record – with my name and my charges spelled out under some act of Germany’s penal code.

Then those papers were sent to a public prosecuter who must have been in a good mood because he told the guys to stamp my passport and let me go.

Phew. I really enjoyed my jug of German beer after that.

Good Morning?

I woke up yesterday in my bedroom with a feeling that I had awaken from a beautiful dream. Like I never left my bed in the first place and 6 months in Spain were a figment of my imagination. Thank goodness for the pictures and thanks to the guys who emailed me. I needed the proof.

Went to have a drink with my best friend yesterday, to the same places we have been frequenting for over 4 years. Had the same drink, bumped into the same people. Again needed a pinch to realise that I had been away. Somethings don't change. They never will.

Malls still stink of expensive perfumes, the newspapers still write the same rubbish with aim to continue brainwashing all readers how hot and happening Dubai is. The drivers on the roads are still assholes, the prices are still going up, new clubs are still opening. The air is still too polluted to breathe in, the weather is still to hot to be outside. Arabs are still complaining about the Malbaris, the English are still dating the Filipinos. Everyone is still working their ass off. Everyone still wants to be a millionaire.

Dubai as a city is the contrary though. It's a place that will only stop changing when white elephants conquer the world.

Buildings seem to have popped up from nowhere. One of the 3 bridges has disappeared - or perhaps I just got lost amidst all the mierda construction happening around. Lanes have been added, cars on the road have trippled, new roundabouts, more Starbuckses, more people in malls, more malls, no parking. The parking lot outside my house has turned into a mosque; I hope I'm out of Dubai before it opens.

I thought I'd feel all nostalgic, warm and tingly to be back seeing family and friends. Sure it is great to see people you care about but I can't help feeling that I have left a large part of me behind.

The familiarity and sense of belonging I felt in Spain within living there for 6 months, I have never felt having lived in Dubai 8 years. Que fuerte!

Anyways. I'm here for a month, then I go to India for a bit. Hope to be back in Spain early next year.

Have books to read, went and got some Spanish language CD's today. Will spend this month trying to get published and keeping up with the Spanish. Vamos a ver.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Random last day in Valencia

Today was my last full day in Valencia. The sun was shining, a light yet chilly breeze in the air.
A few random yet ultra cool things that happened today:

- 8am phone call from long-time close friend, wondering where I was.

- Gave my email address to the 55 year old crepe guy down the street. He said he'd like to write to me and send me some photos one day when he buys his own camera.

- Went into the main Cathedral [shamefully] for the first time, attended mass - and ate the 'body of Cristo'. [curiosity kills the cat?]

- Ate a pure vegetarian meal that was actually pretty good.

- Spent 10 hours chatting with a guy I met 2 days ago. [ Can you believe it?]

-My flatmates cooked me dinner [my last dinner] that was devoured by our beloved dog Franky. I had a kebab.

- My flatmates also took the day off tomorrow to drop me to the airport!

- I witnessed a real cry session [Yes in sadness of my departure!] by people I have spoken to twice in my life. [I've got my dams ready for my flatmates]

- My wisdom teeth have begun growing out again. It's a sign. [?]

-My bag weighs 19kilos! I had brought 30.

Still don't feel like I'm flying yet.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Spain: Photos

Never posted any photos but here are some that sum up my stay here. They are all disorganised, but, oh well.

Knot in my stomach

I cannot believe I am leaving Spain in 3 days. 3 DAYS. I feel like I came here yesterday. Time flies so fast it scares me sometimes.

The weekend was my last weekend dancing. Wanted to say goodbye to the people I have been dancing with for the last 6 months, 3 times a week. Tried to, but since I had never spoken to any of them before [don't even know their names yet], felt weird and pointless. Besides, when I return to Spain - I will go dancing in Valencia again.

Had a little pizza and beer party at home over the weekend. Got lots of [big] books in Spanish as presents. Lovely, but I wonder how I'm going to take back all of them. Said goodbye to everyone with an earnest will to see them again.

Yesterday was my first day in 6 months with without school. I was done with school anyway. 494 hours of Spanish is a lot. I hope to be in touch with a few of my teachers.

It's amazing the friendships I have made here in 6 months. Don't know if I made such friends in Dubai over 6 years! I have offers to come back and bunk with them when I need to, offers to leave stuff at their homes if I need to, numbers of their friends in Madrid for when I come back. It's so nice when help is offered genuinely.

When I left Dubai, I was ready to leave. Left excited and relieved to be out of there. Now it's time to close this Valencia chapter and I have a big knot in my stomach.

Can't get myself to pack. Don't have an appetite. On the contrary, I'm quite stoic about it all. I don't think it has sunk in yet.

Will be shuttling between Dubai and India in November and December. If all goes as planned, I should be on a plane to Madrid sometime in January to begin another chapter in my life.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

494 horas

Llevo casi 6 meses en España con 494 horas de clases de español. ¿Que fuerte verdad? En una semana estará en Dubai para dos meses [por lo menos] y tengo miedo que voy a olvidar todo que he aprendido.

Es que ahora estoy en este punto de aprender una lengua, que es muy vulnerable. Tengo más o menos todo…o bueno, mucho, lengua en mi cabeza, pero aun no ha asimilado totalmente. Si tuviera 1-2 meses más, pienso que hubiera ido en un lugar que es imposible olvidarla. Que pena que no tengo este meses. Pero bueno…

Claro que estoy planeando cosas a hacer para que no olvide mis invertidas 494 horas de español. He comprado para leer: Memoria de mis putas tristes – Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Once Minutos – Paolo Coelho [que he leído en ingles]; y El adios de los nuestros – Javier Menéndez Flores [no tengo ni puta idea que es este, pero es un regalo que dice es facilísimo a leer]. Voy a leer todos en dos meses.

Tambien, conozco un Cubano y un Colombiano en Dubai, voy a pedirlos que hablen en español conmigo. Intentaré hacer un intercambio o algo asi. [Pero primero tengo que reanimar nuestra amistad] Y hay un grupo de tias Latinas en Dubai. Quedan a menuda para tomar algo y charlar. Voy a apuntarme en este grupo.

YYYYYY…escribiré aquí en español a veces a molestar todo.


Si olvidaré este lengua, voy a llorar!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Should I have?

Yesterday as I was leaving my local videoclub, a guy approached me [yes in the middle of the road] and said "Perdona, you are beautiful, can I take you for a coffee sometime?"

Totally put on the spot, I said that I only had a week left and that I'm not sure I have time.

To which he said "you have the most beautiful eyes I have seen, what about tomorrow? day after? you pick a time and place."

My reflexes were totally saying no, so he gave me his name and telephone number and told me to think about it and call him if I want to.

A bit flustered, and flattered - I walked home. Now this has happened to me before, but the reason I am writing this post this time, is because this dude was actually quite handsome. His name was Roberto: bright blue eyes, tanned, long hair in a pony tail, clean teeth, jeans and a dark blue T-shirt.

Not hot-that-you-want-to-jump-on-him types, but charming in his own way. And I began to think - how many times does a good-looking man approach you -pleasantly enough, says something nice and asks for a bit of your time.

Yes my first thought was - what kind of decent guy stops you on the street and asks you out? But then I thought, what's the difference if he was on the street or in a bar? or in a shop or at work? How else do you meet guys? There is no right-or-wrong way.

So why didn't I want to go? Perhaps it's a bit desperate? but then again it isn't much different from a blind date or an exchange of telephone numbers in a night-club. Does it matter that he approached me on the street?

How much do you need to know a guy before going on a date? when I start to get to know guys, we become friends; friends that you don't want to date because they have entered the too-much-of-a friend zone.

Guess it all boils down to what you want. There haven't been many times that it has been crystal clear that I want to be with someone. However, irrespective- it's always been disastrous. My luck with men stinks. Perhaps that's why I have my guards up too high.


I can't call him anymore as my memory has failed to remember his number. But if I did, perhaps I would have. But then again, he was Italian. Guess I can imagine what he really wanted. But then again, wouldn't you be upset if he didn't?

We women are complicated.
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