Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Why I love winters in UAE!!

I am a bit restless these days, waiting for the weekend, hyper excited about the onset of winter here.

12 to 20 degrees centigrade, hardly counts for winters in the rest of the world, I know. But for the 45+ degree centigrade that scorches us for at least 8 months in a year, I have all rights to be a little crazy for the rest of the four months.

These are some things that I love about the cooler climate here...

The beaches in UAE in winter
The beaches!!

The sun, yes !! The same sun which scorches up the summer is so very soothing in the chilly mornings. The sun when teemed with sand and water, is the best place to be in. This must be the only place where beaches are more frequented in the winters. A perfect weekend morning for us is waking up late, packing a simple brunch, having a picnic at the beach, dipping our toes in the cool water and making sand castles.

Pretty blooms in UAE
Pretty blooms

Flowers and more flowers
Flowers, flowers everywhere!!
The pretty little flowers all over the parks. Another reason not to miss my morning walk.

Fun little abra rides UAE
The abra rides
I love these abra(tiny wooden boat) rides in Dubai. Not only can I look at Dubai's shiny buildings without squinting, but I also can enjoy a cool breeze even if its noon.

Sharjah corniche fogged up
Foggy morning walk

Sharjah Corniche
The same place in the evenings

The blinding fog, that sets in often early in the morn, it reminds me of hill stations. I may be the only weird one to enjoy this,  may be because I don't drive to work:-).

Jebel Hafiet
Picnics in the hills
The little hiking trips we take to the mountains on the outskirts of the city. Just to breathe the fresh air, and walk about barefoot in the grass.

Life in the city
Sitting outdoors, in our favorite restaurants, watching little bits of life in the city.

Everything about winter excites me, the snow man in the malls, the huge Christmas trees, the odd splashes of rain..
Oh so much fun...

Paper Snowman
Paper Snowman
By the way this is the snowman my little one made for school.. on paper though. :-(
Now let me just wish for some snow ;-) Sipping my 1 dhirham CHAI sitting on the beach..

Will get back to be you with so much we have planned for this winter..
Till then enjoy life's little pleasures..

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Sharjah Book Fair - For the love of the written word!

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.
–Oscar Wilde

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.
– Marcel Proust

This week the love of books took us to a place which we have been frequenting for the past two years, 'The Sharjah Book fair - 33rd edition- 4th biggest book fair' in the world, being held at the Sharjah Expo Centre. Over this weekend, the place was jam-packed with the book-lover crowd, especially the Indian pavilion at Hall 5. So many publishers and so many authors.

Sharjah book fair 2014
Sharjah Book fair 2014... The roads to the venue were choked

Sharjah book fair 2014
Indian pavilion... Huge collection of books

Sharjah book fair 2014
Books, books and more books... everything from cooking, kids, medical, technical and novels.

Sharjah book fair 2014

Navigating ourselves through the crowd, we managed to catch glimpses of some activities that were held. Lakshmi Nair, a famous Malayali cook and TV host had a cookery show on. She has authored a book of recipes too. Among many other notable books, I found the recent Chetan Bhagat's HALF-GIRLFRIEND and SACHIN TENDULKAR's biography.

Sharjah book fair 2014
A glimpse of Lakshmi Nair's cookery show

The event runs from 5- 15 th of November and has many activities. DAN BROWN, SHASHI THAROOR and MANJU WARRIER were many of the authors that are going to grace the fair along with so many others from the arab world.

The children have loads to do, see and of course buy too. The collection of books for the children was so huge, and many of the stalls had educational toys and much more. Plenty of fun to keep the little ones happy - bouncy castle, caricature, arts workshops, face painting and so much more. We went around the heavily crowded place looking for books that would catch our imagination and bought a few stuff. The little one had her own choice of what she wanted and picked up so many herself. Now these books might keep us busy for some time:).

Educational toys

Live caricature

Wood craft

What our daughter picked up!!

We are definitely going back on a week day , to escape the crowds and savor the place once more. Sometimes books can just amaze you without you even turning a page. We found a book titled on Farz's name. How cool is that:)

Delighted !!

Here's the link to the Sharjah Book Fair Official website.

Be ready to brave the crowds for the love of the written word.


Friday, 7 November 2014

An uplanned adventure - Khor Kalba

The last time we made it to the east coast of UAE in summer, we enjoyed the beautiful ride and the nature we got to see all around us. You can get to see that post here . We had promised ourselves to pay frequent visits to this side of the country once winter sets in.

An online search brought out many places, and we short listed khor kalba. By noon we had set out on our drive taking dhaid-masafi -fujairah route. As we exited the city we were greeted by the vast expanse of the desert. But once we crossed ras al khaimah, the scenery changed. The stunning hajjar mountains again. How delightful it was to drive in their midst, a change from the rush hour traffic in the city.

Why we decided to go to khor kalba (a part of the emirate of sharjah), we had no idea ourselves. Even after a lot of google search we did not come up with any substantial information on the place, neither was there any information on tourist activities there. All we read was some vague mentions of a beautiful mangrove there, with some marine life. It sounds crazy to take a drive of 2 plus hours with a child in the rear to go just have a look, but  sometimes they are the best journeys taken, though you may risk not finding anything at the end.

As we crossed fujairah , it seemed like we had made a wrong judgement. There were no major sign boards. Driving with our modest sedan onto the unpaved roads with goats loitering around reminded us how ill-equipped we were for exploring without an 4x4.

An hour and half to go for sunset and a bit exhausted with a tired kid, we had steered ourselves to just ride a few more minutes and turn back. We stopped at a place with a few roadside shops , in what seemed like buzzing with some activity , lots of parked cars and fishing equipment on sale. Taking a much needed tea break to see if we could find some information about the elusive place we were looking for, we were instructed to go one kilometer farther and we would reach the place. But the shopkeeper told us there is nothing much there and asked us why were we taking the trouble. Not heeding into his pessimism and with a last ray of hope we headed to one last bit that the we were told to drive.

Fully anticipating disappointment as we reached to the last roundabout, we could see some water body and a few parked cars in what looked like the centre of the small town. Happy to have somewhere to stop , our hopes lifted. It was a a huge lake or backwater with a strip of man made cor niche and grassy areas for the visitors to relax. It did not look like it was worth the long drive. To add into our woes , there was only one boat operator there and a huge queue to get on. We managed to haggle up a price and get on a tiny motor boat.

Now the excitement built up a bit. With a little time on for sunset, the serenity of the lake was great, buzz of insects all around us and the beautiful setting sun. As the lights came on in the city we could see the full moon above us. A beautiful sight indeed. We could have stayed on there all by ourselves if we had more time.

May be it was the tricks of our travel-weary mind, but that was one of the most serene and beautiful boating we had . We missed to locate the mangroves of Khor kalba though :-(. On our way back we took a different route back to sharjah. We could see some wadis (springs) and some long tunnels through mountains. Yet again, we decided to come back to explore more and find the mangrove the next time and have a barbecue near the wadis.

This time around, luck was again on our side and at the end of the day, all we remembered was the being in a boat, in the middle of the water , with sounds of nature, and a full moon above us. It could not have gotten better. We wished to have stayed longer.

Leaving you with some pictures, though they don't do justice to what we experienced...

Khor Kalba
The Hajjar mountains, again

Khor Kalba
Pretty little lake

Khor Kalba
Sunset from the water

Khor Kalba
City lights

Khor Kalba
This was the best