Dubai 2013: Week 25

I woke up feeling like rubbish on Sunday. I’d felt it coming on the day before but hoped it was just one of those 24-hour bugs. I spent most of the day in bed.

I spent most of Monday in bed too and missed my Arabic class. I felt tired, feverish, and had a slight cough.

On Tuesday I decided that enough was enough and thought I’d try a ‘mind over matter’ approach – if I pretended I was OK, I’d be OK. I had my piano lesson, went for a Dermalogica facial at Spaces Salon in Oasis Centre and in the evening went to see World War Z with my dad. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would but found it quite scary! I got into bed that night feeling much better and thought that my new approach had worked.

I woke up on Wednesday feeling a bit under the weather again. I went to my Arabic class anyway as I didn’t want to fall behind. And I’m so glad I went because we covered:

  • Six more letters
  • Numbers from 1000 upwards
  • How to say you’re at someone’s place (similar to chez in French) or invite someone over
  • New verbs – to be able to/can, to speak, to come, to like/love, to read, to understand, to visit, to drive, to work, to eat
  • Random vocabulary – lunch, dinner, sometimes, always, never, usually
  • Telling the time – I thought this was pointless as nobody in Dubai is ever on time anyway. Telling the time is complicated in Arabic – similar to French and Spanish, when referring to minutes from 1 to 20 you say the hour and the minutes, e.g. 3:10 would be 3 hours and 10. If you were referring to 3:50, however, you would say 4 hours minus 10. As in French and Spanish, you have a word for quarter past/to (similar to quart in French) and half past (like demi in French). You also have a word for 20 minutes past/to (this doesn’t exist in French and Spanish). To make things even more complicated, if you wanted to say 3:25 the literal translation would be 3 hours and a half minus 5. No wonder nobody can tell the time here, it’s so complicated. I’ve decided all my meetings/appointments will be on the hour, just to make it easier!

That evening I had my fourth and last creative writing class. We talked about stepping out of our comfort zone by: switching the point of view (from first person to third person or vice versa), changing our genre, writing about something controversial (religion or incest, etc.), switch story settings, face a fear and write about it.

We also talked about dreams and how the subconscious mind can be a powerful resource when writing fiction. I was asked if I had any recurring dreams and I couldn’t remember a single dream I’ve had since I moved to Dubai. I used to dream a lot in London, but here I just don’t dream. Or I don’t remember my dreams.

We then had to write a letter to our younger selves. I hate doing exercises like this – I never know what to write.

We finished off by talking about planning a novel:

  • Your story chooses you – and you won’t know why until you’ve finished it
  • The narrative – the story, the plot, what happens – these are the spine on which the body of your novel depends
  • Think about the arc of your story
  • Every story is a microcosm of the story of life – a cycle of birth, growth, death, rebirth, and so on

Things to think about:

  • Make readers come back to you
  • Build an alternative universe
  • Be the best – keep practising
  • Amuse and entertain – do not preach
  • Don’t avoid dialogue (dammit, that’s what I’d been planning to do)
  • Be prepared to throw away a lot
  • If it’s boring, leave it out!

And that was the end of my 4-week writing course. I’d done it hoping it would motivate me to do some writing but I have to admit I haven’t written anything since then.

On Thursday I felt much better. I had a piano lesson and then decided it was time for some pampering at the Amro Salon at the Shangri-La. I treated myself to a manicure, pedicure and blowdry. That evening I had a friend in town for the night so we decided to meet at Zuma for some drinks – we had quite a few and then went to La Petite Maison where we had another drink (and a shot of Cafe Patron) and then went to Roberto’s where we were joined by a couple of his friends. It was a really fun evening.

I was home most of Friday in the day. That evening I met up with a couple of friends at Vantage at the Sheraton. Luckily we were seated indoors this time. It was a chilled evening and I was home by midnight.

I caught up on some work on Saturday and that evening went to see White House Down with my dad. Very similar to Olympus Has Fallen but I enjoyed it nonetheless!

I love my life.

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