Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm a little teapot...

My lovely friend Sariya has her birthday just before mine, and she included me in a mommy get-together/get-away to Raffles Dubai.

For Afternoon Tea. In the Salon.

Now, there may be those of you out there who wonder my use of capital letters there. Well, if you question it, you obviously have not experienced one of these. When you get Tea-d, you know you're getting it. There's nothing you can do but sit back, let it happen, and enjoy yourself.

We escaped our families and responsibilities for the afternoon and met at Raffles, which is at Wafi, a luxuriously Egyptian-themed shopping mall with much in the way of stunning architecture and stores that I can't afford. Or at least can't make myself afford. Also very easy to get lost in, but at least you're lost in a pretty place.

(Enormous glass spiral in the center of equally spiraling ramps sweeping around it. Bethy and Thomas really love to run up and down these, and of course they have to make lots of noise while they do. )

Raffles is the Singapore-based 5 star hotel there, and amongst the gold and cream columns, rife with hieroglyphics, stretching to the high ceilings, we lounged on sofas from which we were unsure we could extract ourselves. With ceremony, we were presented with our tea and cakes. And pastries. Scones with blissfully clotted cream. And more cakes. And little finger sandwiches. And so on. In other words, enough so-called dainty food to satiate a football player.

One does not eat lunch, and possibly not breakfast, before going to one of these.

Very indulgent. Very la-dee-dah. Very Dubai.

Just makes me wiggle with happiness, if you want to know the truth.

I thought I was getting a handle on the desserts, but then the lovely tea maidens mercilessly pushed a ridiculously rich birthday torte on Sariya and me and it was all over.

Chocolate and hazelnut and candles for wishing.

We all ended up with takeaway boxes. Big, full ones.

One of the ladies there, who I'd met exactly once before, had actually gone out and gotten me a present: Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, translated from Japanese, something I've been meaning to read. It's a slim volume that fits beautifully in my purse for enjoyment whenever I am waiting somewhere, or in a stolen moment with a cup of coffee.

Three of us reminisced endlessly about Seattle, all being from there, and our solitary Brit friend looked patiently on; we spoke of our kids, our plans, of being expats.

One thing my benefactress said stayed with me. I've heard it before, but it is telling of this place and I'd like to share it with you. Essentially she said we are all away from our friends and families back home, the folks who would fuss over us on our birthdays. So here, we look out for one another, celebrate each other, and make the best of it.

Thus the utterly unexpected birthday gift. A gift in more ways than one.

The remains of the day

I ran at Safa Park that evening, but it was a pathetic effort. Who says sugar give you energy? It gives me the need for a nap. So there is your final mental image for the day: empty calorie-laden me, huffing around the park,

and having teacakes for breakfast the next day. Not an ounce of regret, except probably on my thighs.

Such a love triangle, sweets and me and running. Someday I'll have to choose. Perish the thought. Until then, c'est la vie! Or should that be, bon appetit?


*Paula* said...

That sounds divine Natalie! I know the feeling of being away from home, except now away IS my home :)

Joanna said...

Yeah, I can see how one could get used to Dubai ... Very fun! Glad you had a good birthday!

Mom2ABJ said...

Thank you for a beautiful recap of a beautiful day! I'm sorry it's taken me so long to comment ... my school work has set me far behind on your blogs :( Hope to see you soon! XOXO