Dubai Diaries: On life and growing up in the city

We all have a choice, even in this fast-paced era, to make time for the things we love.

Photo: KT File
Photo: KT File

By Jenny Palomaria

Published: Sat 26 Feb 2022, 12:10 PM

Last updated: Sun 27 Feb 2022, 2:52 PM

Just as Kate Winslet’s character asked her sister in the 90s film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility – “Where is your heart?” – a thought crossed my mind recently. I remember the first heartbeat that made me smile. The first realisation of life. I welcomed the most beautiful small bundle of joy in my arms. The tiny hand. The innocent touch. It felt amazing to feel love. And as Valentine’s crossed us by again this year, I pondered on how life was and how it is rapidly changing.

Growing up in a city like Dubai, I recall now what was ‘in’ back then. Students or kids were encouraged to read newspapers, use encyclopedias and dictionaries, and have them as reference for school quizzes and competitions; they were encouraged to write articles or stories, submit them to publications and be proud of their work.

Many memories come to mind of our days as kids in the city — packets of potato chips (Pofaki, Chips Oman), the 0.50 fils postage stamp (with the image of a falcon on it), travels to Jebel Hafeet, great family vacations. Traffic was much lighter and Al Rigga Street in Deira was where the first Dubai Shopping Festival was held.

Childhood then was a fine balance of academics and leisure time; playing video games like Pac-Man, Tetris, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario & Luigi was a pastime well cherished. Let’s not forget the video and audio cassettes that were such an integral part of our lives. It was exciting to visit a store to rent a movie or two.

You had such good interesting movies and TV series to watch like Hum Paanch, Murder She Wrote, Small Wonder, Are You Afraid of the Dark, 3rd Rock from The Sun, The X-Files (Mulder & Scully), among many others.

Life was different back then. Children now talk about YouTube videos, Instagram influencers, connecting with friends through Facebook, using the right #hashtags. Immersed in their online world, they perhaps wouldn’t know of the joy of using an actual postage stamp, or receiving a bunch of 3D Disney stamps to add to their stamp collection, another pastime that was a hit in the 80s and 90s.

While it’s always pleasant to reminisce, life fast tracks itself in a certain way and one must keep up. Many of us are so busy that we don’t realize how time flies. It’s important to escape from monotonous routines once in a while to unwind, explore, learn new things, reflect, admire and be spontaneous. You also need time to appreciate goodness, the people you love and care about and the work you love doing.

A touch is all it took to help me realise that we always have a choice, even in this fast-paced era. ‘Where is your heart?’

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