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  • Writer's pictureLiz Totton

With A Little Help From My Friends

Sometimes when you get so down, you forget the resources that you have knocking on your doors, texting and calling your phone, smiling at you when you need a smile and offering all varieties of assistance that you don’t even know that you need yet. I have been down for a few weeks, and I guess I have forgotten that, while times are momentarily turbulent for us, I have this whole host of wonderful friends who are just at my disposal waiting with a smile for me, a quick inside joke (like Haboub), a Facebook IM, whatever. I am a “glass half full” kind of girl in general, so much so that I usually see life that way, even if it’s half full of stuff you just wouldn’t want to drink or it’s a mirage. It’s not like me to get so down as I have recently. Someone eventually had to snap me out of it.

Wherever I travel and live, I find women who are amazing. We are all so different–I am never entirely sure how we find each other. Some are consummate career women (mostly my college friends). Some task themselves with the hardest job of all–staying home–and come out kinda, sorta unscathed. Some, like me, try to do a little of both albeit not all that well because you cannot; It’s just roundly impossible. Multi-tasking is a myth to fuel the mommy prescription drug industry and/or make us all feel like crap. My point is we may lead different lives, come from different places and have very different hobbies, but we seek each other out and fundamentally need each other to survive.

Today, despite feeling meh, I went out for a friend’s belated birthday brunch, which was hand’s down the best decision that I have made in weeks. The evening before, we had trouble choosing a spot collectively, so the “birthday girl” and a friend made an executive decision on a place to eat and another friend and I went along for the ride, not knowing where we were going. I love surprises, so this suited me just fine! I just hoped that this morning, like I hope every day,might involve some camels. They assured me that today involved no camels–Everyone here knows how much I adore them. We darted downtown towards the Corniche, and ended up at a spot very close to the Marina Mall named Le Boulanger. It is a café on the water with a gorgeous view that I have been wanting to try since we first got here. 

We found some comfy sofas and plunked ourselves down. The temperature was in the 70s already, and it felt so nice after a cool, wintery run in the 60s (which is unusually cold for Abu Dhabi). Because life is so very whimsical, camels managed to work their way into our morning. While we glanced at our menus, a young, local woman, named Latifah, approached us and asked if we would try her cookies (made from Camel’s milk) appropriately named “Camel Cookies,” and pose for some photos for her Instagram account. We happily obliged. Who doesn’t want free cookies? Her Camel Cookies were divine. She just started this business, and if you want to try them and support her new business venture, check out her Instagram account here. We ate her yummy cookies, posed for some photos and spoke to her for some time about her business, life here in Abu Dhabi among other things. She was so pleasant to speak to. I can only speak for myself and my own experience, but expats seem to encounter so few locals here that I am grateful for any opportunity to meet and speak to them. Latifah was so outgoing, fun and entrenpenurial. I just felt honored to have been in the right place, at the right time to meet her. Please try her cookies! You won’t be disappointed!!

We traded contact information with Latifah, said goodbye and resumed the task at hand: brunching. Now culinarily, this place is nothing special, but it does have a lot of unique Arabic dishes on the menu, Shisha (for those who partake) and did I mention the great view? That’s what you come to Le Boulanger for–not so much the food. I can live with that. There is just about every world cuisine you can dream of represented here in Abu Dhabi, but very few options come with this view at such a reasonable price. We all ordered omelets and some manakish to share. You may remember that I am kind of obsessed with the stuff. I blogged about it here some time ago. It was just as good at Le Boulanger as it is at the Khalifa City A Bakery in the Pink Shops, which I highly recommend you visit if you ever find yourself in KCA. Again, most of you will probably never find yourself there, but if you did, eat manakish! We ate, drank, joked around, shared our problems: helped each other to find solutions and helped each other to forget them. You know, the usual stuff you do with your girlfriends wherever you are.

Which brings me back to the beginning of my post. it is really hard for me to not get diverted in my writing or in any task in all honesty. Any small distraction can turn into my new theme, subject or raison d’être! Don’t think for even a second that camels or manakish were even on my radar six months ago, but oh how they are now, right?! It’s just that easy. After blogging so negatively last week, I feel it’s my duty to express some positivity and dually some gratitude for all the amazing things that I do have here in Abu Dhabi. Sure, some things are not as they were supposed to be, but I have gained some things that I couldn’t have planned for at all. I have forged a group of wonderful friends here from several continents and too many countries to list. Though we are all from different places and backgrounds, we are all facing many of the same challenges here: we are wives, mothers, far from our families, our parents are aging, and our children are fast becoming teenagers (God help us!). We are united in shared experience. There is nothing that helps you bond faster than being new, worried, lost or afraid. People step out of the woodwork to offer their assistance here if they believe you to be in any kind of trouble whatsoever. I can attest to this personally, because this has happened to me this past week. I am so grateful to every one of you that reached out to me in the smallest and largest of ways this past week. Life is full of challenges but if you have a group of girl friends to go share them with, the road is a lot less stressful. I am grateful every day for you all near and far, and you know who you are. Thank you!

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