4 weeks ago

Lockdown Life: Maura Kent’s Dubai Diary

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It all happened quite suddenly in Dubai. Our school mid-term break was brought forward by two weeks with only a few days notice and, just like that, schools closed on March 5. I had just accompanied my elderly parents back to Kerry and returned to Dubai before the UAE borders were shut on March 19. Some Dubai residents who had taken their children on mid-term break holidays were left stranded outside the country. All parks, pools, gyms and beaches were shut around this time, followed shortly afterwards by malls, probably for the first time ever.

Lockdown was very strict after that. Initially, we were housebound between 8pm and 6am for a city-wide street sanitisation exercise. This was soon extended to all day, every day with permission to shop for essentials once every three days. For this, we had to obtain an online permit stating where and when we wanted to shop. Outside exercise was strictly forbidden.

Within the last week the restrictions have been lifted. Salons, shops and restaurants are allowed to open at 30% capacity within restricted hours. Outdoor exercise is permitted but a mask must be worn at all times. Luckily, I have my Stable of Ireland linen masks on hand.

We have adapted surprisingly well to isolation. I never imagined that we could manage this without going mad but it has been a strangely informative experience. Online learning, while challenging, has gone largely quite well. My two daughters definitely prefer it to Dubai school which is quite gruelling. Children are normally in school seven hours a day from 7.30am with two short breaks and often unable to play outdoors due to the heat. This way they have a lot more free time and a lot less pressure. Luckily, the girls are very close in age and spend hours playing together so that is great.

As for myself, I have discovered online workouts, something I don’t think I would ever have attempted before being forced into confinement. I love the flexibility of it and will definitely keep going after this is all over. I’ve also spent time listening to interior design related Instagram lives like Cabana magazine and podcasts on various subjects. I also finally have time to wade through the book stack by my bed.

We used to eat out quite a bit, especially at weekends, but spending more time at home means more home cooking. We are huge fans of The Happy Pear cookbooks and rely a lot on their healthy recipes. The children adore their “Bounty” bars. I enjoy taking time to dress the table at weekends with flowers and pretty table linen. We are probably eating better than ever but, on the other hand, also drinking more wine than ever too!

Coffee in our little garden in the mornings or a pre-dinner drink in the evening are much loved rituals. The weather is starting to turn hot here and before long it will be uncomfortable to sit outside.

I am dressing as I did pre-isolation in my Pippa Holt kaftans which have the ease and durability of a tracksuit while feeling a lot more dressed. Wearing colour is also a great mood lifter. On the other hand, I haven’t worn make-up in weeks! While salons are now open, I don’t feel comfortable about returning just yet.

One of the most profound effects of this experience for me is that it has made me realise what I miss and what I don’t. I don’t want to return to mindless rushing around every day between activities. My husband and I have realised we like a slower, more mindful pace of life and we’re really thinking about how that will look post Covid-19.

I would say that all of us have some down days, when you really feel the Groundhog Day effect and are less productive. We know this is to be expected and to just let it happen. Tomorrow is always a fresh start, even in isolation!

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