Next week, like many weeks recently, Dubai will see a surge in art exhibitions by artists of all ages, different backgrounds and mediums. A few have impressed me and I felt like writing a bit about them despite the hectic schedule of the Dubai Fashion Week that has kept us running all over the city in the evenings. I particularly liked the off beat ones organised to support noble causes.

For those who are not familiar with Art Sawa, their next bit is presented by Mawaheb from beautiful people called ‘Walk into our world’. Mawaheb is the Arabic word for ‘talented’. They are a non-profit art studio for young adults with special needs, the first of its kind in the UAE and located in Dubai’s cultural and historical district, Al Bastakiya.

Most artists, aim to create their own identity by forming a style that is unique. However, the artists from Mawaheb are gifted with an untainted and unique view of the world around them, vividly
reflected in the beautiful art that they create in their studio.

Most people say that about the paintings done by innocent children as well. A lawyer friend of mine last month showed me some amazing paintings done by his two daughters during their playtime. I was so impressed by the vivid use of colours and wished I had spent time with Tash doing these kind of creative activities while she was younger. I hope its not too late for her to invest more than an hour she gets in art class at school after hours.

Mawaheb guys endeavour as an art studio to be self sustainable and all money raised will be invested back into the future development of the studio, which will in turn benefit their artists. If you do have time to drop into Art Sawa next week, I am sure you will be inspired. I have made up my mind to give up gym for one evening and drop by on the way home after work to see what these young generation of artists have come up with.

Oh Sydney!!!!!

Amongst my top 3 cities to visit (after Paris and San Francisco) has to be Sydney. The Mediterranean climate, architecture, walks along the Sydney Harbour, the outdoor life and most of all the cool Pacific people just sometimes make me want to pack my bags and run there. This is aside from the fact that my daughters godmother is permanently based there and a quarter of my family members and friends from school are scattered all over the city – it is always a pleasure to catch up with them.

Sydney is where I aim to stop over everytime I go back home to Fiji. The city’s beauty provides immense indulgent pleasure just by being there and I reckon its because one can be unpretentious and just chill with whatever is most comfortable to each and its all cool. While I lived in KL, it was easy to get there via Singapore (They had the most comfortable flights at that time) although last month I went with Emirates and it was not too bad. (My daughter still raves about the Emirates A380 Business class cabin to whoever will stop and listen – she cant get over the fact that there is a place to lounge at the back while to me it looks like a glorified bar – I’d rather be horizontal on their nice seats watching ICE). But then she is ten times the diva that I am and appreciates the VIP Emirates hospitality and comfort based services a lot more than I do.

My daughter loves  Sydney as much as I do…the chocolates, the weather and the fact that even at the airport we can have a spa session together. We spent 2 hours in August at the airport spa waiting for our flight instead of the lounge. I recall a few years ago when we were cold and chilly walking down the streets near Sydney Harbour while she was giggling away because the temperature was different for her and she loved it. She couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as we took a cruise with the Sydney Opera House in view.

Australians love the sea….so if you are into watersports, you can consider yourself being in heaven with like minded individuals. The food is awesome and the city is vibrant in every way you can imagine. You just have to walk and get into the smaller streets off the beaten track to discover the true hidden gems.

Speaking of gems, no visit to Sydney is complete without buying Opals. Like diamonds and pearls, getting an exquisite pendant or opal earrings is awesome. My daughter has already told me she is inheriting all my opals….as long as she does not kill me early to get it, I guess I am cool with that.

If you are a shopaholic, markets in Sydney are awesome. Plus get to the area with the IMAX theatre (wish I could remember the name of the place)….it is superb for walks and people watching. If you have kids, get to Taronga Zoo and Sydney Aquarium and your kids would love you to bits. As for me…I shall stick to Bondi Beach, the Opera House and the boutiques 🙂

The Glitz & Glamour of Los Angeles

The first time I went to Los Angeles was purely for my daughter’s sake heading straight to Disneyland on arrival – I’m not sure who enjoyed Disneyland more, the husband or the child. After that it was a lot more of a grown up holiday as I don’t particularly enjoy kids stuff and my last 2 trips to LA was on my own…must find my inner child for my daughter’s sake.

So what’s nice about Los Angeles…plenty actually. There’s endless fun stuff to do in every part of the city. Who doesn’t love Hollywood – one can walk on the footsteps of the legends and be inspired. Universal Studios and the Arts District are particularly great places to go. I cant remember much about Warner Brothers Studios or if we ever made it to the Palladium so will have to dig through my daughters photos to go down memory lane on that one.

Downtown is equally interesting with great cinemas, the music centre, museums etc. On one visit I was luckily to be there as the same time as AAM (American Association of Museums) conference so was able to do tours of all the museums in LA in the evenings as part of the event. Other than science centres, I did like the Torrance Cultural Arts Centre that has inspired me to one day have my very own Japanese Garden. I would love to see a performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Ahmanson Theatre or the LA Opera which I’m told shows Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

I was never interested in the Madame Tussauds wax museum…prefer meeting real people although I did have a bit of fun in Vegas (check my pic with Whoopi Goldberg on twitter) when walking towards Venetia and I must say that coming across Johnny Depp on Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco was nice…even though he was all waxed up :).

For evening drives in LA suburbs, my favourite places include Brentwood (my friends who live there describe it as paradise), Robertson Boulevard, Malibu, Santa Monica and San Fernando. I found the people at San Pedro dodgy because a few kept touching my skin as though it was the most exotic soft thing they’ve come across. After the fifth time, I jumped in the car and left the Maritime Museum to avoid the creepiness.

It was interesting to see that Mexicans were treated like God….everyone loved their food, clothes and culture etc. The South Americans were treated like dirt and as low class citizens…they were the maids, waiters, prostitutes and street sweepers. I was hoping I would pass off as a Mexican and be treated like a goddess 🙂 . Although I do love the Brazilians too and would love to go to Peru one day….my only 2 bucket list spots in that part of the world are Rio de Janeiro & Peru.

I was told most North Americans find that the presence of poor South American nationalities lead to increase in crime and prostitution that makes most North Americans look down on people from places like Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia. Naturally I made sure the LA peeps knew I was an exotic Fijian so got treated like a diva instead.

I missed visiting the LA library which I’m told as a Literary MA student I should have made a priority. Apparently the building has Egyptian style architecture and has amazing literature books. If you love the hustle bustle, don’t miss the California Plaza, the Venice Ocean Front Walk and Griffith park. I didn’t have time to do much retail therapy because of trying to take it all in, driving from one place to another but I’m sure shopping in LA is a lot of fun. My friend and ex colleague Siew keeps harping about The Grove, Glendale galleria, Beverly Center and Montana Avenue – she’s a HOT LA model so she knows a thing or two about fashion. Must compare this with the fashion scene in Paris.

If you  are into cuisine and like pasta (my sister still makes fun of me wanting pasta in LA), Matteo’s Restaurant is an LA institution. I still cant imagine why she ridicules me on this as the pasta there was WOW! Anything Mexican is fabulous and I love the seafood at Kendall’s (this was introduced to me by a make up artist to the Hollywood stars and I was not disappointed). One day I will listen to her advise and actually stop at the Farmers Market for tapas and other world cuisine. Hopefully I will find a travel companion whose appetite for fine cuisine matches mine. Speaking of tapas, I must at some stage write about Spain.

Whatever the case, I feel that driving from one attraction is the best way to see LA – you can really spend time at venues that appeal to you without the worry of having to catch a tour or worrying about transport when exploring the suburbs.