FINALLY the time has arrived. After almost a year, it is time to go back home at last!
[Insert: confusion as to whether it is Mumbai or Dubai should I now call 'home'. The husband once cutely pointed out how my 'home' should be with him -wherever he is, and not anywhere else and I'm pretty much still aww-ing over that.]
Without divulging too many details (its a planned surprise), let me just tell you, that the time is very soon, and I can't contain the excitement over meeting and greeting all those I left behind.
As much as I have missed them in the gone months - everytime I saw a new hypermarket and wished dad was here to see the sheer variety of just apples, or bought myself new clothes and thought of my little sister, or visited IKEA and wondered what mom would like for the house, or of my best friend whenever I saw make-up - I am equally thrilled about the idea of taking with me little tokens of Dubai for them, to give them a peek into my new world and lifestyle.
So, armed with a meticulously penned down list of who will like what, I have been allocating my weekends to fill my bags with big and small souvenirs. And among all this fun and hullaballoo, I learnt another lesson as a newly-wed.
Let me share that with you.
Being brought up in Mumbai and ingrained with the so-called 'Indian-ness', when I first came to Dubai, visits to the supermarket were horror stories. I felt tempted but never ended up buying anything because I'd have my calculator in hand and multiply each Dirham by 17, my eyes expanding with shock to see how expensive everything was. I still have those lists I made of stuff to buy when I visit India, that include everything from face wash to jeans. I now laugh at them thinking how silly I was to think I could actually put off those purchases until the next time I flew down, simply because they were available in Mumbai at less than half the price.
Anyway, that's a different story, fodder for another post. Coming back to the souvenir shopping and lessons learnt.
Close to 11 months in Dubai, I am now fairly familiar with what to buy from where. [Did you know there is no concept of Maximum Retail Price here? This means that the same bag of chips can cost you different amounts of money - depending upon which supermarket you visit. Trust me, it's a lot of math. Especially when you're a bargain hunter like me - you usually end up visiting different marts for different things!]
I recently discovered a discount store in the heart of Dubai, where you can buy nearly all the items under the sun at India prices or less!
It was as though I was in paradise. You know that feeling, when you float between the aisles, throwing whatever you like into the cart without worrying about burning a hole in your pocket? Dolls, hair clips, make-up, clothes, knick-knacks for the home... it was a great mix and I was sure I hadn't missed out anything for anyone on my shopping list.
But there was a catch. Quality.
Anyway. I returned gleaming with the bags in my hand, and proudly tumbled them over for the husband to see. He simply smiled saying 'whatever makes you happy', without further comment.
Later during one of my good moods, in the midst of a jolly conversation, he decided to bring it up.
It was great that I had been thoughtful in picking something for everybody - items that they were likely to appreciate. Also, that I made a good deal of savings.
However, with the question mark on the quality - many of those purchases were not fit to be gifted, especially on my first visit back home. I had the reputation of Dubai to protect, and most of all - the family name to live up to.
And suddenly, no longer was I the daughter or friend, gone a galavanting on a shopping spree, and brought back sweet somethings for her folks. I was now a wife, a daughter in law and a representative of the Doriwala brand!
For the record, the Doriwalas are connoisseurs of quality and even on their worst days, you won't find them presenting another with something they themselves weren't convinced about.
So, here I am ready with a renewed shopping list (and a replenished bank account), back to square one with a renewed approach. When I go out this time, I will not just be Arwa, but Arwa Doriwala, and representing this new brand is a beautiful experience I hope each of you have!
Have any of you newly weds, or once newly weds had a 'representing another brand' experience? I'd love to read them in the comments below!