The Ramadan dinner

The Ramadan month ended last week. If you don’t know what ramadan is; its the holy ninth month in the Islamic calendar where Muslims fast during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. It is apparently the month when the holy book of Quran is believed to have been revealed.

I am a non-muslim, thus do not follow the ramadan rules. However as UAE is a muslim country, everyone has to respect and abide to these rules. Thus there is no food displayed in malls, shops etc from about 5am till 7pm. Supermarkets are still open as normal. Restaurants and cafes close up with shutters and/or blinds; some of them still serve food but only for take-away. Bars and clubs are still open, however there is no music and only non-alcoholic drinks are served.


The reason why muslims abstain from any food, drinks and any sexual activities is highly spiritual. Through fasting, they experience hunger and thirst; to sympthathize with the unfortunate, and also to practice self-control. However, OHMYGAWD it was bloody torture for me to go through the month. As my batchmates and i finally ended our training; we could not celebrate as there was no bars/clubs that were open with alcohol. If i happened to be out during lunch time and got hungry, i could not have anything to eat out in the public. One would need to bring it back home before you could eat, or worse case scenario, eat it in the public bathroom. Imagine delicious donuts were screaming out to me as i walked past. The rules are so strict here that if you were actually caught even drinking water inside your car; you’d get thrown into jail.


The good thing however; was the iftar meals at dawn. Iftar is the evening meal when muslims would come together and break their fast together. Alot of restaurants have iftar buffets where you can eat whatever and however much you wanted for a set price. the average was about AED70/USD20 for a lower quality restaurant to about AED500/USD135 for one in a fine dining restaurant.

DSC_0060 if you didn’t know already, i’ve got gorgeous friends. inside and out. don’t be envious now.

I had the privilege to be able to attend 2 iftar buffets. the first was sort of a celebratory dinner at Al Merkaaz in dubai marina. The food was alright; but the hospitality was just amazing as the manager took us through all the different traditional Lebanese dishes and desserts.


The night was still young and would not be complete without a session of seesha, thus we headed to look for a nice chill-out spot. As we walked onto the dubai marina, i was blown away by the sight beyond. Yachts parked in a man-made marina with scores of skyscrapers and blinding lights. Sheikh Zayed Road was alright, but i definitely found the glitzy side of Dubai.


Okay, fast forward a week later, and i found myself and my batchmates being invited for another iftar dinner organized by the cabin crew committee; held in the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

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The centre is housed in the historic traditional Emirati neighbourhood of Bastakiya. It is a lovely lovely place and would definitely recommend a walk through the maze of narrow sikkas and tall wind towers. We got lost (obviously) looking for the exact place, but when we were escorted through a series of corridors, an indoor covered courtyard laid with carpets, pillows and lots of food greeted us graciously.

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We began with a little introduction to the month of ramadan, the customs and culture of muslims, what to do and what not to do, and the food of course. They had traditional names for the dishes but being in arabic i obviously do not remember any of it. except just that they were lamb, goat, rice, wheat, and donuts dipped in syrup! Breaking fast always start with a round of plain water, dates and arabic coffee. It is customary to only eat after the evening prayers end; but me being me, i popped a date in as soon as i was handed one; to the dismay of the person serving me.

DSC_0019iveta from lithuania and rene from south africa


No they didnt put me into jail for that but i felt bad for being such a lackwit. Oh well, after the prayers were done and dusted; time for the feast to begin! The food was alright due to the sheer amount of mass producing they needed to do to feed everyone. What made it really special was the ambience and cultural understanding i experienced, and that made the meal so much more than just a meal.


all the bright lights

Have you ever had an occasion where you can’t think of anywhere else that you want to be but where ever you are at that exact moment; time and place? i had that moment of gratitude as i was sitting in the flight cockpit, as we swirled around dubai with the glittering pinnacle of burj dubai, bright lights dotted surrounding it at 3am in the morning.

i just got back from my first 2 SUPY flights. the first was to karachi, pakistan and it was nothing short of eventful. The flight was delayed 45 minutes, which gave us crew some time to grab some coffee. Then 3 cabin crew was pulled out at the last minute. The seniors were reassuring me that it rarely happens and not be too alarmed by it. It was a flight for me to just sit and observe. However as it was a full flight and they were working on a minimum number of crew, i helped out with the cabin service anyway.

It was a flight during Iftar time. Iftar is the time when muslims fasting for religious reasons would break their fast after about 14hours of not eating nor drinking. So you can imagine how hungry these people were. Not to mention cranky and demanding. A short flight + undermanned meant that a lot of passengers didn’t receive what they wanted. which meant unhappy customers. not to mention unhappy crew. 1 man vomited all over the aisle. 1 baby vomited on the mother. doesn’t it all sound so dramatic? there’s a sick bag in the seat pockets. use it.

anyways being the newbie i had the privilege to sit in the cockpit during takeoff and landing. it was meant to show every crew how the flight deck worked and how important it would be not to disturb them during these crucial times. so my lips were zipped the whole time i was in there, unless they spoke to me of course. i found the whole process of take-off and landing incredibly manual and tedious. in this age of technology and automation you would think it was just pressing the pedal and pushing the control stick to fly the machine; however there were a million buttons to press before and after, checklists to go through and so many visual indicators to monitor. it was like playing a retro video game; but just a hundred times more complicated.

ws_Retro__Space_Invaders_1280x800 the monitors were all 16 bit, i swear, and the text like high scores you’d see on retro video games.

so while the flight deck were busy concentrating on flying and landing the plane safely, me the SUPY enjoyed the view; and what a view it was. whatever HDR photos you see on the internet cannot capture the beauty and experience of it. landscapes, buildings, infrastructures shrinking as you fly higher and higher, which soon becomes a large web all connected to one another and soon you realise how small you truly are from above. it was an amazing experience; i now truly understand the charm of flying such a large aircraft and i’m so so glad i took the crazy leap to be there at that moment.

prepare for lift off

i’ve finally finally ended my training. its been a long 6 weeks. even though i’m a little sad that i wont be seeing all my batchmates that i’ve grown so close from learning and spending time together every single day for the past weeks, i’m actually more relieved that its finally over.

also, our rosters are released on the 26th of each month. meaning that i’ve actually been allocated the destinations that i’m flying to.

pakistanphotography by umer whom i reckon captures the most beautiful pictures of his home country.

tomorrow i will be doing my very first turnaround supy (supernumery) flight to karachi, pakistan. i won’t be actually working but will be there just to observe and learn from the start to finish. then comes my first operational flights to 3 destinations in india, bangladesh, jeddah, and iraq. my first layover (which i am very excited for) was allocated at the end of the month, which i believe deserves it’s own post. haha.

pakistan children the dreamfly project

so you can see now, my first month of operational flights will be to many of the countries which are still living in hardcore poverty. many of my more experienced friends have shared with me their encounters; how many of the passengers on these flights probably have never had any formal education and how it is probably their first flight to/from home after many years abroad trying to make ends meet. my parents are freaking out at the destinations i need to serve (it’s their typical protective maternal instinct) but truthfully i wished i had time to go about the cities and towns instead of just turnarounds.

it will be an interesting month. i just hope the crew i fly with will be nice ones. i’m new. please go easy on me. =)

i’m trained for this

we had one whole week of GMT (general medical training). after a week i've learnt that i cannot cannot stomach any blood, pain, screaming or any serious medical conditions. i've also learnt how important these life skills are in times of a medical emergency. the trainers have made us prepared in any life-threatening event you can think of; from simple burns to internal bleeding, cardiac arrest, and even childbirth.

so now i know how to administer CPR. i’m glad to say that i will know what to do in an event of a cardiac arrest. a cardiac arrest is when one’s heart suddenly stop working (usually after a heart attack). however i reckon i’ll only act as the last resort in the case that there isn’t anyone else to help. lol.

funny cpr
the step-by-step images do show the right way to administer CPR; albeit the hilarious captions.
1) call for help or an ambulance
2) tilt the head back while checking for signs of breathing
5) place palm along the nipple line in the middle of the chest (this is serious..)
6) 30 chest compressions as hard as possible with 2 hands within 15seconds
3) blow hard! only twice into lungs
repeat till victim starts breathing/paramedics arrive/after 30 minutes. wtf capri-sun liquid?? no.. we’re just meant to check for the pulse or breathing.

one thing i learnt is that while doing the CPR, the ribs will more often than not break under the chest compressions. the rule of thumb is that if there isn’t any cracking sounds, it means that the compressions aren’t effective. freaky.

cpr by nina reck  liking the awareness poster by nina reck

CPR training childbirth training

it gets worse as the week progresses. we learnt how to stab someone with the EPIPEN (adrenaline solution) if they were suffering from a severe case of allergic reaction. then came childbirth with a really real plastic model. the baby comes out all slimy and with the cord attached.

if you can stomach more, there was also the session on how to handle dead bodies on board if such an event were to happen. the cabin is actually prepared with a corpse bag and all the accessories needed to respectfully 'bag' the poor soul.

this was a slightly traumatising week for me, to actually be trained for events that might happen. pray that it never does happen on my flights. cause i know i’ll be freaking out like shite if it did.