Move over, Jumeira Jane – make way for New Dubai Nikita

Jumeira Janes

Every city has it’s equivalent of a Jumeira Jane. In Dubai, a Jumeira Jane is the typical well-heeled (usually Western) expat who drives an SUV, drops her kids at school and heads straight to the gym, and then spends the rest of the day attending coffee mornings and leisurely brunches. Jumeira is a coastal area in Dubai favoured by affluent expats, with villas in many architectural styles and hotels along the beachfront.

Jumeira villas

Now that Dubai has expanded, Jumeira is no longer the hottest residence. The new areas make up what is now called New Dubai, comprising low-lying residential areas surrounded by lakes, meadows or golf courses, as well as high-rise properties, some overlooking the Arabian Sea. The beautiful people have now made this their home.

Enter the new version of Jumeira Jane, New Dubai Nikita. She is gorgeous, always in designer clothes, brunching with her friends at the trendiest restaurants (always organic and gluten-free if you please), and throws the smartest parties. She can be of any nationality.

Know someone like this? I’m sure you can point out a few, or perhaps YOU are one.

But before you think I am passing judgment, let me add that this is stereotyping to the nth degree.

It is a total disservice to New Dubai Nikita to label her a fluff-head. This new brand of Dubai womanhood is not a woman who plays second fiddle. She may be the owner of her own successful business, or work on an equal footing with her tycoon husband; she may be a high-flying professional working in a large corporate, or in the educational or hospitality sector.

Or Nikita may not be any of these. She may be like the erstwhile Jumeira Jane. If her husband gives her platinum-edged credit cards, and if she wants to spend her time at hair or tanning saloons or make visits to the plastic surgeon for a nip n tuck, SO WHAT? That doesn’t make her a fluff-head.

Nikita can be either of these women and exciting and interesting in her own way.

New Dubai Nikita, three cheers for you! You are the new epitome of Dubai womanhood.

Businesswoman Nikita
Fashionista Nikita

Are you a brandaholic?

Answer the following questions as honestly as you can, with just a simple YES or NO.

  • When you buy sunglasses, do you make sure the designer label is emblazoned on the side and visible to all?
  • You profess not to have heard of Marks and Spencers and Debenhams. Don’t they only sell groceries? Doesn’t everybody shop at Harvey Nichols or Galeries Lafayette?
  • You make sure the label of your designer underwear (chaddies) under your low-slung jeans is visible to all.
  • You can make out at a distance of 500 metres if someone is wearing a Rolex or a Brugeut or a Patek Philippe.

If you’ve answered YES to any two of the above, you are in danger of being labelled a brandaholic. You must have guessed by now that a brandaholic is someone crazy about brands.

Now, there is nothing really wrong in buying brands. It’s entirely your business. If you move in those charmed circles where everyone sports the latest, and you’re none the poorer for flinging a couple thousand $$$ into buying a luxury item, that’s entirely up to you. Or perhaps you’re one of those who saves for months together just to get that Louis Vuitton handbag or those Jimmy Choos. Well, that’s a perfectly normal and respectable thing to do.

However, if you only dream of brands, eat, drink and sleep brands, spend three months’ of your salary and all your savings into buying that latest luxury gizmo… well, you’re in danger of becoming a brandaloon (loony about brands) and you’d better check in to the nearest therapist’s. Friend, beware, as you’re going down the path of emotional destruction and economic ruin.

Brands! Brands! Brands! (sung to the tune of Boys! Boys! Boys!)

Worse still, if you judge people by the brands they wear (or don’t wear), if you don’t want to make friends with someone who is “cheap and cheerful”, or just sensible and wholesome, well, your value system is skewed. You’re assessing people by their externals and perhaps not seeing their inner worth. You may then come in for a rude shock.

According to ‘Psychology Today’, marketers spend thousands of dollars on advertising because they know we are wired for the joys of anticipation. A big dollop of dopamine, the pleasure-enhancing chemical, is released in our brain, merely anticipating the product. So advertisers are sometimes guilty of fuelling our brand-obsession. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/unconscious-branding/201709/how-brands-addict-us)

Now, before someone reading this in cyber-space is gritting their teeth in anger because they happen to be working in the luxury segment or in advertising, let me qualify my statement by saying there is no harm in buying or coveting luxury brands. These items have been made to the highest quality, and have been tested and retested so that they pass the test of fire, so to speak. Their high prices are there for a reason (although a great deal of it also has to do with status). Besides, don’t we all love flicking through glossies and watching those young things sway down the catwalk wearing something outrageous and unaffordable?

So do go ahead and indulge in your obsession, but keep your limits in mind.

Now, I’m ending this blog with a quiz. How many of these brand icons can you name? Until next time, happy branding!

What kind of accent do you have?

Accents! They’re the first thing you notice about a person when they open their mouth. You can often place a person – the country they come from, the region they grew up in, perhaps even their educational or social background- from their accent. It’s like a blue-print of yourself and your entire background and history.

An accent is a way of pronouncing a language. So everyone has an accent, (even though you think you don’t.) Language experts opine that we pick up an accent right from the time we’re six-month-old babes-in-arms. We acquire our accent not just from our parents, but also from the people around us. A child in Kindergarten will imbibe the accent of his or her teachers as well as friends.

In later years, it’s hard to change your accent. So if you want to learn a foreign language, it’s best to start at an early age. Of course, there’s the Foreign Accent Syndrome, where a person, after a stroke or a head injury, begins speaking in a totally different accent, but this is a topic for another blog,

Trevor Noah, in his book “Born a Crime” talks about the impact of language and of accents on people. Noah says that language brings with it an identitiy and a culture. A shared language – and a shared accent- says “we’re the same.” A different accent quite simply says “we’re different.” He gives the example of black people on screen speaking African languages, which sounded familiar to him. However, when these same programs were dubbed in English, the accent used was the black American accent, and his perception of them changed. He felt they were foreigners.

For many Indians, speaking English with the “right” accent used to be a hallmark of not just education and status, but even of their intelligence. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. A person like the flamboyant politician Shashi Tharoor, with his inflated vocabulary and “posh” English accent, sounds plain ridiculous to us. Here’s a fun YouTube video of “Tharoorisms” u can watch.

Normal English vs Shashi Tharoor English | Akash Banerjee – YouTube

Now, coming to Dubai, with its mish-mash of cultures and communities, is there a Dubai accent? I’d very strongly say YES. Listen carefully to a young person’s accent- a TCK or Third Culture Kid -someone who’s born and brought up in Dubai, although they are not from this country. They speak their mother-tongues, but also learn to speak English at a very young age, often from a British, American, Australian, Indian, Phillipina, or South American teacher, or indeed any one of the 200 nationalities who live and work here. Their friends too come from different backgrounds amd different cultures. It’s not surprising that kids who grow up here develop a way of speaking that reflects this mosaic of cultures. Their accents may be a strange mix of British/American and Arabic, with perhaps a regional variant thrown in! Here are some TCK voices:

I’m going to end this blog with a hilarious YouTube video from a very talented guy called Mad Shadz, about the different accents of various nationalities (not TCKs) who all call Dubai their home. Enjoy!!

Mad Shadz talks English in different accents – YouTube

Acknowledgements:

  • Thank you, Jagruti Mistry Kartik for bringing to my attention Trevor Noah’s views on language and accents in his brilliant autobiography,”Born a Crime.”
  • Thanks to Dia and Kyra for lending their voices, and their lovely moms, Neeru and Cherry.
  • Mad Shadz (of course), and Akash Banerjee
  • Images: from Google images

 2:42Nov 16, 2016 – Uploaded by David L

Minnie’s Page(s) – one lonesome woman’s attempts at writing that magnum opus

stock-vector-an-image-of-a-cartoon-man-hiding-in-a-box-305274869

Hello! This is Minnie Karsan, a pseudonym I am using to hide my real identity. I want to be known by my pseudonym as I – ahem- am writing a novel . And that novel is about the great, glittery city, Dubai, and the folks who live here. And it’s full of laffs. So you see why I want to use a pen name, just in case someone decides to sue me. Not that my book is about any particular individual. Still – I have to be careful!

 

I’m going to share with you my experiences as a writer, all the trials and tribulations we of the writing fraternity go through. So here I go….

                                                                     Editors or Creditors?!!

'Can you redo this manuscript, John, and make it less stupid?'
‘Can you redo this manuscript, John, and make it less stupid?’

Editors! They are a breed apart, and they can make you or break you. It’s so important to choose the right editor for your book, before you send it off to agents and publishers. And herein lies the rub!

Now, let me confess- my book has gone to three editors. The first time, it was a totally wrong person. She did not stick to her commitment and returned it to me after four months-  after, of course, I’d paid her money upfront. And there were just a few paras telling me in nice words how awful my novel was. At least, that’s the feeling I got.

Anyway, I worked on the it and made changes as she had suggested, and sent it along to another editor, this time from a well-known agency based in the UK. The feedback was better, but obviously my book was still not up to the mark.

I then sat down at my desk once more, despairing at my ever-expanding bottom, and got down to it for the nth time. I decided to change everything about my book, write it in the first person and make it funny. My protagonist would not be sad and serious but airy-headed and fun. I used some of the same details as in my original attempt, but literally infused it with humour. I’ve finally got it- or at least I think I have! I’ve now sent it off to yet another editor, and am waiting for her response. And this time, I was careful about who I chose.

42094121-cartoon-funny-woman-sitting-on-the-couch-with-a-cup-of-tea

How to choose an editor? Now there are editors, and there are editors. The main mistake I’d made (the first time) was not sending it to an editor who liked my genre (women’s fiction.) The second time, I didn’t have a choice as the agency chose the editor for me- and she was someone who wrote erotic fiction!

Now, my advice to you is don’t rush it when finding an editor. Ask a few hard questions. See what books she or he has helped an author publish. (Editors usually boast about this on their page.) If the books have been accepted by a traditional publisher, that’s a big check mark. But if all the books are self-published, I’d cast my net again.

I’ve been told to send my book to those editors who’ve been editing my favorite author’s books, books similar to mine. But that’s easier said than done. Very few authors give out the names of their editors, although you just might be lucky if you skin the acknowledgements page.

And one last word. Some editors just do not get back to you. This I experienced on more than one occasion. And I automatically thought my book was so poorly written that it did not even merit a response! Well, all I can say is, have faith in yourself and your writing. You are paying big bucks, the little nest that you’ve saved up to spend on yourself, and if an editor does not respond, it just reflects badly on his or her professionalism.

Let me get back my edited novel, and I’ll share the comments with you- warts n all! Maybe I have another big rewrite? Maybe I should abandon this work altogether and start something afresh? Dear writers, like it or not, I’m dragging you along on this journey!

I’d love to hear your comments about your editorial woes (or commendations).

Until next time…..

Minnie

(Cartoons and images from Cartoonstock)