Monday, November 23, 2015

The Expat Life: How To Get A Driving License In Ajman

A long-time dream of mine came true recently – finally managed to get my UAE driving license! I’m pretty thrilled about it and I’m definitely looking forward to drive regularly from now on. I did have an Indian driving license as well, which I had obtained about 10 years back, but honestly I didn’t really know to drive till a few weeks back. Although I still need to practise a bit in our own car, I can see myself becoming an independent and confident driver a few months down the line. It doesn't seem like an impossible dream anymore!

How To Get A Driving License In Ajman: Getting Started

As most people in this region are well aware, getting a driving license over here is not an easy task. I thought of sharing my experience so that it might be useful to anyone who is thinking about getting a driving license in Ajman. The first thing that you would need to do is to go to the Traffic & Licensing department, commonly known as Muroor, and open your license file. Ladies are eligible to apply for a license to drive automatic light vehicles. You will need to make an initial payment of 1350 AED for this, which includes the cost for a lecture and the theory test.

The lecture will be held within a week or so and it lasts for approximately a couple of hours. Topics such as signals, road rules, best practices while driving, safety tips etc will be covered and you will be provided with a guide book as well. Once done with the lecture, you will be required to take an online signal test within a couple of weeks. If you’ve paid attention during the lecture and read through the guide book it is quite easy to clear the online test.

Prepping For The Parking Test

Once you pass the online test, next comes the eye test followed by the parking test. An initial payment of 170 AED needs to be done for this and then you will need to contact a driving school or a driving instructor for classes. Classes cost 50 AED for an hour and you will be taken to a practise area where a mock test area is setup. Please note that you need to pay 10 AED entry fee to practise in this area. The Parking test involves 3 tests in all: garage parking, parallel parking as well as bridge/slope.

It takes about a week’s time to get familiar with the parking techniques and once you feel confident you can pay 250 AED and take up the parking test. There is no need to book an appointment in advance for the parking test. On whichever day you intend to take the test, show up at Muroor, pay the fees and proceed to take the test. You will need to pass all three parts of this test; if you fail any section, then you will again need to pay 250 AED and redo the failed parts till you clear all three.

Almost There! Road Test

So you have successfully cleared the parking test. Congrats! Next up is of course the road test. Again, you will need to take up driving classes and your instructor will teach you the nuts and bolts of driving in Ajman. The number of classes that you will need to take will depend on how quickly you grasp the concepts of driving! Usually, you will be advised to give the first test a couple of weeks later. It helps to go for regular driving classes so that you don’t lose touch, especially if you are new to driving. The first few days can be pretty confusing and frustrating; you might even wonder if you will ever learn to drive. Don’t worry and hang in there! You will get there, trust me!

Generally it takes a few attempts before you will clear the road test. I took 6 attempts. Each attempt will cost 200 AED. You will need to make an appointment in advance and they typically allow you to choose any week day which falls one week after your last test. You will be expected to show up at Muroor between 8 AM – 11 AM on your test date and submit your papers and your learner’s license to the lady police inspector over there. She will sort out all the candidates and will allocate you to a traffic policeman along with 3 other lady candidates. All 4 will be taken in a single trip and each will be given about 5 minutes to test your driving skills. 

Most people, including me, tend to get nervous before the test. Take a few deep breaths, stay calm, concentrate on driving and follow the traffic inspector’s instructions. There is no need to be afraid of the inspectors – the majority of them are polite and will help you out while driving in case you are unable to control the car. You will be assessed on a variety of things such as how good is your steering control, brake and accelerator control, overtaking, changing lanes, at roundabouts and at signals, respecting other road users, following traffic rules and regulations etc. Even if you do fail a few times, do not get discouraged. View it as an opportunity to improve your driving skills.

At last, the day which you thought might never come will arrive and ta da! You will pass! Yayyy! Now you will need to pay another 200 AED and submit your photo along with your learner’s license and voila! Your brand new driving  license will be ready in a few minutes! All the best!

P.S: Keep in mind that in Ajman only lady instructors can teach ladies and only male instructors can teach men. In case you need to contact a good lady driving instructor, do drop me a word and I can pass on the details of the woman who taught me to drive. She is friendly, punctual and really good J

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Diwali - My Way!

Happy Diwali! People say that one should never forget our roots…. Where we came from and from where our story began. In today’s globalised world, traditions remain one way to stay in touch with our roots. India is a country which is deeply steeped in traditions owing to its diversity and vast cultural heritage.

Each region, state and even family in India have their own set of traditions which carry special significance and meaning to those who practise it – and these traditions even transcend religious boundaries. Case in point, despite being a Christian, we have always found ways to celebrate Diwali in our home too. Be it donning festive clothes, feasting on delicacies or having fun with fireworks, it is really too hard to resist joining in the celebrations with your neighbours and friends during Diwali! Frankly, I think that Diwali is more of a national festival than a religious one!

However, while it is indeed nice to continue our age old traditions, the truth is not all traditions continue to make sense in this day and age. Some traditions might no longer be applicable in this era while we choose to give up certain traditions due to lack of time and there are a few more traditions which we go ahead and modify for the sake of convenience to suit our lifestyles today. Moreover, let’s face it – sometimes traditions tend to get a tad bit boring, repetitive and monotonous. This is precisely why, this Diwali, I decided to give a twist to the humble gulab jamun this year and made sweat potato gulab jamuns instead! They were soft, plump and delicious- not to mention healthier than plain old maida gulab jamuns – #TraditionMyWay done right!

Apart from food, the next obvious aspect of any festival is of course dressing up! And a traditional festival like Diwali demands us to bring out that mesmerizingly traditional piece of garment called the sari!

I love donning saris and honestly feel that it is one of the most versatile and alluring outfits that a lady can wear. In my opinion, an Indian woman’s wardrobe simply cannot be complete without a decent collection of saris and what’s more one can never have enough saris what with the sheer variety and choices of saris available in the market! There is a sari to suit every occasion, shape, complexion, mood, weather and what not!

Having sung paeans to the sari, let me also state that saris can also be quite finicky and cumbersome especially to people like me who are not used to wearing saris every day. Add in the responsibility of managing my frisky little toddler in the picture and you can understand my predicament about wearing saris! So, although I do enjoy wearing saris, sadly I do not get the opportunity to indulge myself as much as I would like to. But Diwali calls for special looks and of course, a beautiful sari can make anyone look extra special in a jiffy!

I am sure that everyone would agree that one of the most memorable moments of Diwali, is the time spent sitting out in the balcony or terrace and looking up at the dark night sky as it explodes into a thousand different colours! Hence, inspired by this shimmering night sky, I designed a sari for myself. A smooth, satiny sari in deep blue, studded with numerous tiny sparkling silver mirrors reminiscent of the velvety night sky that glitters with the happiness of a million celebrants! 

But when everybody wears a sari, how can you stand out from the rest? Simple! Add a modern twist to the sari! One of the easiest ways to grab everyone’s attention when wearing a sari is by pairing a unique and attractive blouse to go with the sari. Say goodbye the boring attached blouse which comes with the sari. Improvise! With a thousand things on our plate during festivals, often we find that we have run out of time to stitch a matching blouse for our saris, Plus, tailors are also pretty busy during this time. My #TraditionMyWay tip would be to make an interesting style statement by wearing your sari with a pretty crop top instead! 

For this particular silky blue sari with mirror work, I would choose this Silver Solid Crop Top by Faballey from Jabong

It adds a sleek and super stylish touch to the sari and will definitely garner second glances and compliments as well! Online shopping has made Diwali shopping a breeze. Absolutely no need to sweat it out with the crowd, You can order it from the comfort of your home and rest assured that it will be delivered within a few days at your doorstep.

To complete the look, I would add some lovely silver jewelry but nothing over the top as it would be too much bling. This Silver Ear Cuff and this Silver Statement Ring is eye- catchy and trendy and the star design also ties in with the theme of night sky. 

No need for any neck-piece as it would be an overkill but some jangling silver bangles would be nice. This over-sized Carlton London silver clutch and this pair of  comfortable yet chic Urban Country silver heels and you are all set!

Do you like this ensemble? What did you wear for Diwali? Do let me know!

*This post is my entry to Jabong's Diwali contest.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

5 Tips For Cuddelicious Baby Skin!

Soft, cuddly and cherubic – these are but a small sample of adjectives that can be used to describe little babies. Holding a sweet smelling bundle of joy cosily to your chest is indeed one of the simplest pleasures of life.

I became a mom last year and like every new mom out there I too was – and continue to be – obsessed with the well-being of my child. The initial years are so very important for a new-born’s emotional as well as physical growth and it also happens to be a period when the baby is rather fragile as her immune system is still developing. Therefore, extra care and caution has to be taken if we want our child to be hale and healthy.

One of the organs in the baby’s body that can easily get affected adversely is the skin. There is simply no denying the fact, that a baby’s skin is one of the smoothest and silkiest things that one will ever get the opportunity to experience! But the skin, which happens to be the largest organ in a human body, can also easily lose its dreamy softness if not taken care of properly. Along with proper nutrition, here are 5 tips to keep baby’s skin soft and supple throughout her growing years:

1.  I have come across a lot of mothers who are very concerned about the colour of the baby’s skin. If the baby is darker complexioned, they are always hunting for ways to make them fairer and if the baby happens to be fair, the mothers are worried about retaining the fairness, lest God forbid, she turns a shade darker! It is so sad to see even educated and intelligent women worry about something as silly and as inconsequential as a baby’s skin colour. Come on! First and foremost, please get out of this fancy for fairness and be happy with the colour of your child.

The baby’s skin colour depends on its genes and it is not going to magically change because of random creams, herbal poultices or medicines! However, you can retain the natural glow of a baby’s skin by giving regular oil massages to your baby. Massaging the baby is a lovely bonding activity between the mother and child with the additional benefit of soothing and calming the baby as well. Many mothers are hesitant to massage their babies as they fear that they are not competent enough. Fret not! You don’t have to be an expert masseuse to massage your baby. It is quite simple actually. All you have to do is to take a small quantity of good quality oil of your choice (Choose from coconut, olive or almond), warm it up ever so slightly, and massage into your babies skin gently. You can move your fingers in slow, circular movements over her body. If your baby is uncomfortable or doesn’t like what you are doing, don’t worry, she will let you know! You can also move her little legs in cycling movements to help relieve any colic pains. Once you get the hang of it, I assure you, both your baby and you will thoroughly enjoy and look forward to these relaxing massage session!

2.  For the first few months, always wash your baby’s new clothes in warm water and dry them completely before putting them on your baby. I learnt this lesson the hard way, when my baby developed rashes on her skin. New clothes are an easy way to introduce germs and bacteria to your baby’s skin. Since we have no idea about who has handled the clothes and for how long it has been stored, it is always better to be on the safe side and rinse new clothes before your child wears them. Further, try to stick to natural and breathable fabrics  such as cotton instead of synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester atleast in the initial months.

3.  Always use mild detergents to wash your baby’s clothes as well as hypoallergenic and sensitive soaps and shampoos for your baby. The chemicals in soaps and detergents can create a bad impact on the natural skin barrier of your baby and strip it off its natural protective oils. Make sure that no residual detergent remains on the baby’s clothes since it can be harmful to their gentle skins. If possible, try to use natural and freshly homemade body washes.

4.  It can be quite difficult for anyone to pass up the opportunity to carry, kiss and cuddle little babies. However, be warned that this is one of the most common ways that germs are transferred from one person to another. Apart from really close family members, it is advisable to politely discourage anybody else to kiss a new baby. If you are not bothered about offending people, you could also have a small bottle of hand sanitiser handy, and request people to either use it or wash their hands well before handling the baby. If at all possible, try to limit the number of visitors in the frst few weeks. For the first few weeks it is also a good idea to place the baby in a baby sleeping bag when handing over to visitors. This will prevent the baby from being handled by too many different sets of hands and will keep him comfortable and well protected, as even people with not too much experience with babies can easily and safely carry the baby in a sleeping bag.

5. Wetness can promote the growth of bacteria and also increases the chances of fungal infections. Always dry baby completely after a bath with a soft towel, paying close attention to the many folds in their pudgy arms and legs. Some people tend to douse the baby in  generous amount of baby powder thinking that the powder will absorb the excess moisture but please avoid using powder for baby as the tiny talc particles can cause breathing difficulties for baby if inhaled. 

Speaking of wetness, I cannot stress the importance of using good quality diapers. Good diapers go a long way in helping baby stay dry and clean, thereby eliminating the occurrence of diaper rash as well as helping baby stay comfortable. I use a combination of cloth diapers and Pampers disposable diapers for my little one – and so far, touchwood, she has not been troubled by diaper rashes. I started off with the newborn range and currently we have moved onto the pant style diapers. Pampers brings you the softest ever Pampers Premium Care Pants. Its cotton-like softness is #SoftestForBabySkin and allows it to breathe, thus keeping baby’s skin soft and healthy, and your baby happy. These are really easy to use and very convenient too. 

One tip is to apply some diaper rash cream or even Vaseline on your baby before putting on the diapers as this will create a protective shield for your baby’s skin. Pampers has made going out such a breeze! I don’t have to worry about leaks or diaper disasters at all! They keep baby dry and safe for quite a long time and I have never actually felt the need to even try any other brand of disposable diapers so far; why should I, when Pampers is pampering my baby enough!


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