For those of you who don’t know, my husband and I were in a 3-year long distance relationship before we got married (I actually have a blog all about our long distance relationship here). It was sheer torture being thousands of miles away and time zones apart from my love. Sure, we were blessed to have had the Internet at this day and age. We had the social networks, Yahoo! messenger, email, etc. Connectivity in an instant! No more of those months of anxiously waiting for the snail mailed mixed tapes and love letters (I would have loved to receive those though, it would have been so romantic. But The Husband isn’t that type at all. Sucks for me!). I guess there is no substitute for sharing real moments: laughing together – and at each other, holding hands while walking, eating out, watching movies, big tight bear hugs, and many more.
Hence, starting our married life apart is out of the question. This is why I am here now. This is me living the dream: being together with my husband. But living this dream, does not mean that I did not have any fears.
No dear sirs and madams. I actually have this fear of being away from home, away from my family. I even passed up my acceptance into the state university (okay, it was the one in Los Banos), just because it was far away from home. Okay, I was afraid of being a three-hour-drive-away from home, so what more if I was an eight-hour-FLIGHT away from home?
I loved the fact that I was with my husband, who, of course, made me feel all fuzzy and warm in his flat I now call home. I was also welcomed by his friends (now my friends too) with open arms, making me feel more at home in this far away place.
But I had this gnawing need to have my own set of friends too. Maybe this is part of the backlash of having been in a long distance relationship, enjoying that certain level of independence from the other half. We’ve had common friends, but I still have a set of friends that are completely independent from his. If the husband made new friends here, then I knew I could too.
Though some friends do say I am “Miss Congeniality”, I must admit that, at least to me, making friends is definitely not one of my strengths. I really am shy and take some time to warm up to people, quite like a diesel engine. The Husband even says that I do give the impression that I am choosy with the people I mingle with. Eeerrrrm…maybe, maybe not. I am just not the type to approach random strangers and introduce myself. It is awfully awkward for me.
Or so I thought…Maybe only one thing could undo this shyness of mine: FOOD. With my voracious appetite for all things food related (actual food, books, TV shows, movies, blogs); I swore that if met someone who had that same level of food love as mine, I think I could throw away the cloak of shyness, beg him / her to be my friend and break bread (and all sorts of food) with him / her. So with the help of Almighty Google, I then keyed in these magical words:
“Dubai Food Blog”
Google then spewed out this article by The National on The UAE’s Best Food Blogs. So blog hopping I did. And I don’t know if it must have been something I ate (the Buqatir shrimp or maybe that Meat Mandi), but I decided to tweet one of those bloggers.
I don’t even remember exactly what I said, but after I sent the tweet, I had the urge to crawl back into my little shell because I sounded creepy and stalker like. Eeek! So much for trying to make friends, I thought. “But I want, I NEED to make new friends.”, the teeny voice in my head demanded. Fine.
AHA! A reply!
I not only received a reply, but an invitation to dinner! Dinner! The magic word! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG!
So I told The Husband about what I did and that I had a dinner invitation with my new found food blogger friend. Then he asked: “Have you met her and these people before?” I shook my head and he gave me the ludicrous “Are you bonkers?!? You call them friends and you’ve never even met them.” look. “But they’re food bloggers…” I mumbled my appeal, then placed my laptop in front of him and showed him some of the blogs. He rolled his eyes in resignation and said, “It’s up to you.”
I giddily accepted the dinner invitation, against the skeptical husband’s will. But he was kind enough to drop me off the restaurant, which was all the way on the other side of town. There I was, a stranger in this completely foreign foodie oasis, with my dinner money and camera in tow. The unique Dubai summer heamidity (heat + humidity) did not help. My heart was racing faster and palms extra sweaty as I approached the restaurant. I then said a little prayer inside my head: “Dear Lord, please let them be nice foodies. I hope they like me. I really need to make some new friends. Amen.”
Fastforward to a gazillion tweet exchanges / FB group posts, a sumptuous made-from-scratch Bong (Bengali) lunch, a fabulous homemade Iftar spread and more food events to come, I think God answered my prayer. I’ve made new friends in Dubai. They have the same level (or maybe even more) of food love as I do and I love them to bits.
Now who would have thought the love for food could easily quell a fear of being away from home. Because at home, we ALWAYS talk about food. We always watch food shows together. We always browse through cookbooks together. We almost always cook food together. Before meals, during meals, after meals and in-between meals! The Husband, even if he is a food lover too, sometimes gets sick of too much food talk from me. So I’ve got to find somebody else who can tolerate my 24/7 food talk and never get sick of it. Somebody who can make me feel right at home.
Being with these fabulous group of foodies (at least virtually most of the time), I can talk about food with them all day. Our lives are made more delicious because of the food. Now, I know I’ve found my home away from home.
Delirious about delicious,
P.S. Thank you to all the wonderful foodies from Famished in Arabia! You really did make me feel at home