(no subject)

That winter 2012-13 was really hectic.
We all worked like a horses with almost no rest. I don't mean holidays or days off, I mean the mental rest. We were focused on numbers, were doing over time almost every day, and I used to drive about 300km daily, running around my stores over all the country. I was hanging out with friends barely once in a three months. Living this life, you cherish every moment of team work, every small success, but also you take every small fail as if it was a disaster. I mean, the distress made you so sensitive to people around, that any emotion stemmed bigger than it was. I fully aknowledged the meaning of the expression 'drama' when somebody acts like a god and you have to follow the god's word, or a combat officer's order, if you like. None of it might make sense, but you have to follow. It applied in fact, to everyone who worked: GM has to listen to owner with an open mouth, B had to follow the country supervisor, I had to obey all of them, trying to guess what consequences my next step would cause, if in case I dared to open my mouth. From the other hand, I did that many times, and somehow I learned, that was one of the reason I was picked to that position: it was a dead circle of common obedience, that was in the blood of Asians, and they were fed up with it, but couldn't breaker the circle. They didn't know how. They strived towards open-minded people, but then they didn't know how to handle it afterwards. That was the dead circle. I learned more about that psychotype of behaviour during one year, than I've learned about the mankind for the whole life.
Nevertheless, work was full of excitement, fun and pride. We all felt like one big family with its inner relations, history and legacy. Or like a troop on a battlefield, leaded by the combat officer. We lived our lives shoulder to shoulder. The spirit of communion and fellowship was very high. We were all in one boat, from top management to bottom line. We learned each other's habits and meaningful sights, the reactions and moods. I could tell whether A had a good or bad day, only by listening to his 'Hello' in the telephone in the morning, and that 'Hello' gave me some clue, whether my day was going to be ruined or not. Same applied to B, sometimes I caught him really distracted on Sunday morning, and that time I was getting to know, it was not the best begging of the week for him. The other day, he would break into my office with energy, pushing the door to open when he was yet five meters away, and he would whistling a hymn playing in his head, and he would sparkle his smile all around.
I personally fancy men by the smile. I'm not keen to the body complexion or a hair colour, for me that's not something that defines a personality. But a sensire open smile would immediately attract me, as I believe, I know how kind people smile. B had a sort of a bit sad, but beautiful smile, and he was very careful using it. He would rather use a grin, but sometimes I was catching that sparkling true smile, that made me smile, too.
I would say, B was my only hope in the flesh in that place. A., my line boss, kept on driving me mad, and our relations remained instable, like a thin ice, that could break any time. Two things kept me floating: B and The Brand. Brand was like a Holy Spirit and B was like a father god. And I was a priest for myself and to my team, trying to bring up the good values. A. was Judas for me, obviously, having his own valuable truth, but choosing a curved track to lead. Obviously, he was thinking the same way about me, and I didn't judge him at all. Somewhere deep in my soul I always respected him, and I knew, he'd done a lot of goodness for the Brand, and I praised that. But A was a sort of a gossip girl, surrounded by the thankful listeners, that formed his gang. He soon realised that I was different kind of person, and I wouldn't join and follow and listen with an open mouth, and that was disappointing him, so he found the way to flush his personal anger.
So we kept on working, arguing, again working together, laughing, achieving and sometimes failing, but raising up, brushing off the dust, and coming on duty the next day with a smile and energy to work. I don't know how we managed this all, but we did.
Sometimes I thought that B just kept us together in order to challenge each other and get the result out of that challenge. We were always alerted. We never let each other become idle in process, cause every case seemed to us like a set of a chess game, and a goal of a checkmate pushed both to do or die. That moment I used to hate B, but I couldn't really hate him, as I liked him a lot. At the end of the day, I realised, that I trusted this man in whatever he would do. God bless.

(no subject)

My first kick-off meeting was a real fun, but the second one was more remarkable.
It's been more than 6 months on my new position, and I got experience, and I got the car, and I also got some recognition from the team, that made me feel confident.
Relations with A were still very tough, I was under pressure all the time, though, I was trying to do my best to prove myself to myself and to him. I was working day and night, trying to push some new projects, that got pretty straight rejection from A. He felt a threat from me, and probably, I was a threat. I tried to push a few projects under B's approval, and got a go-ahead, but I didn't really have time to develop it, and it was all buried in my laptop files. I was trying hard to be myself and to bring positive changes into the system, and that was a real threat for people like A., who spent more than 10 years in a system, and found a comfort zone. Breaking into it was equal to a suicide, and I metaphorically suicided my nerves and my career.
However, next kick-off turned to be an exciting event, well planned and organised by us, and everyone praised it.
By that time me and B had a kind of strong contact at work, and we both felt good working with each other. We didn't meet often, but there were some mails, a conversation went on, sometimes slipping into a silly chat by emails. I didn't feel that was wrong, as I felt being trusted.
A kick-off meeting is usually followed by a night out, a simple and cute drinking in a relaxing place. That time we went to an indoors restaurant, and I was actually so tired of the two days of org stuff and a whole meeting support, that I just wanted to sit back and enjoy my drink. People around were getting wild, tried to push everyone to dance, but I was deep inside the couch with a chilled Long Island in my hands, and nothing could get me out of there. B was sitting in front of me, next to GM. They were having beers. As we were only few of those, who didn't dance, all of us regarded an emphatical glances to each other, and had a slow chat. Suddenly B looked at me again, with his bright glance, and asked:
'What are you having?'
'A Coke' I replied, without a blink. It's not like you're not allowed to drink when your bosses are around, not at all. I just wanted to check him, whether he would pay attention, or it's just a conversation support.
'Ah, ok...' He paused. 'Its Long Island, isn't it?' He smiled, and I smiled also.

That night he texted me, when we all left.
'Drive safe. You've done a good job in preparation, and all'
I was in a taxi heading home, very very drunk and squeezing a $100 in my pocket, that I won for a challenge of drink-vodka-faster, that he witnessed.
I replied:
'Thanks for amazing night. Will do it better next season!' I was pushed to be a part of a drinking challenge, pushed, in fact, by the company owner, who showed up in the middle of the night, saw a warmed up people, and decided to give some excitement. He probably forgot, that Russian was there. I just couldn't miss a chance to get my reward for a kick-off, like I had I last season, running barefoot. This year money were trice less, but free vodka shots obviously compensated.
I could still walk to a taxi, but couldn't make a straight line, but could make a pleasant face, saying bye to everyone.
I was rolling it all in my head, when I suddenly got another message from B, saying:
'Hay, you've done fantastic. Have fun. I'm home, flipping emails. Got a hard season to go.'
Why the hell he's writing this all to me?! Drunk? Sure, does, but still... Though, I felt a little drunk pride, and I texted him something else, and we exchanged another few polite messages, and send a good-nights and, I believe, went to a good sleep, well, at least, I did.

(no subject)

Those were the days.
I still lived in International City, and I was waking up latest at 6 o'clock, taking a shower, drawing a face, getting my hair and clothes done, and quickly leaving the house.
I was walking towards the bus stop, to catch the bus at 7.25 to reach the metro station and be in the mall by 9.
Every morning was horrible. The only thing that made me feel good was the moment I was clutching my brand pin on my clothes, which gave me the good feel. That was the feeling of being a part of something big and good.

In fact, just right after I was promoted, I had two trips.
One was the trip to Moscow, with my GM. He was going for hiring and he took me as a support and a translator. We went for three days in February, and it was still very cold.
I met my parents, well, better to say, my parents met us, warm greetings and all.
I never had a mixed feelings about my GM. He was a decent guy, though, later on, I heard many rumours about him, going on in the office. A harassment kind of thing, but I never was into it. I mean, it was not like I didn't believe it, but I just never discussed it. I had no idea about what was going on, and if I had no idea, I never discussed, shared, or supported the talks. I was fully focused on my work, and nothing could distruct me that time. I still have the same attitude.
Though, once, I witnessed an unpleasant conversation, that happened in my GM's office, that proved everything to me, but I've just tried to forget it, like it never happened. I was sitting in B's office, and the wall between his office, and GM's office wasn't full, so we both could hear it. There was a lady inside, and she talked a few sentences, that were quite certain, and she weeped, and he was trying to calm her down, then his voice went stronger, and he was obviously pressing on her, and next week I got to know, that this lady resigned.
Me and B pretended that we heard nothing that time, though, we both knew that something wrong was happening.
We just kept the face, both of us, and I think, that time we understood, we both can make a face and we can trust each other.

Nevertheless, we went to Moscow, and my GM was pushing me to stay in a hotel, but I insisted, I would stay with my parents. That wasn't a fun trip, the winter was trying to catch the last days to prove its power, and again all the roads were icy, the people weren't friendly, and we both realised that time that there is no future for the brand development there. Whatever. I enjoyed that sudden flashback, that very well fitted in that chain of changes, that were happening in my life.

After that the kick-off meeting happened and I filed to Montreal.
The seasonal kick-off meeting took 2 days, full of fun for me, as I took a challenge to run around the warehouse building next to the office, and my ballerinas fell off and I was running barefoot, and I still came first I was rewarded with a 1000aed gift voucher from the company owner, and I was very proud of that.
So many people were arond, and I was all new to it, and I truly enjoying that.

After that I flied to Montreal for a training and it was a fantastic trip, though, that time I fully realised that I cannot get along with A., and we probably would never make it work.
I remember one night, when we went out to have a dinner out, and he was refilling my wine again and again, and suddenly he asked me, whom I find more sexy, our Sales'n'Ops, or our GM. I was embarrassed, but I didn't show it. I had an answer in my mind, but I wasn't so drunk, as he assumed, I was, so he took my answer 'none of them' as a true.

Still, I knew the answer.

(no subject)

I'm not completely sure you understand how I felt these first two years in Dubai.
It was full of emptiness, if I can say so. You feel like a pure blank sheet of paper, where you have to draw your life again. You learn to talk, to move, to work, to cook, to see and understand things again. Like you are a kid again, and you have no clue what consequences your behaviour will cause. You have to try and see the consequences.
Every telephone call makes you nervous because you don't know what this person will tell you and what to answer him.
Every food you order will be a surprise for your stomach.
Every place you have to go, you have no idea, how it looks and what to expect there.
Everything you see is new for you and you don't know what reaction of your mind will follow.
It's a great distress that keeps you tensed and prepared, and it will turn you into stone. Hard, as you can be. As hard as you couldn't even imagine you might be.

The good thing about Dubai is the people around. All of them had the same experience. The experience of fulfilling emptiness that turns you into stone. And everyone understands and supports you. This is an Asian treat, to be open and welcome to the strangers. Dubai in fact is one big village. Everyone knows someone here and there, and the stories and rumours are tweeted from one company to another.
When you come to the store, frustrated, or angry, or disappointed, you will always find a shoulder to cry, or an ears to listen to your complaints. People around are happy to hear about your problems. They will nodd emphatically, and share their stories too. They have a lot. And yours might not be so outstanding, as it seemed before.

Your staff is ready to borrow you money or to advice someone to ask from.
And at the end of the day you forget all the problems because business is eating you. All personal problems are just the background for that great thing called Brand. Well, to be honest, not everyone was like that. Some people put their own problems prior to work. And they were leaving the company soon. Many of them I met, trained, tried to bring up, and said bye at one moment. Sad, but I felt good at that moment of saying bye. Like you get rid of garbage or just some expired stuff. Like you tried one brand of smoked salmon and you didn't like it, and you know you never buy it again.
We had a spine of the brand, and I considered myself to be one of the bones of this spine. I still do. Sometimes body would get unnessesary fat, and then would drop it, to get more healthy. And everything would come to balance again.

Those were me, B., A., few seniors and my husband. We would stay for ever. Whatever.

(no subject)
My first year in Dubai was horribly stunning. I'm not joking, that was just a terrible mix of emotions, worse than that cocktail, made from vodka and beer. Every day was a fight for life. You had to prove yourself every single day, a white lady manager in this traditional Asian country. Some people just wouldn't take you seriously, best case scenario, they would turn it into joke, worst case, when it comes to arabics, they would argue with you and shout like they had their neck cut.
Work was very challenging, but maybe something was wrong with me, cause I liked it.
The other part was my personal life, or, better to say, the absence of personal life. My single weekly off I used to spend on the beach, sometimes followed by a simple dinner in Egyptian cafeteria on the Creek side, just next to the water. They were serving a huge juicy grilled shrimps with the fries and a mix of vegetables, and I was always ordering a non-alcoholic beer, cause obviously the normal beers was not available.
I had no friends. I visited no parties. Didn't hang out anywhere. Few times I had a beer with Dana, the girl, whom I worked with, and that was it.
Finally, as I said, I was elevated, and my life completely turned upside down. I got 28 stores instead of one, and I wasn't even driving that time. The process of getting driving licence in this country is quite complicated, and it took me almost 4 months to accomplish this.
I've got a horrible boss instead of B., though, technically I was still reporting to B. That guy was a sort of annoyed, double-faced old gay, obviously having so many complexes, that he just needed someone to burst it out. He was making me mad, and I have to confess, I did the same to him. We had a cat&dog relations, with a short periods of calmness, that would last until one of us would run out of patience.
Sometimes I was thinking, ok, that's it, that's the last drop, and I can't stand it anymore, and I would just walk into B's office and throw my pin on his desk! But then something was switching on in my mind, and all my anger and offence was converted into the strive to prove myself again, and to make everyone around me believe, that I'm strong enough to take the challenge.
I wanted to prove to A., my new horrible boss, that I was qualified and professional to make a strong team and bring us to the next level.
I wanted to prove to B., that he didn't make a mistake, when he asked me, whether I wanted to try myself in a new role.
I wanted to prove to myself, that I will stand anything the life will give me, and succeed.
But it was so damned hard.
A. was irritating me almost every day, with his stupid petty comments, and giving me the most useless jobs to do. As I told before, the big part of my personality is independence, and freedom in whatever I do. Maybe I'm not a team player, but neither was A. Whatever we did together, the credit would go to him. I was always on the backstage, doing the most dirty job, and he would appear on the stage with his shiny smile and get the applause.
Few times I was thinking, whether B. was aware, what sort of things were happening in his team. I was convinced that he wasn't. He already had too much headache with two brands, and I didn't want to give him one more. I was keeping a nice face and I tried my best to be good and helpful, hiding my own ego problems deep inside.
So, intensionally I never discussed anything with B., but I was always seeking for any kind of support, like a praising email, credit of trust, or just a simple encouraging glance. I would lie, if I say, I got none of it. We bumped to each other quite often, in the office, or in the stores. Sometimes we were chatting about something quite far from business, like upcoming Rock concerts, or the places we lived, or even relatives. It never surprised me, cause we had that Moscow experience, when stacked in the traffic jam, you have nothing to do but play some music and chat about everything.


Let me be very honest with you, and myself, I always respected B. so deeply, that I almost idolised him. Nevertheless, I always used to argue with him. Argument mostly consisted of his comments about my style of the store management, and my annoyed throwbacks, that made him angry, but smiling so charming, that all my anger was turned into jokes and exchange of sharp replicas that pleased both of us. He was very sharp, and so was I. Sometimes I think, that he would throw an icy cold note just to see my reaction. Strange way to open a dialogue, isn't it?
Anyways, I was always happy to see him walking in the store early in the morning, taking a round with that boss kind of a look, with a confident fast stepping and a straight back. He had an energy, that would give you a good push for the entire day. Low deep voice and blinking Prada glasses, which, as I figured out later, had very low dioptria, though, he was wearing it all the time. I heard, he was around 40, but I never thought about it. For me, he was just B., my leader and the heart of the brand. He could speak such a simple things, in the way, that all the audience was fascinated and motivated at one moment. I always liked him talking at the managers meetings, though, sometimes I felt the guy is really tired and irritated, but he never stopped. That time I learned how to give all of yourself to work, and to be dedicated to the people, you work with. To lead by example. To share your passion and to be disciplined and consistent. I tried to follow, to do my best, not for the brand, not for the store, but for him only. You know, sometimes you think you are the world, and you used to count on yourself only. But when you meet the person, stronger than you, the person, who's doing the same things in a better way, you feel like someone is sharing your responsibility and you can rely on him.
He was always challenging me. To make a budget, to give a speech, to answer a tricky question, or to do something, that no one can do.
One time I remember, I failed.
We were arranging a visit of our Moscow colleagues to Dubai, the best performers of the year. Me and B. were organising the whole trip. We spent all together 3 amazing days, visiting the stores, dining in the best places, sightseeing, and having fun. He was driving us everywhere with his amazingly comfortable Lexus, small but smart car, full of electronics and continuously playing the best rock tracks. We both enjoyed I think. He had a chance to slip away from the daily routine, me either, and we just dived into the tourist part of Dubai, that I guess none of us properly experienced before. I was always in the front seat, selecting a music treks, and translating, and he was smiling all the time and throwing the jokes.
On the last day we drove them to the Palm Jumeirah, to the very end of it, and stopped at the beautiful corniche with a stunning view, sea on the right and a panorama of Dubai Marina skyscrapers on the left. The place was awesome and we were the only people there, due to the weekday and a hot weather. The palms were planted in the sand and decorated with the round stones. Suddenly my eye catched the unusual shape of the stone, which looked like ragged heart. I took that stone and handed it to B., knowing, that he liked that kind of unique things, as his office was full of souvenirs and small statues, a models of a motorbikes and tiny plants. He took that stone and said:
'Wow. It's broken, same as mine'
I wasn't really surprised, as I knew, that he liked juicy phrases almost same as a juicy plants, but I liked the reply.
So the same day he asked me to record the small interview with our Moscow colleagues, before they leave from the airport, something like
their feedback about stay in Dubai. I was the one dropping them, and they were departing from different terminals, so we were all in a hurry, and fully loaded with their luggage, so I dropped the thing. Just decided that this is something extra and not really important. From time to time he was asking to do stupid useless things.
The next day he got back to me with a text:
'Hay, did you record an interview? I need it tomorrow in the office on the meeting with the chairman'
'No. I'm sorry we were in a hurry'
'Nooooo, you should have done it'
This simple phrase in the screen of my phone made everything inside turn over. Somehow I could feel all the emotions and worst of all, his disappointment.
That time I promised myself, never again I would say No to this guy.

(no subject)

I actually cannot define the moment my life has changed. Probably, after the first vacation, which happened in two years. That's the law. Two years work, then two month vacation with the return ticked paid.
In fact, I've got only one month, cause I was already promoted. Yeah, two years of being sober and fully excited about work, he it's effect.
I've changed three biggest malls while being a store manager. And believe me, being a store manager of these biggest malls in this huge brand will give you an experience, that will turn you into stone. Better say a rock, I was so confident in myself and my bright future, that is actually never thought about the future. Monthly target beaten, productivity achieved, tasks accomplished and I rose and shione cause I was the only lady manager in the hole brand.
B. was often coming over the stores. I never was scared of the visits, in fact, I was thrilled and happy to see him, cause we had some little history back in Moscow. Nothing over the rules, but just a friendly feeling when we saw each other, and even he was questioning me, and giving a little bamboo, I always felt, that was for a reason. And the reason was to develop the brand and to move forward. I really liked the way how he spoke on a manager's meetings, with such a passion and a true light in his eyes, that you would drop everything you do now and start doing what he wants you to do. A great leader. A true Boss from capital B. Just B.
Well, sometimes, we had operational issues, like scheduling, or training procedures. He was an Indian at the end of the day, and they're too far from Europeans with their cast system and family values, which gives the direction for overall life philosophy. I was obviously standing out of the range of all the store managers, mostly Indians, Nepalese, few arabics. I wasn't afraid to disagree, to prove my point of view and to think open minded. B. was always talking about being open minded, and I believe, he wanted to be. He almost succeeded. Bit some ancient prejudices, buried so deep in his mind cork, showed up sometimes. I never blamed him for that, cause, lived a few years on a country of expats from all over the works, you learn, how to be tolerant.
Nevertheless, B. wasn't an idol, but he was someone, who knew me before, in that previous life, and for this I trusted him.
I trusted him, and tried to follow everything, that he would ask to do. Except those things, that I was so self-confident to do the way I do.

That wS the reason I was elevated, I think.
This came up suddenly. I was in Dubai mall at morning shift, and B. came over, and while checking the window, he suddenly pulled the talk over and asked me:
'What do you think about moving to VM?'
I was a bit shocked and two sides clashed over me that time. From one hand, visual merchandising was always my dream, from the other hand, I was a bit offences, that he doesn't see me in sales and operations. Like I was not doing fantastic as a store manager. However, I was pleased by offering such an opportunity, but I kept calm and replied:
'Well. That's quite interesting, I have to think about it'

After two weeks I joined VM team and then the hell started.

(no subject)

I opened the Coca Cola plastic bottle and poured the black bubbly in my glass. I fulfilled the glass and I hesitated, then took another glass from the cupboard and separated half of the Coke. One glass I refilled with Bacardi and the other one put in the fridge. Next round, most probably, tonight.
I had a thought about problems with alcohol, but I never took it seriously.
In this country it was way too different from Russia.
There we used to take at least two bottles for casual dinner and at least two bottles per person for a party. You never actually thought how much you drank. Probably, because we were at our early twenties. Probably, because of the common sense of countinious drinking, that was put in our blood by our parents before we exited to the first daylight of our lives.
My parents were a sort if intelligence, that was sort of marginals at that period of Russian history. No one admired you if you were a teacher or an engineer. Everyone will hate you, but admire, if you were a businessman or a mafia. Mom was a teacher and dad was an engineer and they tried to do some business apart, but they often encountered mafia on the way.
So they were coming back from the marketplace where they were selling those Turkish garments, that mom was getting from her Istanbul regular business trips, and there was always a bottle of vodka not he table, and a couple of smoking friends, they they would end up far after midnight, discussing some philosophical topics about space and all. My dad worked in a Space Flight Control Center and some famous drinking scientists and engineers and cosmonauts hanging around in our flat. One of them, quite famous, gave me few books of a Russian fantastic on my 13th birthday, though, I read it only after 18, which I recall was an amazing time pass.
Anyways, I got my first Martini when I was 12, on Women's Day. I didn't appreciate it much.
Then there was a high school, where everyone drunk like anything, but I was always in control, though, I suppose, it was due to lack of money and a lack of alcohols.
University, we fully got into this. Hanging out with the batch of a mates, travelling around the City flats and country overall, never knowing, where you will meet the sunrise or a sunset. Fantastic times. That was the time to get the immunity for the alcohol, that most Russians get, and carry along for life.
Apparently, 2 years in Dubai, too much into work, can beat even Russian alcohol immunity.

As I arrived, and once heard that phrase from B., something like 'forget everything for the next two years, but job', which was not actually addressed to me, I had that involvement, that provided a kind of excitement, that was nothing to compare with alcoholic experience. I was fully crystal clear for 2 full years. Well, you might laugh or shrug, but it's all about Russians. True Russians I mean.

Those days were just so full of tiredness and satisfaction, that you never actually thought about spending your single weekly day off rather than to pretend being a vegetable on the beach. That was cool. I was so crystal clear and full of passion and strive, that I just needed a small push, a single encouraging glance to make it up and rock.
I was coming back to my flat, meeting my husband, telling him the whole story of the day with the whole emotional colouring, and was off to a deep sleep before my alarm would announce another happy challenging day.
I mentioned, we had a small fridge loaded with non-alcoholic beers, that was the only thing that we could get from the grocery. Freaking country prohibition, but that was something, that probably helped me to be on track that time.
Very few parties that time, that had such a lazy amount of drinks, due to cost, have a certain excitement, but not too much. I didn't even think about it, I was fully dedicated to the job I was doing, and everything in the life was coming from that: pride and achievements, happiness and fun, trust and sharing. I was truly happy. Good old times.
The beautiful start.

(no subject)
I only knew that I had to come to the mall and meet the area manager.
I thought, I will meet B. that day. We were in touch all the time while I was waiting for my visa. It took 6 months, because I wanted to confirm my degree, and it took a while to complete all the paperwork.
After our first acquaintance in my Moscow store, it turned out that I was the only person who was speaking English and had a car to drive. So I drove him around all the malls, and to his hotel, and picked him up on the morning, and dropped him late night. I was surprised how vigilant he was about work. He had that kind of different view and judgement about everything that he saw in the stores, and at the same time he was so quiet about everything that he saw in the streets during our rides.
He seemed to me a little lazy and lost, though, it could happen because he was having a jet lad, and he was is a new country, and people around didn't speak the same language. But suddenly his face would change and he would talk so passionately about business, and his dark brown eyes would sparkle out, and his awesome smile would shine with a perfectly white teeth and those charming dimples on his cheeks. Did I mention, I didn't fancy him? However, I liked him as a person, and even I liked him more, when during one of our lunches he mentioned his musical preferences, which happened to be same as mine: classical rock with I a touch of a sophisticated metal, like Accept, Blind Gardian, Metallica, and of course, all the oldies Goldies.
If I describe him how he appeared that time, I would picture a close-to-short height man, very dark Indian, round head, compact complexion, faded hair, wearing a denim and a sport rain bomber, very light for November snowing weather. I recall that time, when we first went out if the mall to smoke together. He was definitely feeling cold, but he hid it, and I was wearing my very short mink jacket, quite appropriate for the current weather and quite appropriate to give a sexy look.
Not sure, if he noticed, but that didn't matter to me anyways.
One day I was driving him from one mall to another on the evening peak hour, and sure, we stacked in a traffic jam. We had a lazy chat about Russia and our business here, too lazy to be interesting. The weather was so nasty that November, that I had to use my windscreen wipers all the time, whether we were moving or standing. Suddenly I realised, that the water was over, and I was just scratching my glass. That time we had a chance to take an exit to get out of traffic, and I pulled in a petrol station without explaining a reason. He didn't seem to be worried, maybe he thought, I had to refill a petrol. So I told him that the water was over, and I had to open a cowl and pour it in. Probably, I had too nice men around me before, but I expected, that he would go outside to help me. Silly girl. He jus nodded and stayed inside, like we were not in Moscow nasty winter and I was not a tiny girl in a mink, who obviously was seeking for help. I didn't pronounce it, but got down the car, opened a cowl and poured a liquid myself. That time I didn't know much about Indians, though now this behaviour would not surprise me at all.
I pulled my gloves on, and off we went. That night he asked me to call him a taxi, as he didn't want me to drive him back so late at night. Later on he same night I got a call from him, that he forgot his blackberry in a taxi, obviously blaming the driver. I tried to call a taxi receptionist, unsuccessfully. He left to Dubai next morning. After a couple of days I got the email from him, explaining the rush, and how he spent 8 hours in the airport, waiting for his flight delayed due to the emergency foreign plane landing there and blocking all the outgoing flights. He thanked me for the warm welcome in Moscow and looked forward to come back soon.

Next time we met, was Spring, March, if I'm not mistaken.
There was a managers meeting on the behalf of the company chairman, who wanted to appreciate the best manager for the seasonal performance. The best manager, who achieved all the points, was me.
B. greeted me warmly and handed me a souvenir from Dubai, a small picture of the desert, made with a use of all emirates types of sand. We had a picture together. I still have that picture, and sometimes I'm looking at it, wondering, how different we looked that time. That stupid souvenir is still somewhere in my old Moscow flat.

I landed in Dubai on June 2nd 2011 late night, and the first thing I remembers was the blow of the super hot air, coming on me, while I desperately drew my first cigarette after a five hours flight and two hours standing in a queue for the eye scan to get into the country from the airport. A standard procedure for all foreigners, first coming to UAE.
I was standing in the airport entrance with my luggage, smoking, and my first thought was that I just happened to be under the A/C maintenance pipe, or any other technical area, and it was a machine blow out, or something else like that. But after a minute I realised, that was just the air. And it will be like this here for at least three upcoming months.
My husband, who had come a month before me, picked me up with the driver and welcomed to our flat. A medium sized studio in one of the most cheapest districts of Dubai, full of Pakistani neighbours, and with the strong smell of a cockroach killer all over the building. Not surprising, cause the population of the houses mostly consisted of Asians, continuously cooking their horrible food and not caring about insects at all, even in their bed, not mentioning the kitchen.
The kitchen was only named like that, in fact, it was a table panel just right in the entrance of the flat, having only a sink on it. Later, I tried to cook a couple of times, but then I dropped it. However, I almost made it look like kitchen, end we even got a fridge to load with non-alcoholic beer, though, we never got a stove or a microwave. I was under the strong impression that if I would ever cook anything hot and smelly there, all the cockroaches from the whole building will pay me a visit for dinner. However, I cooked rarely, during the New Year celebration, or just a romantic dinner, but couple of times I was meeting those guys on my dining table, and even in the bed, so as soon as I had a chance, we moved out. After two years, once contract was over.

My first night I spent on the floor, on a very thin matress, covered with a very thin spread, which was fine due to 45C degrees outside. I had no clue what's gonna happen the next day and I was fine with that. When your life is changing in one night, you don't really think like you used to think before. Thoughts are very straight and you just focus on a next hour tasks, like how to take a proper bus and how to communicate to people whom you will meet now. Nothing like thinking about proper life organising, or your own personal needs. All daily routine is cut to minimum of getting up, dressing up, making up and off to work. Work is swallowing you so easily, as you let it occupy all your mind, cause this is barely a single thing that you know how to do in the new country.


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