Connecting with our Commuting Community

At night as I lie in bed I count the airplanes, sky high and stacked up one behind the other, behind the other… just hanging and waiting for clearance to land at Dubai International Airport. One, two, three, four and fffiivve… asleep. Better than sheep because I don’t have to imagine anything, and at that time of night, please, no mind work needed.   The airport is close to home in more ways than one. Not only because it’s a ten (or twenty or thirty) minute drive away, depending on traffic, but also there’s probably a good chance that Carla, our cabin-crew-daughter-in-law is stylishly serving on one of them planes a-comin or a-go’n, as she does frequently on her world flips. There’s also another good chance that someone else we know is flying through Dubai and coming to connect.  (And if that’s the case I shouldn’t be lying in bed counting planes, should I?).
Dubai International Airport or DXB is the world’s busiest airport for passengers and the 6th busiest for cargo. In 2014, 70.5 million passengers and 2.37 million tons of cargo touched down or took off from a runway in this land-of-sand.
70.5 million people through this tiny country with an enormous airport and ginormous attitude. That’s 0.1 percent of the entire world population playing passenger through here, a year.
That’s a lot of people, people!
We too, get a lot of these passing passengers popping in for a dinner, bed and breakfast. One, two or all three of those things. I LOVE it. But just for the record and in case you’re coming – I don’t do the Burj, the ski slope or desert safaris. Oh no mam/sir.  Those you do on your ownsome! Been there, done that and didn’t get the tee-shirt because I already have too many of the same already. For the rest, you’re welcome.
So in our Commuting Community over the past few days we’ve had:
Namita Grace, seen here in front of the palace of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
Namita is a pocket rocket of energy with a universe of ideas. We met by divine intervention when she was in transit from Seattle to Uganda two years ago and her plans did not pan out. Stuck with no money and nowhere to go in Dubai, she recalled my name from a casual conversation she’d had with a friend in the USA a while back.   Late at night she sought me on Facebook (Yay Facebook!), introduced herself and asked me what I thought she should do. Ten (or twenty or thirty, I forget what the traffic looked like that night) minutes later I was at the airport looking for a short little Indian girl, as SHE described herself, and of which there are more than many in Dubai. We miraculously connected because I was probablyinpurple and we’ve been firm friends ever since.
Namita, a Basic Medical Science graduate going on to do her Masters in Community and Public Health next year, is head of and initiator of an organisation called PHASE, which she’s successfully planting in developing countries, the first being Uganda. Amongst many things, she connects people and gets them doing awesome things, like some passing on skills and others learning skills, all local on local. An example being that of an expert vegetable gardener training students in the art of veggie gardens and then doing the actual ground work in thrown aside plastic packets. These new gardeners work with local health students in the slums getting food gardens going and growing in rubbish (i.e. those dreaded and dirty plastic packets often synonymous with an urban African landscape). Another project on the go involves Food Science Students, Animation Architects and Software Engineers all working together on a context driven animated video which will show and help people to understand how food affects their bodies and thus hopefully get them to eat said stuff growing in said plastic packets. Read more about Namita Grace at She’s one amazingly fabulous “little” lady.
These people need no introduction.
Well known amongst many in Africa and across the US, they are to teenagers what mommies are to babies. Necessary.   Heading up Young Life Africa and the new Middle East region, and the parents of three teenagers and one young adult themselves, Steve and Dyan Larmey work tirelessly to train mentors in fearlessly loving on and laughing with teenagers – probably the most neglected sect of the population.   “Young Life doesn’t start with a program. It starts with adults who are concerned enough about kids to go to them on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don’t happen overnight – they take time, patience, trust and consistency. Loving kids regardless of their responses”
I was loved on as a struggling teen many many moons back when living in the USA and I’ve loved Young Life with a passion ever since. Some of my finest times and funniest memories are associated with camps, incredibly silly skits and screaming laughter as a teenager and since then connecting with teenagers.  I believe in Young Life and young lives and couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s coming to this region in whatever shape or form that looks like right now. I also couldn’t be more thrilled that that means we’ll also be seeing a lot more of Steve and Dyan just passing through or staying put for a couple of days or weeks or whatever as they become a regular part of our commuting community. Welcome.

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  1. Ali!! I love your posts. You write so well (sookie). You write thought provoking and deeply felt words. You introduce new ideas, and I feel humbled to read your words and thoughts and feelings; and I feel privileged to have a friend like you. Love you!!

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