My father was a very active member of the community at Palmerston North (New Zealand). He was a member of the Rose Society, had acted as president of the cultural society three times over, and was always involved in fund-raising events for the local Islamic Center. In retrospect, his social life has definitely been more varied and meaningful than mine.

On 21st February, Palmerston North held its annual Esplanade Day at the very popular grounds of the Esplanade. Here, small businesses and communities take up stalls selling all kinds of nifty, often handmade items, at exceptionally good prices. A makeshift stage is set up with live music and local entertainment, and members of the Islamic Center also put up a stall here to raise funds for the upkeep of the center’s needs.¬†

Many a weekend, we find ourselves aimlessly driving around Dubai rediscovering favorite nooks and crannies, and often ending up eating an elaborate meal at a brand new joint.

My husband and I have a special ritual for ending these star-studded, feast-filled nights. Being avid tea drinkers, we look up late-night tea stalls. These are the tiny little shops lining major highways, or tucked inside residential pockets. The tea is ever flowing, often spiced up with cardamom, and costs a mere 1 dirham per cup. It’s the perfect, soul-warming sip for ending a gastronomic outing.

During the Christmas weekend, we found ourselves lost in the urban jungle of Karama and the kitsch twinkling of multi-coloured tealights at a roadside vendor caught our attention.