By Janine Milliken

As much as my husband loves Dubai, I hate Dubai. I am a small town girl, living in a small time world. I am also convinced Spiderman lives somewhere in Marina (a suburb in Dubai), as the buildings are huge and totally confuse me, to the point I will not leave the apartment without an escort. Although I say that, I did leave the apartment in my pajamas, in my defense I was sleep walking and had no idea where I was going, at least I was dressed. Be grateful for small things. Thankfully, my husband found me walking up the middle of the highway, needless to say there are about 10 locks on the doors and I am strapped to the bed with a bell around my neck.

My husband lives and works in Dubai while I live in my little house in Zimbabwe with my animals and my family. I absolutely love my country and the people. I find the people very friendly and we seem to have united as a nation. I cannot leave the house in Zimbabwe if I sleepwalk as our security system is so confusing I cannot even unlock the door when I am awake.

“Should you choose to take this mission…….. this message will destroy in 5 minutes.” That is what I feel like when I go to Dubai, I feel like it is ‘Mission Impossible’ and takes me at least a week to get over the flight, with lots of crying, pills, psychiatrists and sleeping. Which is the reason why my mother travels everywhere with me.

I do not like flying, I feel the planes are like taxis. You arrive at the airport and wait, you get in the plane and wait, you arrive in Dubai and wait. It is a whole day of ‘hurry up and wait.’ I have been in too many planes now and I seem to have lost the ‘fun’ part of it.

Flying to Dubai is the first mission. It’s a 10 hour flight and every time I get on the plane I get sick. I am never sure which end I am going to get sick, will I vomit or will I need the toilet? We landed in Lusaka and the air hostess had to unlock the toilet just for me because I had a tummy bug. Yes, the whole plane knew I had a tummy bug because I ran up to the air hostess and said , ‘quickly, quickly unlock the toilet now,’ while holding all my bits and pieces together. Well it was rather urgent and sudden.

I am also always thirsty or need to take 1 of my hundreds of painkillers, so every 5 minutes I am asking for water, however, they bring me this little thimble of a cup with water in it? Is that for a fairy? So I have taken to walking around the air hostess’s territory at the back and helping myself to everything I want and just smiling. Like the penguins, ‘smile and wave boys, smile and wave.’ Unfortunately I cannot chat anyone up and get special treatment because the air hostess’s looks outweigh what I look like, plus I am old and I usually look like a tramp because I am wearing comfortable clothes.

My dad needed water to take a pill and my mom was sitting next to him. He took the pill and vomited it up on my mom. My mom shouted, I laughed and my dad was busy looking for his regurgitated pill. This was the beginning of the 10 hour flight. Then I had some orange juice and spilt it on the man next to me, in exactly the wrong place and he was wearing white trousers. Without thinking I got out my wet wipe and started wiping him. He was so embarrassed he got up and moved and I never saw him again. Surprised I do not have a sexual harassment lawsuit against me.

My mom also fights with her tv screen for 10 hours and I also did not know how it worked, so we both fumbling around pushing all the buttons. Eventually the man next to my mom felt sorry for us and took over but it only lasted 5 minutes before he gave up and handed the controls back to me. My mom and I have a very short attention span, so we start a movie, then decide we want the other movie, then decide no we actually want the radio. We actually do annoy ourselves.

Although my track record on planes is not exactly good either as I seem to misbehave and drive everyone crazy including myself. If the person in front of me has nice hair, I have to touch it. If I am at the window seat then I need to wee every 5 minutes and climb over everyone. I fiddle with all the bits above us and try blast my mom with air, then I blind her with her light, then I deliberately fiddle with her tv to annoy and confuse her. I go fiddle in the toilets and try all the perfumes, flush the toilet and see if it can actually suck me down and why is there no window in the toilet, it is not like Superman is going to come flying past and watch you on the toilet. I would like some scenery while I am on the toilet. I also try and sneak
past the air hostesses and go to the business class toilet, most times I am caught and sent back to my squishy, squashed, little seat in economy. I have found it is all about confidence. Stride up to the business class toilet with confidence and look like you belong there, the problem there is I really do not look like I belong there because I look like a tramp by that stage.

There are also rules in economy. Like if you are in the middle seat, both the arm rests belong to you. Should the person in the aisle dare to use your arm rest you must push his elbow off and show your authority. The aisle guy has an arm rest on the other side and he has the aisle, so why is he taking the middle arm rest? Also if you are on a short flight you do not put your seat back to sleep, apparently this is rude because it is a short flight and you are squashing the person behind you. Who knew? If someone is eating, do not dare put your seat back. My husband had to patiently explain these rules to me because apparently I was acting like a peasant and plane etiquette is taken very seriously by those passengers who fly all the time. He should not have told me this because now I had to push the boundaries and see what I could get away with. My husband then strapped me in and told me to act my age and he was never flying next to me again. Well, hallelujah, that worked.

The airline gives you stickers that say ‘do not disturb’ etc… but the air hostesses appear not to be able to read them. Eventually I stuck the ‘do not disturb’ sticker on my forehead and was left alone for the rest of the flight.

Now if you have ever been to business class once, it is actually a curse because you cannot go back to economy. I have been in business class once. While I was making myself comfortable in business class, this lovely gentleman came and sat next to me. As I do, I try make light conversation, in hindsight I should have actually kept my mouth shut. I said to this gentleman, ‘have you been watching the tennis?’ He replied, ‘I should be, as I am the Minister of Sport’. Thank goodness he saw the humor in it and we both had a laugh. My husband had left me now and was in the toilet roaring with laughter. I am not very good at knowing the important people in life, I just get on with my little world, where I live under a rock.

When I was in South Africa with my parents, there was one customs man doing one window for about 5 international flights that had arrived. This lovely gentleman then decided he needed a toilet break. This took 20 minutes, I am guessing it was a number 2? After his toilet break, this gentleman then did exercises behind his desk, then he found a friend and walked off leaving no-one at customs. I stopped all the wheelchairs from going in front of me, threatened that I would sit on them (had to hide my cross round my neck). Then we all patiently waited for this gentleman to finish with his friend. We had to be polite as the more we grumbled, the longer he took. So I think next time I arrive in Johannesburg, I am going in a wheelchair and I might get served within 2 hours, maybe.
I am asked by my readers if these are true and I can tell you they are 100% true. My mom reads these, giggles and walks away when she checks these posts. The frightening thing is I have many more to write. So keep reading please. Please put comments to help me make it a better reading experience for everyone.


Planes, rules and Janine

Beautifully Broken
by Janine Milliken
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Omg, Janine. I need to travel with you. I don't know if I would regret it or be in stitches. They say laughter gives you a six-pack. If it's true, I'll have the best one after a day with you.
William Du Plooy
Ha! Remind me to never sit next to you in a plane! Good laugh :) …. thanks.
Steve Gauche
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