The very first time that Masood and I ever met a blogger in person was in July last year, at her wedding! Last night, we met another wonderful blogger, ‘liya, and her husband, V. They were in Dubai for three days, but due to our work timings (which goes on until 9 pm) and the Islamic Peace Convention on Friday, we were only able to meet them for dinner last night – a few hours before their flight back to Canada. I feel sad; I wanted to show them around Sharjah.
They were expected to arrive Thursday, early morning. ‘liya had e-mailed me the name of the hotel where they will be staying at. So I called the hotel on Thursday afternoon, before their Desert Safari tour. A very cheerful voice greeted me on the phone, but she spoke so fast that the only word I understood after she was done talking was ‘help you?’ Let’s call her FR (friendly receptionist).
Me: ‘Hi! I’d like to know if a Canadian couple has checked into your hotel this morning.’
FR: ‘May I have their names, please.’
Me: ‘Her name is ‘liya.’
She asked me to wait for a few minutes, while she verified.
FR: ‘What’s her last name, ma’am?’
Me: ‘Er .. I don’t really know her last name.’
FR: ‘What about her husband’s name? Perhaps the room is booked under his name.’
Me: ‘I don’t know her husband’s name either.’
FR: ‘Company name, perhaps?’
Me: ‘Sorry, no idea.’
‘liya and I were so excited to meet that we never really thought about asking last names. She mentioned in one of the e-mails that she always had problems with phones abroad, so I promised her that I will be the one to call her.
I thanked the friendly receptionist and spent a few minutes contemplating what to do next. Then I saw that Mezba left a message on Facebook asking whether I had already met ‘liya or not. I replied asking him if he knew ‘liya’s last name. I knew he couldn’t reply soon since it was probably 2 or 3 am in Canada then.
I called the friendly receptionist again.
Me: ‘Hi, it’s me again.’
FR: ‘Yes, ma’am.’
Me: ‘Could you please go through your system again and kindly check if there’s someone named ‘liya? It’s very, very important that I speak with her.’
I worked hard to reflect the extreme urgency in my voice, which happened to work because a few seconds later …
FR: ‘Yes, ma’am, there is a ‘liya *then she mentions a surname* who checked in today.’
Me *in all excitement*: ‘Great! Is she Canadian?’
I had to be sure!
FR: ‘Um, I wouldn’t know that, ma’am.’
Me: ‘But don’t you usually keep a copy of your guests’ passports?’
She asks me to hold for a few seconds.
FR: ‘Ma’am, the system hasn’t updated with her information yet. She just checked in. I think it is her that I see in the lobby now.’
Me: ‘Oh. Is she with a man?’
FR: ‘No, she’s not who you are looking for, ma’am.’
Me: ‘How do you know for sure?’
FR: ‘The woman is sitting alone.’
Me: ‘It’s okay, thank you. I’ve written down the name you told me earlier, and I’ll just call back in an hour and ask for her directly.’
FR: ‘So is she the ‘liya you wanted to speak to?’
Me: ‘I’m not sure, but I’ll call and ask her myself if she is.’
Fortunately, it was the ‘liya I was looking for!
Masood and I went to meet them after work, at around 9:30 pm. I recognized her right away (from the pictures on her blog). She’s so sweet, mashaAllah.
Then we had dinner at Gazebo (one of my favorite Indian restaurants in Dubai). And mostly talked about two things: Dubai and Toronto. They had paneer tikka and palak paneer, while we had chicken lahori. We also had yummy mango lassi, and for dessert (though we were all stuffed beyond description) we insisted that they try Hyderabad’s famous qubani ka meetha topped with vanilla ice cream (the link leads to the recipe, ‘liya).
Then off they went to the airport to catch their 1 am flight to Amsterdam.
Masood and I had a really nice time. Thank you, ‘liya and V. You guys are awesome, mashaAllah!