Friday, 6 June 2008


It's been a really busy week. By the time I got home yesterday and the day before from work, it was quite late and I was quite tired so I have not been posting about my experiences at the Viva office on the exact days. Hence, this bursting weekend post.

Day 3

Okay so Day 3 wasn't particularly exciting. I was told to do extensive research on some articles that could be possible hooks for the features and spreads they planned to produce in the next issue. So basically, I spent the day slurping a take-away Pina Colada from TGIF next door and browsing story-hoarding websites like Digg, Fark, and Pretty Social (a relatively new website where women can 'share and discuss stories from around the web'). For the record, since I love the guy, I found out about the last website from Joe, which means, he made my job at the office even easier. Millefois Merci.

As a result of all that internet research, I stumbled upon my favourite story of the lot: Isolated Tribe Spotted in Brazil. Beautiful. I have a thing for tribes, especially after thoroughly indulging in 'Apocalypto' three times. So great that they're still out there today. It's so fascinating seeing them protect themselves with their bows and arrows from the camera in its helicopter above. Most beautiful thing I've read all week; along with Amy Tan's novel 'Saving Fish From Drowning', which I finished last night, which of course you MUST read, and which is actually quite focused on a Burmese tribe called the Karen tribe.

Anyway, this what I stupidly wore to work that day as I braved the excruciating heat on the way to work. All black.


Apart from the events that happened between 7:30pm and 2am yesterday, I had a great day. Allow me to briefly sum up those unfortunate events before going on about the activities that were internship-related. Finding my way home from a different location other than the usual Viva office (as the photoshoot was elsewhere) resulted in:

me searching for a nearby bus stop which wasn't nearby and had me walking up and down several highways like a prostitute (which some people slowed thinking I was), finding one, figuring out which bus from there would take me to my destination, waiting an hour and a half for a bus to actually even stop for me as they were all packed with workers, finally getting one an hour and a half later, arriving at the bus terminal for the express to Abu Dhabi and finding that there were no more for the evening, calling my dad from a party to tell him I would be spending the night in a nearby bush if he didn't come for me, arranging to meet him just outside the city, getting to the planned location (Dubai Marina) and discovering that the area was so newly constructed that there were no road signs or street names yet, stumbling around in painful shoes looking for a familiar building to stand and wait at, finding out my dad was still an hour away and had no idea where I was, bursting into tears from all the wandering, the crippled feet, the seclusion, the heat, the parched throat, finding a security guard outside a place called La Riviera Towers who said he would talk to my dad, my dad telling me after I was given the phone back that he had no idea what the guy was talking about, my phone beeping saying the battery was low, being fed water and tissues by the guard who allowed me to sit in the blissfully air-conditioned lobby to wait, then standing out on the highway with him to wave at my dad's car as he flew by then turned around and collected me. Yes, we gave him a bloody good tip. I got home at 4am and thanked Allah, God, Buddha and Mother Lakshmi that it was the weekend and I didn't have to get up an hour later for work again.

PHEW! Now the photoshoot! Yes, I went on my first fashion photoshoot (photos posted here) with Viva, which was located at a newly opened club called Alpha, which is part of Le Meridien Hotel Dubai. All clubs and restaurants serving alcohol have to be situated at a hotel in the U.A.E. Alcohol can barely be obtained elsewhere. They don't sell it at supermarkets or anything. So people make a big deal about going for 'booze runs' (which the photographer informed everyone she was going on this weekend) and my dad, as he's a pilot, usually just stocks up when coming through Duty Free.

Anyway, so I helped out the Fashion and Beauty editor Chee, and her assistant Gaby by organizing the clothes, shoes and accessories for the shoot. There was a huge crisis when the steamer refused to work and we had to go ask to borrow an iron and ironing board from the hotel staff. The first one they sent us didn't work, so we had to go back and request another, which took nearly half an hour to come, and tested it out in a nearby outlet in the vast lobby; with the hotel's guests brunching, bozing and smoking eyeing us with amused expressions.

The whole organizing an iron and ironing board ordeal took nearly an hour; the reason being that the immigrant workers who come to this country and apply for jobs barely even know what the job entails or how to do it. They're just grabbing what they can, and fast. Once they are given orders, they follow them mechanically. Anything outside of what they are ordered to do, they know absolutely nothing about. This is also the reason I spent so much time getting more and more lost yesterday evening. Not even the bus drivers knew about the correct buses or directions I should take, around this city they have been working in for quite some time, I imagine. This is also why once when I jumped in a taxi and asked some advice about where a particular building might be on a particular street, the driver (who was hired to drive) barely knew english, could not understand what I wanted him to do and told me 'Cannot showing me where? I'm sorry, no,' opening the door for me to get out.

So what happened when we approached the front desk about the iron TWICE was we were faced with a tiny Indian man, who merely looked at us with bulging eyes, then looked down at the ground racking his brain and muttering 'what to do? what to do?' We could see the doom in his eyes as he thought about impatient Gaby seeking out the manager to complain about him, and him getting fired as a result. Anyway, eventually he talked to someone, and they talked to someone, and so forth, and we received a new iron. All was well.

The photoshoot featured real everyday women with different body types, showing which clothes flattered their body types most. I was the first person to show up at Alpha, then the photographer Candy, next. She was a lanky Australian woman with fried bleached ringlets and thick black glasses.
"Are you the first model today?"
"Oh no, no, no, " I stammered, flattered, staring at her concerning lack of breasts printed through her Karl Lagerfeld tank top. "I'm just the intern. The team's all on their way."

Of all the cool people I met that day, Candy was the most exciting. In fact, I might be harbouring a small girl crush. She had 6 tattooes, blasted Sheryl Crow and Bob Marley songs through her Mac, her butt-crack peek-a-booed over her briefs and baggy surfer jeans when she stooped and crouched and jumped about excitedly to take pictures, and she wasn't at ALL pretty. Actually, when she took off her glasses, she looked the way Carrie Bradshaw might look if she wore absolutely no make-up and hadn't slept in several days. In other words, she wasn't too ugly either. On the breaks in between, she sat reading a book about 'thinking big' while lounging on one of the club's longue chaises. She rolled and smoked copious amounts of brown-papered cigarettes.
"They're licorice flavoured," she told me.

Although we were served an unlimited amount of drinks by one of the bar staff they had provided us with, she asked several times for the only thing they didn't serve; coffee. They diligently trekked up to the hotel to get it for her. And in between tiny porcelain cups of those, she chugged Red Bull, and yet remained pleasantly aware of her surroundings and not maniacally buzzed. I marvelled. She also called me over once and to my surprise (I shouldn't have been surprised. She was satisfyingly crazy), she asked me to help her pick out a model of Jeep Wrangler on her laptop. She was thinking of buying a new car this week. We chose this.

The make-up artist was also quite talented, and the only one who scarfed down as much of the meditarranean food that I ordered for everyone as me. We chatted quite a lot. She gave some of the staff, who were going out afterwards, a new face for the evening. Chee, the fashion director, asked the Plus Size girl they used for the shoot to bring along 6 gift bags to thank all the models for taking part, as she worked at some cosmetics department or other. But the girl brought too many bags, so Chee handed me one. So happy was I for this bag containing the latest DKNY mini roll-on perfume, DKNY shower gel, a mini London Fashion Week make-up set and Sean John's latest fragrance for women called Unforgiveable. I'm usually quite picky with scents, but everything in there smelt FANTASTIC! And they were no longer mine anyway. I knew exactly what I had to do. I presented the pretty gift bag reading 'Unforgiveable' to my mother this morning, asking her to forgive me for forgetting her birthday, which was a few weeks ago. She left the house a few minutes ago, the roll-on perfume tucked neatly into her clutch bag.

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