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The city of my childhood

I often get the feeling that the world we inhabit as children is very different from what we see as adults. I grew up in Sharjah, a lesser known city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Of course, Dubai takes all the limelight, but Sharjah is a city with so much history and culture. As I was saying, the perspective we have as children is so much more open-minded and exciting. I visited my childhood city a few times since moving back to Dubai, but it just didn't seem to be the same. I've been in a reminiscing mood recently (read my 90s flashback?), probably because it's my birthday tomorrow and I'd like to share what it was like to live in the UAE when I was a child. My most vivid memories are from the time I was five, so this was over 25 years ago.

The city of my childhood, Sharjah
The Corniche in Sharjah 
(Pic: Irshadpp/CC-BY-SA-3.0/Wikimedia Commons)

Sand was everywhere. Just outside our house was a sandy area which was about the size of three football fields! There were very few buildings, and most of them were only three storeys high. This huge expanse of openness was my playground. The sand was not the kind you find in a desert. Instead, it was beach sand, because the sea shore was within walking distance. Often, the sea breeze and smells would come and refresh us playing 'catch' on a summer evening. We went to the beach often, and it was beautiful every time. The cool blue waters and the white sand made for a perfect combination, where I could lose myself in my imagination.

The Corniche was one of my favourite spots. The lagoon is surrounded by palm trees along its circumference, and looks lovely by day or night. My best memories are of having ice cream cones there, which they would serve with a little of all the flavours mixed in.

A coin was enough for a treat. For just one Dirham or AED (27 cents/16 pence), I could buy something to eat and drink! Everyday, I would go the little grocery store next door with a coin. It's hard to find anything for 50 fils nowadays. The shawarma (roast chicken wrap) was much bigger than it is today, and cost 50 fils at first, and 1 Dirham later. Today, for 5 Dirhams, we get a shawarma that doesn't even taste as good and is half the size.

Sharjah Corniche, UAE
(Pic: Basil D Soufi/CC-BY-SA-3.0/Wikimedia Commons)
We could walk everywhere. There were few people who had cars in the neighbourhood. Mostly because we were expats making ends meet, and also because everything was close by. From the Rolla Square market centre to the Gold Souq, a beautiful piece of architecture, we could stroll over any evening.

Life was simple. There wasn't a lot of entertainment, but I was happy. Al Jazeera Park was another favourite (it has just been reopened under a different name), and we often went on school picnics there.

It's no wonder, with so many memories, that I loved the city of my childhood and I love the UAE (for 42 reasons, no less!). It's a different place now, but I will always treasure the sights and sounds of moments past.

This post has been linked to Magic Moments.

United Arab Emirates 5688767328041638284

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34 comments

pixiedusk said...

Everything is so magical! I want to go there! Sadly its not in my budget so thanks for sharing photos of your city.

#magicalmoments

Katie @ Pick Any Two said...

Beautiful! I love that you could walk anywhere. I've never lived in a place where that was possible, but it sounds absolutely lovely to me.

Faiza N said...

The best thing about the UAE is that every Emirate is different, and has its own character. I always like nostalgic posts and its nice to know about your childhood days

Coombe Mill said...

Happy birthday for tomorrow and a lovely look at the city and your memories from years gone by. #MagicMoments

Kate Williams said...

Wow, I imagine it's changed loads with all the building that's been done over there! I love the idea of having loads of sand outside where you live :)

Tarana Khan said...

I hope you can visit one day! Thank you for stopping by.

Tarana Khan said...

In fact, even when I moved to Dubai with my husband, we could walk everywhere because we were staying in the heart of the city!

Tarana Khan said...

Thank you, Faiza!

Tarana Khan said...

Thanks Fiona!

Tarana Khan said...

It's changed completely, or maybe that's how I see it with my adult eyes!

Orli D said...

Wow! It looks like such a great place to grow up in. It is really weird looking at your childhood home or country through adult eyes. It always looks so different than you remember :)
#BlogClub

Lisa Witherspoon said...

One thing I love about blogging is that I have connected with people like you from all around the world and, since I haven't traveled much, it is so interesting to learn about the places that are special to you. I grew up in a very small town and, most of the time, I don't miss it. However, sometimes, I think back to how things were when I was a child and I do miss that slower way of life!

Vicky Myers said...

An interesting read, I regularly visit my home village-. On the surface it looks no different but reality is it very expensive to buy property, and the school has expanded more than doubling in size (not hard 24 pupils in my day!)

Tarana Khan said...

It is, isn't it? So you know what I mean!

Tarana Khan said...

Thanks, Lisa! It does seem that life is slower and simpler when we are children.

Tarana Khan said...

I guess that's why it all looks different when we go back to visit - because things change so much!

The Reading Residence said...

Happy Birthday! Such a beautiful place to grow up, love the idea of all the sand x

Mary @over40andamumtoone said...

Hope you've had a lovely birthday! I used to have customers on Sharjah, but didn't get to visit. I don't think it really matters where you grew up - nowhere stays the same. I can remember when a Mars bar was 7p and fruit and vegetables really were seasonal, and tasted so much better than today. Places I thought were huge are really rather small when you revisit as an adult.

Tarana Khan said...

Thank you!

Tarana Khan said...

Exactly, Mary! Our perspective changes so much, doesn't it?

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Happy Birthday! This post reminds me a lot of how I feel about the place I spent my first six years of life - as well as how I felt coming back to Silicon Valley this fall after leaving one decade before. Things change so quickly!

Busy Mommy DXB said...

I don't know why, but I didn't know you grew up here. Recently I've met so many people who have been here 15+ years. Amazing considering how many expats are in and out of this place.

Personally I love Sharjah for the cultural experiences like the museums. But what I don't like about Sharjah is the traffic and never-ending road construction which makes traffic worse! I still go, but only when I know there is no traffic. :D

Victoria Welton said...

What an absolutely beautiful place to grow up in - not just a moment, but a lifetime :) thank you for linking to Magic Moments x

Tarana Khan said...

They change faster than we can catch up. Thanks for the wishes!

Tarana Khan said...

The traffic is a nightmare nowadays, because they never widened the roads.

Tarana Khan said...

Thank you, Victoria!

Michelle Ashmore said...

It looks absolutely beautiful and sounds like a wonderful place to spend a childhood :)
#blogclub

Helen Neale said...

What amazing photos, and memories. A truly lovely place to grow up. I have to admit to being slightly jealous; I was brought up in a Northern town in England, Lancaster, and it was a bit greyer, with a lot less sun.... ;-)

Franglaise Mummy said...

This sounds absolutely magical, what a fantastic childhood, I must admit to feeling slightly jealous reading this!
#blogclub

Tarana Khan said...

Thanks Michelle!

Tarana Khan said...

We have an overdose of sun, for sure!

Tarana Khan said...

It was a nice and safe place to grow up in :)

Emily Foran said...

Such lovely memories and it sounds amazing, I could even smell the sea as you described it - hope you had a very happy birthday! xx

Tarana Khan said...

Thank you, Emily!

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