x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Anywhere can feel like home

If you decorate and have a few personal items, anywhere can feel like home.

I was at a party recently and towards the end of the evening a man wandered over, ran his hands through his floppy dark hair, adjusted the sunglasses perched on top of his head (it had been dark since well before the party began) and introduced himself as a "palm-azerio". I stared back at him blankly. After a beat or two, he sensed my bewilderment and explained that this meant he lived on the Palm Jumeirah. So now a few things (sunglasses included) made sense.

Palm-azerio then proceeded to elaborate on this for rather longer than was necessary. He raved about his spacious pool, well-equipped gym, the proximity of his apartment to the recently opened steakhouse West 14th and the general holiday feel of the place. When he eventually paused in his monologue and asked where I lived, it was immediately obvious that he wasn't Bur Dubai's biggest fan. Abject horror might an overstatement, but it wasn't far off. I didn't mind this reaction in the slightest. I've got friends who live on the Palm and I can certainly see the appeal.

Similarly, Bur Dubai does frustrate me sometimes. On the whole, though, I'm rather attached to my little corner of the old town. There's a certain ramshackle charm about the meandering alleyways, the perpetual smell of spices in the air and the random grassy spots that, come Friday evening, are filled with people lounging around.

When I was first shown around my apartment earlier this year, I admit I wasn't particularly enamoured. Yes it was large and clean, with an extra bedroom and bathroom that I could only dream of in London, but still it felt rather sparse and empty.

After I moved in, I waited impatiently for my belongings to be shipped over from the UK. When they did arrive I was thrilled - midway through painting the living room chocolate brown, but thrilled all the same.

I worked for hours, hanging up pictures, positioning candles and draping throws, pausing only to wonder why I'd packed a pair of roller skates and an inflatable exercise ball that had never been used. Slowly but surely, it all came together and the apartment began to feel like home.

I remember doing exactly the same thing when I first moved into my halls of residence at university, although the experience then was less pleasant. "You'll cry when you see the state of your bedroom, but I guarantee, you'll also cry when you leave," I was told by a wise head of halls. How right she was.

What all this goes to show is something that most of us (but perhaps not the man from the party) already know: providing you show it a bit of love (and get your mood lighting right) just about anywhere can be made to feel like home.