Two very exciting things are happening next month. Two things that will transport me back to somewhere between 1992 and 1997. Back to my wonderfully awkward teenage years when I was sporting athleisure, Dr. Martens and culottes…the first time round (note: not all at the same time). November sees me revisiting two of my teenage passions. Firstly, Dubai is being blessed with the presence of frontman extraordinaire Liam Gallagher from the best band of all time: Oasis (no this isn’t just my opinion – THIS IS FACT). Secondly, the mighty Take That – the faces that covered every inch of my teenage bedroom walls, the boys that made me wish death on a character called Mr. Blobby when he beat their single Babe to the Christmas number one slot, will play the Media City Amphitheatre, just a couple of weeks later.
Now, why is this so seminal? Well, these two bands, and each of their five members (one lot slightly prettier than the other) take me back to a time when everything was simple and ‘good’. Back to when Salik and DEWA were probably not even invented, when you didn’t spend most the day thinking about what to have for dinner and you didn’t need to get your roots done every four weeks. A time when your main problem was whether to watch Saved By The Bell or The Chart Show on a Saturday morning, whether to spend your pocket money on a pen that miraculously had four different coloured inks or save your cash for a month’s supply of elastic wristbands that were made up of tiny sweets. Ahhh…the ‘good old days’. And, after a hot, intense and exhausting summer here in Dubai a bit of ‘nostalgia’ is just what I’m after, to let my hair down and forget the present for a short while.
But it’s made me think about nostalgia in general when you live in a predominantly expat community like Dubai, a place with a fluid turnover of residents. I’m sure I’m not alone in often reminiscing of a time gone by when we were back in our home countries. The things and places we all talk and think about with fondness: favourite roast dinner, favourite country walk, favourite festival, favourite Tesco supermarket. We all know we moved here with good reason but we still see the things we wanted to leave behind with rose-tinted glasses: “I love wearing a coat and going out in the cold” (said no one who still suffers a proper freezing winter…EVER). And if you’re anything like me, the fondness of things gone by makes me wonder if I’m as happy now? Am I just biding my time until I get back to the real world?
So, how can we stop living in the past? Start accepting the ‘now’ as our ‘good times’ instead? Because, let’s be honest, we’re all having a pretty good time most of the while. The truth is that we can have both. Thinking about the past isn’t a bad thing, especially when you think about it in a positive light – which is what you do when you’re being nostalgic. A study by psychologists at Southampton University in the UK found that the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia can actually improve your mood and possibly mental health too, and that sentiment doesn’t actually ‘cement us in the past but raises our spirit and vitality’. So, anything that fills our minds with positive thoughts must be good for our well-being. And I guess we need to accept that being fond of the past doesn’t mean it was necessarily better than the present. I’m sure that years down the line, I’ll feel nostalgic about the joys we have here in the UAE: Being a 15-minute walk away from the beach, having a gym and swimming pool a few floors away from your apartment, not having to own an umbrella. Maybe I’ll cherish my memories from my new home and add to them with the time I got to scream Never Forget at one of my favourite bands… in the amazing setting of a Middle Eastern metropolis.
Devinder Bains is journalist, personal trainer and co-founder of fitsquaddxb.com. Find her on Instagram and Twitter @devinderbains