Secret lives

A brief peek into our colleagues’ interests and hobbies outside school

Asha Chandran Perinchery, GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai

During the summer, my daughter and her husband, who are avid birders, convinced me to join them in birdwatching. My home in Kerala is surrounded by trees and a variety of birds. On my first day, it was a pleasure to observe five birds flitting around my backyard. I refer to the book, A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent to familiarise myself with native birds. Birding is a citizen science and a growing field of Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR). The E-Bird App is the fastest growing bio-diversity data resource. I also use the Merlin Bird ID App, which helps me to identify new birds. I completed the basic eBird Essentials course run by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. In Dubai, I like to visit the nearest bird hotspot, Al Nahda Pond Park, at weekends. I find birding exhilarating and relaxing.
Asha Chandran Perinchery,
GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai

Insiya Shaikh, GEMS New Millennium School, Al Khail, Dubai

I see myself as an adventurous soul who likes to explore places not only to satisfy my wanderlust but also to chase my childhood bucket list. I remember telling my mother when I was 15 years old that “when I grow up
I want to go skydiving”. I am now 31 years old. I did my first tandem jump in 2014. I also travelled alone to Ko Samui in Thailand to tackle another adrenalin rush, the Human Sling Shot, which is done off the edge of a mountain. I also enjoyed taking some of my students on an adventure to Fujairah where we went mountain climbing and lit fires for a BBQ.
Insiya Shaikh,
GEMS New Millennium School, Al Khail, Dubai

Nerrissa Lourdes Agana, The Westminster School

There are lots of things that I like to do in my free time to de-stress as part of my personal well-being regime. I like to hang out with my friends on the beach, go to Musandam for fishing, visit Hatta to go kayaking and Jebel Jais for jogging, or I visit Shark Island for island hopping.
Nerrissa Lourdes Agana,
The Westminster School

Fauzia Khalil, Our Own English High School, Sharjah

As a family, our favourite retreat is the outdoors, but ironically, from within our indoor space. Gardening is an activity that symbolises patience. From fruits to vegetables to flowers and even teeny tiny creatures, we encounter all of these when we get our hands dirty. Spending time with the fruits (or vegetables) of our hard work gets even better when we take a big bite out of our success.
Besides being a teacher and a mother, I relish my ‘me time’; I love to hang out with friends when I am free of work and responsibilities. Last Christmas, I enjoyed an enjoyable weekend getaway with my friends at Long Beach Campground, RAK. We flew kites, went swimming, enjoyed al fresco dining with live cooking stations and bonfires, we listened to music and at the end of the night, we watched a movie on bean bags under the stars. Outdoor yoga on the beach was also a peaceful experience. As well as this, we jumped over waves, holding hands and we went running together on the wet sand and took lots of selfies! This weekend was an unforgettable experience for us all. So next time you need to unwind, I recommend you chcek out Long Beach Campground in Ras Al Khaimah.
Fauzia Khalil,
Our Own English High School, Sharjah

Edward Nutt, GEMS Founders School


I’m originally from the UK and I’ve been living in Dubai for three years. Although I am extremely passionate about Mathematics, the subject I teach, I also really enjoy competing in all sporting activities. From a young age I participated in a variety of clubs including football, cross country, tennis, cricket, skiing and swimming. As I moved into secondary school, I decided I wanted to pursue swimming further where I was able to compete at national events in the UK. I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in Dubai, where I have continued my swimming and also taken up cycling.
Edward Nutt, GEMS Founders School

Archana Shenoy, Our Own English High School, Sharjah (Girls)

Farm 182, located in Abu Dhabi – Al Ain Road, is a welcome getaway from my normal routine. This farm is a long way from the hustle and bustle of the city. The fresh and cool air and the green environment is peaceful and tranquil. It is an amazing experience to walk through the farm and handpick fresh organic vegetables and greens. One can spend the whole day at the farm and not get tired. Preparing food from these vegetables is a wholesome and delicious experience and keeps us connected with growth and with nature.
Archana Shenoy,
Our Own English High School, Sharjah (Girls)