Diversity. We felt it.

Pristine had her 9th birthday last month. She invited 15 kids and all said “yes!”. However, only two showed up. You know that situation where you had to ask permission to take off from work just to cook something and make the house “look like it’s been cleaned” while managing to take a bath and put on decent clothes before the guests arrive and you realize that…there are no guests.

Well, almost.

Two of her friends from school came and she was so happy. Then she told me, “Mom, can I invite the two girls living in the same building?” I said, yes, of course!

When the girls gathered around the table and started munching on treats, one girl just sat there as if frozen. She didn’t touch anything. I asked, “Don’t you want to eat anything?”

She replied,

“No, I’m vegetarian.”

I looked around our table and saw that there was nothing the girl could eat, even the cake which has eggs!

I asked her if she would like to have some fruits but she said no. We felt bad that she’s in a birthday party yet not having anything so my husband ran to the nearest vegetarian restaurant and ordered something special “to go”.  The girl still refused it so we went to deliver the vegetarian food to her mom. It seems that she wasn’t sure if what we’re offering is 100% pure vegetarian so she hesitated.

If anything, I am amazed by the discipline – what else can you call that self-restrain? She’s little, only 5 years old and her parents weren’t there. She didn’t touch anything because she’s not sure if she’s allowed to eat it or not!

It’s our first time having this kind of experience here in Dubai and this reminded us how diverse this place can be – this could never happen in Japan!




  1. says

    Wow, that little girl must be well trained to not even touch the cake! Hope your daughter had a wonderful birthday, despite the lack of people that showed up.

    • Grace says

      Her birthday is always a school holiday and a day before Christmas eve – we always have very few people coming around!

      She was happy though her best friend was able to come and her vegetarian friend as well! :)

  2. says

    Sometimes, the vegetarianism is also due to religious factors, which is why parents instill it early on. But it is remarkable that a 5 year old had so much discipline and understanding. Hope your girl had a good time!

    • Grace says

      I didn’t know that being vegetarian can be linked to religious/beliefs. Quite remarkable really that as early as 5 years old, the girl knows what’s for her and what’s not!

    • Grace says

      Very tight upbringing! I wish my parents raised me like that, especially with regards to my attitude toward the sweet stuff! LOL

  3. ERIKA says

    Its great she stood her ground though. Too bad her parents didnt tell you when you invited her. Pristine Happy belated birthday, your a beautiful young lady. Oh and to you and your mom, welcome to the world of TWEENager.. 😉

    • Grace says

      Yeah, I wished her parents told us they were vegetarian so we would be ready. Next time, we will ask: Veg/Non-Veg? :)

  4. Elvie says

    Yes, what a discipline. I wish I have the same restraint.

    Talking about diversified group of people, I will also have a big birhday party this Saturday, and I have a vegetarian family and a group of gluten-free eaters. I have to read things about gluten-free. I have to label food gluten-free. We do have a lot to deal with diversity, but it’s fun too.

    • Grace says

      We love vegetarian dishes but we were NOT ready. I was so amazed with the little girl.

      I wish I had the same attitude towards chocolates!!

  5. says

    It is restraint but not in the way we think of it with regards to chocolates and cake. It’s more like an aversion – if you don’t eat prawns, you’re not going to touch a delicious looking dish that contains them.

    I think when you grow up with certain restrictions on your diet, it’s normal to keep to them. I know when I was younger with certain foods we didn’t eat in my family, there was nothing unusual in my mind to watch out for them in order to avoid. Our parents taught us.

    I remember being furious with my friend once at the age of 7ish as she’d lied to me about what was in her sandwich and only told me after I ate it.

  6. says

    As for that little girl’s restaint – could be religious, cultural, lifestyle or medical reasons! Some people have so many allergies (which I am sure you can relate to), but don’t want to discuss their medical condition (for privacy reasons) or their lifestyle preferences, that they would just say they are strictly vegetarian.

    Anyway, belated happy birthday to Pristine. So sad, that only a few guest came from all those who said they were coming. You did all the trouble for the few guests. But then, all the trouble was for Pristine afterall, so it’s all worth it. And it seems like she had fun anyhow.

    • Grace says

      You are so right with “all the trouble was for Pristine” so it was worth it. Our little guest was Indian and Hindu – some of them are really strict vegetarians who won’t even touch eggs or fish.

  7. says

    Hey I’ve been following your blog for two years now! I am also moving to Dubai! Anyhow I am also Hindu but our family eats chicken and fish. However my sister gave up meat because her husband and his family are strictly vegetarian! She has a 2 year old son and to me it seems hard to keep it so restricted for a toddler but she says its easy for her because there’s no temptation in the house. When he goes to school however, she’s worried then!


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