For those with mouths agape

Posted on May 28, 2007


…here’s part two of the tale. In case you’re not one of those people who thought the posts were getting too long.

E fully made up for the whole lateness thing by immediately stuffing me full of McDonalds, which pretty much makes us even. I love McDonalds, and I’m not ashamed of it!

E lives in a lovely villa with a bunch of other people. Everything is white/black/grey and minimal and modern, and there’s a garden and a barbecue and everyone has a private bathroom – and all the skirting boards and light switches do NOT have even one drop of paint on them. Glasses are bias cut and the windows are round. All a far cry from a lot of Egypt, especially rental places. It’s a nice change. The city of Dubai itself is a testament to what you can do with endless amounts of money to throw around and a bit of ingenuity – at first all I noticed was that everything was immensely tall and shiny and lit up, like those “country mouse comes to the big city” movies about New York. Imagine some awful Bette Middler type with flabby chin outstretched to take in the big skyline. Except everything is spanking new, and there cannot possibly be more billboards anywhere in the world. Construction is everywhere…within a few months another crop of twisty/curved skyscrapers will pop up. Meanwhile, Indian labourers are suffering under the harsh sun being paid next to nothing.

But I hadn’t had time to think about that aspect, (or to be anything but appreciative of night air with the temperature and consistency of soup) because E and I woke up super early the day after I arrived to go on a boat trip/beach barbecue that she had the foresight to book us for.

We got on a bus filled with shiny, attractive people in their mid twenties who appeared of indeterminate nationality. All were speaking the strangely accented English I realize I myself speak – Gulfie English. Even the people who hadn’t grown up there were speaking it. Everyone was wearing belts as skirts, minute “tops” and de rigeur flowered swimming trunks. I was a bit taken aback at first to find myself still in high school, complete with high school humour, and no one speaking Arabic even if they could. Besides, there was a bit too much gyrating and male-attention-grabbing from the girls – surely dancing while singing suggestively is best reserved for, at best, parties. On buses, it usually serves to cause bus driver’s eyes to fall out on springs.

We arrived to find 70 other people waiting, in similar states of internationalism, and we were ferried out to the boat where everything was hugely well organized, from the open bar to the DJ to the food of every description. I was super impressed until I realize it was the boat owner (and his bevy of servants) who were responsible for everything.

I had a really good time there, notwithstanding the TEN HOURS of pulsating house music. Goddamn, who decided this shit was the music to be hip to these days? I’ve tried to get with it, to no avail. It just pulses and pulses and goes nowhere, and when people dance to it they just look foolish (that front crawl arm movement drives me up the wall). I had a headache lasting 24 hours after that, but the clear water and super smooth sand were well worth it, and I tanned vigourously while drinking. The people turned out to be very nice, even though – and I am not making this up, I couldn’t – at one point everyone started chanting “Facebook, Facebook!”.

I will note one gratifying thing about everyone I’ve met so far…shiny and stylish they may be, but they have never seen the inside of a gym. Superficiality hasn’t taken enough of a hold here for people (and I’ve certainly seen a lot of young Dubai residents almost naked by now) to do more than attractively cover their defects. Which is sweet, as my six extra kilos don’t look that out of place here.

Posted in: travel