I’m off to Dubai. Which is near Abu Dhabi and part of the United Arab Emirates. But apart from that I couldn’t stick a finger on the map and say I’d hit the spot.
It’s the sort of place I can’t imagine in a month of mother in laws ever expecting, or wanting, or needing, to visit. But then the Lawyer gets posted there and he says: ‘You must come’ and I look at the Textiliste and she looks at me and I sort of know this is going to be a ‘man thing’ so I’d better suck it up.
Why the reluctance? I like buildings. I enjoy modern architecture. I know a lot of men in dresses; hell, I’ve even some Scottish friends so a few thobes aren’t going to put me off. I’m good with clean streets. I enjoy different cultures; I’ve been to Birmingham.
Yes this is a sort of adult disneyland that is a touch on the gross side. If John Waters (of the ultimate bad taste movies) did architecture I’m guessing Dubai might be in the top five.
But there you go; my prejudice is close to the surface already. I think it’s because I know I ‘shouldn’t’ like it or pander to it. It’s conspicuous and it consumes. It’s capitalism’s sniffly cold, it’s our affluenza. It has ATMs that dispense ingots (okay, it may not since I got this from Jeremy Clarkson, but hell, does it sound like it might? Sure).
So, damn me and my small-minded liberal metropolitan ya boo sucking. I’m going to go open-minded and share my raw experiences with you. It can’t just be sand and mammon, can it? That’s reserved for the Starbucks food counter surely?
So, this is where we are right now…
Well, I have a seven hour flight booked with ‘no frills’ Qantas, somewhere in row 86 of one of those Big Storage units they manage to get into the air these days. My seat is close to the toilets which may or may not be a good thing. It’s a full flight so I’ll be sharing my recycled bodily gases with several hundred other souls. I decided to ‘go vegan’ to see if that means the food is more palatable than the usual ‘chicken as a soft toy’ corruption I seem to attract..
‘What would you like sir? Chicken or fish?’
”We’re right out of fish.’
‘What? Between you offering it to me and me asking for it?’
‘Yes sir. So is that chicken or fish?’
I land at 23.00 their time. I doubt I’ll be met. He’s a trainee lawyer. He’s there because they de-sanguinated the last one over Christmas (what’s the difference between being bitten by a vampire and undertaking a training contract at a city law firm? At least with a vampire, you can see how they drained the blood out of you). So I’ll experience the metro (built in three years, at the cost of Gambia, it is run by driver-less trains which will give me a chance to experience what may happen to the London underground in circa 2035).
I have my currency. I’m not good with currency. See, I like to look like I know what I’m spending which isn’t easy when (a) you don’t recognise the notes – and the Americans are the worst; sorry guys but what in God’s good earth possessed you to have all the notes the same fricking colour? and (b) multiplying by 4.24 to get the number of pounds melts my brain. ‘Round up’ I hear you cry.’ Sure but then I try and do a sort of mental adjustment, like garnering reward points and I know, as I’m doing this, that the shop-assistant/wait-person/ticketsalespeep thinks I’m half-witted which was what I was trying to avoid in the first place.
I’m really looking forward to this trip.
PS. I’ll miss Dog too, as well as Herself. So much so I seem to have turned him radioactive, what with the worry…