Dubious About Dubai, concluding and flying home #Dubai


The chance to use the metro – I like all sorts of trains, well at least once – and visit the Dubai museum seemed a perfect combo. We – the Lawyer, the Beautician and I – were meeting for lunch (lawyers doing lunch? Who knew?) so I had the morning to explore at leisure.


First the metro. It’s not complex, two lines and a couple of interchanges and it’s very modern, swish and clean. A lot is above ground affording nice views out towards the sea. They even turn off the travellators outside of commuting hours to save power. Another first.


The trains themselves have a gold carriage at the front for those paying extra, two women and children only carriages and the rest. Lest you think this is strict segregation it isn’t. The woman can and often do travel with the men – there were a lot of business people of both sexes moving around the financial district as I went through. I don’t see the need or approve of this idea (though I can think of some female friends having been hassled on the tube might well enjoy a separate car) but if you are doing something like this, this is an enlightened version of the traditional separation. And in my two short journeys three men gave up their seats to women – a better ratio than I’ve seen in London recently.


The museum itself is in the old district. On the Creek it is an 18th century fort made of mud and sea rocks. The surrounding streets are narrow and properly souk-like in the narrowness and overwhelming smells.


The Grand Mosque is here (not very grand and not a patch I’m told on the $6 billion one in Abu Dhabi) as is a Hindu Temple.


Only here was I accosted by vendors trying to ply me with those staples of existence: ‘watches, bags, scarves’.

Outside and inside, the fort was charming. Not spectacular, not bought in grandiosity, just a simple telling of a small piece of Middle Eastern history stretching back several 1000 years BC, and changing in style if not size with the rise of Islam.


And then the 50s came, the British were told to bugger off, oil was found (that may have been the other way round) and the Emir began to spend the wealth on making Dubai regionally significant.


The museum has photos of the 40s and 50s and little changed but then, whoosh.


Water storage

Back in the museum there are dioramas of how the souks would have looked in days gone by, how the economy ran, the games played by the children.


It was neat, compact.


My gran had something almost exactly like this. Used for drying fruit like dates

An on going excavation of a site 10 km outside the city was the centre of one display; another told of the pearl diving industry; another the process of building a dhow.


An hour tops but delightful.


So you’ve done lunch, had some culture and find yourself with a couple of hours to kill. The Beautician and I were having a friendly debate about whether Disney made better films than Pixar, back whenever and before you could say supercalifrag… we were queuing to see the new Batman/Lego movie. I know, how come? It happened, ok?

If like me part of your youth were those awful TV versions with KERPOW and ZAP superimposed over a fight, this is for you. It’s written for adults, even if kids might enjoy the action. Batman, the self obsessed narcissus and the Joker as his neurotic co-dependent are excellent constructs. There are times when there are so many visual gags involving the history of baddies – gremlins, daleks, Kong, Voldemort, Sauron – that you want to stop the film to check you’re not missing any.

Somehow I ate a lot, too. Cheesecake and chocolate mousse to name check the less healthy options. Still, I’m home today and home means a tighter control on all excesses, which will save me from myself.

By the end of this trip, there was still stuff for me to do; a gallery here, a museum there – some iconic buildings to view – the Burj al Arab for one – and the man made islands in the shape of the world – the bar is on Lebanon someone said which feels suitably ironic – apparently they are still pretty bare of buildings – and the palm tree resort built like a peninsula. So better to leave while I’m ahead. After all Pakistan play some of their cricket here so I’d love to come back for that….

Let’s end with a poem. I’m sitting in Dubai airport waiting my flight. 7.5 hours in another sardine can. I wrote this about a long haul flight some while ago. Since I have to endure the flight you can endure my poetry



Somehow the sense of entrapment

Is increased by the narrowness:

The seats

For size zero models,

With asylum constraints.


 For amputees,


 For crabs,


For forward entry

And reverse exit

And no manoeuvres.

Seat trays

Set to garrote.

The food is swaddled,

The entertainment grips

Your head

And somewhere

Constant, unremitting


Pours in.

It can’t be air

In this man made sheaf.

Hissing, fizzing, buzzing

Pressing in.

It’s all part of this holding down

Pressing in.

This pressure.

On your face

Your hair,

Inside your ears.

In your mind

In your sleep.

I bet they squeeze your dreams.

But no system of restraint is perfect.

Behind your eyes you watch as

They smile and continue the communal fiction

Of a safety record better

Than any transport system,

Whisking you with bland encouragement

And a narcotic safety demonstration

To your destination.

Behind your eyes

You feel the minus 60 outside

Your sense the forward rush at 500 miles an hour

You sway at the giddy altitude of

35,000 feet.

It may happen rarely

But when it does

You don’t count the survivors.

We all play along.

If we didn’t

We’d all need stronger stomachs,

And a tighter sphincter.


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in Film, poems, poetry, review, travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Dubious About Dubai, concluding and flying home #Dubai

  1. Rowena says:

    have been enjoying reading about your travels in Dubai. I can relate to the excesses of holiday eating and have been trying to return to some kind of “normal” restraint. It’s not working. I’ve been undone by all those amazing meals and treats in Tassie and Ashgrove Cheese is making it’s way into almost every meal and my hard Ginger Beer has been making an almost daily appearance when I never used to drink alcohol much at all. I guess it’s all that convict history getting to me. It’s a place for sinners, not saints.
    Had a real scare with the lad this afternoon. He ended up with a fever of 39.8 and he was looking dreadful and I thought it was going to be a hospital run but he improved after a few panadol. Worried about Meningicoccal disease. Young people are more prone to it even though Geoff assures me it’s rare. As I reminded him, I’m not the one to talk to about rare diseases. Found out his friend had the fever over the weekend and is still with us so that eased my concerns.
    I’ve been having enough trouble trying to kept him on the straight and narrow without a bug getting to him.
    More deep breathing and ginger beer required.
    xx Ro

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary Smith says:

    The museum sounds interesting. Looking forward to your next visit when you visit places you didn’t have time for on this trip. Love the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. esthernewton says:

    Having been there last year, I’ve really been enjoying your take on it and the places you visited. Great poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ritu says:

    You’ve had a great trip… think you need to go again! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Erika Kind says:

    Wow! Sounds like a remarkable experience. Thank you for taking us on that trip, Geoffle!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. barbtaub says:

    I’ve really loved this little series. For all the times I’ve been through Dubai airport, I’ve never gone into the actual country. It was so interesting to hear what I’ve missed.

    And that last line of your poem certainly sums up international flights!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. jan says:

    I’d say your poem very accurately describes a seven hour flight! I wish our BART system was as simple as their mass transit. BART is a real mess. Actually – I’d take your underground system over ours! Enjoyable travel-ology Geoff! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charli Mills says:

    Your travels are made more interesting by the realism you bring — explaining train systems and seeing Batman in the Lego form. Dates and history sandwiched between and a poem that reads like self imposed claustrophobia! Always fun to travel with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh dear, your poem addressed all the things I try not to think about as I shuffle down the aisle and twist my way into the cramped space that will be home for the next 13 hours. After my last long haul I think I’ve decided that if I can’t walk or drive to it, I’m not going. But then I also have to realise I shall miss out on all the possible fun of experiences like the ones you have just had. It’s a conundrum isn’t it! I’m reading Salisbury Square. Surprisingly (to me anyway given the subject matter) I’m hooked into the story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, my. What a quickie.
    Flying is the pits. I thought it was age that made the small spaces feel smaller than a size zero girdle. No one even wears them anymore. Why do airlines remind us of them? 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well, at the end of all that, I don’t feel compelled to visit, but I certainly wouldn’t approach it with trepidation if the situation presented itself. Thanks for this short series, Geoff

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ali Isaac says:

    The old world and the new… when I think of Dubai its all polished chrome and tower blocks and hotels and glittering malls with rides in air-conditioned cars with darkened glass windows between them. You hardly think of the old world still existing at all. Really enjoyed this post, Geoff. And the poem… perfect. Really got a sense of the restrictions and constriction, even down to the way the poem shaped up on the screen, very well done. And the ending, we are all complicit in that… it’s in all our minds but there is an unspoken agreement that none of us will give words to it. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a trip! Even if you didn’t get to do everything you planned, you still made it full!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Glad you enjoyed Dubai. This was a fun read!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Mudawwana says:

    Amazing history of Dubai, I want to visit the museum.

    Liked by 1 person

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