Dubious About Dubai: Part Four #travel #dubai

My last day in Dubai, my limited conclusions about public transport and a poem…

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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.

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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.

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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 who 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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It was neat, compact.

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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.

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An hour tops but delightful.

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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

Flight 

Somehow the sense of entrapment

Is increased by the narrowness:

The seats

For size zero models,

With asylum constraints.

Legroom

 For amputees,

Aisles

 For crabs,

Toilets

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

Gas

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.
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25 Responses to Dubious About Dubai: Part Four #travel #dubai

  1. I don’t think that flight would work for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. V.M.Sang says:

    I love your poem, Geoff. Sums it up to a T.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great poem, felt as if there.
    I fly rarely but always seem to experience sleep on planes as a half-waking state with very real-sounding voices of friends and family – I’m pretty sure I probably speak too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That poem is too real. Not an experience I need to have any time soon. 7.5 hours is a long time to be squished like that!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I have felt that way on much shorter flights. You capture it perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. JT Twissel says:

    Flying is definitely the downside of seeing the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Super poem, Geoff. For 50 years I flew every week. I’m not sure how I stood it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. willowdot21 says:

    The poem says it all 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Widdershins says:

    Great poem 🙂 … now do it for 16 hours (just the time in the air) from Sydney Australia to Vancouver, Canada! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. noelleg44 says:

    Love that poem. Reminded me of our nine hour flight from London to Kenya. Endless….

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Chel Owens says:

    The museum does look fun, in a simple, unadorned way.

    Liked by 1 person

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