My third day in Dubai was distinctly lazy.
I woke up closer to sundown than midday.
I did not go to the pool.
I did not go to the bar.
I stayed in bed.
I had the subway sandwich leftovers as I really didn’t feel like moving. I ate in bed and lazed more. I enjoyed a minibar bottle of water and a pepsi with my sandwich.
After not spending more than four days in one place at a time, this time in The Unholy Babylon was my time to relax.
I really didn’t get out of bed. I watched TV. I dozed. I watched more TV. It was glorious. I hadn’t had a day like that the entire year.
The sun was pushing the horizon when I actually emerged from my cave.
I walked next door and bought a suit.
I had planned to buy just a blazer, but then I saw it. I had tried in many places to find a cheap suit that fit the bill, but here it was in The Unholy Babylon.
It seemed like a sound purchase decision at the time.
“You’re an idiot.”
Shut up, InMo.
It wasn’t a serious or even a fancy dinner. I just decided that board shorts and a t-shirt just wouldn’t be appropriate. I’d only known Kurtz briefly, and we met at the Hard Rock at his suggestion drank beer for a good few hours. I had an epic cheeseburger, languishing the imminent return of Kenyan Cuisine.
Kurtz had worked for the same firm as me last year. He was starting out in Dubai at about the time I was pondering the move to Africa. I told him, just before I went to London on assignment that I might well be in East Africa in 2007; and that as such that I might be in Dubai at some point in that year. I recalled to him this conversation during dinner, but he did not remember it. We laughed as he must’ve took it as an offhanded remark, having no idea what I was planning.
We discussed the ups, downs, and utter awesomeness of expatriate life. I spoke a little about life in Africa, and, in turn, learned about life in Dubai from Kurtz. I learned about getting ‘Blood Money’ on your car insurance policy. Despite the insurmountable differences in our relative locations, I enjoyed the this little similarity. In Juba the accident reparation scale is:
Cow: $500-$100 or death.
According to Kurtz, Dubai Scale is:
Date Palm: $40,000
Sheik’s Peacock: $100,000
“So if you’re swerving out of control, and you see an Indian or a palm tree, go for the Indian,” Kurtz joked.
I’d seen grown men sweating behind the wheel due to an errant goat bouncing along the dusty trails of Juba. And the whole cow above child always made sense since cows were symbols of wealth for the Sudanese and I guess cause children are relatively easy (and fun) to make. Why date palms and peacocks were so important is still beyond me. Though I still get a kick that in Dubai, it’s actually officially called, ‘blood money,’ and you get it as a line item on your insurance like you would collision, or vandalism.
When it came to most laws, it was not as bad as Singapore, but one could spend years in prison for things like drunk driving and not just possession of drugs, but traces in the bloodstream. Speeding was apparently all tracked by cameras and a renewal registration of one’s car comes with charges all the speeding tickets from the last year.
We didn’t stay at too late, as Kurtz was working tomorrow. That being said, it was most pleasant seeing a familiar friend for the second time this trip.
I went out to a Mexican restaurant at Le Royal Meridien, had some ceviche and a manhattan. I had been discussing some opportunities with the headquarters of the company and wanted to experience the product.
Then it was off to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah for more manhattans at Kurtz’ recommendation.
“Manhattan with. . .ooh. Woodford Reserve.”
“Sir, we make our manhattans with Crown Royale.”
“Fine. I would like my manhattan with Bourbon, as a manhattan should be made with American Whiskey. Bourbon. So I’d like one with Woodford Reserve.”
“You got it.”
Shickety shickety shake. Shookety shookety shake shake. Pour, clackety-click, slide
“What the hell is this? Is that. . .*slurp*. . .lime juice?”
“Sir, we make our man—”
“Bourbon, sweet vermouth, three to one, dash o’ bitters, shake vigorously: cherry.”
“Sir, we don’t have cherries.”
“Forget the cherry.”
The place was full of dudes, but I met some cool Kuwaitis. I ended up leaving very early, as I had had enough of the night.
I woke up late (sensing a theme?) my last day in Dubai and packed my things and headed for the airport.
I was torn; looking forward to getting back to my friends and my job in Africa, but forlorn in regards to the western culture I would be missing. I drowned my sorrows in 9 McNuggets, a large sprite, and the latest Entourage episode at the airport.
Climbing on the plane I downed champagne and watched movies to distract myself from going back. It was like going back to school after summer vacation: hesitance and anticipation battled each other like American Gladiators with giant Q-tips, vying for the top spot.
The traffic was horrendous at the Visa counter, but not too bad on the roads. My little house was undergoing some renovations, so I couldn’t stay there, but instead went to the Fairview. I had a sandwich and a Pilsner, at the restaurant and was able to reflect on the past month.
It’s funny, the passage of time: My first Day in Dubai was only a few weeks prior, but seemed like years. In contrast, walking about Istanbul and eating kebaps at Ilicia Beach took place about the same time was clear and bright in my mind. From flying in the back of a heavy lift with nine Kenyans to watching Cars on the little screen and sipping bubbly. Now, nearly four weeks since I arrived back in Nairobi, the memories play in my mind like the ‘good times’ montage denouement of a B-movie: slow motion flashes, Ken Burns style pans, and timely cross fades of smiles from people like the Swiss dudes, the Australians, The BBG, Greek Girl, Freckles, Amadeus, El Capitan, and Matthew. The saviours Zeta and Iris and their friends Tsloui, Bogan, Mandy and Croussie. JP, and even Ehab and his hos. And especially one lady in particular.
It’s great, but a little sad.
I’ve just established that my life is a B-Movie.
All in all:
4 round trip tickets
3 different airlines
1 underpowered scooter
1 tiny rental car
12 different beaches
7 McD’s meals
an undisclosed amount in the thousands down the drain
23-odd-thousand words to document what I like to call:
The Best Month Ever.