Originally posted, August, 2011
It’s easy to let our daily lives consume us, and easy to lose ourselves in the process. I mean our true essence. The ‘you’ that laughs at people tripping up stairs, and the ‘you’ that dances along with Jennifer Beals, while watching Flashdance.
That was me last Thursday, at 6pm Dubai time. I find the heat intriguing and the fact that I cannot understand a good goddam thing that the Pilates studio driver says to me, quite amusing. This is who I am.
It was July 20th and I had wanted to play tourist and see Dubai. Oh, I saw Dubai all righty because I decided to take the Big Bus Tour; an air conditioned double decker, that travels around the city, hopping on and off as you see fit.
I was genuinely excited. I love tours… and buses. I think riding the bus, especially in New York, is a terrific way to see a city. And if you can get over the fact that you look like a big ol’ dork, it’s really fun.
At a cool 100 degrees (without the oppressive humidity) I decided to brave the heat and sit outside on the top deck, which was covered but still quite warm. I was going to take advantage of the view, sweaty crotch be damned.
I had my hat, sunscreen and water at the ready. Bring it on Dubai. I plugged in the headset for the running commentary and we motored.
“Islam is the official language of Dubai… Islam means voluntary submission to God.”
We drove through downtown and stopped at two malls. Malls here are landmarks and considered sights not to be missed. I took a pass. I’ve been to three malls since I arrived. I’m good.
The Burj Khalifa is pretty extraordinary. It cost $1.5 billion, stands at 2,717 ft, is the tallest building in the world and has the fastest elevator at 40 mph. It also has the world’s highest occupied floor at 160.
I was enjoying the hot wind whipping at my delicate face, when my legs and heiny felt as if I was sitting in a puddle. I wore shorts (bad idea- hot skin on plastic seat) I was sticking and sliding, though I didn’t care, because I was sightseeing in the Middle East!
I switched buses so I could take an hour Dhow cruise along the Dubai Creek. A client of mine said this wasn’t to be missed. Unfortunately the cruise wouldn’t depart for another hour, so the air conditioning was left off.
The boat was empty, save for an Asian mother daughter duo. I took a seat and tried to meditate myself into thinking that my elbows were not sweating.
The Asian daughter sat down right next to me. And I mean RIGHT NEXT TO ME. The friggin’ boat was empty and she choose the seat next to me?
I turned to her and said, “You have to sit right here?” Yes, it was sarcastic with a side order of bitch! But my knees were dripping and I needed room to wring out.
She said something to the effect of, “My mother and I were sitting here.” What? Her mother was sitting across from me and looked mighty comfortable; in her own row, I might add.
I picked up my bag and slid (literally) down a few seats, I muttered under my breath, “That’s okay, I’ll give us both some personal space.”
A few minutes later, the daughter asked one of the men selling beverages if he had change for 500Dhs (about $138 US) because she wanted a drink, which cost 5Dhs ($1.38 US) He did not. She asked me but I didn’t have any change either.
I immediately asked myself what I was doing. It was hot and she was thirsty and it’s $1.38. I took out 5Dhs and handed it to her. She refused but I insisted. I said, “It’s okay, just pay it forward.” I’m not sure she understood.
She bought her 7-Up (that’s only going to make you more thirsty) and I looked at her mother and then at the Pakistani beverage man and said, “See, spreading the love.” They in turn responded with what looked like, “See, crazy lady, with dripping elbows.”
The boat slowly filled up and we had a nice crowd. We took off down the creek, and after five minutes I thought, can this boat go any slower? I was surely going to fall asleep.
When the cruise was over, I waited outside with the other passengers, under an awning, for the Big Bus. And we waited. And we waited. And as the temperature climbed, I started to feel claustrophobic. I breathed deeply, and thought about glaciers.
In the 40 minutes that I waited, taxis came and went, and with each passing one, I asked myself why I didn’t hop in any one of them and call it a day. It was just like when I didn’t get a cab when I was in Prague, and dragged my suitcases to my hotel over cobblestone streets in 95 degrees.
I’m sorry that my shoulders aren’t covered and my shorts are above my knees (sometimes it’s too hot to be 100% respectful) but what, Mr. and Mrs. Arab family, do you not understand about waiting your turn in line to board the bus?
Two families of four, confidently and boldly, cut to the front of the line, as if the 15 of us infidels didn’t exist. The balls. The gall. The rudeness. I wanted to say something but I promised to keep my nose clean and my head down.
I hopped off at the Dubai Museum, located in the Al Fahidi Fort. The fort was built in 1787 and is the oldest existing building in Dubai. Think the Arabic version of Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum. (only without the celebrities) The aim is to present the traditional way of life in Dubai.
Back on the bus, we passed gold, spice and textile souks. Cardamon anyone?! The last stop was at yet another mall, so I peeled myself off of my seat, climbed down from the bus and hailed a cab. Look at me wising up.