Monday, November 8, 2010

Weird Dubai

(NB:  I really enjoyed my visit to Dubai - I do wish I could have stayed longer.  Really!)

OK.  SO.  It's not really a criticism, it's just an observation.  Borrowing from Guusje's comment (if you don't know her, link here - she does lovely work) as of last Wednesday's Corner View when I posted my first Dubai pictures.  She said that her husband thought Dubai was "seriously weird".....and...... not really knowing WHAT to think of it to that point, I figured, well....THAT WILL DO!

I will also crib the Guardian UK's Tony Naylor here,  by saying that the relentless built culture of Dubai, of skyscrapers and malls without end could possibly drive one to "move to the woods and weave your own clothes", but in the case of Dubai, where ARE those woods?  You could not move out to the woods in Dubai because, perched on a little horn just off the bottom of the desertified Arabian peninsula, Dubai is utterly arid.  And bereft of any meaningful (to moi) horticulture.  And that IS a little weird if you are quite attached to plants.  As am I.

Dubai IS.  VERY VERY CLEAN!  And almost everything in it is so new, there is no distressing, or patina, or wear -yet? In fact many of its buildings seem hardly occupied.  And one wonders will they ever be?  Who, exactly, will be coming to live and work in them when already, 84% of Dubai's permanent (non-tourist) population is foreigners?  And many laboring in only so-so paying jobs.  Who will pay the rents for all those fancy sky-scrapers?  Kinda weird.It would be hard to describe Dubai as beautiful, because it is quite colorless.And when you have no color, all you are left with is form and that shall we say, has not been terribly harmoniously organized in terms of "Skyline, Dubai".  It is a serious hodgepodge of styles, good, bad -both distinctively so, and yes indifferent.  I do definitely give them points for trying.But so why, especially weird?  Well "weird" might be a way of saying, DISCONCERTING.  In that it's hard to get to know Dubai, for what is historically and organically Dubai, because Dubai is a place that references.........

so many other places......Blur your eyes, and if the buildings were arranged in a strange perspective, or if the one on the left were taller)..........might you think you were in NYC, on a hazy bright day?

Or hold a cold can of coke against your head, put on some sunglasses, and pour a watering can over your head AND.........(with signage like this) - imagine yourself on a sunny-ish street in London???????

Consume a hallucinogenic and try: the subways of New York?  (Truly hallucinatory!  They have NEVER been so clean!!!!!  Or so empty.)

Here's an ice cream favorite from your local a mall - in - DUBAI.

And those old familiar Flakes, their glimmering crinkling wrappers gleaming out at you from that dimly lit neighborhood post office/corner shop in provincial England....Could you ever dream they'd be swathing some golden-glowed temple to retailing in some equally golden glowing remote stretch of a strange and distant land?  

And....... YES!, Harvey Nicks!.......but no, not THAT one down the road (in the rain) from Harrods, but THIS ONE crowning the Mall of the Emirates........... so FAMILIAR, YET so STRANGE.

I must say, this is something I seem to be experiencing quite alot of lately......When it is 97 degrees outside in the last week of October and an entire built environment conspires AGAINST a human being ever having to expose oneself in any possible way to the EXTERNAL and anti-autumnal meteorological vicissitudes,

Who IS IT?  WHOOOO? would be investing in what I would imagine to be really QUITE - QUITE - expensive and showy FOUL WEATHER gear in order to (Hopefully! - as opposed to: swanning around the house in the air conditioning?  Til these items go out of fashion again?) ..In ORDER TO: hop a plane with many giant suitcases to tiptoe for only a soupcon of a season (let's be realistic) from limo to vestibule through somebody ELSE'S blowy shivery northern latitudes......before whisking themselves back home again, leopard print boots barely broken in................

To return to their Swarovski encrusted foosball game.....(perhaps to match the Swarovski encrusted rec-room, er romper room?  What do you call it at your house?)..... its canny little football men bearing UNCANNY yet UNmistakeable resemblances to Oscar (winning) figurines and Hermes perfume bottles?  (Do you have one of these at home?  Do you think you would you like to?)  

WHOEVER that person is, they're not like anyone that I actually know.  Which makes them weird to me.

On the other hand.......At the other end of the spectrum (I mean, at the other end of the Mall, where the Carrefour S.A. is.....)  there might be less weird people shopping for EIGHT VARIETIES OF FRESH MANGOES!!!!!!  

Is that seriously WEIRD?  OR just SERIOUSLY FABULOUS?  And could this be reason enough to switch from "Weird Dubai" to a little more of : "F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!  DUBAI!"?

But then, back to seriously WEIRD?  Because how CAN IT BE?  That the orange juice comes ALL THE WAY FROM FLORIDA?????  AND the GRAPES and the jars of GRAPE LEAVES for dolmas, come ALL THE WAY FROM CALIFORNIA?  

Now W-A-I-T a minute!  Are there NOT any grapes in Jordan?  Or Iran?  (I won't mention Israel for obvious reasons.) Turkey?  Or Georgia?  Greece, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Slovenia?  Hungary?  Aren't ALL of these places so very much closer to Dubai than.......California?!

(How not GREEN and NOT locavore is that?  And if any of you saw the Sundance Channel documentary about water crises and the idea of "exporting water via produce and bottled product" from one region to another, never to return.....why, as a thirsty, garden-mad, Californian taxpayer subsidizing those grape growers and underwriting their water supply......I might have to feel more than JUST WEIRD about all this.)

OK getting off my soapbox to observe.......just "Sara" and not.....Sara Lee?  That is weird to me.  Because I've ALWAYS known her as Sara Lee.

And maybe not so weird...... FOOTBALL FLIP-FLOPS.......we'll just take a weird break and say, "FUN!" this time...........

Because what is TRULY WEIRDEST OF ALL in Dubai.  Is

SKI Dubai.  Also found in:  THE MALL OF THE EMIRATES.

I'll say it again.  Desert.  Unpaved parking lots?  Yes.  JUST SAND.  97 F degrees outside?

And inside....let it snow let it snow let it SNOW?!!!!!!

SO FINALLY.  But RESPECTFULLY.  Cause.  I'm JUST ASKING.............

At which age, and at which point is it in a good Muslim's life/conversation with Allah, that one comes to the question about changing out of your burka or gender-appropriate white robe, and into your rented ski gear for a couple of hours???????

And how MANY conversations do you have to have, before Allah says: "It's JUST FINE!"  (I'm just asking!)  Cause this is a popular place.


(and should I know that already, since I grew up in Michigan?)  Maybe Dubai is NOT so weird!

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