Friday, May 30, 2008

Bye Bye Dubai

I was there at 6:20 am to catch the bus that was leaving town. Said bus was clean and modern and not overly populated. We headed out and northeast along the coast, which was perpetually semi-developed and not all that interesting, what with the rugged mountains no longer marching down to the ocean. That went on for several hours.

Then we turned left and up towards Dubai. We reached the UAE border at around 11, and although the formalities were slow they were hassle-free. When we were moving again I was back at the town of Hatta, where I had been three and a half weeks earlier. Now it was about an hour into Dubai.

Back on this side of the Gulf the overwhelming drabness of the sandy dirty brown sand presented itself once again, and, even acknowledging all the ridiculous amount of oil money sloshing around, I once again asked myself: WHY??? Who could possibly want to live here, even if it is on a manmade island shaped like a palm tree?

And when we got back to the city of Dubai around 2 pm, I was once again struck by how much it was like a caricature of Houston, all buildings and roads and traffic. Muscat has obviously been built with a sense of proportion. Dubai and Proportion are mutually exclusive ideas.

I found my way back to the Youth Hostel, where, incidentally, I have yet to see a youth. Wonder of wonders, they actually had my reservation on file, so I got a single room. I turned on the ac full steam (as usual) and lay on the bed for a while. Then a walk down the street to the hypermarket, where I stuffed my stomach and loaded up with crap to take on the plane with me. Then basically I did nothing else.

The trip was now over. I was up the next morning at 5:40 and was at the airport and checked in before 7. Which gave me a couple of hours to just sit there. And contemplate the reality that a) of the hundreds of little billboard ads in the airport, only a tiny handful had any Arabic on them, and that was usually a logo, and b) on all the billboard ads here, and everywhere else in the world for that matter, there's all these guys standing around in fancy rooms wearing $2,000 suits, and yet everybody around me getting on flights was dressed incredibly more slobbily than I was, so who are they trying to sell to?

Anyway, that was about the deepest thought that I had for the next 16 hours, which was the length of the flight to Houston. Once again Emirates provided me with 40 New Releases, 20 Classics, and 30 Hindi films. And I ended up watching five complete movies. The flight path was more interesting, however, since we got to fly over Iran, and then a couple of thousand miles of Russia. Best of all, we flew over the middle of a clear Greenland in daylight, giving me the chance to see its frozen fjords and dark cliffs for only the second time in my life. Even better than that, we got to do the same thing for Baffin Island for my first time ever.

There was supposed to be an hour and a half layover. We started out arriving thiry minutes late, and then I had to share the line for Immigration with a bunch of fat Americans coming back from Cabo. When I got to the baggage carousel it was already completely backed up with all the gigantic suitcases of all the Indians who would take forever to get through the Foreign Immigration line. I looked in vain for mine as more and more baggages kept coming up the belt and as the time kept ticking away.

Finally, with about twenty minutes left before my ABQ flight left, the final bag came up and it wasn't mine. Okay, well that solves the problem of how they were going to get it to my flight on time. I took off, took the little train to the right terminal, and made my plane with minutes to spare.

And then sat there thinking about what the odds were that I'd ever see my belongings again, and calculating how much it would cost to replace them all.

But Maureen was faithfully waiting for me as I deplaned, and within 24 hours not only had by bag arrived, but they had delivered it up to the mountains.

And then it was back to the same old existential grind.


At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how is the same old existential grind going? Basking in mundanity again? I know, it is not a word, but I like it... -Cliff


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