Saturday, August 26, 2006

I'm new here...

So please be gentle.

Actually, I've been in Dooby-dooby-dubai for 3 weeks now. Scary. It's flown, but it also feels like it's been months and months. So much has happened since I stepped off the KLM flight from Amsterdam on 5th August and thought to myself, "where's this much-vaunted heat?" That would come later. But, blimey, what a big airport. It was obvious enough because it took so long to taxi to the gate after landing. The walk through the airport was good exercise at least. Passport control wasn't too bad, apart from some rude American guy who jumped the queue. Finally I stepped out into the open air to look for my hotel pick-up and the heat hit me. WOOOSH. Shut that oven door, bubba!

I got to the hotel and realised it was crap. Fully-equipped kitchen my hat. Since when did a surface-top hotplate, a fridge and a washing machine made in Albania constitute fully-equipped? At least there was a clean bed there to sleep on. Sleep? HA! Obviously the time difference caused a few day's worth of minor sleep problems, but that's nothing. I suppose part of this whole multi-cultural exposure deal when you come to a new country is getting used to the strange habits of other cultures. It was like the place came alive at 11.30pm, a time when I am usually trying to get off into the land of nod. Doors slamming, kids running around, people shouting along the corridors.....SHUT UP! Don't these people sleep?

They gave me a hire car after a day or two. It looked like a beaten-up old dodgem with the amount of little dents and scratches all over it. Obviously, it didn't have a pole for the electric feed at the back, and it didn't have a thick rubber bumper all the way round, but to be honest, they should make cars here like that. It would be much more fun. My first experience of SZR was pretty much like the dodgems, only without the tattooed men clambering all over the vehicles. Black-windowed SUVs screamed past on all sides, mini-buses tailgated me, and men on bicycles pedalled towards me the wrong way.

Anyway, I'm not whingeing. It's all part of life's rich tapestry. The melting pot feel of the place is really something. It's like being in the Cantina in Mos Eisley. The building work going on (the reason I've got a job, ultimately) is amazing, even if there is a slight nagging doubt at the back of your mind, mainly to do with that parable about the man who built his house on the sand. I've had a good explore already, and want to see more when it gets cooler. I'd definitely like to see more of the authentic Arab culture, which seems a bit lacking in Dubai itself.

So, let's get it on. We've got a long journey ahead of us.