Monday, October 23, 2006


As they say in these parts.

It means Happy Eid, and I think everyone is happy that Ramadan is over. The locals are happy because they can stop the fasting, the early mornings and the late nights, and the rest of us are happy because we can get a coffee or a sandwich while we're out and about during the day. Oh, we are such shallow, desperate beings.

It's been a strange experience, and very educational. Without wanting to sound trite, I think a lot of people could learn from being in a place like this during Ramadan. In most cases (not all, it has to be said), concessions and allowances are made, mutal respect is shown, and we all muddle through. Of course, people still find things to bicker about, and it's a shame that the bickering seems to be getting quite nasty back in the UK. The whole veil issue is highlighting the divisions and the intolerance that can bubble away beneath the surface of any multi-cultural society. Point-scoring and oneupmanship is rife, on ALL sides. Sometimes I think there's no hope for us, because try as we might, a lot of us just can't accept differences or see things from other people's perspectives. But at other times I see great kindness and togetherness, and think that we aren't so bad after all. I know..I'm going off on one again. I try to keep this kind of thing out of this blog, but it's part of my life here, however much I try to avoid it.

Today we had a little drive out, and after remarking on the quietness of the roads, we noticed that there were sub-continental chaps dressed up to the nines all over the place. They seemed to be at every major junction of every major road, even when we were out in the middle of nowhere on the Emirates Road, and almost every single one of them were in their Sunday best (or is it Friday best here?). We wondered who they were and what they were doing out there. Were they the labourers finally getting some time off and heading out for the day? If so, how did they get to these places in the relative wilderness? For what purpose? And where were they going now? As we passed the huge Chinese discount mall called Dragon Mart (which was closed at the time), we saw a group of several dozen of these smartly-dressed men standing around near the entrance. There were no women or children there, or none that I saw.

So we headed to a little theme park inside the Creekside Park just over the Garhoud Bridge on the south side of the creek. This was closed as well, and again there was a small group of these men milling around. We finally landed at the Wafi City mall, which was open, and had a spot of lunch and a little play in the amusement area. There weren't any of these smartly-dressed sub-con men in here. I've heard that they don't let them in the malls. Elitist? Racist? Who knows? Who decides? There were plenty of Emiratis there, also dressed in their best finery. The mens' dish-dashes were whiter and brighter than ever, and almost all of them were in a chipper mood - two smiling young men played chess at one of the now-open coffee shops, laughing and joking to themselves all the while, some younger men ran amok in the amusement areas, and large groups of women in their bejewelled, black robes and designer sunglasses browsed in the high-end fashion joints of the mall.

We headed home after the mall - the roads weren't much busier - and decided to go for a swim at the Springs 8 pool. It was largely deserted when we arrived, but a few more people joined us later. We had a good splash around in the warm afternoon sunshine, until the flies started emerging in large numbers with sunset approaching, and then headed home for tea.

Now I'm nicely tired again, and I've somehow managed to write a long entry again. Maybe not the most interesting or exciting one, but I hope it conveys something of the first day of Eid. Back to work tomorrow, but only 3 days till the weekend comes round again.

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