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Friday, April 20, 2007

Funky town

Apr 8

Returned to the creek in the evening, where I have spent most of the evenings since discovering this form of pleasure around 10 days ago. Was dog tired and wondered what I was doing there, til my spirits lifted as I found Live on Tour – John Prine on the Mp3 player. I swear it was like being there when he performed Lake Marie, especially as he references being in the parking lot and that precisely was where I headed for, gazing over at the largely "peaceful waters" of Dubai Creek. Fantastic.

Apr 12

Pak-Ghaz off the Maktoum Hospital Road is a Pakistani restaurant more or less solely devoted to feeding the workers chicken curry and cricket. When the latter finished, most of the custom did too. I have only been in three times including tonite, and I am being recognized already. I wonder about the lot of these guys and what drives them. Often quite young and bright, mopping up the floor, or serving the food. More money than back home is the obvious riposte, and Deira, where the restaurant is located, is a kind of little Pakistan, so I guess there isn’t the kind of alienation that might be expected in their line of work

Wondering out tonite, I passed scenes that reminded me of the feeling I had on Thursday night. Heading down to the creek on that occasion after one pint of Heineken consumed on an empty stomach, the perceptible excitement of the area had been reinforced, aided then by the musical soundtrack provided The Doors, courtesy of the Mp3 player. This evening I was feeling decidedly soberer. However the hussle and bussle of the area can still excite. Pakistani barrow boys, old Pakistani men with barrows, Nigerians with barrows; Russian ladies always bursting out of too tight jeans and t shirts; gaggles of Nigerians just hangin out, Pakistanis treating their barrows like a chaise longue, cars everywhere, cyclists who insist on riding on the wrong side of the road, it is chaotic and hectic, and sometimes even beguiling when sober. Heading to the creek via Banias or Nasser Square (Choc), half of which is road works as workers pile drive all day and night to build the metro stop, the scene turns almost funky as you pass Egyptians and Pakistanis trying to entice tourists from Russia and China with a street kebab, eastern Europeans dressed in shorts and undersized t shirts (men and women) check out the fur coat shop, and devotees gather outside the mosque. Past this the scene turns more electronic and a mass of mobile phone and surround sound home cinema shops beguile bargain hunters with often Chinese technology.

Speaking of that beer on Thursday night (the weekend starts then), it was quaffed in the hotel California bar. A mostly Indian scene frequented by an odd mix of well, Indians, and a few token Russians and Africans. Dark but not quite dingy, any seediness that suggests itself by the short skirted Filipino drinks hostesses is soon dispelled by the besuited manager making his customary nightly round. He speaks no English but will only occasionally speak Arabic to me beyond the customary salam aleikums. Unintentionally I found myself a (brief) drinking companion who would happily have gone on all night, and may have done on his own. He would not let me pick up the tab for my beer (14 dirhams by the way, a fortune round here and not much less than a UK pub). He is from Afghanistan, who has since rung me three, maybe four times and is very keen to get me to go for a drink there again…this Friday. I managed to persuade him to join me for tea near Naif Park, close by the hotel. My Afghani chum is from Ghazni in the south, though originally from Herat near Iran, and a Shia, with absolutely no time for Iran …or Arabs. His brother was killed by the Taliban. You can perhaps understand why I don’t want to drink too much with him. He is good for my Arabic as he encourages me to speak it, despite his dislike of the people whose tongue it is. I can’t understand a word of his Arabic, so heavily Afghani accented as it is. His English is OK, would be easier if we just stuck to that, but I keep trying with my arabic as I don’t get much opportunity.

After making a feeble excuse to leave the hotel bar early last Friday, hand shaking the hotel manager on the way out, thereby advertising my mildly pissed condition, I exited for the street, music player in hand, and decided to find myself another bar. Went creek wards, and Siouxsie and the Banshees kicked in, and I was rockin. 5 minutes, intense heat and a taut bladder later, I was less cool. I couldn’t find a way into “The Pub”, a place Id had my eye on each night I came down the creek, and which I eventually worked out must have been via The Raddison, where I didn’t want to go or pay their prices. Any place with that name in this part of town has to be operating out of a 5 star really. Probably just anglo jocks and sports TV bullshit….Funny that..have only heard British-English once on this side of hum dullilah…but somehow you know you’d hear more of it in one of the smart hotels toward the Creek. Sports bullshit in a Pak restaurant is kind of cool, their sober devotion being quite dignified…in a western hotel it would suck, big time….

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