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Friday, April 20, 2007

Hungover Holy Day

Hungover Friday. Was good to make fresh contact with a journalist who I knew in London and hadn’t see since he got married six years ago….we met as I was leaving a job in Whitehall and he was about to tie the knot. He had been distracted then, perhaps understandably. On this occasion he was totally engaged, an effusive married man, father of two boys, and 6 years Dubai experience under his belt. Was quite a contrast being in the Jumeirah area, and sipping beers in the courtyard, five to be precise. Being in cabs a bit pissed is in my experience fun if you’re traveling back late at night as the journey goes pretty quickly and the pacey drive down Sheikh Zayed road, whistling past the Burj al Arab, the Mall of the Emirates, and the construction free fior all that one US guy I met described as a war zone down by the Hard Rock café, can be a bit of a thrill. However this was 730 ish in the evening and still plenty of traffic to make it a time-consuming journey just to get to the Creek. By the time I got to the Old Souk abra station, a deft move to save taxi time and money, I was busting. A sensible option would have been hitting the modest pizza place on Beniyas Road, Deira creek side, and maybe investigate that place called The Pub that I had previously derided. However I schlepped on to the hotel via Maktoum Road and Nasser (Beniyas) Square, walking against the Thursday night shopping traffic. In the hotel I made a quick change and decided to head back to the Indian Bar in the hotel. Different feel altogether than 2 weeks earlier, same crowd, minus my Afghan friend, but I was knackered and a bit pissed and incredibly hungry. Downed the Heineken and headed down to the creek again, deciding to detour to my favourite restaurant. Safriyeh on Nakheel Street. Great shwarma, dirt cheap, good kebabs, and I am sure excellent shakes. Basically friendly Indian guys that run it, and a weird mix of clientele. It's right next to Nakheel Mosque, so gets devotees, Nigerian workers, and occasionally Eastern Euroepans. Going in there a bit pissed is strange. Somehow not right. Down the creek, I decided that this time I was going to explore "The Pub". My theory turned out to be more correct than I could have imagined. Not just an Anglo haunt, but of course one of those ultra kitsch “reproductions” of an English pub, replete with beefeater teddies and a red phone box outside. I didn’t go in. I would have to have been without a beer for a year and for that to have been the only place in town to have been remotely tempted, and even then it would require powers of disassociation that I really should but don’t have. Back in my room read emails drunk, bad news from home. Plumbing disasters on two fronts and my wife communicating with an efficiency that makes some of her emails akin to missives from a colleague who has been left minding the shop.

After a day of work related stuff on the computer, I decided to go out hunting for the “Time Out Dubai” recommended, “Afghan Kebab House”. Apparently situated near Naif mosque, it proved, of course, to be highly elusive. Policemen and worshippers alike could point me in the direction of other mosques but none in Naif Road or Naif souq were really just called Naif Mosque, although no doubt more than one of them is known popularly as such. I may yet track it down though, the mosque on Naif Road closed to my hotel is al Futaim mosque, but I am reliably informed that it’s also known as Naif Mosque. Nobody yet has heard of the much reputed Afghan Kebab House, but hey, you never know…there is also an Iraqi place in Muraqqabat street area that is strongly recommended….

Feeling decidedly at a low ebb earlier, and conscious of its being Friday in the UK, I emailed a good friend thus:

"Bet your looking forward to some kind of bonk fest weekend…with a mere handful of hours to go before you can deploy those wheels of steel on the wild streets of east London and head on down to love land….Think of me alone in the hotel. My wife ain’t too happy, waiting for me to sort out the situation here (visas and a place to live), while, meanwhile, she is enduring major plumbing problems at our place in London and very little help from any of the co-freeholders. Friday here of course is like Sunday where you are, which is followed by Saturday (a recognized fact), a day off here too, which doesn’t really feel like a Saturday or a Sunday. Then again, I’m not kickin it down on Jumeirah beach with my 4WD and my picnic hamper…might go for a hot schlep round dusty Deira in a mo’….. "

Which I did and now I am back.. killing time and wondering if the manager will agree to cut the room rate again as I conscious that the company is not going to shell out for all of what could be well over two months in this hotel by the time I find a place to live…..A decision is expected at 8pm (what’s happening, a hotel planning meeting?)

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