Back at the California Hotel, it was as if I had never been away, so pleased were the staff to welcome me back to what has become home. I am on the second floor this time, that much closer to the music action on the lower floors. However I am also labour camp side again, which means less early morning traffic hassle and marginally less mosque…..how have I come to feel like I am going to miss this place? Have I like some long stay in-mate, become institutionalised? In simple terms, two months is the longest I have spent living abroad since we lived in Jerusalem, and in this area you get a greater exposure to the life. Even if you are obviously a complete outsider, who isn’t? Most people just know their patch, and many little more than that. Spending time eating in many of the local food places, chatting to those who work around here, and shopping in the local shops, I have more familiarity with this area than I acquired in E17 after more than three years…….
Today I finally secured a flat. The property is in Bur Dubai, west of the river (creek) in the so-called OPC area (Al-Hamriya). I am feeling like I have somehow sold out. To me the creek is a real divider of life in this city, and part of me revels in the underbelly that is so alive -n the Deira side of the water. Still, the creek itself has its charms, either side of the divide, and our new place will be within walking distance, so there can still be plenty of nights down by the riverside. It’s funny, I’ve sat on the beach and looked at the Gulf, and caught glimpses of it from a speeding taxi going down Mina Road, but I don’t have any affinity with that rather more strategic waterway, compared to the old trade route that provides one of the more interesting features of the city. I will miss the madness of the Nasser choc (square), even though lunchtime walking around there can leave you almost feeling you are going to drop, especially as the year careens toward June. Still, Khaled ibn Al-Walid street in Bur Dubai is a pretty buzzy place whenever I have walked down it. Even if it is not the same buzz of this area, it is seemingly more of a mix of business and clientele. I don’t, however, recall it having the bizarre quality of a fur coat store catering mainly to overweight Russian women in unflatteringly tight and or cropped clothing alongside shops selling broiling chickens….Where the hell I wonder are the coats made, cant surely be Russia, or perhaps they’re Pakistani fakes….they sure as hell don’t look it…..I need to check them out before I, finally, check out of the California Hotel….Looks like this blog is going to have to have a name change….”Bur Dubai Diary” just won’t be the same…..