Saturday, November 8, 2008

the great camel encouner

With fall came the clouds
the cool breezes, wild camels, and visiting friends from the far reaches of the planet. With fall also came the economic belly dance that leaves everyone a little bit confused–hopeful one day, as the economy's teasing hips sway towards you, then back away, gyrating until you have to find the horizon to steady yourself. Everyday I start work with the New York Times. And almost every day, the economic outlook is different. The Market's looking up. The economy's in the toilet. No it's not. Oh wait, yes it is, and someone flushed. And the dance goes on. With fall, came a global celebration as relief ripples from the Obama epicenter, across the pond to the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and probably a few undiscovered tribal islands somewhere in Micronesia.

Regardless of how hopeful, or disappointed or confused you feel, I invite you to set the small politics aside. Forget about your party. Forget about pro-choice or pro-life. Forget about race. Forget about taxes. Forget about oil. Forget about health care. Even forget about the economy, just for a moment, and consider this:
In the last eight years, I've been out of the country...a lot. And on Wednesday, November 5th, for the first time in close to eight years, the United States was not hated. How do I know?

In my agency, we probably have close to 30 nationalities represented. (I didn't count. Everyone's really from everywhere. When folks say that about Dubai, they're not kidding. Really. This is basically a little snow globe of the globe. minus the snow. Okay, maybe it's more of a sand globe.)

My British roommate, woke me up, banging my bedroom door down with the news. At work that Wednesday, my many-nation office celebrated. People congratulated me as if I has singlehandedly put Obama in office. The Iranian guy high-fived me. We did a happy dance.
In the weeks leading up to the election, they wanted to know who I was voting for. Why was I voting for him. Why wasn't I voting for the other? What did I think of the running mates? How biased was the media in the states? Was I biased? Who did I think would win and why? The Egyptian chap I sit next to was probably more informed and unbiased in forming his opinions than the average American. On Tuesday the entire planet watched. On Wednesday, they celebrated, not just an election. They celebrated a new leader of the free-world who they wanted to talk to, instead of punch. The global community knows all too well, that whatever the U.S. does, it will have a direct impact on them, while they're the mercy of the American voters, many of which (through no fault of their own) have never been off American soil. The little sand-globe here, celebrated the U.S. President Elect as if he was their own. They were celebrating the United States, not hating it.

Fall in Dubai, didn't bring gold and red leaves. There's no hot cider, no nip in the air, no corn mazes, no pumpkin patch day-trips. There's no Annie's Mac and Cheese. There are no snow dusted peaks. There are spectacular sand dunes, truckloads of hummus, rad friends, Krispy Kreme Donuts...

And of course, camels! Wild ones!

As you drive out into the desert towards Al Ain, the sand gets softer and redder. Looks like paprika. Doesn't taste like paprika though. Trust me.

The great dune trek. Just add epic soundtrack.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice has competition. He's tall, Turkish, cooks amazing Thanksgiving stuffing and stuffed mushrooms, and could out sorcerer Mickey Mouse in a second. But he wouldn't. He's too nice for that.

360 degrees of sea breezes and mood lighting

360: Trendy club at the end of a jetty just next to the Burj Al Arab (that hotel. Yeah, that one.) It's round, glam, with a 360 view (duh), beer, Shisha, and with the right people, it's chill and fun. In this case, the people were great, the beer was cold, and the shisha smelled of grape to go with the purple mood lighting. An odd-cool mix of creatives from the agency, an amazing Austrian photographer his amazing producer and an amazing friend from ad school. Awesome.

On the way into 360. You can see the jetty in the background, and of course the over rated, over publicized Burj Al Arab.

Trey and Sheik Bin Elephante face off at a shop at Madinat Souk.

Lucky for Trey, his Royal Elephantness wasn't prepared for the green curry.

From the top of the Emirate Towers.
This little bar at the top of the city reminds me of Lost in Translation. Shelly says it reminds her of Shanghai. I'm not sure what I remind her of, but it can't be good. Perhaps, terrifying.

Say 'Prune'
Fake glam poses for a glam place. Oh fab. Um...where are my Birkenstocks? Hm. A picture of the view would have been nice here. Maybe I'll add it later.

Coming soon....Tales of more camels and Shisha at Bab Al Shams.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Epiphanies from the Chic Side

Epiphany #1
Celebrity horse jockey, Frankie Dettori owns a fancy little Italian restaurant on "The Walk" at Jumeirah Beach Residence. Naturally, if something is fancy, my instinct is to just throw on some heels with whatever else I happen to be wearing, and it usually works out all right. Well, Frankie's is fancy, in that the raviolis are still ravioli's, but there aren't very many of them, they just cost a little bit more, and odds are, the company you're with tends to be a little bit fancier as well. So, good thing my heels did their job and spruced up the little denim skirt just fine. The thing is though, "The Walk" is cobbled, making my journey between cafe di Roma and Frankie's a complete pain-in-the-ass. And that's when it struck me: Cobbles and heels are stupid together, which is funny, considering shoe makers and fixers are called cobblers.

Epiphany #2
When you go out to dinner with fancy people, at a fancy little restaurant, in a fancy little city like Dubai, where shiny is in, and most everyone around you knows the difference between this season and last season's Gucci, always, always order from the expensive side of the menu. If one person orders drinks, order your own drink. Hell, order two. Here's why. If you're at said restaurant with said fancy people, and if you go, thinking you can order on the conservative side, and have a nice experience without going broke, you're wrong. You're wrong because some twat at the opposite end of the table is bound to say, "lets just split the bill," probably because that person feels a little bit too tipsy to care, and doesn't want to deal with doing 3rd grade math. As a creative who managed to turn the math side of my brain off a few years back, even I would be perfectly capable and willing to do it. I've got a brain, and a pencil and a phone with a calculator function. Bring it. Send the bill down to my end. It might take a while, but I'm ready and willing to tell you exactly how much you owe. Just don't expect the one kid at the table not wearing this season's LV or DG or P or G to cover your lazy-ass extravagant ordering habits. It's okay. I'm over it. The moral of the story? Order expensive, and let the rich assholes cover the difference. Sure Babycakes, lets split the bill. Better yet, if you're rolling in it, why don't you just cover my sirloin and 4 martinis, and we'll call it even. Cause clearly, while you're feeling lazy about a little bit of simple arithmetic, I'm thinking about how the economy's going down the toilet back home. Maybe you won't know the difference, but I will. And then on the way back home...there were those confounded cobbles again, trying to devour my heels for dessert.