The other day at work, there was a new lad sitting next to me. He was there the day before too, but because we were so busy getting four publications to press, we hadn’t had a chance to talk.
We’d said hello over the filing trays and wished each other a nice evening, but that was it.
So the next day, when I noticed he was still there, I greeted him with a good morning (with the hot-desking that goes on, I half expected him to have vanished).
He smiled back, then asked:
“Do you live in Dubai?”
I was a little surprised. I’d just assumed he lived in Dubai too.
“Do you know where the Burj Khalifa is?” he enquired next.
“Yes, I do,” I replied – still confused, because you really can’t miss it.
I took him over to the window to show him and realised the tall, pointy tower was completely hidden in the haze.
“Well, that’s where it normally is,” I explained, peering through the dusty sky.
We went back to our desks and talked a little more. I found out he lives in Abu Dhabi and is commuting to Dubai, does something in marketing and had only arrived in the UAE on Sunday.
Straight off the plane, literally.
I felt guilty I hadn’t welcomed my desk buddy earlier (although, honestly, it was like drinking from a firehose at work this week).
Plus he was cute in a boyish, amiable way!
He had an air of excitement about him. If it’s possible to be star-struck by a city, then that’s how I’d describe it. As he told me how he’d been swimming four times that week after work, and had discovered the aquamarine-sea-lapped beach, his face lit up with wonder – which does tend to happen when you’re newly arrived from a country heading into a cold, dark winter.
“Don’t you feel like you’re on holiday the whole time?” he laughed.
“No,” I smiled, thinking about the school runs; the homework. Driving to the office, on congested roads. The 14-hour days I’ve been putting in this week dropping LB at school, working and then rushing home to get the children to bed.
Because contrary to what the Daily Mail would have the rest of the world believe, living in Dubai isn’t all about champagne-swilling, wave-frolicking, sand-between-your-thighs abandon. There are tens of thousands of housewives going about the minutiae of daily life.
But, it’s ALWAYS good to be reminded, to have your memory jogged that Dubai IS a really fun, glitzy, sun-soaked place, and that, for eight months of the year at least, it’s a fantastic city to live in.
Something that stayed with me as the silver silhouette of the Burj Khalifa started to take shape as the haze cleared a little later.
Now, if someone could just pass me a cocktail please…