Dubai makes me wish Ballard was still here to describe it. It is the closest we have to seeing what human life would amount to on another, less hospitable planet. A slave economy that built the most startling canyons of tall buildings, now with a sleek futuristic overhead metro system. Some episodes from my day here:
Friday, April 30, 2010
At the airport, the musclebound Muscovite (at least I imagined he was), waiting by the barrier. His biceps are as well defined as his face is puglike. Eventually, his blonde bombshell from Kiev arrives (again, in my mind). Another henchman mills around in the background. A few minutes later, their car screeches out of the car park. A large Chrysler that looks like a Bentley driving towards the skyscrapers. Late for a meeting with the Columbians, or D Company perhaps.
Three Japanese women taking tea in the foyer of the hotel. Their postural elegance belongs in an Ang Lee film. Who would not be entranced? Are they airline crew or the wives/travelling geishas of visiting diplomats?
The crowds gathering in front of the double height aquarium at Dubai Mall. A 2 metre shark floats benignly by. Sting rays flap like stunned birds in slo mo. Inside the tank, visitors can be seen, looking up from inside a transparent tunnel.
Staring up at the Burj Khalifa. So tall, yet so much smaller than a mountain. I wonder: did anyone die building it? Close by, 40 story buildings that stand incomplete, the cranes frozen in time, waiting for money to come through from Abu Dhabi. No one buys property in Dubai anymore.
An anoxeric British woman shops for food at Organics. She moves about on crutches. She wills herself to buy a flapjack but then doesn't eat it.
Ali, the Yemeni taxi driver. He complains that the North get everything: the capital city, the higher wages, the favours. That's why he had to leave. He works up to 90 hours a week. Ali's sees his wife and three kids once a year.
The Philippino working girls, arriving in the bar for the evening's labours..