The perfectly matched convoys of SUV’s, full of tourists, rolled around the sand dunes; somewhere on the outskirts of Dubai. We stopped for photo ops at picturesque and scenic spots that only locals could find on their own.
Wild camels; a goat farm; a high ridge from which to look off and enjoy the endless red hue of the desert sand. The lady riding with us was beautiful; she said she was from India. Her husband wasn’t a fan of mine. All I did was make polite conversation; I asked her to use my camera to take a picture of me.
Unfortunately a gust of wind came along. I got a brilliant picture of my gut; on a background straight out of Lawrence of Arabia. After basking in the late-afternoon heat of the Arabian desert; our convoy loaded back in to our white Range Rovers and were told we were headed for supper at the “tourist village”.
We drive in a straight line. Up and down; up and down the dunes. We hit a perpendicular strip of pavement; turn ninety degrees; and head down a two lane highway.
Suddenly we take a sharp-left. A path clearly beaten by other vehicles; we were on our way down. We arrive at a sand-bottom parking lot that leads under an arch and into a bazaar-like atmosphere with a stage in the centre.
“This is where we eat.” the driver said.
Families; foreigners; couples; and camel rides. In hindsight I should have rode the camel.
I walk under the arches and into the ‘village’. To my left; kiosks and mini-shops with trinkets and souvenirs. To my right; a hookah bar and a regular bar.
I approach the hookah-master and ask what flavours he has. He says, “Double-apple is most popular. If you want to use hookah; use double-apple.”
He gives me a plastic contraceptive mouthpiece and instructs me to pick a seat. I choose the back wall of the circle de smoke. Having my back against the wall allows me to fully observe my surroundings; spotting danger and having multiple exit strategies – just in case.
This caution wasn’t a result of any sort of conditioning I gained while living in theatre; this was an introvert defensive strategy. I also enjoy people-watching. Observing people, while acting natural outside of their natural habitat, is infinitely intriguing and interesting. The way they interact with one another and their environment; I’ll never understand. I’m fairly certain that I’m not of this planet. I think that a lot of moderately-insane people feel this way.
It’s not us that are strange for being different; it’s all of you that are strange for being so alike.