Oblivious in Dubai: Part 17

It’s time.

We land in Canada; Montreal to be specific; and part ways.

No more war. What was I thinking? Fuck.

My friends pick me up at the airport on my final trip home; three heavy bags in tow. I give them pashminas from the bazaar. It’s two in the morning when we arrive at their house. We smoke. I sleep soundly on the couch.

I wake to an empty house; they’re both at work. After showering, I sit on the stoop smoking a cigarette.

The significance of the feeling of the grass between my toes was something unfathomable moments ago.

He notices each cold and individual blade of grass touching the soles of his feet.

Every car seemed to be speeding past the house. Conditioned to hover at a constant 15 kilometers per hour in his bongo or his right-hand-drive, navy blue, SUV; he’s caught off guard by the constant flow of traffic running perpendicular to the walkway leading to the house connected to the stoop on which he’s sitting.

Sheeeeeit.

I need a Tim Horton’s coffee and a shower.

My first shower back in the world was awkward. Since my last trip home; this is the first shower I can recall taking in a tub-sized shower stall. My body; mannerisms, actions, instincts; my sense of self and situational awareness; were completely bombarded with new sensory input that I found frightening. I found it frightening that I found it frightening. This shower belonged to 20-something female friends of mine. Every ledge, every corner was full of bottles. Every color of the spectrum was squeezed into the limited ledge-space available in their tub.

I kept knocking things over. Every turn was stressful. My elbows hit things I should have known were there. My mind was screaming, “Oh shit. Oops. Crap. Oops. OUCH. Damn it,” for the duration of the activity.

The level of anxiety I felt while completing the most basic of daily tasks foreshadowed the inevitable fall from grace that was to come.

Fall I did.

As we all must.

Until the birth of my child; the destruction of my ego was greatest gift I had ever received from the universe.

The most troubled among us are often not prepared to completely change our ways; sometimes we have to be pushed.

 

 

Oblivious in Dubai: Part 15

Salazar brings a serving tray to our room with twelve bottles of Budweiser atop it. A tip, a handshake, and he was gone. He did request, though, that we not let anyone see the beer.

My comrade had paid for the hotel and the beer; but I had to leave shortly to catch my plane.

We get into the beers then start talking about life and the state of the World’s affairs; talking about how we each just left an active war zone in which we were doing otherwise ‘normal’ jobs.

I don’t remember much after that.

“Nothing is true; everything is permitted.” – Assassin’s Creed maxim and primary guideline.

I recall the conversation being honest and eye opening; but I shall not reveal the nature of that discussion here.

The world is an interesting place. As long as you’re polite; most of the time you’ll be alright. Somehow I made it to the airport; though I don’t remember much of the trip.

Following along sequentially; the things I recall are still-images. Images flash of the stained-wood walls of the lobby; a snapshot of my Comrade carrying one of my bags to the taxi; a parting hug; and then of regaining coherence at the check-in line at the airport.

Familiar Canadian Comrades were also waiting to check in. Beverages were had once we traversed through this exceptionally large line. To Frankfurt and then to Montreal before we’d part ways.

Most of the rest of my journey is a blur until shortly before landing in Germany at six o’clock in the morning. The time of day is largely irrelevant while travelling over 30 hours in one shot; it just affects what’s found on the menus of the places you stop to eat. The blur, after analyzing my previous behavior and looking for patterns; was probably filled with tasting the beers of the world until I passed out and pissed myself on the plane.

At least I thought I’d pissed myself.  I’d not pissed myself before; so there was no reason to believe my bladder would cave for no reason.

Perhaps it was the cabin pressure?

I found a can of beer on the floor that had spilled all over my pants; alongside it a couple of empty Coors cans… and a full one. Sweet, I’ve got another beer.  I crack the beer and drink the Gravol; the plane should be landing soon.

When in Deutschland; eat what the Germans eat.

Sausage, beer, and a few tabs of Gravol.

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Part 16
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That Day of Remembrance

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalition_casualties_in_Afghanistan

It’s getting that time again; Remembrance Day.

There are many countries that have contributed blood and sweat and lives since 2001; and continue to do so today.

Doing so in a joint effort to contribute to what they thought was good and right.

Each country filled (and continues to fill) a role to the capacity to which they could by utilizing what they have trained for.

They do this to protect what is good and right.

Just like all of the things we learned about in school around this time of the year as young children in elementary school.

They do it not because they had to; but because they thought they should.

No political b.s. here.

Just saying that when we take that moment of silence on the 11th – to bear in mind that there are families just like yours that lost somebody and continue to lose loved ones in a war that’s still going on.

A war that I know is doing good things for the people of that region.

Be proud that each of our countries have people that are willing to put their lives in jeopardy to protect others and standing up for what they believe to be right.

Their own political opinions and creeds aside; they band together as their homelands ask them to; in order to protect those that need it.

Some don’t come back.  Some come back, but don’t.

Lest we forget.

 

Oblivious in Dubai: Part 1

There I was.

Nineteen, tanned, clean-shaven; business casual.

Standing in the hallway of the top floor of a strange hotel, just after midnight in Dubai; pushing the elevator button relentlessly in an effort to speed up my not-so-swift retreat.

Flight to Kandahar in seven and a half short hours. There wouldn’t be another flight for a few days; I can’t miss it.

There she was.  All 80 enraged pounds of her.

The geriatric mama-san that was screaming at me, almost inaudibly, in angry Mandarin.

How the hell did I end up here?

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ABOUT AN HOUR EARLIER

Just finished my shower and gotten cleaned after the 30 or so hours of flights and layovers I’d just put behind me.

I was hungry.  Looking off of the balcony of my 6th floor suite; that familiar vision of a Burger King sign peeked between the buildings and across the parking lot.  Only eight hours or so until my flight; plenty of time to fill my belly.  Not like I was going to get much sleep anyway.

Jet-lagged but up for some exploration.

I finish my chicken sandwiches on the second floor of the nicest Burger King I’d ever seen. Head downstairs and outside to the patio for a smoke.

There she was.

Crossing the six lane road, roaring with midnight traffic; two beautiful, petite, and well dressed Asian ladies walking with two imposing looking Caucasian fellows.

Puff… Puff… pretty girls I thought; lucky fellows.

They get to the corner I’m standing on; the two fellows and one of the girls cross the road.

The other girl walks up to me.

Hey there,” she says as she touches my back, “you want massage?

This should have been clue number one.

Of course I ‘want massage’!  My hotel is just over there...”  I point.

No, no.  You come to my hotel.

So I put my arm around this strange petite woman and follow her across a parking lot, between some buildings, down an alley, and into a parking garage.

It’s probably also relevant to mention that when you fly across the ocean on most major airlines – the beer is free.  So I had that going for me.

Along the way we talked.  She told me she was from China.  I told her I was here for the night on business, catching a plane in the morning.

She says, “What country you go to?”

To which I replied, “Afghanistan” matter of factly.

Oh yes, Afghanistan very nice.

In hindsight, this should have been clue number two.

She also said a number of other things while we walked and talked, things like:

  • “Two hundred US, two hundred US.”
  • “You work you work, you come you come.”
  • “Come for massage, my hotel.”

This should have been clue number three.

She pushes the button for the elevator.  Hits the button for the top floor.

Elevator goes up; door opens.  I see three doors in a tiny, dimly lit hallway; two clotheslines strung across it.

She approaches the door on the right.

HER:  Knock, knock, knock

NOT HER:  Knock, knock

HER:  Knock

In hindsight, the secret knock should have been clue number four.

I’m led in to a room with five sliding doors; all of them open except one.

From behind the closed door:

  • Grunting
  • Bed squeaking rhythmically

Oh.  Fuck.  Now I get it.

I did what any 19 year old man would do in the same situation.  I let the geriatric mama-san lead me into one of the open doors.  Inside, there’s a single bed, clean sheets, a night stand, tissues and a garbage can.

She leaves.

Fuck.  Now I really get it.

So the “masseuse” comes in and I take out my wallet, I’ve got 20 US and a bit of local currency – nowhere close to the 200 in US green-backs that she’s expecting.

What followed was lots of screaming, hand waving, finger waving, finger pointing, more yelling and what I’m sure was a less-than-positive glare – all this from the senior citizen.

There had to be muscle there.  Had to be.  I was expecting to get throat-punched by someone who was trained in the ancient art of the throat-punch.

I ran out while buttoning my shirt screaming, “ohfuckohfucksorryimsorryfuckimsorryohfuckohfuck,” over and over again.  I barrelled past the mama-san, ran under the clotheslines and poked that elevator call button over and over and over again.

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That's where it all happened.

That’s where it all started.

Part Two —>

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