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 17
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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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The Pursuit of Truth in a World of Endless Information

“This man, on one hand, believes that he knows something, while not knowing. On the other hand, I – equally ignorant – do not believe that I know anything.”
-Apology (Plato)

By: Big Think
Featuring: Bill Nye

It’s important to criticize ideas and to hold all ideas up to an open discussion; not to prove or disprove those ideas but simply to open minds to the fact that none of us know anything for sure and what we think we know must always be updated with new information.

Education and knowledge are fundamental and have been vital to the success of the human species.  That is where the money needs to go; creating informed, educated and intelligent citizens and voters.

There’s a big difference between criticizing an idea and criticizing a person. Religion is an idea, it’s a thought process, it’s a way of thought and an explanation for some people. Someone believing an idea is true without any evidence is a choice they are free to make, despite the illogicality of it.

Personally criticizing someones un-willingness to entertain the thought they might be wrong is necessary and important.

Any criticism that comes from me about religion is about the idea of it from an objective point of view.

A couple of those objective observations would be that:

  • Religions (and all belief systems) have played a vital role in the development of our societies and our species. Both causing harmony and causing war and division. Fostering community, fostering fellowship, promoting togetherness.
  • There are good and bad things in the world; but it’s not black and white. Citing divine inspiration or religion as a moral yard stick is flawed simply because of the example set by the very people in the upper echelon of those groups. It’s never black and white yet all theistic faiths make it black and white.
  • The only moral yard stick we really need that holds true across almost all cultures and belief systems is to “do unto others as you would have them do to you”.

I believe that people should be allowed to do as they wish, provided it doesn’t harm anyone else or their ability to do as they wish. Government shouldn’t be involved in peoples personal lives.

There needs to be a separation of belief systems (a personal choice that is a reflection of the freedom we have here) and decisions made by government that affect everyone (abortion, gay marriage, pot prohibition, euthanasia and tax exemption for churches – to name a few).

I’m only militant about this stuff because societies status quo has it backwards and changes need to be made regarding how we prioritize things. Based on what I know so far, (keeping in mind that my opinion is fluid and always subject to change with the presentation of new data) most of the bad things that have happened regarding personal liberty have been a result of religious people.

For example: 9/11, The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition, protesting Gay Marriage, anti-abortion attitudes, being against publicly funded birth control, most of the shit going on in the Middle East, the US not taking action on climate change, the US teaching creationism in schools as fact – to name a few.

I’ll basically shut up whenever decisions are made objectively regarding stuff that affects us all. Canada is pretty accepting of secularism and the non-religious; but it’s a global issue. We’re attached at the hip to the US and in essence the rest of the world. If the next generation believes in a magic sky fairy that watches everything we do and personally cares about YOU, we’re all fucked.

Think globally; act locally.

One might say, “We’ve had religion for thousands of years, why is it such a big deal now?”

I’m so glad you asked!  It’s such a big deal now because the Roman Empire didn’t have Nuclear Weapons.  Genghis Khan didn’t have M16s, tanks, or artillery.

If the next generation in America grows up believing that they are are right because they believe in a Christian God and that everyone who doesn’t is wrong; it’s an automatic, unquestionable US vs. THEM situation.  One side will never truly trust the other and they will never truly get along.

Add to that the fact that 48% of American Christians believe as fact that Jesus Christ will return to earth in the next 40 years.  (Citation:  Pew Research Center: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/03/26/us-christians-views-on-the-return-of-christ/)

Think about that.

Just think about it.

Keep thinking for another moment.

….

….

….

They believe this as undisputed literal FACT.

What we have now is half of a generation of Americans born after 2000 A.D. that:

  • Have access to nuclear weapons
  • Fundamentally believe that they are superior in morality and value versus anyone who disagrees with them
  • Have access to every piece of knowledge known to humanity (but choose to ignore it)
  • Believe that natural disasters happen because gays have basic human rights
  • Believe that we have absolutely no control over our destiny because it is all pre-ordained

Evolution is a beautiful thing.  To disregard evolution is to disregard all of our monumental achievements as a species – dishonoring our ancestors, their ancestors, and their ancestors ancestors.

Tens of thousands of years of intellectual growth; learning for ourselves, being curious, inventing tools, improving the tools we’ve built, building incredible buildings like the Pyramids, advancing our architecture by trial and error, math, biology, chemistry, archaeology  – to disregard all of that evidence is absurd.

The unfortunate reality is many Christians think it’s all hog wash.

Anyone who thinks my attitude is offensive or too much should watch that video and think on it for a bit. Our species is at a point now where we have all of these amazing tools and can truly do anything.

We have the sum total of the worlds information available 24/7 in an instant on a portable device we carry in our pocket at all times.

Fucking act like it.