Seeing as the original manuscript for Burqalicious – The Dubai Diaries was over 125,000 words long (what? I’m a rambler!) I had to cut a significant amount out before it became the glossy book about to hit shelves around Australia. So I’ve decided to post a few extra bits here for your perusal. There might also be a few more on the eBook version when it comes out, which WON’T be on this blog, but more news about that later.
So here’s the first deleted diary entry, which I call ‘The Incredible Journey’. I hope you like it! This one’s from fairly early on in my adventure.
“To demonstrate how much my commute has changed from the arduous trek across London (Mile End to St James’ Park on the District Line), I thought I would photograph my route from home to work as it is right now. If you’d like to walk it with me, set your British alarm clocks for 5.45am and scroll down this page. It only takes four and a half minutes, but I think you’ll find it’s quite exciting.
Imagine I exit my apartment block and turn to my immediate left. I pass a building site, on which they are apparently erecting an apartment/office block in the shape of an egg. It looks fucking stupid on the roadside sketchings, if you ask me – who wants to live in an egg? No one wanted to live in the Gherkin and that’s actually cool in a vibrator shaped, cock sort of way. An egg’s just an egg. But anyway, carry on down the road and you come to:
I call it The Mound, because I’m not entirely sure what it is or where it came from. On either side of this gargantuan pile of soil and sand is a fully occupied, 12 year old building and a construction site with no signs of any digging having ever taken place. Like most things in Dubai, it might well have been imported because someone else, in a country far, far away, had a slightly bigger Mound, and they wanted to buy it and better it. If you look, you can see little people at work, erecting a fence. I’m not sure even they know what they’re doing it for. Perhaps they’re going to shift The Mound into their newly constructed compound when they’re done and call it something like “The Transition”, for art’s sake. I have no clue. It’s bloody unsightly though, isn’t it. If Charlie Dimmock walked past, she’d have a heart attack, and I don’t even know what my mum will do when she gets here in three weeks. She’s been known to pull weeds out of lawns that don’t even belong to her. She’d have a field day with that lot.
Carry on a little and we find:
As you can see, this is a hole in the carefully slabbed sidewalk, which appears to be a mini version of The Mound. Now, knowing the rules Dubai’s planners seem to follow, this was dug purely as an example to the workers appointed to begin on The Mound. When you’re working on building “the biggest of everything” and you don’t speak English, and you haven’t had much of an education, you probably need things to be spelled out to you. I’m sure they’ll cover it up now that The Mound is as high as the building next to it, (perhaps no one instructed them to stop?) but it’s a hazardous pitfall in an already treacherous trek, none-the-less.
Directly to the left we come across my least favourite part of the journey:
The Scrapheap Challenge
This changes daily. Sometimes I can pass with ease and sometimes I am forced back onto the road as my size 10 frame is rendered too large to pass without severing a limb on whichever piece of disregarded trash has been submitted overnight. On this particular occasion, the wire mesh frame accommodates within its monstrous jaws a housing project for the homeless – a sort of, DIY-without-IKEA affair. These cardboard flats will not be here tomorrow, and neither will the bicycle… although it might take longer to shift the smashed up car in the foreground – a prime example of how Dubai’s dangerous roads forced me to live within walking distance of my office in the first place.
Straight ahead we march, towards
The Sandy Stretch
As you can see, the council gave up on paths altogether here, no doubt a result of people relocating to the road in light of the aforementioned Scrapheap Challenge. Walking this in flip-flops takes a whole minute, and if I choose heels I can expect at least another two on top. There’s another mesh monster lying in wait at the end, but thankfully, this is never as foreboding as the first.
Here, we stumble upon the side entrance to Chilli’s – the American chain restaurant that graces the area daily with a spicy, meaty aroma. Stacey and I have never been in there. And judging by the forlorn looking chilli lying like a beaten carcass on its side right there, neither has anyone else, for quite some time. Whenever I pass it I thank God I’m not 18, in my first year of uni. Like the Middle Eastern trade off for a traffic cone, I would have had that sexy spice in my bedroom, weeks ago. On we go now….and we’re almost there when we hit:
Garden of Eden
Almost as an afterthought – an apology for the previous four minute-long abuse of the eyeballs – somebody thought to introduce some greenery here. As you approach this sudden display of nature, it’s advisable to watch your footing. The sprinkler system works in such a way that walking the pavement either side varies between a voyage of dehydrated desert proportions, and an ocean you’d be forgiven for wanting to caution even Moses over. This patch of greenery also houses the odd surprise, as we can see here in:
Initially invisible, if you journey a little further into the Garden of Eden you’ll see a little kitty cat. That’s about as far as the wildlife goes I’m afraid. You might spot the odd oversized ant from time to time, but these generally crawl into a patch of light and perish on a sizzling paving stone. Very sad, really. There is a beautiful cactus here too, look, which I have to say I’ve only just noticed. Outside my old office, we had a Benjy’s and a Natwest Bank. Now we have a cactus. That’s kind of cool, I reckon.
And that’s it. Well I said it was only four and a half minutes. Turn to your immediate left and there you have the office car park. And what begins inside is not half as exciting as the journey there, if you ask me.”