Still Dancing Upon the Ruins of Carthage

So when i was a bebbeh back in Dubai, we would go to the parks, where all sorts of things to climb and conquer lay before us in sandy islands dotted about in the lush manicured green grass seas.  Towering at least two, maybe three stories high, the main attraction was a steel pole a foot or so in diameter, from which a taut webbing of  thick red rope extended down in all directions, an unfinished tee-pee of a spider with giant fly dreams.  We would climb it endlessly, make it to the top, survey all the lands that now belonged to us, and then with a bit of bravery, wrap arms and legs around the pole and slide unfettered all the way down.  Then we’d climb right back up again.  Mountaineering for bebbehs, I suppose.

My exploration needed a destination and I heard that somehow this seemingly dangerous relic of the late 80s  still stood in Dubai, in Safa park.  Why not capture a bit of nostalgia on my way to re-discovering this city that I left behind now a quarter of a century ago?

Except when I got there, it was closed.  They told me it was for renovations.  Well.  Shit.

Fridays in Dubai.  All those wonderful weekends of our youth started on Fridays and we had the same request for every one of them.  Chicago Beach Hotel.  Five well mannered delinquents, we’d pile into our red Mercedes 250 , singing along innocently and nonsensically to the Lambada, growing ever more rambunctious as the salt sea air let us know we were getting closer without ever needing to ask if we were there yet.  What ever happened to the Chicago Beach Hotel then, Mr. Cabbie?  He had no idea what the hell I was talking about.

Well, shit.   Again.

At this point, the cab driver, instead of being annoyed, realized I had neither any idea what I was doing, nor had I any reasonable options other than his cab.   Being only my second day back in the country and my plans already skewered, I asked him for suggestions.  I was hungry and figured I should just head to a mall somewhere, so naturally I grabbed some McDonald’s while he pumped some gas.  Well, ok.

Next he took me to what he assumed was the beach I was talking about.  Driving past it, it quickly occurred to me that I didn’t really want to sit on empty beach in my jeans and t-shirt, eating fries while watching a few families romp around in their bathing suits.

At this point, the cabbie, thoroughly bemused by my misadventures, fully embraced his role as my personal tour guide.  A few different times already, he’d recommended Miracle Gardens based on my initial Safa park request.   Now he started peddling it like he was born there.  I had no idea what Miracle Gardens were, but they sounded like somewhere I could possibly relax and eat, so I relented.  Off we went.

Now a quick word about me, I am in the extreme minority in that I am a man almost entirely indifferent to flowers.  I’m well aware  that most men can spend years in aromatic fields of lilies and daffodils, but I have to confess, my interest in flowers piques only in those rare moments when I am delivering them to a pretty woman, and even then, I am more interested in their effect than in the flowers themselves.  All of these eccentricities I suspect I should have explained to my cabbie immediately upon entering his cab.  This was my failing.  As a result, there I stood, one man alone, outside of Miracle Gardens, armed with a bag of McDonald’s.

Now for those of you that don’t know what Miracle gardens are, imagine some sort of flower heaven you’d take your significant other to, largely to take mushy, lovey-dovey pictures.  I guess I have expressed my love for fast food and burgers on occasion, so I suppose it was appropriate.  Except I wasn’t allowed to take the food in.

Well, shit, yet again.  Sorry, love.

Almost immediately, the guards asked me quite conversationally what the hell I was doing there and then laughed and laughed as I told them about my tour guide.  Bastards.  Friendly, though.  I had no other choice really at this point, so I started walking around, pretending quite ably that I was some fancy photographer with a smartphone.  It was mostly newlyweds and old couples, with the occasional family, but as I made my way around the grounds, there was a lovely European woman that approached me.  So not too bad.  “Where was the bathroom?” she asked me.  Oh, right, even though I wasn’t in a uniform, it only made sense that a lone guy walking around was probably the head gardener or something.  That way, Miss.  And please do let those guards over there know if the restroom is satisfactory.  We hope you enjoy your visit.

At this point, the misadventure needed a close, I grabbed a cab, asked him to turn up the a/c and to just take me to the Dubai Mall please.  I sat in the back pensively looking out the window and that’s finally when the nostalgia hit me.  Vast yellow expanses, pockmarked with those dry, hardy bushes – the desert was still the same.  And just as before, it was as uninhabitably comforting, best viewed from a traversing vessel, as the sea to a sailor.  Finally, some small vestige of my childhood had survived. So I started to take a video of it

… except my battery was dead.


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