Showing posts from February, 2008


It is always a pleasure to have some good news to report and, while this is not Earth-shattering, in the context of the Little World of the Paranormal Hotel blog, it may surely have fruitful consequences. After an absence of nearly a year, Paraglider is once again the proud owner of a return ticket to Dubai. Part of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be spent reabsorbing the glorious ambience of Chalky's Bar and recharging the fund of anecdote fodder for the weeks ahead. Good things come to those who wait, even in Qatar.

Concert Time

If Dubai is a Steinway concert grand, Qatar is probably a kazoo - entertaining enough in the right hands and for a short while, but incapable of delivering lasting cultural sustenance. Not that I'm complaining, of course. In three years, I've learned to hoot and toot with the best of them. Polyphony - who needs it? The current beer shortage more than compensates for any indoor ski slope and few words can express the joy of watching half demolished buildings gradually take on the characteristics of natural landscape. It's good to be back.

Dubaibun 4

Above 37 Celsius, different rules apply. Compared with the surrounding air, you are cold. You might feel hot, but the air doesn't care about that. It sees you as a place to dump heat. You are also a place to dump water. When you step outside, you might think you immediately break sweat. You don't; that comes later. The water that coats your body is just condensation. It coats your watch too and a moment's reflection tells you that doesn't sweat. A proper hat prevents sunstroke (anyone who wears a baseball cap deserves sunstroke) but does nothing to ward off heatstroke. You avoid that by walking slowly and drinking warm water. The body is not stupid. The sweating reaction is for losing heat to cooler surroundings. With time, your body learns not to waste good sweat into hot, wet air. When you can do 5 hours at 43 Celsius, you know you're acclimatised. Suits from multinational corporations airily dismissing us all as towel-heads fail to see the beauty of understanding

Dubaibun 3

The Indian bicycle keeps left, even in Dubai, the better to avoid onrushing lorries. For minimum efficiency, it is pedalled with the heels, bare or sandalled. The trapezoidal stand is fitted with a broken retaining spring to help it trail along the road. The rear pannier rack is perfectly adapted to carry forty flattened cardboard boxes or a serene wife whose flowing saree just knows to keep clear of the spokes. However bumpy the road, she never drops the baby. The bell works. If you graduate to a small truck, you hang it all round with painted chains and festoon the cab with tassels and tapestries. Those the advertisers dismiss as no-ones those without the money to bloat the bloated burgeon through the city in forms and colours born of their genius

Dubaibun 2

It's a desert. Water is pumped from bore-holes or sea-level desalination plants, so there is no mains pressure. In the houses, 'cold' water comes from a storage tank in the loft and for six months of the year is very much hotter than the hot water that comes from a cylinder in the air-conditioned living space. You get used to things like that. Kinko's, rendered in Arabic, if read from left to right, almost spells Jesus in English. You don't get used to that, or to the Kharbash Institute of Motoring. Shoals of abras buffet their way to Deira while the creek resounds with the call to prayer Friday is the morning the streets are empty even of laughter

Dubaibun 1

The mornings here are the best time. It couldn't be called cool - usually about 30 C (86 F) by 7 a.m. But it feels fresh as the humidity is still not too high. By noon, the temperature will have soared another 10 degrees or so, and will stay up there till early evening. At dusk, as it starts to cool down (slightly), it also becomes very still and humid, making any exertion sweaty. It's May now, and this pattern will continue through September, peaking in July and August with at least another 10 degrees to climb. Government thermometers in Dubai never register above 49 C (120 F) because, at 50 C, outdoor workers are allowed to stop, and that would be bad for business. Indian roadmen suffer their fiery ritual building homes where no-one will give them house-room while the Kyrgyz women of mass destruction paint for the evening