Some days are definitely better than others

There were decisions which had to be made. Decisions about all manner of things none of which could be made singularly but each of which remained a decision of its own with its own right to be and its own particular timing. The decisions, which I present without question marks and allow you to make of that what you will, included such things as: where will the lads go to school next year; how much longer should we, would we, can we stay; where will we spend the summer; should we move from this apartment. These are the kinds of decisions which, once started, spiral into others (should we renew our gym membership or just buy a per-visit card, should we think about finding a different gym move to a different club) and if you aren’t very careful, you will soon be asking, Should I bother getting out of bed.

Except…huzzah! I am not as easy to confuse as I once was. I would not claim to be as Buddha, but such is the state of my current mental strength that truly through all of this month and the one before, I have not cried once. Well, maybe once, and possibly even twice but not, you know, every day. And when I have said, ‘Well, let’s just wait and see’ or ‘It’s no use worrying about things that haven’t even happened’ I have meant it. I really have.

On a related note, but not so related that I can think of an elegant segue, a lot of the thinking that I am doing at the moment is done with the understanding that I have just turned 42 and when my mother died, she had just turned 46 – an age to which I am now so close that I can smell its perfume. Woody, with a touch of something citrus if I’m not mistaken.

It is not a bad touchstone, not a bad point of reflection, but I’m glad that my mental health is as good as it is, and that I have been able to look at this in a polyanna way. Because reflecting on our decision to stay here one more year, I see that it was made by a mind and a spirit which are fuelled not by the spectre of just four more years, but by the optimism of many more. Because if I really thought I had just four years more, I would go home right now and spend them with my friends.

It’s not quite one place, but it’s not the other neither

One day, when I was trawling the internet for previously unknown information about myself* I found a review of a journal in which I had been published. The reviewer summarised my piece thusly: “Tracy Crisp on Dubai”. For a few days after I read that I was somewhat annoyed at the injustice of being reviewed in a somewhat dismissive tone by someone who hadn’t even read the piece closely enough to notice that I live in Abu Dhabi and had not once, in the entire piece, even mentioned Dubai, but what can you do, and life goes on, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be needing therapy to recover from the experience. Call the wah!mbulance and so forth.

While I have recovered from the injustice of it all, I am reminded of that review every time I go to Dubai, because the trip never fails to do my head in, and I find Dubai even more incomprehensible than I find Abu Dhabi (sorry if incomprehensible is an absolute state, of which ‘even more’ isn’t, technically, possible, but if you want to argue the toss about it, I challenge you to come and stay for a while, and I will take you down to Dubai, and then we’ll see what you think).

The distance between our house and the first place you might want to get to in Dubai is about 130 kilometres and the trip takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half depending on who is driving. The drive is mostly along Sheikh Zayed Road, four lanes each way (eight in all).

Sheikh Zayed Road is home to the world’s largest traffic accident. It’s on youtube if you want to see a 200 car pileup. I’m not linking to it. I try not to think too much about the accident side of things because the mister makes the trip a couple of times each week, and it doesn’t do to dwell on things.


So much for SMART goals (achievable, realistic and so on).

The difference between the two cities is simply described as the difference between Canberra and the Gold Coast. Abu Dhabi being Canberra and Dubai being the Gold Coast. If Canberra had more money and the Gold Coast had more steroids. But this doesn’t really do the difference descriptive justice.

I have spent a lot of time trying to think about how I could describe what it is that distinguishes Abu Dhabi from Dubai, but it’s going to take a bit more work. I’m having trouble with it, probably because I’m trying to describe degrees of incomprehension.

For now, all I can really say is this:

it’s not so much that in Abu Dhabi you wouldn’t see the world’s tallest building

an indoor ski field

or go through a gate to get to a mall that traces the steps of Ibn Battuta:

No, no, that hole leads to Atlantis, this is the one that gets you to the lands of Ibn Battuta (sorry):

And it’s not so much that you wouldn’t see a shop that specialises in pink camels

or, erm, these

it’s just that in Abu Dhabi you don’t.


*side conversation had during the composition of this blog post
‘Have you ever googled yourself?’
‘No.’ True and actual surprise on his face at the very thought.
‘I only asked you to confirm what I already knew.’
Seriously, that man is so fucking well-balanced it wouldn’t surprise me to learn I’ve been living with one of Earth’s as-yet-undiscovered magnetic poles.

Thunder bolts and snow

I got out of bed twice to adjust the curtains, thinking that the flashes of light into the bedroom must be coming from the roof of the Al Wahda building. The building is two or three kilometres from here and this flashing has never happened before, but it is an enormous building, its towers now being finished one by one and its apartments helping to ease the city’s accommodation shortage. Who knows what light show they might one night start projecting into our bedroom.

‘What is that?’ I said to the mister after the fourth flash. He hadn’t noticed.

A thunderclap clapped, loud and close.

‘It was lightning.’

A dog started to bark, something started to hit against our bedroom window. I got out of bed and held the curtain a little way back. It was rain. Hitting our window and falling onto our lawn.

As the rain and the temperature fall (only thirty degrees forecast for today), life in Abu Dhabi becomes much simpler. Sitting in the playground after school or in our courtyard after tea, the breeze weaves the evocative magic that all breezes weave. I made a descriptive list once of all of my happiest memories, and you know, the greater percentage of those descriptions included a breeze.

It had rained the night before, 120 kilometres down the road in Dubai. I heard about it on facebook and rang the mister who was staying the night in his apartment there to avoid a mid-week commute.

‘Is it raining?’ I asked him. ‘I heard it’s raining.’

‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘I’m in the Mall of the Emirates. All I can see is snow.’

Lads at Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates