Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Final Countdown

Two weeks from today I will be in London. Two weeks from today I was supposed to be in Iowa, but the fact is that as long as I get to go to London and still be home before the family reunion, I'll live with the fact that the travel agent screwed me over. I have a plane ticket, I have my passports, if I get my ass in gear I might even have money by the time Thursday's over.

There are lots of logistics involved in picking up and moving halfway around the world. You can't live somewhere for a year without picking up some detritus. I've been leaving my books behind - just gave away the whole House of Night series to a TA I knew would appreciate it - and am putting together a bag of clothes for the GETH charity. Still, it seems there is more to do. I've got two boxes and a suitcase to send to Socrates' future residence, and I'm going to ship a box or so of my own stuff while I'm at it. I've sold most of the stuff I needed to, and tomorrow I'll go shut off my internet so that I can pick up my pay at the end of the week.

This is the way things are winding down here. I'm not even sad - I just wish it was over already. I don't regret coming here; at times it has been a monumental pain in the ass, and as times I've felt very alone, but in just about every single way it's been better than it was in Bahrain, and meeting Socrates was the cherry on top. On the other hand, it was not the experience Korea was - maybe if it were, I wouldn't be leaving.

Last Thursday I went on a consular run to pick up my new passport. Since I had to take the whole day off, anyways, it turned into shopping trip, part two, and afterwards I met the girls and went up Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building). Don't get me wrong - it was fun dropping 1000 dirhams like it was hot, and pretty amazing looking going up to have a look around. But it says a lot about the artificiality of this place, that it's a destination built solely on being the biggest, built on sating your consumer lusts. From the Burj you look out beyond the mall and Sheikh Zayed Rd and realize that the place is a desert - there are a few outcroppings of tall, futuristic buildings, but just beyond the oasis it's only a big, ugly desert.
There is very little of historic importance to see, 99% of the mosques don't welcome non-Muslim visitors, and most of the belly dancers are Russian or Brazilian. There's driving and whoring and shopping to your heart's content, but if you want to ride a real Arabian stallion, or learn about carpet weaving, or how to play a tabla drum, in other words, to see the warp and weft that the nouveau riche UAE is built on, you're going to be hard pressed to do so.

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