Finding Zen, Dubai-style

In a city where stress can be a default setting, Claire Gasby chooses not to let it bother her Comments

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Patience is a virtue, so they say, and certainly one that I didn’t possess before I made Dubai my home. After six years in this city, however, you could say I’ve learned the art of patience the hard way (or the long, slow way, to be precise).

It wasn’t an easy change. That crazy lady with steam coming out of her ears during a Sheikh Zayed Road gridlock? That was probably me. The one hopping up and down and tutting anxiously at the back of a bank queue? Yup, me again. The one cursing into her mobile phone over a missed meeting? Okay, you get the picture.

But somewhere along the way, something clicked. I’d like to think it was around my two-year mark, when I started thinking of the city as a place to settle down, rather than just another destination on my travels. Or perhaps it was more of a slow shift into a different gear. You might assume it had something to do with growing up, getting married and having a family, but trust me, if you met the little live wires that live under my roof, you’d see that’s not the case.

Over the years, I’ve come to love the sound of ‘inshallah’, and enjoy, rather than decry, the prospect of a traffic jam on the way to work. That’s because it forces me to take a deep breath and step away from the rat race for a few minutes. Life is fast-paced enough in a city like Dubai, whether you’re working hard or socialising harder, and sometimes the opportunity to reflect, no matter how it is foisted upon you, is a blessing in disguise.

Like anywhere else in the world I could choose to live, there will always be things about Dubai that mess with my mojo – unnecessary red tape, rude shop assistants, careless drivers, late nights at work – but when it comes to saving sanity, why sweat the small stuff? Losing my cool isn’t going to get things done any differently, or get me where I want to go any faster – the only thing I’ll achieve is high blood pressure and a sore throat from all the shouting. Why waste your energy running up an escalator the wrong way when it’s so much easier to just go with the flow? So next time you see a lone person grinning like an idiot at the back of a huge checkout queue in Carrefour, or contentedly waiting their turn in a long line of cars (rather than zooming to the front to push in), smile and give them a wave – it’s probably me. *waves back*

By Claire GLasby
Time Out Dubai,

User reviews:

Posted by: wy on 02 Nov ' 11 at 07:54

lucky you. it only took you 2 years. I've been here 10 and just started realizing it. But there are times that I cave in to the madness. Like this morning when my blood pressure shot thru the roof at a lady stopped in the middle of the street waiting for her nanny(maid/mom#2) to come back from dropping off the kids at school. She refused to budge till the nanny slowly made her way back to the car. So I slammed my horn but to no avail. I was fuming livid. What gets me is the sheer inconsideration for your fellow (wo)man. ...wish I had read this before my school run :-) And I swear if one more shop keeper calls me sir (I'm all woman baby) I'm gonna ring her neck. But I will remember your words next time I feel the urge

Posted by: Vishal on 02 Nov ' 11 at 07:29

You've made some fair points in your article Claire, but missed out a lot of the frustrations that affect the common man or woman in Dubai. How about the lack of employee rights? The alienation of the have-nots? The subtle and institutional discrimination? The ultimately transitory nature of life here?

You'd have to have a lot going for you to keep calm here.

I'm not concerned if this gets published or not, just putting it out there for consideration.

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