Taxis, deliveries and gluttony - Penelope Walsh is succumbing to the UAE's abundant pleasures
Live with them, you get like them: Penelope Walsh discusses how easy it is to succumb to Dubai.
We’ve all done it, entered the realms of a new community and sworn we’d never assimilate to certain stereotypes. Eventually, it happens, and never more so than in a place like Dubai, where so many of us are new to the scene at some point and arrive with all our chosen, learnt and vastly different ideas. It’s inevitable: you become ‘Dubai’ and adopt many of its habits.
Dubai’s favourite indulgence, I like to believe, is sloth, glorious, expensive sloth. Coming from London, which has no common cab culture, despite the iconic black variety (accessible to the moneyed few), when I first arrived here, I swore blind I’d be on the metro each morning. I was even vaguely disgusted when, in my first week, a colleague who’d been in Dubai for years asked me how much a single metro fare was. Firstly it was the confusion over where exactly I was going that ushered me into the comfort of cabs, then it was the crazy summer heat that saw me holding my hand up to hail taxis with reckless abandon. Winter came and I knew my way around, but by that time I was sold. No more walking to the tube in the rain, or waiting hours for the night bus with the city’s craziest weirdos like in London, because life in Dubai could be so much easier if I let it. So I did.
And don’t mention grocery deliveries. At home, I’d have carried my shopping bags in my teeth (if I had to), but here, I’m not above ordering a six-pack of water and mobile credit (if I had to). You can stop judging me now.
Gluttony, however, is my favourite Dubai pastime. The concept of brunch and the city’s love of ‘all-you-can-anything’ still confuses and abhors me. The ostentation, the extravagance, the waste! Yet, now, if you invite me for a birthday brunch, come 3.45pm, I’ll be eagerly wondering whether my last plate should be dessert or cheese with the best of them. And if I go for thali, the sort where they just keep piling your plate up until you want to shout like Mr. Creasote that you’re over it and done, thoughts of food wastage will be on my mind, but only for a moment and deep, deep, deep down, beneath the self-induced curry coma.
There’s Dubai’s version of pride, lust and envy too, and most of it involves accessories. While once you may have been happy with high-street pleather, when faced with the clatter of Louboutin-clad feet and Birkin-burdened arms everywhere you look, it’s hard not to decide you want, no actually need, something Gucci soon.