Growing pains

Laura Chubb wonders whether it’s possible to be grown-up in Dubai

The Knowledge

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit sensible. By this I mean that, for the first time in 10 years, the success of my weekend doesn’t hinge on how many inexplicable bruises I have gathered, or how many apologies I am obliged to make in the wake of it. Ever since my teens, the rules have stated that if I didn’t hit the town and make a fool of myself, I must try harder next time. But now, as my late twenties begin beckoning disapprovingly from the horizon, I’ve discovered ‘staying in’. Beach party or duvet and DVD, you ask? The latter is increasingly inviting. Is this being grown-up, I wonder?

Worried that 26 is no age to start being sensible, I consulted a similarly-aged friend. She too had been feeling the onset of the sensibles. Our reasons were sound: staying out all night is tiring, and sleeping in wastes the day. Plus, partying is unhealthy. Why shouldn’t we start being sensible?

It was about two days after this conversation that a birthday party ended with both myself and my sensible friend singing (and I use the term loosely) some particularly tuneless karaoke, wearing fake moustaches and clutching an inflatable roast turkey. The day after that, another birthday party aboard a boat – sailing around The Palm and pumping house music, no less – turned into an all-nighter and necessitated a week’s bed rest.

I had discovered a fatal flaw in our sensible plan. We live in Dubai, where opportunities to be sensible are seldom. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that few people, however well-intentioned, can be grown-up in Dubai. It isn’t referred to as a ‘playground’ for nothing. If you’re not running around on a sugar rush after visiting the world’s biggest candy store, you’re skidding down a ski slope in a mall in a giant zorb ball. One day you’re being flung around the sand dunes in a 4x4 for kicks; the next you’re whooshing along water slides that spit you out through a shark tunnel. And the people indulging in these activities are not five years old – in some cases, they are 50.

Take the colleague who recently informed me that, upon arriving home after a late night out, he tip-toed about the flat so as not to wake his elderly father. About an hour later his silver-haired parent burst through the door in high spirits, clutching a bucket of fried chicken. Think too of the brunches where scrums of partying pensioners flock to the buffet and are always first on the dancefloor. Perhaps this sensible lark is a matter of place and not, in fact, time. In which case, it’s not quite my turn to be sensible yet.

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