Losing it in Dubai

Rob Garratt realises he’s a bit of a loser when it comes to competitive pastimes

The Knowledge

It recently dawned on me that I’m rubbish at everything. Well, not everything: I pride myself on my work, I cook a mean risotto, and I like to think I’m a pretty good friend. But anything that involves a whiff of competition – count me out.

My epiphany (that I’m rubbish) came following three torturous stabs to my otherwise healthy ego: a triptych of shame, each blow sustained under the gloating eyes of my colleagues. The first: to break up the excitement of the working week, a group of Time Out staff hit the slopes at Ski Dubai. While there were a couple of seasoned pros in the group, I wasn’t too intimidated, largely because there were also plenty of other first-timers. Nonetheless, of all of us, it was I who resembled a tree being felled, teetering nervously for a few moments before slamming to the snowy floor.

Eager to redeem my embarrassment, I was the first to volunteer for a team outing to Dubai Kartdrome. Unlike snowboarding, I’m well-versed behind the wheel and I was pretty confident I could handle a go-kart (child’s play compared to a real car, surely?). However, I was at the back of the starting grid, and when the lights went green my co-racers sped off into the distance, leaving me tootling along behind.

So far, so lame, but the final straw was the round of bar games – which I organised. As Time Out’s music and nightlife editor, I’m known for frequenting more than my fair share of bars (yes, sometimes alone). But somehow, despite possessing a better-than-average flair for darts and a carefully constructed strategy on the fussball pitch, I finished last in the league. My humiliation was complete – more so because I was defeated on home turf.

I swear this competitive ineptitude is a new affliction. It wasn’t always this way. I was the arm-wrestling champion of my school chemistry class. I was once awarded a signed match-day programme for winning a penalty shootout competition (yes, it was in 1997 – time to let go). And I distinctly remember beating a date at pool in 2007 (a show of machismo which, unsurprisingly, didn’t go down so well).

Okay, I hear you, there’s a clear pattern emerging here. I just never noticed until now. Why? Because in Dubai – with indoor ski-slopes and endless attractions – there are simply more ways to embarrass myself. So if this city has taught me one thing, it’s that it’s time to retire from anything where I might possibly have to compete against anyone. It’ll be better for everyone… well, for me at least.
Rob Garratt is our music and nightlife editor. We feel (a bit) sorry for him, but it’s funny watching him lose.

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