Late nights or early mornings don’t bother Will Milner. So long as he can nap in between.
How many toilets are there in the Burj Khalifa? If there are 45 million flowers in the Dubai Miracle Garden why have I never seen a single bee there? Will there ever be a better value meal deal than the Ikea Dhs7 breakfast? These are the questions that keep me awake at night.
Well, these and the flashing neon lights the greengrocer opposite my apartment has decided to point at my bedroom window. Why a shop selling little more than sliced cheese and tinned hummus needs to be lit up like a Las Vegas casino, I will never know.
The lights are behind thick blackout curtains and closed eyelids, but I know they’re there.
Flashing on. Flashing off. Flashing on. Flashing off. Flashing on. Flashing off.
I grew up in the countryside where flashing lights meant you were about to be hit by a reversing tractor or it was Christmas Day, but in Dubai the stimulus is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Thankfully I am a calm person with a sense of inner peace and after just a couple of hours of tossing, turning, loud cursing and burying my head under a pillow I usually fall into a deep, trouble-free sleep.
Until around 6.30am when Scruffy wakes me up with a song.
Scruffy is the mynah bird who likes to eat my pot plants, tap his talons on the balcony railing and generally behave like a bad house guest.
Squawk, squawk, squawk. Tap, tap, tap. Squawk, squawk, squawk.
With my night’s sleep getting shorter and the summer days getting longer I fear one morning I might just snap. One of these days he’ll wake me too early and I’ll be eating mynah bird on toast for breakfast. With sliced cheese and tinned hummus. I’ll lose a friend, but at least I’d save three dirhams.
Scruffy’s only chance for survival is for me to calm down and get some sleep and if I am not getting it at night then I’ll have to do it in the daytime instead.
This is why I am campaigning to get the siesta introduced as a citywide practice in Dubai. Call it what you will – the afternoon nap, forty winks, a daily doze – there is no denying the unbridled delight of sleeping in the daytime.
I also genuinely believe that people will be less stressed, more productive, healthier and happier if businesses closed down for a few hours each afternoon – like the shops in Satwa.
If I do this on my own people will say I am lazy, but if we all do it together nobody would say we’re crazy. You don’t have to decide straight away, sleep on it first.