One year on, Benita Adesuyan ponders how fast time flies and wonders if she’s truly Dubai.
Time really does fly when you’re having fun. I don’t know who coined that phrase but whoever it was is my kind of person. In what feels like a nanosecond, almost a year has passed since I arrived on these sunny shores, and it has been a roller coaster ride of self-exploration and discovering a city that changes so much, you can just about keep up.
Dubai is so fast-paced, with so much to do, I wonder if I’ll ever get through it. That Dubai to-do list I drew up when I first arrived, the one with learning Arabic and skydiving on it, still doesn’t have enough ticks. My housemates often look at me in wonder as I dash home and change clothes as quick as superwoman for a glam night out, in my attempt to cram as much as possible into my day.
I think what makes time seem to go so much quicker here is the year-round sunshine. I’m not complaining about the weather – it’s one of the many plus points about living in this city, but if I were still in London, it would be about now that I’d be deciding whether to get this season’s camel-coloured wool or pillar box red trench winter coat. I’d be thinking of snuggling down and getting comfy for the cold winter, staying in and watching X-Factor rather than grabbing my sun factor and heading to the beach.
This past year, I’ve felt that Dubai has embraced me, and I have embraced it. Despite the things I thought would drive me loopy, such as taxi drivers not knowing the way to my destination, the minefield that is renting and flat sharing, I survived. I now know where I’m going and my flatmates are like family. And now that I have been to Dragon Mart, eaten thali at Meena Bazaar and had a laugh at the male tourists (there’s always one) who stand in the ladies’ only carriages on the metro without realising, does that mean I’m on my way to becoming a Dubaian?
When I lived in London, my personal rule was that if you grew up within the M25, spent your teens and formative years with a London postcode and knew that talk about grime and garage didn’t necessarily mean cleaning the car, then, and only then, could you be considered a Londoner. If you moved to London aged 25 and lived out all your natural days in E15 then you still couldn’t be considered a real Londoner. Instead the city had just embraced you.
Perhaps, the same is true of Dubai. With a diverse population including hundreds of different nationalities, we get here and start moulding our lives, recreating a community and network. Even after just 12 months, Dubai is slowly but surely getting into my veins.
So roll on another year. I just hope the next will be as good as the last.