Saturday, November 15, 2008
Lately I have been spending a lot more time than usual in Dubai. The reason for this is that I have developed some recurring ear pressure problems that make it increasingly difficult for me to be a frequent flyer (hence the less frequent blog posts: sorry).
During the time that I have been stuck here in the desert I have not only discovered the heart of Dubai but I have also lost my heart. In fact, I am 29 years old and I feel as though I am in love for the first time. All I know for sure is that I have never felt this way before.
Yes, I have had butterflies in my stomach and I have loved deeply. I have even experienced a kind of fairy tale complete with a castle in Edinburgh and the promise of our own one in the French countryside - but the perfect prince ended up being a toad after all.
This love, however, struck me down like a thunderbolt. The earth moved. Literally. On the 10th of September the tremors of an earthquake in Iran shook Dubai and I thought that I was losing my mind. For weeks I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep and I could hardly speak or breathe in his presence.
Two months later I am still filled with wonder. This is what it should feel like. Yet, in life’s characteristically ironic way, there is a catch. He is from a Muslim culture while I grew up in a Christian home. How could it be that we come from such different backgrounds but have grown towards the exact same place in body and mind?
Perhaps love is not supposed to be easy. While staying together may be a choice love itself is not. It is a force of nature like the sunrise, the tides and the phases of the moon. I understand this now for the first time.
I feel like I am part of something much bigger than just the two of us. Christians and Muslims have been known to kill each other for centuries and yet the only thing that is stronger than hate is love.
My journey has taken me past a thousand Middle Eastern mosques to the biggest and the smallest Buddhas in the world, to Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity and the Vatican City.
It has been a spiritually rich journey that guided me towards love - a love that, in its own humble way, may help to heal the world. What more could I have wished for?
Thursday, November 6, 2008
‘So good to be home,’ I think as I arrive at Dubai’s shiny new Terminal 3.
It's state-of the-art, easy to navigate and when I get into the taxi it actually smells nice. Perhaps it really is just trial and error and the fact that I can see city improvements in the year and a half that I have been based here is very encouraging.
Funny that I have grown so attached to this city. It just shows you how adaptable us human beings can be. Initially I couldn’t identify with anything or anyone and now I have already made friends and discovered places where I enjoy hanging out.
Now I am trapped between two worlds, as often happens with people that relocate to a different country. Every time I’m back in my old hometown I feel like I never want to leave Cape Town and when I’m in Dubai I feel like this is home too.
All things considered, you have to admit that Dubai is a good place to be right now. In an unstable and dangerous world, it provides a safe and financially secure haven for people from all different cultures. My friends are Thai, Brazilian, German, Greek, Emirati, Saudi, French, Serbian, Indian, Maltese, Mauritian…
However confusing and volatile a fusion of cultures could prove to be, it is also enriching and if we allow it to, it may even help us dissolve our mental blocks towards 'the other'. Dubai is Sheikh Rashid’s rainbow nation, just the same way that South Africa is Madiba’s.
However, Dubai is proof that people need rules. Only within a structured society can human beings find freedom. With too many rights and too few rules come chaos as can be seen in South Africa today.
I find it comforting to live in a country where things like gambling and prostitution are illegal. Of course, everything is still to be found everywhere in the world but the fact that the government tries to protect society against their own weakness is something that I have grown to appreciate.
Although I cannot see the sky, it looks like I have finally found my place in the sun and it is certainly the last place that I thought it would be: right in front of my eyes.