For the GEEK in you

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

On Bravery

What does it mean to be truly brave?

I had this thought recently and no answer seems to fit. It seems to be standing up against a superior opponent and holding your ground, even if you know you're going to lose. When somebody strong stands against a weak foe, nobody seems to applaud him, even if the strong is in the right. It appears to be the expected thing, that the strong should overturn the weak.

The thing is, how many of us are actually that strong? We all like to think we are. And when we tell the story later, our words carry more punch, our actions speak lwith the report of a thousand rifles.

Not, however, at the time. When in a pressure situation, with everything on the line, what actually happens? I think most people are scared. Not a little bit, but a whole damn lot. Their every action, their whole facade revolves around masking this fear. But it's there, biding its time and gnawing away at your resolve. While in the meantime, you keep talking, keep adjusting, negotiating without words to avoid the confrontation which your fear will use to tear free.

We live in a country where machismo and chutzpah rule our everyday interactions. To not be brave here is a terrible thing. It is unthinkable. People would rather die than be seen to be the 'c-word' - a coward. It's easy to die, to switch yourself off like a light. A coward though - you can't come back from that. Once you fall down, down, down, no one will look you in the eye again. It is the worst fate. No one feels for a coward, there is no redemption. The word itself is disgusting, atrocious, distasteful. The only thing a coward can do is go where no one knows that he is one and hope to start again.

I think most people would say, "Then don't be one." If only it were that easy. To be not a coward, you need some kind of inner strength, some cement to hold you together when that first shot strikes. But what if you don't have it? What if you can't find it? Maybe you don't have what it takes. After all, not everyone can be a hero, which is by definition, an exceptional person. If everyone was brave, the coward would be king. (Actually, I wonder how far that is from reality.)

So what happens to the 99.99% of us who are not brave? We live our lives in gentle fear and hope that one day, we leave without incident.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Road To The West

You are the poetic loner. You're the footsteps echoing in an empty hallway, the tendency to stare out of the window when it's raining, the streets of the city at night. A dreamer at heart, you're too driven by emotion for some, but you couldn't exist any other way.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Happy Days are Here Again

Why? Because Mohamed AR Galadari says so!
Oh lordy, lord. This is simply too good to pass up, mainly because the man is clearly deranged, probably from spending too long exploring the deepest recesses of his rectum. Well, here's Marwan to poke him in the eye with a no.2 HB pencil and not offer him any cotton wool.
Let's get stuck in, shall we?

DUBAI now inspires awe. And Dubai charms all. This is not the Dubai that we saw some 30 years ago and not even the Dubai that we had moved around some 10 years ago.

Whose awe? What monument to human creation has Dubai produced? The Burj Al Arab? Product of foreign engineeers and planners? Anything in science? Sport? Heaven forbid, the Arts.
And for sure it's got charm. Like a lounge lizard with a gold medallion and a slicked back hairdo. You'd love to turn your daughter over to that guy.
Btw, MARG (or Marge, you don't mind if I call you that, do you? Always did love the Simpsons) This sure isn't the Dubai we saw 10 years ago. 10 years ago we could move around. Thank you, lousy traffic conditions!

And, today’s Dubai will not be tomorrow’s Dubai. When dreams turn into reality, and they do, Dubai will one day shape itself to be the centre of the world, as the slogan goes.

I bloody well hope todays Dubai isn't tomorrows. Or, to quote the angel Gabriel from Constantine, '...we're fucked.' Incidentally, I've mentioned this before, but I've had a recurring dream of being Batman. However, it is with great sadness that Marwan must report he has not become a wealthy playboy, with a shadowy tortured crimefighting existence. Nor will he be much cop at Bataranging around the city with his advanced vertigo. Still, dreams become reality! Because Marge Said So.
And Oh Marge! How you love to play the prophet! Surely Dubai will be the center of the world, when that 9.5 earthquake hits Iran and tears the Persian Gulf apart. Maybe Dubai will simply rise on a bed of rock, broadband connections intact, above the geological cataclysm, till it comes to rest a mile in the sky. Naturally, the Indians must live below in the wastelands. We'll give them an elevator so they can come shopping occasionally and clean our loos.

Dear readers

I'm sorry, Marge, but FUCK YOU very much, I'm not your dear anything. The day you earn the right to condescendingly leer me on my morning paper is the day I tie a noose around my genitals and attempt to use them as the base for a bungee cord.

, we are already living in the midst of many of the world’s ‘first’, ‘largest’ and ‘tallest’ monuments built by the sheer strength of an inner dynamism that drives the growth of this city. More are in the making. And, Dubai is already claiming to possess the world’s best standards of living better than the West and better than the best.

You should open a 24 hour Burger King, Marge, because you're rustling up some fine Double Whoppers there. Dubai's ozymandian monuments to itself are nothing more than empty phallic addenda, literal castles in the sky that perform no useful function except to titillate the architects who built them and blind the motorists who drive past with their shiny reflective exteriors. They aren't built by your 'dynamism', they're the result of the systematic exploitation of a poor, defenceless underclass, a dark faceless mass of slaves who toil unendingly to make your shiny baubles. The 'growth' of your city is driven by exploitation, corruption, collusion and profiteering off the rising cost of a rapidly diminishing natural resource.

By the way, it must truly take Titanic-sized testicles to claim Dubai has one of the best standards of living in the world. Tell that the middle class whose bellies have been ripped out by the impossible inflation. Tell that to the teaboys and office workers who are forced to sleep on roofs, because their building doesn't receive running electricity. Tell that to the foreign women who are forced into prostitution on the alleyways and corners of Dubai. Tell that to the thousands of children who have been born and raised in Dubai but have no more right to citizenship than a stray alley cat rummaging in the bins. Tell it to the thousands who have died in secret for infractions that wouldn't lift an eyebrow in the 'barbaric' West. Tell it to the untold numbers of foetuses aborted in your supposedly 'Muslim' country so that your unable-to-keep-it-in-their-pants natives could keep their flimsy veil of honour.
Let me sum it up very easy for your shot-glass sized cerebrum: In the West, I can say what I want. As McDonald's won't say about Dubai, "I'm lovin it."

We have the best roads, best residential areas, best civic and tourism infrastructure, and the best hotels and shopping malls. Above all, we have the best of the best systems of administration. So much so, Dubai is now planning to market its “systems and governance” to the outside world.

Wow, I actually agree with you there, Marge. You have the best roads. Roads so good that the public treats it like a racetrack, taking my beautiful automobile hobby and tainting it with their crass attempts to emulate the very real skill of driving. Great 'civic and tourism infrastructure'. It's so good that they've eradicated racism from the face of the earth! By pretending it doesn't exist. See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil-or-I'll-cut-your-fucking-throat-out is their mantra. And let's have a hear, hear for your shopping malls, all of which are beautifully standardised with precisely the same shops and stores in each bloody one, leaving absolutely no room for creativity! Because obviously, when I go shopping, what I want is another fucking McDonald's Every 20m!
Lord help us if Dubai is planning to sell its ideas worldwide. That's great, I can now be deported from Paris for adultery! Or get a meaningless slap on the wrist fine for repeatedly raping my Javanese houseboy!

We may have a grievance or two. Who doesn’t? Yet, who is not fascinated by this growth that benefits us all in so many ways? And who isn’t thankful to all those who have made this progress possible the hundreds of thousands of hands that worked in unison, guided as they were with proper planning, direction and above all, an excellent and exemplary leadership. Dubai, in many ways, has made the impossible possible.

Talk about understatement. Grievance or two? Take a look at your own Letters page, Marge! They're filled with people who can't stop talking about how WELL and FAIRLY Dubai is treating them! We also get lovely couplets every day from folks whose rent hasn't gone up every six months, praising their landlords to high heaven!
Boy oh boy, am I thankful. Thankful for the planning and direction that sees Dubai attempting a rail system a century after the rest of the world has, while creating a road network only equalled by treacherous Peruvian single lane tracks in its caring for users. Dubai sure has made the impossible possible - look how many Ferraris there are! They've succesfully made the world's premier automobile look like the most mundane piece of steel since the Corolla. Don't forget other parts of the impossible - making the Palm so cramped with houses that we can soon expect lawsuits for unintended voyeurs.

Dubai’s greatness is also that it has not built castles in the air. It has built them on solid ground, all the more reason why our progress is sustainable and why there is hope for the future. That’s why we have proved sceptics wrong. By all indications, Dubai today is unstoppable.

We get it already, Dubai is unstoppable. Unstoppably sliding into a feudal system of serfery and 'divine' rule. They haven't built castles in the air; just ludicrous ones on the ground that are a monument to the nadir of human taste and wastefulness. The sceptics are silenced because everytime there is a failure, the voice that pronounces it is silenced by a bullet.

Dubai is currently stepping into a renewed, more energetic phase of development, with works apace for the world’s largest airport, the region’s first rail network and the world’s tallest building complex, not to mention the new world class residential areas that are springing up in exotic locales.

More profit for contractors and crane renters! The world's largest airport in the most unstable region on planet Earth. The first rail network, to first serve the richest and already most accessible parts of the city, rather than the existing areas buckling under traffic. The world's tallest building complex, to house even more tastless millionaires with their trophy wives and expat brats. Which, by the way, no local worth his salt would live in because they only live in houses (aka mansions) which they build themselves. On money provided by the gubment. Which they never pay back.
Pray tell, where are these exotic locales? Last time I checked, this country is sitting on a giant sand depot. You bulldozed the coral reefs to make way for another Palm (because one simply wasn't enough). You covered every inch of available beach with property so that it now looks more like a tourist trap than the prostitute-infested Pattaya Beach. Incidentally, Dubai will also Love-You-Long-Time, more than anyone else.

Dubai as a city already stands tall among the cities around the world. When its name is mentioned, it is mentioned with pride.

Let's take a straw p0ll. Whenever I'd mention it to anyone in Australia, I'd be met with blank stares. "Dubai? Where's that?" I think maybe one person - out of literally thousands of people I've met in four years - has heard of it, and only of the Burj Al Arab. Much as I hate to admit it, at least that's something unique. The rest of Dubai is nothing more than crowded copies of architecture from all around the World. New York has culture, history. It's been written and filmed for as long as the medium. Ditto for London, LA and Paris. If Dubai is so famous, how come no one wants to feature it in popular culture? Answer: because it has no soul, no spark of originality. It is Everyplace, Everycity. All brochures describe it as a "tax haven, cheap shopping", etc. You know what other city is described like that? Bangkok.

As the premier English language newspaper in the region, Khaleej Times would like to give a standing ovation to the pace that Dubai, our city, has set for its progress. As you all know, in the past three decades, Khaleej Times has had a unique and privileged role to play in this growth, as it recorded events for posterity and acted as a link between those who pushed the engines of this growth and the various segments of the society that worked hand — in — hand to turn the city’s dreams into realities. In the process, we helped develop a cosmopolitan character to the city.

Cosmopolitan character? *Snort*. They've turned a half decent, at-least-respected paper into a tabloid rag, bottom of the barrel in every journalistic standard with an oblivious, ludicrous father figure who treats his business like his own private fiefdom. It's not a link from people to power - it's a organ of the state, a town crier to report the prononcements of His Majesty. Except that they've lost that too, to the newly established King's Paper.

This is time for celebration. Khaleej Times, your favourite daily, wants to say a big Thank You to the city that made a big difference in all our lives and urge all its readers to join it in a month — long patriotic campaign, styled, “I Love My Dubai”, starting today, to demonstrate all our love and respect for this beautiful city. Dubai deserves it.

Phew! Finally, we reach the end. This city sure has made 'a big difference in all our lives' - I've never felt lower, like my quality of life is scraping the absolute bottom of the barrel.
You know, KT, if people really felt like saying "I Love Dubai", don't you think they would have said it? Do they really need to wave banners and wear forced grins, while you stand behind with a shark prod? Here's a clue: the ONLY people in Dubai who think it's great, who think that there's no other place like, are either born here (and so have no choice in the matter) are the ones who stand a top. And that island haven is shrinking every day.

PS: This was originally a lot more caustic and witty. The more I thought about it, though, the less amusing it became.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Aka, Jumped-Up Asian Tyrants.

Everytime my happiness is fucked these days, its an Asian behind it. Petty positions of power totally appeal to the Asian - he/she are monomuentally frustrated individuals so the chance to turn that shit right back is never passed.

Three separate incidents:

  • Melbourne. Slight tootache, my GP is booked out till the following week so I rock up to the local hospital. All i want is for a dentist to look at it, for pete's sake, but no, I have to go through all the registration rigmarole. Indian lady looks at my ID quizzically. "You don't have an address?" Eh? What? "You don't have a card with an address on it?" Who the hell has one of those? All the IDs I've ever seen, you're lucky if you have your name on it. But no. She absolutely refuses to accept any ID without my address on it and becomes increasingly belligerent/condescending. At one point, she asks to see my wallet. Fuck you, lady. I started two companies with no cash by the age of 20. I can fucking well tell you whats in my wallet without you taking it. Eventually, the Aussie lady next to her turns around and says, "It's got his PICTURE on it, what more ID do you need?" Hoorah for common fucking sense.
  • Melbourne. Got a train ticket that needs cancelling. Walk up to the station close to my house. The Indian doesnt seem trained in the art of speech, she opens the window and shouts "what is it?" Train Ticket. "We don't do that here, go to Spencer Street." Window shut. Spencer street is 20 blocks away. You could fucking ease the pain of that walk by being a little nice, you twat.
  • Dubai. Paying a DEWA bill, in the satwa office. Two cashiers, a row of seats leading to each. I'm a big fan of order and this is quite to my liking. Each person pays, then everyone moves up a seat. I take my place, a middle aged local man behind me. When my turn comes, the Pakistani man behind the counter takes my bills. I start explaining some of the specifics when he motions me to sit down. Then he calls the local man behind me and pays his bills instead. I don't blame the local man. He didn't ask for the preferential treatment. The Pakistani, on the other hand, is a tool of the first order. Maybe it's because I don't look Muslim? Or my skin colour is not white enough? Or I'm not a lady?
Every day sucks being Asian. You get ignored, spat on and laughed at by everyone on the planet. Self esteem is jolly hard to have when it's constantly being taken away from you. You know how when you buy something, if the server takes that little bit of effort to smile at you and make a little joke, it takes some of the sting out of life? Asians will never do that. Once they get into a position of power - no matter how insignificant - they will take that hate and return it tenfold.

The trouble is, they only do it to other Asians. Not to the people who genuinely oppress them. They do it to the people who already face a thousand tiny injustices every day, because it's easy and requires no courage. Just the other day, I saw some Sindhi punk pushing around a bunch of guys drying his 450k Porsche. He was every inch the five-foot general, shouting at them to be careful and 'mind the leather'. This, despite the fact that he can climb into that Porsche, flick on the bacteria-free climate control to 'Lo' and roar away in V8, air-suspended luxury, while these guys have to sit out inside in the insane heat, day in day out, probably for the rest of their lives.

So yeah, Asians. Stop taking the easy way out. Feel for your fellow man. And find some fucking balls to stand up to people.


You know what, Middle East? The world cares about you only as much as they have to. It's like feeding a tiger with a piece of meat on the end of a javelin.

Nobody cares about your dead.
Nobody cares about your problems.
Nobody cares about your fucking refugees.
Nobody cares about your ignorance.

They care about your oil and while they have to extract it, they'll do the bare minimum necessary to keep the peace. It's your region, you deal with the nitty gritty.

Rather than deal with your fucked-up region, the world would very much like to pay off your leaders and not worry about things (just ask Africa). That strategy's still working, btw.
Why should they bother? The history's too complex. The occupants are violent and support murdering everyone else in the world. Beside the oil, there's nothing terribly cultural coming out of here to be lost. And the religion which powers all this is widely perceived as a relic of a byone era.

The world will move on one day. Then who will listen to your whingeing? Who will cry for the dead you failed to protect? I for one will be glad when I can finally close the newspaper, turn off the radio, put on my comfortable slippers and never have to hear about your infernal fucking problems ever again.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Call me for the barbeque, Israel - I'll bring the marshmallows

Fuck these fucking terrorists.

Do they have any idea what they've done? DO THEY?

They've damned every Muslim who walks this earth to undergo a lifetime of humiliating security checks because they couldn't keep their big hearted affections for their "suffering Arab brothers" to themselves.

They make every white person look twice at a person of brown skin walking past them. As if brown people weren't already the world's trash collectors, the human refuse of the world.

They've made it more difficult for any brown person to get a job.

They have made Pakistan syonymous with Terrorism. Great job guys! Big fat bonus for underlining the Muslim=terrorist label too! For your next Jeopardy question, what is: The religion associated with giving the world nothing but body bags?

Why the hell did they have to do this? Was there some yawning gap in their lives by not being DEAD? Does killing 4000 innocent travellers solve a single one of the world's problems? Does it even solve YOUR fucking problems?

No, it doesn't. News flash, Muslims. The world doesn't care about you, because all they see is you killing people every day. No one wants to touch a rabid dog, foaming at the teeth and that's what you look like right now. You want to be taken seriously, clean your shit up, cut off your goddamn beards and put on a dark suit.
Then start talking some sense, not this shit about pushing all the Israelis into the sea. You may dream it, but you sure as hell can't achieve it, so stop thinking you can. Hell, I dream I'm Batman every night, but that don't mean I crouch on top of Emirates Towers in a cape and tights.

Next, find a fucking compromise. You heard me, c-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-e. It's letting something go in exchange for something. Let me give you some nice examples!

1) You want you religious freedoms? Let people make fun of you, just like you've been making fun of them and enjoying those Christian-hating British sitcoms all these years.
2) You want peace in the Holy Land? Give Something Up. That means stopping bombing Israelis. Throwing away all those damn AKs. And stop teaching your kids that Jews are the spawn of the devil.

I'd think of more but my brain hurts. Oh, and one more thing. All these Pakistanis who are so wiling to die for Arabs - I'd like to introduce them to the Gulf. Where if the Arab is richer than you (not a difficult proposition to swallow) you Pakistanis will be cleaning sand from between their toes. That's all Arabs, whatever nationality.

So think about that next time you decide to fuck us in the ass.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I wish to announce the death of Al Futtaim Motors

Because it's me who's going to kill them.

I've bought two cars recently and both have been Toyotas. Cars being cars, at some point, they require some mechanical TLC. So it's off to garage for a service.

Just where are your garages? Why, that's another fun game for owners to play! You get two maps in the dashboard, one to Shk Zayed and one to Rashidya.

The Rashidiya one used to be easy to find, but good luck now with that assignment now that Festival City has sprung and turned the area upside down.

Walking in, there's a huge garage area, and smaller 'Express' one to the side. Knowing it was a minor service, I happily dropped it off in Express, unfolded my paper and waited.

An hour passes.

I can see the car being serviced outside, so it would be unkind to hassle the staff. Ok, now it's done, disappearing into the bowels of the garage for a wash.

Does anyone call me? No.

Another 30 min gone.

Ok, now it's time to hassle them. After poking the grumpy filipino assistant a few times, he hands my paperwork and points me to the main garage to pay.

That all done, just the car to collect right?


I wait and wait and no sign of the car coming out of the garage. I ask the security guard. "We don't know where it is, sir." So heartening.
I offer to go inside and look. "Only Al Futtaim staff allowed inside, sir." But I've already paid! And everything's done!
"No sir. If it's lost someone will find it."
Why don't YOU find it?
"I can't leave this room sir."

30 mins.

For peter's sake, don't they know where it is? Cars are coming out every second, but not one is mine. Who's looking for it?
"Someone, sir. It's very hard to find because all the cars look the same."
Why don't you take the remote and flash around till you find it?
"Because we keep the hazards on while washing the cars, sir."


45 minutes later, standing outside in 45deg heat, it emerges, hardly washed. Let's just say there'll be no tips today.

When I get home, there are scratches on the front and back, like someone bumped it into a wall.

Al Futtaim, go rot in hell. This is probably the best story I've had from them, others have been far worse. Losing it is probably the least harm they could do. Sometimes, they'll just dump your car outside in the sand like so much unwanted garbage, or refuse to do the work that you paid them to do.
And their sales/service staff! Unhelpful, unfriendly, content in their belief that they sell the most popular cars in the Gulf so they don't have to try. Buy it if you want or piss off. Information? Pah! That's for 'troublesome' people. If you want to know about the car you're buying, well you should have come prepared then. Test drive? The cheek! Phone them up and getting a price is like extracting teeth. Want a different colour? You wish. This is what they import and that's that. No wonder I have a white car.

That same attitude extends to every other part of their automotive empire and frankly I've had enough of it and enough of buying Toyotas. Whatever my next car, it won't be from Majid and his gang of crooks.

PS: I should add, like the good hatemonger I am, that certain communites have no problem whatsoever with their Al Futtaim experience.


Or not.

Maybe a mix of driving and lunacy. Lunatic driving, perhaps?

Writing about driving all the time transmutes my hobby into work. I'd rather it continue to be the middle east version of "Ruminations on a Twenty something life".

Than try to compete with the big boys like Gawker. Especially considering the state of one's bank account.

Relaunch 3.0!

Geeky things!




No girls!


Visa cancellations!

Rivetting sponsor drama!

And some other stuff.

Ah fudge, cars it is.

Hell, go with what ya know.

Beside, everything else here bores me and if I start airing my real views, I'd get shot.

On then, to the vee-hick-les!

Relaunch Soon.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Tale Of Woe

So this local comes into my shop. While he's buying something, he strikes up a converation with my mum. And as it does, the topic eventually turned to inflation and the suffering everyone knows and bears.

My mum hasn't had a holiday in more than ten years. Apart from working night and day shifts, she has housework as well, plus paying for two kids in uni. Rents are going up and she doesn't know how we will make ends meet.

Our local friend says he's suffering too. He doesn't collect rent, so that's one source of income right out the window. Worse, after he's paid his car loan, and his wife's car loan, that's all their disposable income gone too. Despite having free electricity, water and lodging. Can you believe it, his wife has only housemaids, to cope with the entire house!
And the crowning glory? Imagine, he hasn't been able to take his family to Europe for five years!

I'm still young enough to get rattled by this sort of crap. Wake up, Local Man. This isn't how people are supposed to live. You didn't earn any of this. Every kickback you're getting is the result of the sweat of a subcon somewhere out there. Did you ever stop to think about them? The thousands of people who came out here in search of a better life? The people who live here and have fuck all to show for it? The men who crave their families and every night fight their demons alone, trapped in a bunkbed with ten strangers. The women who can't play with their kids because there's no room in the apartment and every patch of spare ground has been converted into a construction site. Don't you think that when a Indian officeboy watches a dance scene in a Bollywood film set in Geneva, he dreams of one day picking up a handful of snow? Of climbing to the top of a mountain and watching summer lightning making its way down the valley?

But he can't have that holiday, that hope. Everything he, and everyone else out in the Real World (TM) in Dubs does is toward subsistence, mindless, droning, monotony, aimed at keeping at bay the dreaded day when one must go home, cap in hand.

Don't we deserve that chance to dream? To be free of complaining, to not live in perpetual fear, to watch the corks pop on New Years and not think that this year might be the final straw?

Don't we deserve to be human again?


Looking at my previous post, I've just noticed how naive it is. There is a giant car culture out here; the problem is that I'm not clued into it. And never can be, for obvious reasons.
It chafes though. Some absolutely amazing feats have been achieved with automobiles out here, but there's no one to record it. Everything relies on the grapevine, oral history. Not good enough.

Meanwhile, we (the UAE) continue to consume new cars at a fantastic rate, more than any other Gulf country, putting further pressure on our overloaded roads and services. Yet there's no push for economy or lower emissions, or most importantly, better driving standards. Since no one cares enough - or thinks they will stay long enough - the snowball just keeps coming down the mountain.

I have to admit a twinge of conscience here. As much as I love cars - absolutely, positively, unrepentantly adore them - there is "too much" out here. The most expensive, desirable cars in the world, as common as a five year old diesel hatchback in Europe. And it is not meant to be this way. These cars, these super-cars, should lift your spirit when they pass by, fill you with dreams and wonder. When they are this common, it all ceases to have any meaning at all. And nobody - and I mean nobody - has earned the right to drive them.

Who am I? I'm just a poor man.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Here In My Car, I Feel Safest Of All

Considering that we spend most of our 'life' in Dubs in our cars, it's no wonder that we are intimately familiar with them. With no public transport solution in sight either, the future still looks car-shaped, even if petrol prices have tempered our love affair somewhat.

It also means that most people are quite familiar with most of the popular vehicles in Dubai. I'll wager the brands Corolla, Camry, Sunny and Land Cruiser have absolutely phenomenal brand recognition among us (the last one because it's usually been embedded into your back bumper once or twice) .

That's just regular people, driving regular cars. Enthusiasts are well catered for too, by the absolutely INSANE amount of flash metal on display here. Chances are, if you've read about a fast, drool worthy car, you've seen it on Diyafah - the equivalent of the Paris, Geneva and Tokyo motorshow bundled into an orgiastic frenzy of automotive pornography, availabe for viewing every Thursday night.

So for goodness sake, if people love their cars so much, why isn't there more of a car culture here? Print, online, whatever? Most of the good magazines - okay, all - come from the UK or the States. Car has opened a Dubai branch, selling a cut down version of the UK monthly (Dh50) with some local content for a bargain Dh10. Is it any good? To put it bluntly, no. Oh, the UK stuff is fab, no question, but everything local is hopeless. What was their latest group test? Four of the most expensive SUVs on the market. Very handy, for the person who buys Dh10 car magazines.
There's also Wheels and the weekly columns in the weekend glossies. The latter are just hopeless - crappy, sugar coated reprints of the brochures, mostly. Shamefully, I haven't read Wheels yet, but one is reminded of the cardinal rule in Dubai when dealing with car companies - Face.

Lose it, and you'll never review one of their cars again. Childish, but then what did you expect, anyway? Still, I'll love to see Wheel's sales figures. Obviously, they are selling enough to keep going. Print journalism may well be out these days - 30 days is just too long

What the heck am I getting at, anyway? Simple. I'd like to open a proper car blog - news, reviews, opinion. News about the global car market, about the UAE, about every damn thing I can get my greedy paws on. Reviews - honest, honest, honest, willing to slam if necessary. And opinion - the hardest thing to do, possibly, in a place where no one speaks their mind.

Am I out of my gourd?

Tell me!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The World Wide Web

It's time for a midnight snack, so I jump in the car and motor off to my local Burger King (which is called Hungry Jack's - apparently, someone else had the name trademarked). Here's some random observations.

  • No middle aged man flipping burgers here, everyone's a uni student or a part time high schooler. Consequently, standards are a bit lax but at least there's some youthful enthusiasm. Unlike Dubai, where the staff seem perplexed by their own products.
  • Aaand of course, most of those burger flippers are Indian. These are the ones who haven't graduated to driving cabs yet. Ambition, thy hunger be forever unfulfilled.
  • It's a bit of tradition, for clubbers and barhoppers to stop before/after a session for a 'Jack Attack' (so called because the greasy burgers are utterly satiating and form the perfect absorptive base for alcohol). Wednesday night and it's almost full, at nearly 1AM.
  • Not so different from Dubai, which is also open all hours? Ok, the two Aussie girls in front are in clubber dresses, but absolutely covered in dirt. One can only guess they had a bad fall moments early. They're also pissed, but I just can't get over how filthy they are.
  • Behind them is what can only be termed the 'Chinese nerd couple'. Nerdy girl and her shorter bespactled, attache-carrying boyfriend, whom she keeps pestering to choose the food. The man doesn't seem to be able to speak, smothered as he is in luurve.
  • To my right, three emo kids/skate punks, in full gear. They've got the ear spikes and the studded belts and the hair so charcoal black you could use their heads as pencils. They stand out as much as circus clowns would on Shk Zayed Rd.
  • Head of the line? Irate Americans, specifying the exact DNA of their burgers, from lettuce leaves to number of tomatoes.
  • Back of the line? Sudani taxi driver, nipping in for a quick grilled chicken with fries.
  • And to complete the set, in walks a man dressed in nothing more than a bathrobe and slippers. Apparently, he's come from a pajama party.
This is a relatively normal night. But you never really know what to expect at Jacks. Sometimes people bring the boozing right in with them. There's the occasional fight. Lovers occasionally finish their arguments and break up here. Quite a bit of flirtation, and definitely some hanky panky in the washroom. Mind you, only in Australia would they ban access to the washroom "because of finding too many needles/people humping there". I kid you not, if you need to use the loo, you'll first have to get a chaperone from the staff.

It almost seems to be some sort of ritual meeting ground for the youth of today, like town halls of yesteryear. As night falls, they are drawn here, in their poorly fitting clothes and their doof-doof cars. Youth, that congregate inside a soulless multinational food chain and turn it to a bawdy pub with their antics. Almost functions as some sort of reclamation, or repackaging to create a group culture.

Damn sight better than Dubai, where the dominant form is sitting outside to breathe in a glorious, heady mix of concrete dust and diesel. And even the people sitting outside are all much of a muchness. At least here, people look quite different from each other, even if it's not socially acceptable. You'll experience a complete spread of humanity, simply by buying a burger.

Rather makes a mockery of Dubai's claim of being a 'melting pot'. Conformity is our watchword.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Way We Were

Slow news day today.

In lieu of any rants/random ideas, here's a little memento from when I first got net access, back in '96.