A very close friend of mine got married last weekend. I’m not gonna lie – it scared the sh*t out of me. No – you do not understand. I have gotten used to my Facebook wall being flooded every Monday with wedding pictures of my old high school mates, it has been happening pretty much since we left it almost 10 years ago. Then about two years back a new trend had started. Pictures of newborns, pictures of little toddlers messing with their first ever b-day cake, videos of their first words and steps. Got used to that too. This is different. This friend is not someone who lives in the far away universe I call The Real Life. This is not someone who travels twice, three times a year max and if at all then for holidays, someone who wakes up to go to work in the morning and goes to sleep at night, someone who has a mortgage, has an office job, has sales targets to hit, has a Sunday lunch with the family once a month, someone who’s 5 best friends come from the same country or at least from the same continent. In other words someone “normal”. The kinda “normal” I left behind the moment I decided to live in the Middle East. This is a friend I made here in Dubai. Who drinks the same water, breaths the same air, does the same job… who should be infected or shall I say inflicted the same way I am.
I have been peacefully living scrolling down FB, skipping hen-do invites and ignoring the fact that out of the 32 girls and guys I have attended school with I’m one of a very few, perhaps already the only one that is not committed to anything in any way. Because I always had the very comfortable explanation (or an excuse) of all of them living a very different life. Well – of course ! Aren’t we all tho?! In my happy little bubble I would see everybody making adult decisions with their lives and somewhere in the back of my mind I’d think “One day that is maybe going to be me too. One day in a very very very far away future.” That one day when I’m living that different kind of life.
That fact, that someone so close to me (not only in geographical sense) , someone with a not-so-different lifestyle has gone and effortlessly created a bridge between them two worlds that seemed so incurably incompatible to me has made me realise that I may have missed my train. No- I haven’t just missed it. I wasn’t just late. I haven’t even purchased a ticket. I had no idea there was a train to catch. Nobody told me. I was just gonna walk. And quite possibly the opposite way. In fact that’s exactly what I was doing. Cheerfully skipping down the road, with my EarPods in, all on my own when I suddenly saw the train rushing off in a different direction. With all of my friends and acquaintances aboard. And I’m just standing here in shock. In complete disbelief that I didn’t get invited to this “Happily Ever After-party”.
Does this make me sound desperate? Well that would only make sense. Not because I’m a single girl. Not because I’m living in Dubai. Or because I’m dating (or well -at least trying to). Because I’m a single girl living in Dubai and dating. And last time I checked that was the new definition of desperate over here.
It’s a jungle out there. No- let me rephrase- it’s a war zone. My parents always use to say how lucky my generation was to be given the chance to grow up in a Como-free, revolution-free and a war-free environment. Little did they know I was heading into one when they congratulated me on my new exciting job in the skies. I can just feel your raised eyebrows and feel you clicking away from this post. You think I’m being overdramatic and exaggerating. I swear to all I hold dear – for once I’m not. It is hard to believe unless you lived the experience of the Dubai dating scene but let me try and paint you its true picture.
Imagine a buffet brunch. A massive buffet brunch. All kinds of flavours in huge quantities catering to all kinds of tastes and appetites. And you are starving- you haven’t eaten for days because there is quite literally nothing but the desert all around you. Just this buffet you have been waiting for. And now you have all this tasty, delicious food harvested at its best, prepared to its best and presented at its best – all of it nicely laid out in front of you. Up for grabs. All you need to do is reach out and choose. Are you imagining it? Ok – in that case you are the guy in Dubai.
Now imagine being that poor little courgette or a lamb chop and a chocolate tart, laying there on a plate surrounded by tens and hundreds of others just like you. You are the girl in Dubai now. Being brought out here into the open and scary world and being scrutinised by every single pair of eyes. Are you the biggest, the juiciest, the tastiest looking? Or what if he doesn’t like courgettes? Maybe he is more of a carrot-type of a guy… Maybe he is sick of lamb and wants chicken, maybe he doesn’t like chocolate and vanilla is his thing. Maybe he doesn’t like sweets at all. You simply do not know. You are hoping you would be The One to at least his pair of eyes and look – he is reaching out just about to choose you… But wait they just brought out a new plate of freshly prepared courgettes and that’s the end of it. See – that’s the thing about Dubai. You can be the funniest one, the sexiest one, the fittest one, the tannest one, most fashionable one but you will never be The Newest One. The Freshest One. The Most Exciting One. The moment you go out with the guy you have become conquered (sex doesn’t even have to be involved, not even a kiss). You have been seen, talked to and evaluated. Let’s move on, lets swipe right again, let’s see what else is out there. Because this is the brunch buffet of Dubai – aka the Brunch Buffet of Bigger and Better. “I’m perfectly happy with my medium rare steak cooked to perfection and seductively bleeding onto the plate. But I HAVE to go and check if there isn’t a piece of sashimi that COULD taste better. Because that’s what it says on the tin – and I want and CHOOSE to believe it. Even if I possibly cannot eat any more. There must be a little space somewhere in my stomach for a little more. Because c’mon once I leave this brunch when will I ever get the chance to eat and taste so much ?! “
“Oh I’d so very much enjoy a brunch in Dubai” is probably what most of you guys are thinking right now. Yeah well – it’s not all just pearls and diamonds. Actually – that’s precisely what it is! Going to a brunch in Dubai is all about status. You have to book the right table, wear the right clothes, turn up in the right car. If you are driving anything less than a Lexus just take a cab honestly. Otherwise you are walking off from this brunch and still starving. It’s also a very exclusive event. You have to book well in advance. Try turning up at the last minute and wearing jeans. You are gonna be laughed at for weeks on end. And probably banned from the place for the rest of your days. But let’s say you managed to get in and at last you are holding your plate and about to choose your first dish. “Oh my- look at that beef stew! I always liked beef stew, reminds me of my granny and my granny is the one person that loves me the most, because she knows I’m just the best thing since sliced bread. My granny is awesome. Man- I’m definitely having some of that stew it just smells so good. Especially in comparison to that awful overcooked fish stir fry right next to it. Ewww – fish ! Fish makes me sick, not to mentioned this one comes with green peppers and I’m allergic to green peppers. Last time I had them I broke out in hives. Yeah let’s have that stew.” And just as you are about to have the tastiest looking stew of your life you notice a guy to your right helping himself to the fish stir fry. The flash of his Omega watch is what caught your attention. “Why does he get to eat the fish stir fry?! Wait- do NOT eat it all you dick,what are you doing I just told you not to ! What do you mean I said I was allergic to it?! Well now I’m not and I want some of that. What? What beef stew ?! I don’t even like beef. Gimme that fish ! I want fish!”
But let’s say we all got thru that brunch successfully. And the courgette was lucky enough to be the tastiest thing on the menu that day. And the guy wore the right clothes and drove the right car the courgette was happy with. And nobody is already married… altho -ehm ehm – even that doesn’t seem to stop some of us… And there is date number two. A dinner this time. Then perhaps a movie night. A couple of drinks the next time. First kiss. Goodnight and good morning texts. Then the “sweet nothing and I miss you and when are you back” texts. And then you seal the deal. Or so you think. Because apparently having slept with somebody you have been dating for some time doesn’t make you guys exclusive anymore. Nowadays it goes more like ” Dinner, drinks, kiss, sex and I may see you next week unless the other girl I’m seeing is available in that case I will see you the week after that or maybe you will not hear from me for a few months and when I get back in touch I will be married”. Welcome to Dubai. You are gonna have the time of your life. It’s gonna be the best party you have ever been to. The only thing they forgot to mention on the flyer was that this is a BYOB (where the B stands for boyfriend not beer) kinda party.
I dedicate this post to all my fellow Dubaians. To my fellow fighters. I salute you and gracefully surrender. I’m done with Dubai dating, especially the online type. I suck at it anyway. I’m gonna stick to doing what I do best. Which is sit around cafes smoking shisha and blogging. So if you are an available single guy with singular taste and see me around sometime- don’t Whatsapp me. Don’t Snapchat. And definitely do not look for me on Tinder. Just come and talk to me – it’s worked for thousands of generations before us maybe it will work for us too!