After almost thirty years of living in Dubai, I left. Although the possibility of packing up had been hovering as a ‘someday’, the actual decision felt like an anvil hitting the pit of my stomach. I spent my last month in the city driving down forgotten streets, having long conversations by the beach with overly sweetened tea and basically soaking in as much of the past as I could before having to cut the cord. And before I knew it my visa was canceled, the tickets were booked, suitcases and cartons stuffed after hours spent weighing on what were the real ‘essentials’ needed ( I’m basically an emotional hoarder who can attach the tiniest memories to thoroughly useless objects) and I was off to the airport.
The most painful part of this juncture has been saying goodbye to a city and people who have made me the person I am. The UAE was the country my father came to with nothing in his pocket. He worked like a mad dog and damn well made sure his daughters would never know the true magnitude of his struggles. He was part of the first generation of expatriates that partook in the stupendous transformation of a city from absolute aridity to a vista of skyscrapers that devour today’s skies.
Home is where the heart is, but what if your heart is actually made up of little pieces that get deposited over time into concrete walls, lemon tree leaves, battered reupholstered couches? How do you pack that home where the walls are layered with twenty-two years of paint coats mixed with memories of joy and pain?
Dear Dubai, I will miss you more than I can ever imagine. Pockets of memories are stitched all over your glittering landscape; meandering through Meena Bazar’s gullies while looking for matching material and haggling with tailors before making the mandatory pit-stop at the little samosa and falafel shack where kitchen-gloves are never worn, driving down ever-bright Diyafah street and grabbing a mixed-fruit juice from Al Mallah, drinking pitchers of margaritas at Cactus Cantina and then heading to Copacabana’s for a night of dancing, feeling my stomach lurch with giddiness as we descend a flyover in Sharjah, sauntering through Mall of the Emirates with hopes that retail therapy will calm my tired soul, swearing at crazy drivers who cut me off on Sheikh Zayed road, relishing the calm of the waves at the beach on a humid night with the muezzin’s call breaking the silence.
Source Credit: Khaleej Times
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