How does one go about crossing the street in Dubai? My correspondent explains as follows:
Yesterday I went for a short walk. Out of the sun it was actually pleasant--nice breeze, not too hot. After I figured out which pedestrian signal controller box I should use to get across the street, I waited for the green little-walking-man icon and step into the crosswalk. Hearing what sounded a lot like a small-car engine revving, I looked left and saw a little car--not red, for once--making a left turn against the signal, and bearing down on me. After honking, the driver put his hand up to the windshield, palm-out, in a STOP! gesture. Not wanting to get taken out at the shins, I stopped. Now, I had the signal in my favor. He should have yielded to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, anyway. Many American pedestrians, in my position, might have given the driver our national one-finger salute in response to his behavior. In the UAE, however, the person making the rude gesture could find himself in trouble, because the driver on the receiving end of the gesture would be entirely within his rights in going to the police and making a complaint. The offender might then be ticketed or given a ride downtown for a little talking-to. Something to bear in mind on your next visit.
They have malls there, right?
The Dubai Mall is bigger than the Detroit Metro airport. Of course it wouldn't be complete without a ski hill and a small luge run, now, would it? There’s also a small skating rink. It looked strange to me, with all the painted winter-theme walls air-conditioners mounted at ceiling height, and the people all bundled up like children in '50s-era photos, zipping downhill, or down luge run, or circling the rink. Most appeared to be adults, but there were kids, too. We had lunch in an Iranian restaurant, from which we could see parts of the ski hill, as well as a large LED display panel. The panel displayed shots of a store that (apparently) sells Ferrari-branded items, and other mall-related stuff--then all of a sudden it flashed the reminder, “DRESS APPROPRIATELY.” A while later it said “PRAYER TIME.” There was a guy in a U of M cap sitting a couple of tables away. Just another day at the Dubai Mall. Not the largest mall in Dubai, either.
Tell us about TV.
Okay, last night I was going through the channels on the TV in my room. The TV looks just like the ones in furniture stores, which are only plastic shells. Eight times out of ten, when I go to raise the volume it shoots me back to Channel 0, which is blank. Then I get to scroll through the channels again (the number buttons won't allow me to enter a channel directly), and what a panorama of channels it is! The Bollywood movie channel, of course--which I find myself watching for a few minutes at a time. They get RAI 1, the Italian TV channel, too, for some reason. And where else would you get to see a drag-racing show in Arabic, taped at the drag racing facility here? Apparently if you have the dirhams to burn, you can go there and drive an almost-really real drag racer.
I’ll have to ask our correspondent to tell me something about food. We don’t watch TV at our house, and I’m not a mall shopper, but how and what people eat in different parts of the world always fascinates me—and usually makes my mouth water.