Friday, May 30, 2008

Over the Borderline

Basically, the only thing thing that the Dubai border has in common with the Madonna song quoted as the title of this post are the lines

You cause me so much pain,
I think I'm going insane...

Yes, for various reasons, Mr. Muscato and I have been having to dart back and forth between here and Dubai a lot lately. It's actually not a terrible drive, although more than a litle dull, but the process of crossing there and back again really falls apart on the Emirati side.

This being a very tidy and appearance-minded Sultanate, our side of the border looks like the photo above - large convenient parking lot, a most substantial border post building (complete with coffee shop, convenience store, and even a Pizza Hut Express, although, alas, also with the lamentable bathrooms that will themselves, you lucky things you, be the subject of some future post), and even drive-through service for routine travel.

On the other side awaits the Horror. Despite priding itself on the biggest, tallest, newest, and generally mostest of the most, the Emirates apparently labor under the impression that the only people tragic enough to travel by land are the unlucky truck drivers of many nations who are forced to cool their heels (if nothing else, believe me) outside the tiny trailers in which the sullen immigration officers sit.

The border post is nothing more than a wide spot in the road, with parking that vies for space with trucks, lines of waiting visa applicants, and a number of seemingly permanently broken-down official vehicles.

The impression, by the way, doesn't get all that much better after you finally clear the various bureaucratic hurdles and get motoring again. The towns on the way to the metropolis are scrappy little settlements straggling along the main road, each with a strip of dispirited shops selling bad pottery, cheap rugs, and nasty-looking furniture. It's only when the Burj Dubai, for the moment the world's tallest building, looms into view out of the dust that you realize that you're in the fabled land of the future.

And now I've got that damn song stuck in my head (Keep pushing me, keep pushing me, keep pushing my loooooooooove.....). It's always something.

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