Brave Joe has invited us to participate in his annual enumeration of all things annoying, and it just so happens that the last several days have given us here at the Café more than enough to grouse about.
So, herewith my contribution to Joe's Second Annual Turkeys of the Year. I admit its both a local and a personal concern, but it's one that has me - if I were to quote the immortal Ed Anger of The Weekly World News - madder than a pinko at a Young Republicans meeting:
Outdoor Public Establishments That Don't Take Dogs.
There. Just writing it down makes me feel better.
You see, hereabouts the weather is just about (as I may have mentioned before) perfect. And one of the few truly civilized innovations of recent times in this sleepy little capital on the Indian Ocean is a proliferation of café s and restaurants at which one can sit outdoors - from traditional Arabic coffee shops to Italianate bistros to innumerable iterations of StarCostaCupCafeBucks.
Logically enough, therefore, Mr. Muscato and I and our little band of friends like to go and sit at them. We pass the time, we smoke shisha if it's that sort of place, we dish the dirt and discreetly ogle passersby and generally make the most of this short part of the year that is not, in fact, so stinking hot you don't go outdoors.
And we like to go with Koko the Wonder Dog, who is, I have to say, an ideal guest: quiet, well-behaved, perfectly sized to fit under a table and equally happy to stay there, waiting for the occasional scrap or scratch on the ear.
And there's the rub.
Dogs, you see, are a sensitive matter in this part of the world, where local culture (and not Islam, don't let anyone tell you different - nothing in the Big Book but admonitions to be good to animals) make dogs more or less off limits. Now, I totally respect that. I would never take him to the house of someone who didn't invite him, and we only take him to places that are heavily if not mostly patronized by expats, in the middle of neighborhoods that are equally so. It's not like we're expecting Our Town to turn suddenly and overnight into Paris, where dogs are fixtures at even the gravest dining establishment (and where, to date, the world doesn't seem to have ended as a result, I might note).
Recently, though, several local establishments have made it clear that he is not a welcome guest, which means that they are places to which we will never return. Fortunately, they're also the places that are generally annoying in other ways, with slapdash service, mediocre food, and no particular attraction to their outdoor seating areas.
I'd hate to name names, but for local readers, the prime offender to date has been an eatery that rhymes with Karcy's Ditchen. A place which, I have to say, is definitely coasting on the memory of the days when it was the only casual Western spot in town, and where I'm happy to see that business has been getting thinner and thinner in general.
So that's my gripe. That and that it's still so far off until January 20. Even here, in the meantime, we feel very much stuck with those turkeys (more annoying even than officious local waitstaff), and that's not a good thing.