Saturday, October 27, 2012
The (Not So) Mysterious East
While Mr. Muscato is off with the family in Egypt, I've been blessed with a visit from My Dear Sister, en route to Very Important Meetings in India (the Sandlands being, if nothing else, an excellent stopping-off point).
She makes an excellent house guest, as we have remarkably similar tastes, dislikes, and bedtimes (three crucial things, I think, for anyone sharing quarters, even briefly, even if Mr. Muscato and I have long since reconciled ourselves to very different thinking about the third of these important qualities). As this is a very long weekend hereabouts, celebrating the Eid al Adha (the second of Islam's two principal holidays, and in terms of its effects on local life, essentially Christmas Week), we've been revelling in our leisure, reading a great deal, eating tremendously well, and only occasionally doing something in recognition of her status as, more or less, a tourist.
Today, for example, we went exploring up in the Big City, driving up to Dubai early enough to have some hope, mostly realized, of missing the heaving holiday crowds of vast families out for a good time. In the course of our day, we enountered the charmingly Moorish court above, with its graceful arches and fountain topped with sculptures of flyin falcons, and I only wish I could tell you it was in some forgotten corner of an obscure traditional souq.
Instead, I must confess, it's a relatively quiet corner of the otherwise relentlessly futuristic Dubai Mall, home to a vast skating rink, a vaster aquarium, and something like a dozen Starbuckses, one of which is more or less just out of the frame (as are a Pinkberry and the local Forever 21 - the shops at Dubai Mall being a genuinely mixed bag, running from Dior to, well, Forever 21). Nothing, really, in Dubai, is quite what it seems.
I did score on the shopping front, as the Mall also features both what is likely the best bookstore in Arabia, a huge and entrancing branch of Kinokuniya, Japan's finest bookshop, and an almost equally large branch of Virgin Megastore, a shop that feels increasingly retro in a world of music downloads and streaming movies. At the former, I picked up the newly published volume of the selected letters of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (I had no idea she was such a prolific correspondent - it's thick as a brick, and I can only hope its chockablock with choice barbs about the Duchess of Windsor), while at the latter I got a bargain-basement price on a DVD of Death on the Nile, a film that, given its rather extraordinary cast and its association with my favorite place (or at least my favorite river), I'm ashamed to say I've never seen.
So that's what we're up to, on this pre-Halloween weekend that looks to be the start of a stormy week for any Gentle Readers on the U.S. East Coast. How about you?