When the Christmas lights go up, I check out. Not just mentally, from the canned jingles and barrage of advertisements, but physically as well. As soon as Thanksgiving ends, I count down the days until my yearly exit from December’s chill, when I travel home to the U.A.E for the Holidays.
I’m suppose I’m exchanging one brand of glitz for another, and cities like Miami or L.A. could do just as well at bursting the bubble of seasonal gloom; but really, Dubai for the holidays? Yes please! Bring on the long-lashed young men wearing their dishdash with baseball caps. Bring on the sixty-degree nights and the infinite ways in which to spend them: whether to wrap up in a pashmina and lounge creek-side with a hookah, kick back with fresh, foamy pomegranate juice at the Madinat Jumeirah, or wander the gold souk till the wee hours trying on Indian bridal jewelry, what to do?
I will start simple, and walk along the open beach at sunset until the sail shaped Burj al-Arab starts its light show. The arcs that form the frame of the hotel start up a rhythm: first, a slow pulse of white light, then a twinkling that builds up in speed to a flashing pattern that seems fit to eject the hotel off its island like the Millennium Falcon out of Mos Eisley. The hotel body then starts to flush with color, sometimes a lush peach, sometimes a virulent grape; fading back and forth between cool tones and the odd chartreuse. I won’t leave until the Burj layers itself in all the shades of a peacock feather.
The Isha prayer call will travel from the minarets of the waterside mosques, along the damp sand towards me, and out into the water where the Persian Gulf will swallow it. The culture travels through the senses, recycles itself, and begins anew.