Everything in Dubai seems to be attached in one way or another to a shopping mall. I am not exactly sure why this may be the case (though I can hazard a fairly good guess) but it seems to be the way things are heading in this town. They don’t really seem to be building a modern city, they are building a business and shopping mecca.
Todays adventure took me into another shoppers paradise, well if you can afford the labels it is. My wallet was having minor palpitations just thinking about trying to cover the bill should I take it out in a moment of madness and purchase something from one of the many expensive brand name stores. Fortunately for my wallet, and bank account, I was there for another reason. Skiing, yes that’s right, skiing, or to be more precise, snowboarding. The Emirates Mall in Dubai boasts an indoor skiing area, so naturally being a big fan of snowboarding; I felt it would be almost criminal for me not to at least check this out. I was expecting a small sloping area big enough for a couple of seconds thrill ride on a toboggan or something similar. I was however wrong, very wrong, as this thing boasts a black run.
The Ski area in the Mall of the Emirates - Dubai
It is an extremely well set up enterprise. The cost is quite reasonable, all the equipment you could need is available, and it even includes a lift, a proper ski lift. I was so impressed I don’t think you could have wiped the smile off my face with 100 grit sandpaper. So I laid down my money, put my valuables in a locker and proceeded to the equipment section. Here was where I encountered my first problem, for you see I have rather large feet. Freakishly large actually and the nice young man who was assisting me was having a little trouble finding me something to wear. (Oh and to clear up an old myth, yes it is true what they say about people with big feet. We do wear big shoes.) So I finally had to squeeze myself into something a couple of sizes too small and proceeded out into the frigid air of the indoor run. The snow is not that soft to be perfectly honest, more like shaved ice. But still this is skiing in Dubai so who am I to complain about the lack of 3 foot deep powder.
This was where I encountered my second problem; for my snowboarding ability is hampered by one fatal flaw……I am not very good at it, in fact if I am being brutally honest I would have to say that I am quite poor. Now this has never been a hindrance in the past. I have never been asked to provide any credentials when visiting the many snowfields in Australia. In fact just owning equipment seems to be enough to qualify me to take on whatever run I feel like. What’s more, you generally have the whole mountainside in which to operate. Sure there are areas that are quite a bit more hazardous than others (trees for example are not a lot of fun) but the area is spacious enough for all to share equally. In this situation I am able to hide my inabilities quite adequately, and generally progress up and down the mountainside at my leisure without doing too much damage. The slope in the Emirates mall however, is quite narrow, and surprisingly steep. So my first few runs were spent annoying possibly everyone else who was within 10m of me. I believe I was sworn at in Dutch, German, Arabic, Italian and at least another 2 dialects that I didn’t recognise. Still I was having fun and gradually getting the hang of things again. I did have 2 hours to spend after all, and I was determined to make the most of it. This was when I encountered my 3rd problem, I became confident.
Have you ever heard the phrase “He just ran out of talent”?? Well that is exactly what happened to me. I had managed to build up a bit of speed, rounded a corner over a rise and tried to do a little jump, and then everything went a just a little askew. I managed to not only fall in the most ungraceful manner imaginable, (picture starfish on my belly and that would be pretty close) but to go tearing through a safety barrier, scatter a rather startled group of children that were learning the basics of skiing, hit every tender area on my body at least three times each, and finally came to a rather quick halt against a hut type structure. Realising this may have been against the many rules governing the use of the ski slope, I felt that it was time to turn on the charm. So I stood up, ignored the crying children and staring parents, look casually at my watch, exclaimed “Goodness me is that the time” and bade skiing Dubai goodbye before making a hasty exit. Of my allotted 2 hours I had used only 30 minutes, but I have always maintained that you have to know when to quit. Generally it’s when people start looking at you like they would like to kill you.
So after skiing I decided to get something to eat, preferably next to a window so I could hopefully watch somebody else hurt themselves in an overtly embarrassing nature. (Unfortunately this did not happen.) Whilst looking for a suitable establishment I noticed a big sign that advertised a place called TGI Fridays. “I’ve heard of that” I thought to myself, “Let’s give that a go”. This was my fourth mistake. TGI Fridays would have to be the most bland, disgusting food I have encountered since my time in the DRC. In fact I think they could improve things by employing some Congolese cooks. I have never in my life ordered lamb that came out with NO TASTE WHATSOEVER. On the side was a coleslaw type substance that actually made me gag and spit it out. It takes a lot to make me do that, trust me. However this was not the worst thing about TGI Fridays. It was in fact the Jalapeno Poppers. These are advertised as hollowed out chillies with cheese filling, coated in crumbs and lightly fried. Sounded good, so I got some. My first bite was my last, as the entire cheese filling made a dash for freedom from its jalapeno prison and sprayed itself all over my lap. Searing hot, extremely oily, disgusting American cheese on my crotch, which wasted no time at all in not only creating a permanent stain that made it look like I had pissed myself, but in transferring all its heat onto what is quite possibly the most tender region of my entire body. All in all I would say that whatever you do, stay out of TGI Fridays. My waitress offered me a 20% discount on my next visit; I explained that she would have to pay me to come back.
After calming myself down with some ice cream (God bless whoever thought of ice cream) I decided to stroll for a while around the mall. It was the kind of mindless wandering I am capable of in shopping precincts, and wound me up in the front of the Rolex shop. I have always thought it would be nice to one day own a Rolex, but nothing too flashy of course. I always figured it could be something nice to congratulate myself for reaching 50 with for example. So I had a look at the wares in the window and proceeded to the door to ask if I could have a quick look around. Now these places are the kind of shop where you get buzzed in by the employee. So I knocked on the glass door to get his attention, gave him a big smile and pointed at the door. The young, extremely well dressed gentleman inside looked up, got out of his chair, came over to the door, casually unlocked it, gave me a sneer and a look of pure contempt and said;
I was just dumbfounded. Go away?? Even the man at the Tag Huer store had let me have a nose around (I told him from the start that I wasn’t going to buy, but he was happy to show me everything anyway), so I naturally started saying something in response to this obvious slight, however I was unable to get anything out at all. I don’t know if it was the sports shirt and thongs, or the apparent large urine stain on the front of my shorts, but he didn’t let me get a word out. He had decided that not only was I not welcome inside the store, but that I was better off not soiling the front of it either; as he started moving me on by shooing me away in the manner that pigeons are chased away from a picnic. It was so surreal that I could do little but smile. I considered teaching him a lesson but I could not come up with an idea that didn’t involve a brick and a short stay in prison. So I just laughed it off and decided that I really shouldn’t spend any more time in the Mall of the Emirates, got into a taxi and retreated to my hotel to cool my poor burnt privates in the pool.
So my advice from all this is as follows;
Try the skiing in Dubai, you won’t get to do it again (well I won’t anyway for at least a couple of years).
If any of you are considering buying a luxury watch in the near future, turn up dressed like an average person. If Rolex doesn’t let you in you can always go see the nice people at Tag Huer.
And please, for the love of God, stay out of TGI Fridays.