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Dubai, London. That’s where I live. Fucking Dubai, man. Women dressed as ninjas. I can’t even get in an elevator if Muslim women are in there because I’m a man. They hold their hands out to push me away from entering as if I am diseased and contagious. Shit, imagine if I even tried hitting on one of them? I’d have the Muslim mob at my door trying to burn me alive. Imagine me charred and crispy? Put up like a kebab. Shit, I’m worse than a Christian to them. An atheist! Ha! That’s the lowest of the low. I’m a walking and talking sin to them. It’s not racist what I’m saying” he clarified. “It’s just ridiculous man. All because of a book. One fucking book. Written ages ago by a cabal of lunatics who stole the stories from pagan religions before them.  All to control the people. To take their minds as a resource, and their pockets for offering baskets. It isn’t just Islam, it’s all these damn religions, dogmatic and disastrous to humanity. I just happen to live in the Muslim community cause I couldn’t afford anything else.”

We walked into a Persian café. The scent of Cardamom filled the room. Sweets of all shapes and colors were jumping up and down, asking me to pick them. Rows and rows of detectable candies that turned on my tongue. So much to choose from. Couldn’t pronounce a damn thing, but I tried. Lady behind the counter gave me a fake smile. I gave her an authentic one and felt good about myself.

Coffee beans were being roasted. The smell was aromatic with chocolate notes.

I got the chicken kebab and pictured my buddy as I ate it. I laughed, ‘burned at the stake’ after sullying a Muslim girl. But he is only partly right — she’d probably get it worse than he. Her family would punish her for being horny and experiencing pleasure.  I can’t shake off all the fundamental thinking around me. Arrogantly, I thought to myself, if only people started thinking the way I thought, the world would be a better place.

“Hey”! He interrupted my daydream with his continued analysis of London.

“Come on man. Look where we are! We are floating inside the veins of this capitalist monster. This is the symbol of all that’s wrong”. I agreed, “yeah bro, it’s the head of the western powers. The purveyors of fucking death.” We took the Turkish coffee and Persian sweets to Hyde Park.  Cold and gloomy with a few rays of light. Some holes in the clouds showed the sky’s blue skin.

“Where do you want to sit”, he asked? “Your answer will determine if you fancy men or women”. I laughed and chose to sit next to the pale girls with starving frames. It was better than sitting next to the group of boys playing guitar. I imagine they thought their music notes would lure the all-omnipotent vagina to them. I yelled at them, “Do the opposite of what you think a woman wants and you’ll get laid!” In dismay, they stared at one another, question marks bubbled over their heads. They pretended they couldn’t hear me. I couldn’t believe I actually yelled that out. Must have been the delirium from the hangover and lack of sleep from last night.

I rolled my suitcase into the wet ground. We used it as a seat. With our cold fingers, we lit up some weed from his stash. We didn’t talk for several minutes as we “puff puff passed”. I think we were both reflecting on our weekend together. It’s been 7 years since we met in Holland from our study abroad program. 7 years later we picked up where we left off as if nothing happened. He came from the land of tapas and beautiful women. I came from the land of beaches and beautiful women. I suppose he was thinking what I was thinking… The talks we had this weekend. You know those “talks”. The ones that pull you out of your mind so you can see life from different angles. Delving into philosophy, the state of our consumerist culture, making you question your part in this corrupt system. Trying to keep dignity as you feed the monster… 

We talked about what we would be doing if we didn’t have to live in a world with money. We both want to write a book but can’t find the time in our daily life. Just a pipe dream for us at this point.

A hoard of Shia women covered in black walked by. They were laughing by the sounds. You wouldn’t tell otherwise, you could only see their eyes. ‘I bet they look hot’ I told him. He agreed,” they are being suppressed and are compliant. They’ve learned to accept this as a normality.  We can’t say otherwise because it’s not politically correct.  We ‘have to respect their culture’. I won’t respect that or the genital mutilation just because it’s a cultural practice.” As we continued our critique of Islamic religious fundamentalism we appreciated the positive aspect of their culture by inhaling the delicious kebab wrap. We guzzled that down with their warm Arabica coffee.

I told him, “I worship at the Church of Chill. A place where the almighty attainment is happiness.  Where the purpose is the one you want to make for yourself. Where you accept others and keep an open mind. Where you do whatever the fuck you want so long as you are aware of how that may affect others in your life. Where your life decisions are arrived at consciously whether others may see it as bad or not. Church of Chill is where you spread knowledge and work with one another to create a better world, you know, all that cliché love movement shit. I love all that hippie stuff. Church of Chill is where we don’t let others perceptions of us control our world. Where we don’t water their negativity.  A place where we challenge the status quo, where we question everything, and keep our sanity by singing, dancing, drinking beer, and smoking herb while we do it. He said, “Sign me up”!

We hugged each other and said bye. I took a crowded bus back to the English Countryside to continue being a government slave Monday through Friday. He stayed in his ‘Dubai’ to continue being a corporate slave to JP Morgan.

I found myself in London half a year later, after the first frost hit. Had an unplanned 2 day layover at Heathrow so I figured I’d explore this city again.  After the apathetic interrogation by customs, I found myself in the cold London air. I texted him in the hopes that we could resume our political discourse from our last visit. I imagined our rants would be heightened with booze and weed, of course. In excitement he wrote me back: 

Hey man, sorry I’m not in London, back in Spain living with my parents. I quit JP Morgan and decided to do what I’ve always wanted to do and write a book. I couldn’t continue living in the corporate strangle of JP Morgan anymore. Each project I created, each contract I won, each single fucking moment I stepped into that office, took out a little piece of my true self. It slowly suffocated me with money and power while battering my sense of purpose and happiness. I’m writing you from my old childhood room which still has posters of models plastered on the wall. Makes me laugh looking at the young virgin me. My parents, of course, are nagging me about what an idiot I am to give up such financial security and career respect.  Most of my friends judge my decision and with insincere smiles say ‘oh I can’t wait to read this book of yours, it will be a success!’ They don’t really want me to succeed. Plus they wouldn’t be able to comprehend the pages I write, they are robots following the path that’s been laid out for them since birth. Maybe 3 people will read this book, maybe I’ll never get published.  Yeah I’m broke and pinching the fuck out of these pennies right now.  But, I’ve never felt so much purpose and desire for life. This is the best decision I’ve made and I don’t care about the uncertainty. This book is for me, not for the world, not to be published, and not for the silly thing we call money. I have no kids, left those little bastards in the insides of condom wrappers, sometimes on my girlfriend’s ass, and on special occasions when I’m lucky, in her mouth. Point is, I’m not tied down to children.  My new girl is supportive. This is the first time I decide what I want to do and not what our backwards ass society has told us to do. Hope all is well with you. Have no money to travel, but if you ever find yourself in Barcelona, you’ll always have a couch to crash on.

I was disappointed that he wasn’t in London anymore, but inspired and happy he was truly following his passion. Took me a while to write him back, it made me reflect. He doesn’t know how much of an impact his paragraph had on me.  He was a corporate slave.  I’m still a government slave. He escaped the drudgery and manifested his dreams. I am still shackled by a 2 year work contract. I help families better themselves and protect children from harm as the stress of the job gives me gray hair, back spasms, and a withering smile. ‘1 year left, 1 more year left’ I keep telling myself as if that makes the time go by faster.  “1 more year, you can last, one more year till my wage slave ends….”

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