Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dinner with a friend

I was invited to dinner yesterday (which I didn't get). I planned to leave at 5 p.m., take the bus, and arrive around 6 p.m., but I was running late (literally: yesterday was my day to jog for an hour on a treadmill), so I managed to leave at 7 p.m. and arrived at 9:30, by which time everyone had already dined.

When I entered his apartment, my friend was sitting with his feet up on the breakfast table. One foot was bloody.

He expressed, in rather vulgar language, his opinion that the UAE is in desperate need of regime change. His reasoning was that all the residents here are slobs, and the authorities allow them to throw broken glass on the beach, where he had cut his foot rather badly. The regime to which he would like to see this place changed would strictly enforce anti-littering laws.

'I can't feel my f*&% toes,' he complained.

His foot was cut on the top, so he clearly hadn't stepped on broken glass, but he might have kicked a chunk lying concealed in the water as he was doing the crawl. Or possibly some piscene denizen had noted his bare foot and thought it either a threat or a tasty treat.

The foot is badly swollen, and I warned him about tetanus, but he ignored me and continued to condemn the UAE for allowing such things on its beaches. I also suggested that it might have been something alive and poisonous that had cut his foot, but he responded as before.

[Note: the beach outside his apartment consists of kilometers of immaculate white sand and calm blue water. I have seldom seen a more attractive beach. But I personally wouldn't go into the water barefoot.]

A friend of my host named Sam came over. Sam had been living with his family in the US on a visit visa of some kind when (he said) his father angered another, much more powerful Arab who arranged for Sam's entire family to be deported.

'Sam was my friend back in the US. His father was an Imam, and a rich Arab pork-seller had him thrown out of the US.'

Sam is also Arab, so this can't be a racist comment about Arabs, only about the specific Arab pork-seller (never named) who got Sam's family deported back in the late '90s (i.e., long before 9/11) by claiming they were all terrorists. The pork-seller and Sam's family were, of course, from different tribes.

Sam seemed like a nice person, nothing remotely resembling a terrorist.

It was clear, however, that both Sam and my friend do not think highly of Muslim pork-sellers, of which there are quite a few in the UAE. Personally, I think Muslims selling pork to Christians are a paradigmatic example of tolerance, but my host (and Sam) do not agree. Though perhaps Sam only disapproves of pork-sellers from the tribe of the man who got Sam's family deported. I'm not sure.

Normally, when I go to visit my friend, he gives me a lift home, but, under the circumstances, I caught a cab and left my host spraying some kind of anaesthetic spray on his foot.

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