I found the real Dubai

I look down and see the whole world below me. Traditional clothing spanning many continents. Workers pushing carpeted-covered carts full of bags of rice. Women pushing strollers. Tourists carrying backpacks and cameras. Shop owners standing outside scanning for customers. Cars honk and move slowly.


View from my hotel balcony during the day. I love the brick sidewalk

Across the way, balconies house dilapidated furniture, air-con units, and drying laundry. Pigeons, the universal sign of city life, perch temporarily before finding more suitable resting spots.


The apartments across the way

Call to prayer from at least three different mosques fills the air, creating a chaotic round of song. The underlay resembles a swarm of bees; the notes on top, a Gregorian chant. No one below seems to pay any mind.

I feel at peace among the buzz.

At night Deira becomes even more alive. The streets are packed. Several languages are spoken. Sellers increase their aggressiveness and try to lure you in to buy their textiles, cell phones, animated toys, and watches. Stores restock. Most of the women disappear, leaving men to dominate the streets. People continue to work. Restaurants — Pakistani, Senegalese, Egyptian, are all open late. This is a side of Dubai I enjoy  — a far cry from the last time I was here. Now I understand why people want to live in this city.


I’m not sure why I find this setting so comforting. It’s so easy to get lost in the moments here. It reminds me of Toronto in its vibrant diversity. There’s a rhythm about it that is soothing and energetic. I imagine the people down there living full lives. Difficult, possibly simple, but full.


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