It is the end of February. I am new here. This is my first week. I am sitting on a public bench in front of ‘Le Meridien’ and ‘Dana Hotel’, enjoying the surprisingly cool breeze of the dying winters of Abu Dhabi.
The shade and the sun over here are starkly different. They do not seem to blend seamlessly into the other; there’s no gradual integration there. You step into the sunlight away from the comforting shade and you realize how bad it’s gonna get when summer arrives. in truth, I’m a little scared. I mean, me and excess heat just do not function that well. Add to that the three layers of clothes, tightly bound neck and a stifling suit, boy am I in for a shellacking.
The buildings around me are tall; cars around me slick; and the people around me confusingly minding their own business. Why is that? Why isn’t anybody staring at me? I don’t get it! I mean, I’m so used to it. All kinds of staring. Pakistanis love to stare. It isn’t just women as some people profess, no! It’s everything! Everything is our business.
It’s as Ali Gul Pir would say, ‘Bakri bhi taarunga, kutta bhi taarunga, building bhi taarunga, family bhi taarunga, gaari bhi taarunga‘.
We are a genuinely curious people. Everyone is interested in everything that you do. You, unwittingly, are a goddamned celebrity! And when your business becomes unimportant, you long for that attention. OK, maybe just a little bit. So yea, I am struggling a little bit with this anonymity in Abu Dhabi. I liked it better when everything was everyone’s business.