I've been obsessing over the free Wifi here at Abu Dhabi Int'l Airport, and its been nice. Instead of burning through my book before the Manila leg, I've gotten to be able to get some writing done. And because this is my first time in (the airport of) non-Palestinian Arabistan, I have ignorant things to say about it. Harking to John Le Carre's comment that you can only write about a place if you just got there and everything is coming at you at 100 mph or if you've lived there for 20 years, here's my version of the former.
As an airport, holy Moses it's better than Newark. The airport is a great ad for Abu Dhabi itself...I certainly want to come back to scope the scene. It is clean, the staff is friendly, and everything work at a fundamental level. I got decent sleep and good coffee (Costa Coffee, for the record). I wholly support all of this. Self-confidence without the end-of-an-empire shab that Newark had.
That said, there is a distinct Euro-Gulf-Subcontinent-East Indies divide. People hang out with their sort in a painfully obvious way, but I supppose at least the hierarchy isn't too obvious (besides in screening lines). Except that everyone seems to have a pet Afghan. The NYTimes ain't alone in that.
Everyone who cares whos spent time here has something to say about the master-servant of it all. And does that exist? Yeah, probably. But again, at least one isn't beaten over the head with it. Swept under the rug, but I'm sure still there for some rights-bro to get worked up about.
Although as foreign to me (if not moreso) then when I plopped into Ashgabat, it is certainly less confrontationally foreign here. And am I going to hold myself back before I do a frightening disservice by comparing things to Syriana? Yes. Yes I am.
But the bottom line is...I like it, ok? The joint is well-run and I'd like to come back. And besides, the desert beckons. Just looking out into that void (and the awesome control tower that stands in it) makes me excited. There's something cool out there. Something worth seeing and doing. In related news, I wanna go falconing real real bad.
And in a final note, it is worth noting how little we, as a culture, know or care to know about the Gulf. The bubble ideal of "The Gulf" exists, but even this layover is enough to get me asking 40 different questions. I know nothing of this 'hood. I would like to change that. Because I can see myself liking it. From a really morose and lachrymose trip over here, I've become overwhelmed with brotherhood and companionship for my fellow man. Ummmm that's weird.
So those are my cringe-worthy thoughts that I will surely look back on one day and laugh. Or, more likely, have held against me by someone who actually knows what they're talking about. I've been played enough on this year, might as well set myself up to be played again. At least the ensuing stories ought to be more interesting than the current ones.