Monday, April 21, 2008

Aluminum Foil

En route Dubai to Kabul @ 31,000ft

There may come the day when I feel the need to apply for an Ariana Airlines (the National Carrier of Afghanistan) frequent flyers card, but it will not be in the near future. I make no secret of the fact that I like airline food but then again breakfast on flight 406 was as tasteless as the cooks at Dubai airport could make dutifully served by a stewardess wearing jeans, somehow the uniform for both male and female flight attendants on Ariana is now jeans.

Dubai, was a stopover for us and a chance for all of us to get together. Dana Lewis (correspondent) flew in from Moscow. Maryam Sepheri (producer) from New York and Tom O’Neill (security) from the UK. Naturally in the first hour Dana managed to forget his camera in the hotel lobby and a bag was left on the bus and what was worse was that we did not realize that we had forgotten it till our final count at check in. Then again traveling with 18 pieces of check in is in itself a total logistics nightmare.

Now Dubai has managed to cultivate a global image of being glitz, glamour and the happening city of the Gulf Region where money is no option and anything and everything is available. Whilst that may be true, then travel writers should turn up at Terminal 2 at 4am on a Sunday morning, here are the options and destinations available this morning.

Kabul (two flights), Kandahar (cancelled) Baghdad International (as opposed to what? Baghdad Domestic) Islamabad (the excitement never ends there), Mosul (also a fun destination in Iraq and finally a place called “Kish”. Where in the hell is Kish! , Without looking up on Google does anyone know a place called “Kish”.

Yes Terminal 2 is the place that many International tourists will never see and Dubai planners have managed to figure out how to racially profile without offending rich tourists. The average suitcase that arrives at Terminal 2 is naturally wrapped in a blanket or mat and then tied up in ropes so elaborate that Bondage Masters should come and take lessons here. Women covered in black sit on the floor in front of their husbands who ignore them, not so much as their eyes showing thru a slit.

Dubai may be a modern metropolis but it can under the surface still treat women with a disdain and prejudice that is almost comical if it was not for the fact that it is true. Two examples jumped out at me, the first being at the airport yesterday morning on arrival at the main terminal, outside the doors there was a fenced in zone clearly marked “Women Greeters Area”. Here we are in the 21st century and one of the most modern airports in the world considers it necessary to separate sexes coming to meet you at the airport.

The other example was at a supermarket in mall so large that I never found another exit in 90 minutes. I needed to pick up some toiletries and there was the standard area with everything available in every size shape and brand, toothpaste to make up, shaving cream to condoms. I picked up what I needed (just fyi a roll on deodorant stick) . Then walking back thru the store I looked up and there was an aisle marked Female Hygiene and Aluminum Foil. Thus the average local Arabic male would never have to look at a tampon or napkin pad box, whilst he was shopping, he can go to the toiletries happy in the knowledge that he can look at condoms and lube creams, and never have to worry about being offended by female hygiene.

I think most Arabic men in Dubai, wake up in cold sweats worried that one day they may have to go to the supermarket and shop for Aluminum Foil.