Monday, January 25, 2010

Whoa, indeed.

I didn't take photographs on yesterday's trip to Dubai. We drove in to drop off Whitey, the stray dog, to a rescue shelter who had room for him. It wasn't a trip I wanted to memorialize. Even though Whitey is a stray, I have never 'given up' an animal.

After that sadness, we made it our project to drive toward the Burj Khalifa. I challenge anyone to throw a dart on a map of Dubai and not find at least three things in the vicinity of that point; a new building, a whole lot of construction and a mall. We navigated through pylons and road blocks to a parking structure and ended up in the Mall of Dubai, across from the Burj.

The closer you get to the Burj, the more it looks like an illusion. Sleek and implausibly grand, it has some junk in the trunk on the ground, making it appear more massive the closer you stand. Its severe taper and height that has engineers rewriting textbooks dictate that you must stop walking and crane your neck to look upwards to see the whole thing. It is difficult capture the the building in one photograph unless you're standing five miles away. In a word: whoa.

Mall culture is not as much a social experience as it is an demonstration of an embarrassment of riches. The guy serving my espresso might make at day's end what I paid for that coffee. The tourist walking by me toting a glossy, ribbon-handled shopping bag in hand paid what I make in a month for its contents. A national walking by her carrying several very large and several very small boutique bags paid what we both make in a year for her shopping trip. The amount of money on, and in, the ground is stunning, both in its excess and absence.

This and a few other observations of life on the ground are taking shape in larger pieces... to be continued...

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