I had to sit in the front seat of the taxi Hesitating before getting in, I realized it’s normal for people who are alone to ride in the front seat.
“The backseat is wet. Saudi girls”, says the driver going on to tell me that the Saudi holiday for Eid is a whole week.
“Everyone goes to Mecca to pray and the Saudi’s come here to party” he explains, before launching into the usual barrage of questions:
- Do you live in Dubai?
- You like Dubai?
- Where are from?
- How old are you?
- Where is your family?
Sometimes I lie and say I’m married. Sometimes I say I’m single, but this always elicits more questions about how and why and more than once, a marriage proposal. Sometimes I surprise myself and tell them the truth, that I’m a widow. I also return the favor of asking, where he is from, does he like Dubai, how long has he been here?
He is from Pakistan, unmarried, and here two and a half years. Same as me. He doesn’t like being a taxi driver.
“No break, 12 hours a day. No vacation”
By vacation, he means weekend. The taxi drivers work from 4am to 4pm, 7 days a week. It’s the law. I can’t imagine living like this.
“Sometimes customers are too much tension”.
The driver has to swerve a bit on the exit to avoid a SUV that has pulled over.
There are at least 8 little grocery stores, half of them Indian, advertising special Indian flours, with flowered wreaths hanging outside.
Sometimes it smells really bad, because they basically use treated sewer water to drench the ground and grow trees from the sand. It’s not glitzy.
The SUV pulls up next to us, and begins asking in Arabic for directions, I hear him ask about Dubai Marina. It’s one exit before mine, but much more swanky. Discovery Gardens, made of pink, sand and rust colored buildings, is like Little India or Little Pakistan, while the Marina is where most of the hip, young, professional work. It’s young city in a young country. Young people, young buildings, everybody and everything under constant construction.