Wednesday, September 09, 2009


I said my first Dubai good-bye yesterday: to a neighbor who left this morning and won’t be back in Dubai till the end of the year. We weren’t close, we just met occasionally while waiting for the lift. J, who lives alone, is an elegant, charming lady, probably in her early sixties, an Iranian who has her family (and some posh homes) scattered across the world. So she spends the summer between South Africa, LA, Paris and wherever else she wants to go. She has visited India seven times.

She had invited us over for dinner some months back. The evening had been pleasant, though rather amusing thanks to two show-off men who competed to tell a rather undressed, hot, blonde, Australian diamond buyer how they had been all over the world, really, and “even eaten fried tarantula” (“oh it tastes awesome” nodded show-off #2). But J herself has no airs about her. She has a quiet dignity and wealth she takes for granted but needn’t flaunt.

So anyway, I had hoped to call her over one evening and really get to know more about all she’s done, places she’s lived, and her opinions of Iran. But she was away in LA and came back just briefly before heading off to Paris. And I told her we were going to leave in October for good. So over sticky Iranian sweets and a quick tete-a-tete to say bye, all I learnt was her childhood memories of Maxim’s Restaurant in Paris and how Pierre Cardin has ruined it by buying it and setting up chains all over the world (“It used to be so nice, like a club, you knew everyone, and you had your personal table right from your father’s time…” she protested) and how she is a “bad Moslem” (she doesn’t fast for Ramadan and she served and drank wine when we’d visited her).

And I came away with a box of Maxim's chocolates and a little card with her name and Paris address on it, and an invitation to visit her anytime I like, and an email address where I can contact her. And memories of a smiling neighbor who genuinely seemed to like us. And I hope she remembers us as the smiling young couple across the hall whom she will someday meet again.

I think traveling helps you to leave little bits of yourself all over the world. And that’s what I like best about it.


orangejammies said...

Your last two sentences were so honest and true, I feel punched in the belly even as I nod vigorously in agreement.

Thinking Cramps said...

:) well said OJ. I think that accurately (and beautifully) sums up the feeling I was trying to convey.

dipali said...

So true, the last two lines.
So much more of the world also becomes yours.

A Muser said...

So agree with the last two lines. Meeting people from all over the world is such an enriching experience.