On my way to Amsterdam, I had a 19 hour layover in Abu Dhabi.
Thought I'll take the free bus to Abu Dhabi city center to check it out.
Took the wrong bus,
ended up in Dubai.
Ha, classic Sha.
Took it as divine intervention, shrugged and went, " I guess I'm going to Dubai."
I took enough money out only for 2 meals and 1 cab ride since i decided to walk around. As I walked around, i started to feel like there was a zombie apocalypse because there was NO ONE walking on the streets. I very quickly realized it was because it was 40 freaking degrees. When I asked for direction how i could walk from the city center to the Burj Al Arab, people were telling that it was impossible to walk there. My response was, "Its okay I have time." To which they very patronizingly replied, "Okaaay." How bad can it be right?
See, when they said "impossible", I foolishly took it as a suggestion and a challenge when I should have taken it as it was - a screaming unmitigated fact. After about 25km, 4 hours and probably half my weight in sweat later, I decided to seek shelter in an air-conditioned bustop. (That should give you a sense of how warm it actually is- that even sitting to wait for a bus is unbearable without air-condition.) I sat there reading a book as I cooled down, thanking Willis Carrierfor inventing air condition.
This is the part where most of you might interrupt with, "why didn't just you take a cab Sha?" Well, I was walking on the side of the ,what seemed like an, expressway which was against traffic and there was no room to jaywalk across the roads. Coz as you know, the entire population of Dubai is either in a building or a car. So cabs weren't stopping and even if they did, they had to drive quite a distance to make a U-turn.
So there I was, dehydrated, sun burnt, cooling off in a bustop about 3km away from my destination, regretting both my decision to walk and to wear jeans. Of course, i couldn't wait to take a cab back after I've seen the burj al arab. Then a fancy limo cab pulled up and out emerged a middle aged man, dressed to the nines. I'm talking silk handkerchief in pocket and embroidered vest. He asked if i needed a cab. I thought I was seeing a mirage because it was very dramatic with the sun behind him. In my half sweat drenched tank top, sun burnt arms I told him i only could pay him 30 dirham. He thought for awhile because i guess he had to travel to the U turn and back up, he agreed to take me for 30 dirham.
Holy guacamole i couldn't believe my luck. To show my gratitude and respect I got into the front seat of the cab and he gave me a chilled bottle water in a very fancy cab. Things kinda took a very steep decline from there.
5 minutes into the drive, he placed his hand on my thigh.
"umm, you really should use two hands to drive mister." I calmly said as i put his hands on the steering wheel.
Red flag number 1.
He then started to stroke my arm and face asking if i was scared of him. Through a nervous laugh, I said he's making me extremely uncomfortable.
He pouted nonchalantly.
Red flag number 2.
He asked if I wanted a tour around Dubai. I told him I couldn't pay him for it. He insisted I let him drive me around by offering the tour for free. I declined, saying I was exhausted from the walk. He offered me his bed to rest. Decided I was not that tired after all.
Red flag number 3.
He drove passed the Burj Al Arab, insisting he was going to take me on a tour around Dubai. I quickly declined saying i really didn't want to trouble him and i very politely begged him to turn back to my destination.
"No trouble, we friends now."
His fat fingers then, almost in a gross attempt at charm, creeped down my arm and interlocked themselves around my fingers. I stared at what looked like a very hairy mother taranchula killing her young. So i sat there flabbergasted, awkwardly holding hands with my kidnapper. hmm.
By then, a few things raced through my mind.
Analyzed my physical state to see if the water i was drinking was drugged.
How no one would know if I actually got kidnapped as i was away for the next 2 weeks.
Thought about the articles on the Norwegian rape victim in Dubai going to jail for extramarital sex.
That it was shit luck i was getting kidnapped before Amsterdam. I mean, I already booked the flight.
I was recalling from all the action movies i've seen to figure out how I could jump out of the cab and roll out safely.
How awkward it would be if he locked the door and if he would open it if i asked nicely to make my escape.
Reminded myself of the seriousness of the situation.
Thought it would be a funny story if i survived this.
Reminded myself of the seriousness of the situation.
I wedged my hand out of his grasp and put his hand on the wheel reminding him to keep his eyes on the road and that I really want to just see the burj al arab. He bushed my request aside and asked for my number. I told him my phone won't work overseas so he offered to give me sim cards from, surprise surprise, his apartment. I exaggeratedly shook my head to decline.
Eventually, he pulled up at a beach and asked if i wanted a swim and even offered to buy me a bikini to swim in. told him to drive me to burj al arab and i didn't want to trouble him for a tour as i could not pay him.
"Don't worry about money. Free tour. You don't need to pay." he paused," I will even pay you
He then took my wide eye, hanging jaw, half insulted half petrified expression as a green light to grab my face to force a kiss. I used one arm to push him aside and the other to press the horn. I grabbed my bag and started speed walking towards the water as he could not drive into the beach. Why the actual fuck am I now further away from my destination than when i took the cab, walking towards the sea in 40 degrees weather bewildered me. After awhile i turned back to see if he was behind me. He wasn't. Figured that Dubai was so warm, not even the kidnappers would chase an escaped victim.
Thought about what would actually happen if i got kidnapped. or worse. married. Got me thinking about how glad i am for living life and doing things that made me happy because you never know when life decides to surprise you with creepy cab drivers in a foreign land.
Did i actually end up walking to the burj al arab?
Yeah. It was alright.