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Transit, Impromptu Rendezvous

September 15, 2009

We left LAX on September 8 and arrived in Sana’a September 10. The intervening two days are hazy, and my memories consist mostly of dry airplane sandwiches, fitful airplane sleep, and Wall-E, which played on repeat for about 8 hours.

Our 11-hour layover in Dubai was definitely a highpoint of the journey, partly because we happened to run into one of my old friends from college, Alexis Ringwald, in front of a duty-free perfume shop. It was wonderful and surreal to see her, but then again, for those of you who know Alexis, whirlwind coffee dates in foreign locales is pretty much her bread and butter. (The Extraordinary Ms. Ringwald was on her way to Hyderabad to give a speech about Valence Energy, her San Jose-based company that will provide businesses with real-time information about their energy usage).

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As for our big plans to go dancing in Dubai, we failed. Instead, we spent most of our time in the Dubai airport, which is like spending the night on the U.S.S. Enterprise. (If only the old star ship had been decorated by the folks at Caesar’s Palace and stocked with the contents of the Mall of America.) It’s a tacky, sparkling, gaudy place where African women in flowing orange robes line up behind Pakistani men in red tribal belts, all of them impatient to order chai lattes at the last Starbucks between here and Peshawar. Or Kampala. Or Detroit.

To get to customs, you have to navigate past a Lamborghini and a Bentley so shiny they look wet, past a two-story waterfall made of slick black stone, past a series of billboards where Pierce Brosnan’s enormous, rakish face hawks something called Vita Lift, and into an elevator bank where there are no buttons, just sensors and voices that speak to you in calming tones.

The customs agents are bored, aristocratic-looking Emirati men in floor-length white gowns and matching head pieces, and the baggage claim area is decorated with fake palm trees and three-story glittery-white columns. The air outside at 4 a.m. was so humid that my glasses fog up and tiny beads of dew clung to the hair on my arms…

We swore we’d come back the next chance we have —

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jsellew permalink
    September 15, 2009 5:41 pm

    Well it doesn’t surprise me that you ran into a friend at the Dubai airport. You see someone you know in every corner of the world!!! 🙂

  2. Alexis Ringwald permalink
    September 27, 2009 4:32 am

    Awww… it was soooo beautiful to see you both!! Thanks for the shout out for Valence :). I love you! And I want to visit you!

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