Last night I went off to the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival in Media City to see John Legend – among other acts. I love good music, especially live. And the international artists they’ve brought to the festival are top-notch, I mean UK’s James Blunt played the night before. The night was wonderful, and certainly worth the trials and tribulations of getting there and back.
Before I went out, I actually got a guy to clean our apartment. I thought I would never get someone else to do this, but Sathi the cleaner we have in the building is such a nice and eager guy, I would hate to preclude him some money. We had discussed it for a few weeks now, but our schedules never seemed to match. Finally after work he grabbed me and asked if he could do it now. I didn’t have to get to the festival til after 6pm, so I figured there was time and agreed. But I couldn’t help myself. After I saw him on ground floor where he had to pick up his equipment, I raced up to the apartment and cleaned it myself. I realise it mostly defeats the purpose, but I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable having someone else clean my place.
Dubai’s Media City is a fair hike from Deira where I’m staying, so I was forced to catch a taxi. Thursday nights are not a good night for taxis as everyone is going out. I eventually flagged one down, but he did the dodgy open the window a little bit to find out where I wanted to go before agreeing to take me anywhere. It’s not appropriate, but there’s little you can do about it. He ummed and aahed for a while, and made a couple of phone calls to confirm if he had time. He had existing plans with a friend of his. Instead of scrapping the plans he had with his friend, he decided to take me for the trip and drop me at the concert. My awareness of directions have gotten to the point where I know when I’m going the totally wrong way. I raised it with him, and had some heated words about me paying while he picks up his mate. He eventually backed down, and gave me a straight fare. All the while, trying to be jovial about where I’m from, and if I like cricket,etc.
I said I had no issues with a small bypass, if I don’t pay for it, and if it doesn’t take too long. Well picking up his mate did take too long, and just as I was about to jump ship, he said he could get me there straight away so we then flew down Sheikh Zayed Road like a lightning bolt. Taking a few rapid detours on the way whenever the road was built-up. I’m certain the guy was insane, but he eventually got me there on time. A little shaken, but on time.
I got settled in to watch the first act, Kelly Dickson. She was very good. As she was finishing I thought it was probably a good time to get a bite to eat before people start flooding in for the main acts.
The process was you had to buy books of 10 coupons for 50 AEDs. I bought a lebanese kebab with way too much tahini sauce for 15 AED, and I figured since it was the end of the working week – and the end of my first month here – I should celebrate with a Heinekin. One stubby in a plastic cup cleaned the rest of my coupons, 35 AED ($15 AUD!). I still think it’s interesting how much alcohol here is, compared to, well, food. But it really doesn’t seem to stop people.
In a word, the rest of the show was fantastic. All acts were very impressive. I don’t know who my favourite was. Jonathan Butler was very special – particularly with the ovation he got from the South African beauties dancing next to me. Dave Koz certainly rocked, and John Legend was superb. Legend performing Green Light (with Andre 3000 on tape) was probably the most entertaining song I’ve seen performed. It wasn’t surprising to see jon his web site how much philanthropy and charity work he does.
The show came to a close, after one encore of John playing a song by himself on piano. Then at 12:15am it was time to try my luck at getting home. I followed the early leavers to what I hoped was a taxi area. Nope. It was helter skelter. In fact I witnessed half an incident when a local guy started walking aggressively and swearing at an English woman before her husband chimed in threatening to call the police, at this he didn’t immediately stop which was a worry. I kept walking.
I waited in a couple more lines that came to nothing. Then walked a fair distance more, and just when I thought it was hopeless and maybe I should find a backpackers to stay the night, a driver in a Lexus asked where I was going. Invariably these are private limo services for companies. We have them for Emirates, but the drivers I contacted were no where near Media City at the time. Anyway the driver mentioned it would take him a long time to get out of Deira and back. I realise I was not coming from a position of power at all, and knew there were hundreds, if not more people desperately wanting a ride, so I agreed. The price was exactly double what the other guy charged to get me the same distance earlier in the night. But this was more comfortable, and with greater chance of getting to my destination without crashing.
It was certainly all worth it. I’ll certainly be there again next year.