Dizzy Heights with Snow

There are times when the delights of my second home have to be forsworn. National and Liberation Days are one such occasion. The entire country goes into shrieking hyperactivity; a trip normally taking a half hour takes ten times as long and one is fortunate to arrive at one’s destination in a balanced frame of mind. If, indeed, one arrives at all. Small people arrange impromptu firework displays – picture kindly supplied by a friend from the safety of the fifteenth floor of his apartment  – this one was in a public location under the indulgent eyes of Kuwait’s Finest, it would seem, and was allowed to proceed without interruption, endangering life and property. Ah, well, kids are kids after all, and a few less cars or indeed pedestrians on the road can only be a good thing.. The old maxim is true – it’s better to give than receive. Terror and mayhem, that is…

I madesomething of an inner vow – always dangerous – after having been trapped endlessly circling amidst the festivities in Ahmadi for four hours last time -that next year something, in true Micawber fashion, would jolly well have to turn up. Since I wanted to see at least one of the Six Nations games, the Red Lion in the Metropolitan in Dubai seemed a tempting alternative. 

So, a little trip to the tallest building on the planet, surrounded by the most expensive pieces of retail real estate in the world in its shadow did have a certain hedonistic appeal. The Khalifa Tower is really quite impressive. Onehundred and twenty four floors in a whisker under forty-five seconds is quick. The book value of 64km/h is true. Really. Especially as there’s at least three hundred and eighty metres more to the top where cloud cover blankets the summit. The structure is supposed to have thirty thousand residential plots. Atclose to forty thousand dollars a square metre, I can’t see myself taking up residence any time in the near future, but the crash of 2008 slashed 60% off property prices, which means I could afford a toilet there. Whatever. It’s incredibly beautiful – the three-lobed footprint being inspired by the hymenocallis flower.We saw the fountains pirouetting like ballerinas from the top. If stratospherically expensive can be classified as beautiful, then, yes, it was.

Returning to terra firma, I am now officially overweight. By at least four kilograms. This is a disaster and one which must be remedied. Not possessing a pair of bathroom scales, I relied upon the ones – assuredly most reliable – in the Mall of the Emirates’ ski slope to dolefully inform me that I was no longer teetering over the edge of the normalcy of avoirdupois for my height – I am surely shrinking as spinal jointing becomes less flexible –  in other words, sans mincing – I have become officially, ashamedly, weepingly, truthfully FAT.

This did not, however, spoil my enjoyment of the ski slope. A Frenchman with some attitude seemed determined to race, so it was fun to chase him down from time to time. I had a brand-new pair of Rossignol boots which were kind to my feet and I persuaded the authorities to part with a new pair of Atomics which glided effortlessly with minimal pressure on the knees. Two hours flew, I have to say, but the additional poundage gave me pause beforesigning up for two more. In addition, I was having to compete with a small person who hounded me, insisting on practising his rather rudimentary Englishon me while sharing the chairlift. Perfect conditions and no wind, but somehow a little like juice from concentrate…not the real thing. I think I’d’ve preferred to have tested my skills on a mountain rather than inside a corrugated aluminium tube.

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