My time in Dubai is flying by – sunbathing, the beach, the pool – it’s a hard life. But today I was on a mission – to buy a handbag for my friend. And yes, I might have found one, or two – maybe even three or four, but the funny thing was I nearly came back with the handbag man, too.
As I got out of the taxi, I was greeted by a rather handsome fella asking me if I wanted to buy some copy bags. “We have Louis Vuitton, Prada and Mulberry, we give you good price.” How could I resist, not only had I been accosted by a good-looking man but he was offering to sell me cheap Mulberry bags – what more does a gal need?
I dutifully followed him down a dark alley, up another one, through the winding streets until we reached a doorway. There he led me up some stairs to a thick bolted door which he knocked twice on and waited.
The door opened and I was led into a room that was wall-to-wall full of bags – thousands of them, all shapes, sizes, colours and makes. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!
Once you’ve chosen, the next task is haggling over the price. This is the bit I find hardest, but I’ve learnt you must play hard to get the best bargain. And so we went back and forth until eventually we settled on a price. It was 100 Dirhams more than I wanted to pay, but 1,000 Dirhams less than they had initially said so I was satisfied. Walking away with four Mulberry bags for less than £200 is definitely a bargain; they may be copies but you’d never know!
I went to leave but the guy who had taken me to the shop insisted on walking out with me and asked if I would like him to take me round the gold souk. I explained I wasn’t in the market for any jewellery this time and was just looking. “That’s ok he said, I just want to spend time with you – here have my number and if you want to meet up and see me again you can call and I’ll come running”. I was flattered by this, I wondered if he thought I was a rich white woman who could ‘keep him’ but nothing about me suggested this so maybe he really did just fancy meeting up! What a shame it wasn’t a rich Emirati local who could buy me all the handbags I’ve ever wanted and more!
After I was done, I got in a taxi to head back. The driver was in Muslim attire and had a full beard so I wasn’t expecting the conversation to go as it did. He was a friendly man and immediately started talking about how awful the traffic was and how annoying other drivers could be. I confessed that I had driven in Dubai but had got completely lost and found myself going round and round in circles in the rush hour until the stress got too much and I pulled the car over and burst into tears! He thought this was highly amusing and regaled me with stories of other women he had seen driving in tears as they tried to negotiate the madness that is driving in Dubai.
Tongues loosened and it seemed no topic was taboo. Before too long he started talking about religion, then he moved on to relationships and out came the words I always find difficult to answer: “Are you married?” I really dislike being asked this because people can give me such a look of disbelief, concern, sympathy and confusion when I say no. “Why?” they ask, “What is wrong?” This time I was more surprised by his response. “Are all the men in the UK gay then?” he chuckled. I laughed and thanked him for the compliment.
Despite his humour I could see he was struggling to understand that a 40-year-old woman would be single and asked if I had split up from my partner. It was too complicated to go into the reasons for being single so I agreed that I had split from my ‘boyfriend’ about six months ago and was indeed on the look for someone new! Good he said, because too long without sex isn’t good for anyone.
I nearly choked on my own tongue! He went on to tell me that people call it love juice but he calls it poison and thinks that you should expel it from your body regularly through good sex. He laughed at his words and I did too, agreeing whole heartedly that regular sex was good and that given a choice I would definitely like to find someone to help cleanse my body from the poison within! Maybe I need to call the handbag seller after all!