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Plane talking... - By Rebecca Wicks

I feel as though I’ve spent the entire past week fighting exhaustion in an effort to spend time with the family and each and every one of my friends. Except for the odd bout of shopping and far too much drinking, I really didn’t do much else with my time in London. I didn’t even get to see Sex And The City (shocking!) but that’s ok. I thought I needed to do much more than I actually did, in the end.

I thought I needed to go to the theatre � to fill my ears with musical scores like I used to, roughly twice a week (I was a lucky girl with a job like that!) I thought I needed to cruise round Camden, re-associate myself with the punk-life, visit a museum, or sit in Green Park and watch the world go by for a while, as another English spring battles defiantly through the rain showers. But it turned out that more than anything, it was the company I’ve been craving � the understanding of the people who really know me.

I caught up with people from all walks of life this past week � a lot of the people time threw in my path and stopped me in my tracks at one point or another. Some I’ve known since birth. Some since school. Some since Uni, my years in New York� old colleagues from the most fantastic job I’ve ever had. At one point they all came together in a bar, chatting like they’d known each other all their lives and could well carry on, whether I was there or not. I even went to a gorgeous wedding and watched my friend Lucy marry her boyfriend of ten years!

As much as I love Dubai, the transient crowd can be tiring, and true friends difficult to find. It didn’t take long to see, stepping out of my Middle Eastern bubble, that all these people who have shaped me and moulded my thoughts into the confidence it took to move elsewhere (in love, location and career), will always be the most important ones of all. I made them all promise to visit � and I really hope they do!

When I arrived my head was reeling with all those niggling thoughts, about things and people who bother me in Dubai. I remember feeling that way about London, too, when I first left. Strangely though, as a visitor on a brief return, I found myself seeing parts of London that I never really noticed before. Good things and bad of course. Sometimes they took me by surprise.

I found myself walking slower, compared to most of the people hurrying along Oxford Street. I found myself unplugging from my iPod, when others around me plugged theirs in � listening to the world I don’t live in anymore, soaking up all those sounds I’d practically forgotten. I heard the birds. I heard high heels on outdoor pavements. Sitting in an ancient bar off Regent Street, I read the words in old graffiti and slightly more beautiful carvings, etched into tables and the wooden panelling on the walls. They’ve trapped hundreds of memories in time since the 18th century. My building in Dubai has only been in existence since February.

This week, I noticed many layers of London that its residents, including me at one point, might easily overlook or not even register - and the stuff that bothers everyone on a daily basis. Bad attitudes, crowded underground stations, overpriced dining and highly taxed... everything. London is a city that definitely has its problems. But, it’s still a city that the rest of the world, including Dubai is inspired by. The layers of Dubai are, in many ways, still developing; stretching day by day over something modern and different, yet traditionally beautiful all in one. Historically, they might not run as deep, nor old, nor cold as they do in London, but they are of course still there.

As much as I miss London, I know that if I was tempted to return for good I would miss my new life, and the people I’ve encountered this past year who are fast becoming as important to me as those I am leaving at home. These are the people who shape my future now, and this is a city that embraces forward-thinking much more than reminiscence.

I do know however, that I’ll go back home more often, now. I think it’s important to be reminded sometimes, of all the reasons we decide to make such drastic changes in our lives; and how, wherever we find ourselves geographically, the people who matter most should never be too far away.

Posted: 22 June 2008

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