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Six hundred photos and a sniffling cold later, I’m back in Dubai, but I can’t get Hong Kong out of my head. It worries me actually. I think I might want to move there. I don’t know, maybe it’s just another phase that will pass, but there’s something about feeling that big city buzz running through your veins, something about getting back as much energy as you give traipsing through an eternal maze of streets on foot, that makes you think. A lot. I can’t stop thinking, wanting that feeling back. I’ve been trying to find a word for it, and at the risk of sounding like an Emirates commercial, the only one I can think of to sum it up is “discovery”. Somehow, when you stay in one place for too long, you stop discovering. And that’s when the fun goes away.

Of course, we all want to discover new things, but most of the time it involves a wad of cash, some time off work and an uncomfortable economy class plane ride. We get it out of our systems, snap a few pics for facebook to prove we’ve done it, and then it’s back to the grind, dining al-desko and watching the clock tick through another three or four months, till we can go again. OK, so Dubai might be a little different � the sun’s always shining and we can go to the beach after work (unless they keep pumping raw sewage into the sea, obviously) but it’s still “the grind”, when you’ve been in a place for a while. A job is a job, no matter how many sunbeams are hitting your office window, struggling to reach you through the air-con.

I wish I could be Paris Hilton � only with a bit more respect. Sure she likes animals and does something noble every few months, like make a valuable contribution to the perfume industry with her name on the label, but we all know she’s just a global freeloader, swanning from airport to airport whenever she can make it out of the clubs on time. On the flip side, I think I’d make a great rich person. I’d build a perfume factory and give lots of people jobs and free perfume so they smelled nice and were likely to get even better jobs when they left. I’d get a whole collection of miniature dogs and maybe even build a dog-orphanage somewhere in Africa (beat that Jolie-Pitt!) I’d get Dubai finished in seven days and like Hong Kong’s Big Buddah, I’d build a giant religious monument on a hilltop � after I’d built the hill of course. Then I would go on another holiday, taking the credit with me and leaving the people who’d actually done all the work behind.

Thinking back, I got the chance to live an eternal holiday throughout the whole of university, when I was given one essay a week to do. Oh, how I moaned, whinged, went out and binged, thinking I was the most hard-done-by creature on the planet. But really, it was a holiday. If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have got that essay done in the first day and taken the rest of the time (and student loan) to see the world. As long as I was back for classes and didn’t get too far behind with Neighbours, no one would have ever known.

I guess the chance to discover new things never really goes away. It’s just that after a while we get complacent, and we no longer think to look beyond the norm. But as of now, I’m going to make an effort to try. We always have the chance to discover new things. New, exciting things are everywhere, especially here, in a city that’s expanding only marginally faster than my waistline. I’m going to start with today. What can I do to keep discovering? It’s Friday morning, it’s 37 degrees outside, I have a yapping kitten screeching in my ear, demanding attention. Being outdoors is quite painful, yet being inside my flat is a nightmare. I could go to the mall. Again. I could do something exciting like go-karting or dune-bashing but those are a little too spontaneous and I’m still quite tired from my trip. I could go see a movie, along with everyone else. Um� I could go to the beach and take a refreshing dip in the� oh. The sewage. I’m stumped. But no, I will not be defeated. Discovery is around the corner, I know it is. It’s just that most of the corners haven’t been built yet.

I know, now that I’ve got my new camera, I’m going to go to the creek and snap life on the move, like I did in Hong Kong. There’s soul and history at the other end of town. People still move without making that jangly, dripping in gold sound. People don’t need air con and egyption cotton threaded napkins to enjoy a good plate of food. And there it is - a discovery, waiting to be discovered. With my new frame of mind, there’s bound to be loads more.

Maybe I’ll stay here a little while longer.

Posted: 12 October 2008

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