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In the suburbs no one can hear you scream

I live in the suburbs now.  From the maelstrom of Union Square in Manhattan to the slightly more sedate “urban” experience of highrise in downtown Abu Dhabi was one shift. But in a weird way the shift from one cityscape to another wasn’t as big a shift as the move from city to the ‘burbs.  It’s so quiet here . . . and when I walk around at night I’m …

Workers

It’s hot here in the desert.  Even now, in November, when people say “ah…the heat has broken,” we’re still talking 90F at midday. The road I have to take to my house winds through a whole huge construction project designed to make room for even more cars and maybe a high-rise or two (Abu Dhabi loves itself some skyscrapers, the glassier the better). The men who dig these roads (and …

mosques

Just at the afternoon adhan today, I was out walking in the neighborhood near my office, searching for candy a nutritious snack to carry me through four hours of back-to-back meetings. I am struck always, in Abu Dhabi, by the juxtaposition of glassy office towers against the ancient worlds summoned up in the call to prayer, the way the modern quite literally bumps up against the old. I am struck …

mary, mary quite contrary … how does your garden grow?

Fifty years ago, Abu Dhabi looked like this: The key feature of this landscape? Sand. And now? Green, green, green. If you look closely, every tree and flower has a little hose coiled at its root; hoses run under every lawn and green space. Forget the oil industry: if you want in on a lucrative franchise, get in on the hose industry. Irrigation systems use reclaimed wastewater; tap water uses …

Halloween, or, sometimes nostalgia looks like Boba Fett

It starts in September, when I get the late August issues of The New Yorker.  I’m always a few weeks behind because I like to read the actual magazine, not the digital one. Usually I don’t mind reading about current events from a month or so ago…until September. In early fall, the magazine becomes a sort of arcade of impossibility: the new theater productions I won’t see; the restaurants I …