Strait Flush Ch 3 Tuesday 1750  

jim5131 55M
529 posts
10/13/2005 8:12 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Strait Flush Ch 3 Tuesday 1750

Tom watched the simmering air rise above the tans and browns surrounding the ugly town as the 747 made its approach into Dubai's International Airport. The flight had been smooth, only half-full, mostly Arabs. Tom had nervously fingered the briefcase during the flight, unaccustomed to carrying several large wads of money, not realizing that there may be several passengers on this flight that are probably carrying just as much, if not more, and thinking nothing of it.

Dubai was divided into two main towns in the edge of the Arabian Gulf, as the Arabs refused to acknowledge the name as Persian Gulf. The northern side, Diera, was divided from Dubai by Dubai Creek. The creek was nearly a thousand meters wide, emptying into the Arabian Gulf, and hosting an underwater tunnel near the mouth. Diera had several modern hotels and business centers, while the old town of Dubai still maintained its old Arabic flavor. Empty dirt lots, kids playing dusty soccer or cricket, next to a ten-story apartment building full of drying laundry. Downtown Dubai had several older high-rise buildings among the typical five-story business structures. On the outskirts were large, white, single-story spreads that appeared to be homes for the richer natives. Several mosques, spaced advantageously throughout the streets.

The port facility was first-class, as were most in the Arabian Peninsula. Several grey US Navy ships could be spotted alongside the piers, including a frigate that had been damaged by a mine only weeks earlier. Tom recognized many of the ships to be troop transports, amphibious ships similar to the ones he had embarked upon during his time in the service.

The big 747 touched the tarmac and reversed the engines. The Arabs on board had begun a slow change from their kid-in-the-playground act while in Hong Kong to a more sedate mood. Tom stared out the window at the passing scenery.

The terminal was modern, with palm-lined streets and parking lots. Most Arabs wore the traditional ghutra headdress and white linen robes, called thobe. The 'outsiders' wore dress pants, collared short-sleeved knits with socks and sandals. No one paid any attention to this Westerner as Tom retrieved his luggage from the carousel. The taxi drivers, luggage handlers, storekeepers and hired help were all foreigners, possibly Pakistanis and Turks.

Tom had several hundred US Dollars in spending money and changed a twenty onto seventy-three UAE Dirham, resisting the urge to gawk at the money. He headed out the sliding glass doors into the heat of late afternoon.

The taxi row and parking lot was mysteriously quiet. He asked an Indian baggage handler about the lack of business at the airport.

"It is prayer hour, Sir. The Moslems here pray from ten or so in the morning until shortly after two, then go again from four until seven." The Indian was obviously Hindu, as were several other non-Moslems. Infidels, thought Tom. As I am also.

Tom picked the first taxi in line and instructed the odorous driver to go to the Intercontinental Hotel. The Toyota sped off at an alarming rate. The air conditioner was apparently broken, which suited Rossi in purging the air adequately. The front shimmied at high speeds while the cabbie barreled down Al Makthoum Road. They sped by the Ministry of Health and turned left at the Clock Tower Roundabout, a traffic circle with an ornate clock in its center. On the Tariq Ibn Zayad Road, the cabbie raced across the bridge over the muddy river and through another traffic circle. The landscape reminded Tom of trips through Phoenix suburbs, with lawns of smooth sand and whitewashed buildings, plumbed water feeding willow and palm trees. Still not many cars on the road. Tom couldn't imagine a road full of cabbies like this one.

Heading west from the Trade Center Roundabout, the Toyota passed the first of a series of modern hotels. Finally reaching a ten-story complex on the southwest side of Dubai, the cab driver pulled the battered sedan up to the entrance to the parking lot, explaining in broken English that it was against regulations to go as far as the door. The Pakistani claimed that the fare took longer than anticipated and he would need several Dirham more to break even. Grunting, Rossi paid his fare and tipped the man, barely closing the door before the tires spun and car departed the lot.

The lobby entrance was guarded by two doormen in ornate red uniforms, complete with tall black ghutra headdresses, similar to the Buckingham Palace guards, thought Tom. He carried his briefcase and luggage to the front desk and was greeted by an attractive Sikh girl of about nineteen. Several Arabs were waiting in the lobby area, reading newspapers and engaging in conversation. The lobby was airy, with ornate furnishings of Arabesque flavor. In the rear was a swimming pool and hallways that led to restaurants, nightclubs and shops. Rossi checked in and retrieved his room key. The reservation was for a room on the fifth floor.

The room was modern, two televisions, a double bed and patio that overlooked the pool. Tom unpacked and heard English voices from the pool. Looking out, he saw about twenty Marines with their traditional high-and-tight haircuts and mandatory collared shirts lounging around a half-dozen tables, shaded by Martini-and-Rossi umbrellas. All with a Foster's can in hand. Tom smiled as he closed the patio door.

After a nap and quick shower, Tom went downstairs for a drink at the bar, only to find the doors locked. It was nearly seven-thirty. Approaching the young Sikh girl at the desk again, he asked about the bar hours.

"I am sorry, Sir. It is the Ramadan season." Ah, yes, thought Tom. The Moslem Holy month. He recalled television news concerning its possible affect on the then-upcoming Gulf War.

"It will be open at eight o'clock, but only for beer, wine and soft drinks." Small concession, thought Tom. He smiled back and asked if there was another place in the hotel where he could get a beer, recalling the Foster's that the young Marines had earlier.

"The USO is available, it is located in this building." She rolled her eyes and smiled in saying so. "It keeps us busy with American sailors and Marines. They have telephone booths and television, with beer and colas available." Her English was perfect.

"I'll leave that for the troops. Anywhere else in town?"

"Only the other large hotels, but their policies are the same as ours, I am afraid. In most of the Moslem countries, you cannot get this anywhere. In Dubai, bars are available in the hotels for our international guests. Even now, during Ramadan, one cannot eat while the sun is up. Restaurants open early and close at dawn, then open at dusk and close much later. The night life is much better here than in most cities."

"Well, maybe later." Tom thanked the girl and took the elevator back to the fifth floor.

The hotel was crowded with expatriate Kuwaitis, waiting for the cease of hostilities and a trip back to whatever was left of their homeland.

Rossi had only dealt with Arabs on a limited basis in the past, there were large amounts living in Texas, he had several working in some of his stores. They were good workers and apparently good overall people. They were tight knit, much like the Korean, Filipino and German communities that spring up around military bases. This will be the first time he will have direct business with a group.

In the past, Tom realized the Arab mind operates differently than a Westerner's. While the American way is often impolite and straightforward with a logical series of steps that lead to a conclusion, the Arabic way of thinking ran circles around the subject, prodding and testing until the answer became clear. Like a lion circling its prey until it is sure of the eventual outcome. He knew that there would be several middlemen in this deal, enough, in fact, that the actual seller may never be known. It is easy to deny information and access while doing so, and remain nearly anonymous. Handy when things go awry.

Tom watched television in his room until eight. The 24-hour International News channels were busy with the ever-changing drawdown from the Gulf War, only a few hundred miles away. Apparently there was some disconcerting news about Iraq's treatment of soldiers that were rebelling, as well as Kurds living near the Turkish border in a general uprising. Saddam had his hands full. More news on the arrival of American troops stateside.

Yellow ribbons on all of the trees. American flags on all of the porches. Tom was stunned to watch this wave of patriotism and angered at the war the politicians of his time kept him from winning. He reached under his shirt and felt the deep scars near his right kidney from a Communist grenade. Thank God we finally got this one right, thought Tom.

_CoffeeNoCream_ 52F

10/13/2005 8:44 am

Does Tom date on A FF ?

rm_txrose4uNTX 57F
3289 posts
10/13/2005 9:27 am

WOW! So prolific a writer!!


DorianVampire 39M
20 posts
10/13/2005 10:23 am

Steller, quite captivating and paints a very detailed picture. My compliments.

jim5131 55M
1296 posts
10/13/2005 9:52 pm

thanxx Rose...good to see you again. I cheated by writing about places I've already been to....makes imagination a little easier.


10/14/2005 1:11 pm

Hope you are having a great day, want to thank you for stopping by my journal often.

jim5131 55M
1296 posts
10/17/2005 12:49 pm

Thank You CnC..I'd like to say I modeled Tom after myself, and there are parallel traits, but no....stay tuned...story gets better.

Hey sasha.good to see you again...y'all need to check out her blogs. Sasha is a sweetheart.

Thanxx Dorian..appreciate the feedback..more to come.

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