A couple of months ago I decided it best that UAE Uncut take on a degree of structure. As opposed to simply thinking of a topic, putting some more coal in the laptop and firing out my views sporadically, I opted to churn out one missive a week. Sadly, however, there is just too much going on and I can afford to miss out no longer.
People often stop me in the street and ask where I get my ideas from, and my response is always the same; I just look around. No, really, inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. I notice something, find an absurd metaphor that I twist until it is beyond all recognition, alter history to suit my needs and input a picture gung-ho to suit. My blogs are thrown together with the same delicacy and care as a Taliban-baked wedding cake.
Last night I was out with friends in one of Al Ains’ many social night spots. Conversation meandered through more subjects than the encyclopaedias’ bibliography. We began by talking about working visas and the complications that usually arise. We spoke about our friends and families and the personal foibles that define a close relationship. We discussed, in detail, the UAE demographic and how similar ideologies could be implemented across Europe, and how the European Court of Human Rights could learn a thing or two from the UAE about real justice. And then we talked about sandwiches.
There are three main meals in the day. We begin with breakfast. Breakfast is usually limited to a few options; cereals, fruits and yoghurts, and cooked breakfasts involving eggs and so on. You can’t have pizza for breakfast, nor can you have a mutton vindaloo. Dinner, at days’ end, can be many things. Chicken kiev, pie and mash, pasta, fish, steak and chips; all these things are lovely. But you won’t find anyone having a bowl of Frosties.
The two primary book-end meals are governed by strict EU regulation and rightly so. If people had roast beef and gravy for breakfast and Coco Pops for dinner then we’d end up with a world full of white-face-painted stoners with leather nipple rings and no sense of up or down. But then there is the exception to the trend; lunch. Lunch is the meal in the middle of the day that can literally be anything you like.
I am generally on the go a lot, and the last thing I want to have after lunch is a food coma. This makes me uncomfortable and I usually find myself very fat by the end of the week. What are the options? You go to the mall and sure enough there are plenty of fast food franchises just dying to clog your arteries and get your order wrong. However, a fast-food diet is unsustainable, so we turn to the café’s. But, of course, all the meals are so big that once you have finished your tonne of chips – or the uncouthly-branded “French fries” – the last thing you want to do, let alone can, is stand up and go back to work.
All I want for lunch is a sandwich. I want two slices of bread with some sort of appealing filling within; cheese, turkey, chicken mayonnaise, whatever. Why is this so hard to achieve? Why can’t I just buy a sandwich? No, I don’t want chips, or a Pepsi, or a pointless side salad. And while we’re at it, I want to make it absolutely clear that by simply putting one leaf of lettuce on a plate, it does not make it a “salad.” I have seen sandwiches in supermarkets and at petrol stations but these have the same taste-bud arousing qualities as vomit, and I would sooner eat my own finger nails than put one in my mouth.
No, I am looking for a middle-of-the-road, non-boutique-esque delicatessen that makes normal, edible sandwiches. I’m not asking for Jamie Oliver quality, just something that you can eat on the go to stay alive and that will not cause your tongue to catch fire. Those of you from the West may know the chain “Greggs”, that’s what I am after. They offer a range of simple sandwiches in plastic wrappers that are not stupidly overpriced. Greggs is a good go-to-guy kind of place, it is what it is.
The UAE strives to have everything, it actively promotes itself as having it all and I fully subscribe to that. How many other countries can claim to have five of the last eight Top Gear top super-cars in their police fleet? Dubai has the largest mall (by floor space) and tallest building in the world. The UAE has everything, even rain this year. But the one thing that the UAE lacks – and I will state that the crisis is far more apparent in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain than it is in Dubai – is sandwiches.
Those of an annoying disposition I’m sure will comment below about how I should shut up and simply make my own sandwiches if I’m that fussy about it, and you’re right, I could. But I am a capitalist consumer, just like you. And sometimes my work life means that I literally don’t have the time to sit down and eat, to say nothing about finding the time to go shopping or making my own lunch. No, I need a lightweight snack that won’t turn me into Fatty Arbuckle and that can be collected when I want it; I need a bloody sandwich.
I need variety and flexibility in my sandwiches, like how UAE Uncut used to be in the good old days; sporadic and available at a whim. Please, UAE, heed my call. I enjoy living in this country; it offers me a quality of life that David Cameron couldn’t even pretend to promise me. Please can I have a sandwich?
But not cheese, I’m off dairy. And hold the butter. I want crusty white bread. And I want chicken instead of turkey. No tomatoes. Ok just a little bit of cheese.
Aaahh, welcome back, spontaneous blogging.