A shopping trip with the girls wouldn’t have in the past been my idea of a great day out but when the trip was to Dubai and was sure to include a posh nosh lunch and the chance to swan around the glitzy Dubai shopping malls I couldn’t resist.
One of the pearls in the crown of Abu Dhabi is that it is just over a one hour drive to Dubai, which makes the glamour and opulence of Dubai a possible experience for a weekend or even a day. Offering any bored expat wife the required respite from sleepy suburban life in Abu Dhabi. Being a Dubai virgin, I happily trailed on the coat-tails of my shopping pals, who seemed to know exactly where to go for the bargains.
“Karamah” was the order to the taxi driver. I presumed Karamah was an outlet or department store but instead was surprised to see that the name referred to an area which had streets and streets of single storey shops. Dotted here and there with indoor areas, made indoor, by the use of large sheets of Perspex laid loose across the roofs the temporary shop structures. Overdressed and underwhelmed I disembarked the cab and walked gingerly behind my pals who were fast becoming like hounds who had smelt blood, their steps quickened, their eyes flashed and the temperature of 52°c along with sickening humidity was making this shopping trip more of a mission than a mosey.
My shins pierced by the mid morning sun and entering the first shop through the hard plastic streamers was heaven. The cool A/C calmed my scorched skin and although the water cooler looked a little worse for wear it stood in the back of the shop like a mirage in the desert. It would be impossible not to be moved by the beautiful handbags within, the Bangladeshi shop assistant hovered around us, calling, “Mulberry, Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, what you like, I help you”, I was just getting acquainted with a classy little Chloe number and while the price was favourable the quality was a little dubious, it looked perfect but felt plastic, I pawed and fingered the clutch before finally expressing my concern about the quality. “I understand ma’am, I can see now, you want real copy, this I have, please follow me” Leaving my pals downstairs, I followed him into the back section of the shop, just as I wondered how we were going to get upstairs, he pulled back a large red Balenciaga shopper to reveal a door handle, inside was a simple wooden ladder, you first he said, aware of my bubbling cellulite but eager not to compromise the sale, I took to the ladder and felt Mr. Bangladeshi’s breath on the backs of my legs as we both climbed up to what was a claustrophobic loft with a stifling smell of leather. Had I been blindfolded the atmosphere would have indicated that I was in some sort of torture/pleasure like chamber with leather trimmings and, having the use of the eyes I could see that, that’s exactly where I was.
The sex appeal of the beautifully finished handbags, exact copies made with the highest quality leather, along with the torture of having to decide which one would be mine, spiraled into a crazy climax, a frenzy, I thought not possible through shopping. Touching, smelling, feeling each one before nailing it down to a final three. Greed and wont made it impossible to have just one, ironically the very reason I’m immigrated to the Middle East to support a portfolio of unrentable property in Ireland. We began to talk money. My pleasure passed the ugly side of the transaction ensued, we haggled to a fro for almost twenty minutes about money, which cheapened the earlier enjoyment, however, I knew there had to be something in it for him. Taking my threesome he left me down the ladder alone, more interested in counting the cash than seeing me out.
The day continued in this vein leaving me tired and spent, lunch didn’t transpire, but on the way home we stopped off at the Golden Arches for a Big Mac and Fries. All of us happy with our purchases and I was extra happy because I knew their bags were fake fake and mine was a real fake.