Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The crack of dawn

It’s five in the morning, the end of June. Burdubai is not as silent as one would like, but construction crews, mercifully, are not at work. The lights at the KFC across the road have only just gone out. The sky is lightening already. I am startled to see several lit windows in the other blocks of flats. Then I remember that the school buses arrive terribly early here. Mothers must be at work on lunch boxes (breakfast boxes?), and fathers, on getting the poor sufferers out of their beds. There’s an Emirates car parked in front of my building – someone’s flying Business Class somewhere. Farther down the service road, a man lugs a giant suitcase to the kerb and stares at the parking meter as if it were a taxi genie.

A taxi pulls up and spills a lot of shiny people. Their night has clearly been hedonistic. The suitcase guy is very fortunate for someone who’s stupid enough to wait on a back road for a taxi at dawn. Maybe it is a taxi genie. I’ll try it later this morning.

At some point in the last 5 minutes, the night became morning. The wind feels suddenly cool on my face, so different from the fevered breath that it was last night when it tore my bougainvillea blooms to shreds. I suddenly smell – with a rush of pride – fresh jasmine, flowering on my own plant. It's a scent that belongs to another time and place, someone else's gentle morning routine. I touch the leaves and they’re clammy from the humidity. The coffee from my new French press tastes good. I don’t know if I should be drinking coffee before exercising, but who cares. I see a paper boy on his bicycle turn into the street. I hear the clear tones of somebody’s wind chime, then Leonard Cohen starts to sing about a famous blue raincoat. It’s five-fifteen and my trusty Linn hasn’t forgotten my wake-up call.

By the time I’ve laced up my shoes and am ready to leave, it’s bright daylight and cars are backed up at the red light. Who’d have guessed there was a secret peak hour before six?

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