So here he is, an Australian living in Singapore, crying in a Japanese restaurant in Dubai.

Not just any Japanese restaurant either: one that was recommended by the Guest Relations lady as one with good Chinese food, plus lots of other types of food and, she raises her eyebrows and nods emphatically, with a really good atmosphere. And only 10 minutes walk down the strip, she adds.

After 25 minutes shirt-only trudging in the cooling breeze of a winter twilight in the desert metropolis, E@L and his three Japanese colleagues finally reach this "good Chinese" restaurant, up on the 3rd floor.

If the quality of a restaurant's Atmosphere can be judged by the dimness of the lighting, this one was redolent with a heady, Atmospheric, dark brilliance. We stumble into each other as we exit the lift, hands pawing the air in front of us for clues in the fixtures and fittings...

Out of the gloom someone with an arrogant, faintly Filipino accent (is that possible?) asks if we had a reservation.

"Oh, so you ARE open. We thought that you were closed, because, like, all the lights are off," comments E@L .

"No sarcastic sir, we ARE open. This low-level ambience gives us much more Atmosphere. In twenty minutes or so your retinal cones will eventually shut down and the rods will become acclimatized... We actually give our regular customers pairs of red goggles to wear when they drive over here, so that the period of adjustment is greatly reduced. Table for four? We must ask you to vacate the table by 8:30. We apologize for the haste, but we are fully booked."

It was 6pm. How slow can the service be?

"Sure," says E@L, "come 8:29 we'll be out of here like Iranian rats up an Nuclear-powered drainpipe..."

"You table is over here... No, sir, over HERE... Please follow the lights on the ground. Please note your nearest exit. In the event of an emergency, please order the mixed sushi platter."


We hold the menu up to the windows, hoping that enough early evening starlight can penetrate the plate-glass. It seems that the Guest Relations lady has very little idea of what constitutes "good Chinese food." There doesn't seem to be anything on the menu vaguely Chinese, it being 60% sushi, sashimi and maki, the rest half Italian and half indescribable fusion. Oops, here, on the mixed entree (appetizer) platter, there are some Peking duck rolls with wasabi caviar. That's it. No, a lie. Wonton and wasabi rocket noodle soup also. Adding wasabi makes any food "fusion", in case you didn't know. Rocket helps as well.

Gradually, as the rods kick in, we realize that the lights ARE on, just so faint as to have been overwhelmed initially by the starlight - but when a cloud passes over the belt of Orion, we note the dim energy of a few moderately excited electrons raging subliminally about the cathode wires of a few Osram bulbs over in a distant corner by the sushi bar, generating very little light but scads of intriguing Atmosphere.

But after the long walk we couldn't be bothered going somewhere else for, like, um, Chinese food. We shrug shoulders and agree to forego the plan for Chinese tonight, and order whatever here.

But then there must have been some electro-magnetic disturbance in the AC ether, as even those bulbs fade out. It is almost pitch black. Only a ghostly silver sidereal ambience...

"Wow," said E@L, "how Atmospheric can you get!"

"Hope sushi chef can see hokay!" comments Makita-san.

"No, they're used to it. They slice in the dark all the time. 'Finger maki, sir?' 'How fresh?' 'The blood is still pumping out my stump, sir...'" E@L miming a distressed amputee holding up his delongated finger... Pump, pump, squirts the imagined blood... Makita-san et al giggle politely at what they imagine they can see.

The lights come up again and E@L calms down. He notes two identical tall cylindrical objects of brushed stainless steel in the centre of the table. Both have small knobs on top. Both are "invisibly" sectioned about 30% down from the top into two regions. E@L picks one up. It's the size of a moderately proportioned dildo. The pepper mill.

(Which, by way of diversion, reminds E@L: in the Italian restuarant last night, the pepper mill was so large it required four waiters to hold it aloft over his plate and a fifth to operate the complicated winching system which rotated the mill: it had its own postal-code... It should have been set up by a descending stream...)

E@L grasps the pleasantly milled steel and grates some output onto his placemat. Yep, pepper. The other mill must be salt, but it is absolutely identical. He grinds some output from it as well - halt, it's salt. Here's a practical question the highly overpaid designer might never have considered: How can a user tell which is which until they use it? Or are you meant to sniff and sneeze? Examining the salt mill closely E@L finds that engraved across the base is the single word; Peugeot. On the other mill, the same.

E@L shakes his head and groans. Form over function again. And with a fucking international BRAND name.

"This is an emblem of what is wrong with the 21st century," he claims. "A set of useless designer salt and pepper mills with the brand name of a French automobile manufacturer in a Japanese restaurant in Arabia. OK, Dubai, but you know what I mean." He buries his head in Akashi-san's shoulder and starts to weep.

"It's too much for me!"

The Japanese look at each other and worry silently. There is a day and a half of training to go. Akashi-san begins to giggle politely.

They have no idea what the problem could possibly be.

How long can he continue to accept living in a world such as this?


Gratuitous Schopenhauer quote:

We shall do best to think of this life as a desengaño, as a process of disillusionment: since this is, clearly enough, what everything that happens to us is calculated to produce.



Posted by: expat@large on Jan 19, 06 | 11:57 pm | Profile


LOL! Especially thisn

In the event of an emergency, please order the mixed sushi platter.”

Posted by: Tom on Jan 20, 06 | 5:09 am

That's what I ordered as I was wanted my wasabi on *Japanese* food...

Posted by: expat@large on Jan 20, 06 | 10:32 am

Maybe the Atmosphere is a smart attempt to erm.. accentuate ("hide") the appearance of the food. Desengaño indeed.

Peugeot salt and pepper mills... that's new. You should have filched it. It's defective anyway.

Posted by: WJ the II on Jan 23, 06 | 6:42 pm

The sushi was very nice but on the "modern" side of a good size serve for a growing boy... $30US for six small pieces of sushi and four small pieces of sashimi.

I was thinking maybe the Peugeot mills were souveniers from the Dubai Formula One GP or something. (Is there one?) On every table as well. Defective? Nice looking but poor functionality (poor "user-friendliness") if you can't tell the pepper from the salt.

Posted by: expat@large on Jan 24, 06 | 3:35 am

Too funny. My colleagues are thinking I enjoy work too much.

Why aren't your posts this funny any more? (Yes, my glass is half empty today.)

Posted by: knobby on Mar 18, 08 | 9:07 pm


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