Yoghurt v. cigarettes

I sit in my big tower and watch people. This is what I do. And this is what everyone else does in Dubai: they sit in their big towers and watch people. At least I imagine they do, I could be wrong. Yesterday if you were in one of those big towers watching people you would have seen me. I was trying to find a supermarket, but in typical fashion I was trying to find a supermarket badly. Someone had told me that this supermarket was opposite the big tower I’m staying in, ‘it’s just there’ they told me, but when I crossed the busy road in front of my big tower and looked ‘just there’ I didn’t see a supermarket. I didn’t see anything. So I crossed back over the busy road and asked the man who works at the bottom of my big tower where the nearest supermarket is. He looked at me as if I was mad, as if I’d asked him to walk to the moon with me, and then told me it was there, just there, just across the road. So I crossed the road and didn’t see the supermarket so walked for a bit with my hangover up another road and stopped after a while and pretended to check my phone as people were beginning to look at me peculiarly. I thought if I stopped and checked my phone then I could turn back down the road and look like I suddenly had some important business to attend to, rather than look like a 35 year old man who is unable to adapt to the heat and unable to find a supermarket.

Eventually I found it. I crossed and recrossed the road several more times and pretended to check my phone lots and spent a lot of time wondering whether or not I should go back to the man who works at the bottom of my big tower and ask him again where – just tell me where – the fucking supermarket is, but in the end I found it. And there was nothing unusual about it, despite the 300 or so preceding words suggesting that there might have been. Actually, there was one thing that struck me: the price of cigarettes. Cigarettes cost about six dirhams a pack, roughly one pound. Everything else costs more then six dirhams. I saw a yoghurt – not, despite having an umlaut just thrown into the name somewhere, a particularly good yoghurt – that cost 18 dirhams. That’s three packs of cigarettes in my money, not 18 dirhams. I don’t see things in terms of money out here, just in cigarette terms. I went to buy a banana milkshake today (a rubbish one, one from a shop) that cost three packs of cigarettes and refused to buy it, reasoning – quite rightly – that I would rather smoke three packs of cigarettes than drink one banana milkshake. Last night I bought a friend a glass of wine that cost ten packs of cigarettes and I begrudged her every sip.

The point is, and there is a point to all of this, that I’m smoking lots. The other point, is that all this smoking has done wonders for my head. Made my lungs that little bit itchier, perhaps, but it’s sharpened me up no end and cleared my mind. And I’ve realised that it’s been a long time since I’ve done any journalism of the sort I used to enjoy – finding things out that not many people know about and writing about them. And here, in Dubai, there’s plenty going on that not a lot of people know about. I could go undercover, I think, and expose something. Anything. I could find the seedy underbelly of Dubai. I could go searching for the hidden Dubai that no one really knows about. This is what I think. Then I realise that it took me about an hour to find a supermarket across the road from me – a supermarket that I can see clearly as I type these words – and wonder if I should give it a day or two before I go searching for a Dubai that probably doesn’t exist. In the meantime, if anyone fancies dropping by to chainsmoke with me I’ll be sitting in my big tower writing a book.



13 responses to “Yoghurt v. cigarettes

  1. 10 packs of cigarettes for a glass of wine? Fuck that, I’d have been off!

  2. Steven, keep that chin well and truly up!
    I`m about to go through your postings but, in case I come across anything defamatory about me, before I read I`ll say take care, don`t mess with the arabs – or their laws and you`re welcome here when you get back.

  3. Yoghurt, wine, banana milkshake – all these things hate cigarettes.

    Think about it…if you put a cigarette in any one of them, would it happily smoke it?

    No. It would put it out instantly.

  4. This blog is fuckin’ mental – you know that right?

    Who cannot find a supermarket amid an Arab residence is ridiculous. You are ridiculopus. Your life is ridiculous. All yoru friends are ridiculous. And those who read this blog are…ridiculous.

    But we love you noetheless x x x xx xx x x x x xx x x x x

  5. Crusthoven, is that really your Dad, or are you takin’ piss?
    He’s cool as, man.

  6. Fandango,
    Yep, I`m his Dad, but I`m not cool enough to not worry about him.
    Put that fag out and email your Dad

  7. Steven, ignore Terry, do not email him. Simply post what you would have emailed – win win!

  8. Just because someone addresses me as Steven, calls himself Terry Rowland and signs off his comment ‘Dad’ does not mean that the phenomenon that is Pitching the World is being written by Steven Rowland. Pitching the World is being written anonymously. I have no idea who this Steven Rowland character is.

  9. Steven Rowland's Friend

    Hey Steven,

    How is Dubai? When will you post the Dubai entry? Btw listen to your dad.


  10. Wow Pitchy, seems some people are getting dangerously close to outing your true identity (or so they think?!). Good thing that documentary about you is top secret. Despite pressure from all sides and huge financial incentives, I’ve held back from screening it at major film fests, broadcasting it etc. to keep your name from getting out there….. you’re welcome 🙂


  11. Good read, keep up the good work!

  12. rob arrowsmith

    If yogurt is three times as expensive as a packet of cigarettes, how many fosters would you consider swapping for a tub of margerine?

  13. Aerosmith! How wonderful to see you here. I don’t know how to answer that though. One?

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