I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my third post.
In order to get them, you had to walk through a smoke-filled section. Men in white thobes (a long garment worn by men in the countries around the Arabian Gulf) lounging on comfortable chairs smoking cigarettes and cigars, cups of coffee steaming before them, immersed in a halo of smoke, chatter and laughter that would last well into the early hours of the morning.
There is no drinking there, no partying, at least not in the way the Western world knows it. No clubbing and drunken brawls. Things are safer and more peaceful. Somewhat. There is danger everywhere, in all places and all cultures, of course.
My father would stop the car there on the way to a function or a family get-together or a dinner party, and sometimes it would be just my brother who would get out, and sometimes I would too. We would walk through the double doors, hit instantaneously by a cooling blast of air from the AC, and the baking heat of the Arabian desert, even at night, was trapped behind those sliding doors. There was external bit, with plants and beautiful beige tiles, gleaming under the spotlights overhead. They really know how to set the mood here. The cigarette smoke wafted into every corner, and it was strangely tasty, intertwining with the smell of strong coffee and the sweet anticipatory smell of those doughnuts.
Then another pair of glass doors would slide open, and an even colder blast of AC air whooshing out, ushering us in along with some remnants of smoke. For they had to have an air conditioned smoking section, else where would their highest paying customers go?
And finally there we were. The familiar pink and orange sign, two bubble words, and a fun coffee cup doodle leaning on the side. An array of doughnuts in spotlighted displays. Pink and orange seats, a far cry from the comfortable plush lounge chairs in the smoking area, dotted here and there. And ovens behind the counter, trays emerging containing rows upon rows of round, holey goodness.
The sweet, warm smell of doughnuts and glaze. A special smell, exciting and lip-smacking. A box of 12 doughnuts for what would amount to £2 at that time – we got two boxes, and some munchkins too.
Then it was back out, from the cold, to the cool smoky air, to the hot dry air of the heaving night city. Lights and traffic and warmth that rose through the pavement and into the very roots of our hair. The city comes alive at night, you see. Families time their outings for sunset, funfairs rage, lights flash, drive thus are brimming, parks are packed until the early hours, swings swinging and slides sagging under the weight of thousands of children. What is bedtime? No such thing here.
Thousands of families out on the weekend, past 12. Past 1am. Past 2, 3… only by 4am do the streets begin to still again. As the dawn creeps in, that is when the merrymakers go to bed, ready to sleep through the arid heat of another day, and then when nightfall hits, it all starts again.
Do I miss that life? Why yes. Yes I do. There was a simplicity in the hardship, a friendly ease. A community of life and laughter. A living that cannot be replicated here where I am now. A safety unhindered by the harshness of drink. Humanity, plain and simple, unmarred by chemical effects.
A tray of doughnuts, and let the merrymaking begin.