Five months of vanilla

by Brett Seychell on August 17, 2012

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‘You have to write something about Dubai! We were there for five months!’ Kimmi insists as I sit staring blankly at my lap top for the second hour, doing my best to get out of it.

It was true, we had been in Dubai from late December to late May, but that didn’t necessarily mean that she was right. Just because she was factually correct, didn’t make her right. We weren’t supposed to be there for that long, it certainly wasn’t part of the plan and it definitely wasn’t because we loved the city.

‘Yeah, but Dubai wasn’t part of the trip! It wasn’t a cycling, cultural, travelling or charity based experience. We worked while we were there!’ I retort to Kimmi, waiting for her admission of defeat in this debate as all of what I had said was true AND right!

We’d arrived in Dubai just in time for the opening of Mahiki, a Polynesian themed upmarket nightclub, in Jumeirah Beach Hotel. It was the second site to open as the first is based in London. I don’t really know why we rushed to make it for the opening as neither of us had been to Mahiki in London, nor do we really care for nightclubs in the upmarket, high end, fashionable, who’s who kind of scene. I suppose it was just nice to be in air conditioning after so long in Iran.

‘Perhaps, but it is still an experience that happened somewhere in between leaving London and arriving in Melbourne by bicycle. So it’s still part of the trip, so you should still write about it.’

Damn. That’s a good argument, but I’m not done yet. ‘Yeah, but we just worked at Mahiki. Every day we woke up, went to work, came home, went to bed just to repeat the process the next day! What is there to write about? It felt like our life in London! And we never would have gotten the job if it wasn’t run like a chicken farm!’

The management had been chasing their tails since opening, which they were never really ready for and were pushed to open by the investors. All of which opened a door for Kimmi and I. For Kimmi it was the role of ‘consultant’, so she could prance around and critique everything yet be responsible for nothing. It was perfect for her. For me, I was given the position of Commi chef, the lowest position in a kitchen team of five, who got to cut a lot of vegetables and then got screamed at by Chef for them not being straight enough. Staff food was tough.

Kimmi wasn’t giving up yet. She was determined to win this little debate, not because she particularly wanted me to write something about Dubai, but just because she really enjoys winning.

‘OK, but you could talk about your promotions through to Sous Chef, then Operations Manager, all within three months, you could talk about what it’s like being shouted at by Chef so much in public, or you could talk about the drama of Mahiki, you could talk about how we were stupid enough to cycle on an eight lane freeway, how we spent Christmas with a wonderful German family and went kite surfing on Christmas Day, you could talk about our meeting with the CEO of The One retail store to sell the Kosovan Soap from our project, you could talk about how sleeping under a million stars is so much better than five, you could talk about……’

‘Alright, alright, alright! I get it, stuff happened! But I’m not too sure there is anything that I really want to write about.’ I beckoned.

Kimmi sighed and looked at me like my mum used to when I was a teenager and told her I didn’t have any homework to do.

I suppose there was a lot of stuff that happened in those five months, but nothing that really jumped out at me. Perhaps being stripped bare of all my confidence and being screamed at by Chef while my colleagues looked on, as I stood on the line shaking like a shitting dog, could be a story. And perhaps the Days of Our Lives style drama between the Mahiki crew is mind blowingly juicy, if you’re into that sort of thing, but you’d have to know the characters. Or even the fire breathing bartenders and the fire burning customers of Mahiki could get a mention, but I wasn’t there that night.

All in all, our time in Dubai wasn’t a waste. It gave me a few unexpected and valued friendships that I will always hold close, regardless of distance. Thank you Chef and Hamish. And it lined our personal pockets with enough money to continue travelling without sleeping with cockroaches and eating with rats throughout Asia.

But what Dubai didn’t give me was something to write about, and to that I hold firm, if for no other reason but to win the argument with Kimmi.

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