kottke.org posts about unitedarabemirates

In which we meet the Emirati Winston WolfNov 20 2008

I've been reading this site called I Keep a Diary for I don't know how long, six years at least. The site is a hand-crafted throwback to an earlier web era, a series of annotated photo galleries that document the life, times, adventures, and friends of Brian Battjer Jr. Like its proprietor, the site is funny, enthusiastic, and good-natured, and that's what keeps me coming back for more. I even visit the splash page each time I go because I like the quote that appears on it so much:

i feel nostalgia for things i've never known

IKAD is one of my favorite things on the web and the most recent entry is so truly magical that I had to share. Brian is more than a year behind in documenting his adventures so he's just now getting around to telling the story of his July 2007 trip to Thailand and the United Arab Emirates with his girlfriend, Meredith. After telling his boss that he's taking a month off of work, subletting his apartment, and arranging to stay with a friend in Dubai, he and Meredith speed off to the airport.

At this point, I urge you to just go read the story -- it's great and Brian tells it *way* better than I could -- because I'm going to ruin a lot of it. If you need more convincing of this story's wonderfulness, read on.

Anyway, off they go to JFK for their flight to Dubai. The woman at the Emirates check-in desk has no record of their tickets...becaue they got to the airport a whole day late. After some nervous moments, the woman finds them some seats on the plane.

Fast forward 12 hours or so: they land and deplane. Meredith discovers that she lost her passport and she swears that the thing is still on the plane. Emirates won't let her get back on the plane to look for it but they send an employee to look for it. No dice. They then spent several hours trying to find somone to let them on the plane to search. No luck. Intense panic sets in; the plane is scheduled to leave for NYC in an hour or two.

At this point, Brian phones his friend in Dubai, Bernadette, whom he has never met in person, and explains to her the situation. She says, "I'm on the way to the airport now...I'll see what I can do." It turns out that Bernadette's boss is a sheikh, one of the richest men in the world, and one of the most powerful men in Dubai. Bernadette arrives and tells them that her boss has dispatched his "fixer", his Mr. Wolf. "You ain't got no problems, Brian. I'm on the motherfucker. Chill out and wait for Mahmoun, who should be comin' directly."

"Shit Negro, that's all you had to say."

Sure enough, about ten minutes later a very large, serious-looking Emirati man walked up to the armed guards at immigration and with a nod, they let the dude through! We were like "Whoa." Mahmoun came over to us, and asked us to tell him the problem (and he even whipped out a little pad to take notes just like Mr. Wolf!). After we'd finished explaining to him that we were almost 100% sure that the passport was still on the plane, he was like "Meredith you come with me. Bernadette and Brian, you wait here."

He came back like two minutes later with ten airline employees in tow and said something like "This airplane is supposed to fly back to New York in forty-five minutes, but it's not going anywhere until the passport that's on there is found. So let's go find it."

Did Meredith recover the passport? Does Mahmoun go medieval on anyone's ass? Oh, you'll have to find out for yourself.

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