When I lived in Aylesbury, one night we had just stopped outside a take-away when a group of 20-somethings rolled out of the pub on the corner.
Holding on to each other for support they staggered up the road yelling insults at anyone who crossed their path. A couple of the girls braving the sub-zero temperature in tiny dresses and bare legs went to cross the road just in front of my car. A few steps into the road, one of the girls stumbled.
Looking to see what had tripped her up, I thought I’d see a rock or a broken heel or even a doggy poo… but not to worry, it was only her knickers sliding down her legs.
She stepped out of them nonchalently while her friend picked them up and popped them into her handbag… and life continued as normal as they carried on yelling insults to all and sundry.
Dubai feels civil
There are no gangs hanging around street corners, no gun or knife culture and no raucous behaviour spilling out of pubs.
It’s a breath of fresh air being able to walk down the road without having the mugger-radar on full alert. Even at midnight.
NOTE TO SELF:
Dubai might feel safe but a crime-free society is an illusion.
The level of crime in Dubai is nowhere near London levels – but there is crime here. A quick peruse of the local papers tells you of police impersonations, abductions, rape, burglary and theft.
I heard of a scam recently where a labourer approaches a lone woman walking her dog and pretends to get bitten by it. He shows her the “bite” and threatens to call the police and have the dog put down unless she pays him immediately. Other labourers come running up all pretending to have seen the dog bite the man and through intimidation and fear, the woman pays up.
I don’t know if this is a real scam or an urban myth. What I do know is that I’ve had my share of dodgy encounters while walking the dog.
“I Love You”
First there are men who see any woman walking alone as fair game. They slow to a crawl as they drive by, wind their windows down and shout “I love you” over their music. Lurid whistles and gestures follow.
Hold your phone up to take a photo of their number plate and they shoot away faster than a rocket.
“I Love Your Dog”
Then there are the muscle cars with blacked out windows that glide to a stop in front of me. They hover silently, menacingly. There’s no clue as to who is inside and they glide off just as silently as they stopped.
In my naivity I initially assumed they must be admiring Happydoggy – puppies are like your first born; just because you love it, you assume everyone else does too.
Then someone told me people often scout around for small animals to steal for illegal dog fights.
A friend of mine had her cat stolen. The cat escaped and found her way home with some horrific injuries – the vet said she’d probably been used as bait in a dog fight.
“I Want to Be Your Dog”
Another occassion, another guy. He started telling me how he was like my dog. “Huh?” I said.
“I wear white” he explained pointing to his Arabic outfit. “Your dog is white. You can lead me around like your dog.”
“WTF?!?!?!” I think to myself.
Outwardly I laugh politely and start walking away fast. “You are lovely my dear” he continues. “We should be friends. I live in this house. My door is always open to you.” He gives me his business card.
I take the card home and give it to Mr HW. “If anything happens to me, here’s the prime suspect.”
“I Want to Walk 4 Steps Behind You and Hope You Won’t Notice”
Another time, a guy I’d nodded a polite greeting to in passing ended up following me around the block. I crossed the road. So did he. I crossed back. So did he…
I called Mr HW and spoke loudly asking him to come out of the house as I was being followed. The bluff worked and the guy turned around and walked away.
Dubai feels safe… but if you’re a woman walking alone, keep your wits about you.
In my next post I’ll be outlining basic etiquette to keep yourself safe while you’re out walking your dog. Check back soon or subscribe here to get new posts by email.