The dhows are beautiful. They sit row upon row up against the creek wall, dirty blue, worn gracefully like old men telling tales and agreeing together life was once slower and the young respectful. I asked and asked along the creek for an Indian bound dhow. They were kindly sailors keen to speak and tell me of life sailing a dhow, even alluding to the romance of such a life. Javad, a tall thin Iranian with an oval tanned face and wide cheeks when he chatted, clean cut hair and wearing aviators, like a true Tom Cruise, showed me the working of the dhow. It seemed a lazy life, eight men sitting about on deck rugs gossiping and praying and cooking rice. The hold tossed high with truck tyres as an intolerant mother would with her son’s toy box. I asked Javad about the route to India. ‘It is no more.’ he said with a sigh. ‘The last dhow sailed only a few years ago.’ And told me instead of his father’s adventures. ‘And what is left of the dhows?’ I asked. ‘They plough back and forth across the Strait of Hormazd to Bander Abbas in Iran.’ Javad replied. A cheap backward town I had left only ten days ago. Next time this is how I will arrive at Dubai. It may not be comfortable, but it is romantic, and I’ll be close to the adventures of Jack Sparrow. But I had better be quick!
The English pie was excellent. Chicken and leek made by an old Swiss friend now living in Dubai as a baker and rolling out six hundred at a time from his bakery in Oud Maud, close to the creek. It seemed a strange twist to life from a man I only ever knew as a classic car collector who drove the world seeking an adventure. ‘Did you ever imagine the perfect English pie would be made by a Swiss man, using Iranian four and turned into dough using the best UAE waters?’ – ‘No Patrick, I did not!’ – ‘It is the water that makes great pies, as the Scottish waters perfect the best whiskey. Where else could I go?’ Who am I to argue? Except times moves on and Patrick should produce the first chicken tikka masala pies; an English pie for the 21st century. Like cricket, we are being beaten by Johnny Foreigner at our own game.