CONCEPT: 4/5 WRITING: 3/5 CANDIDNESS:3/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 3/5 OVERALL: 3/5
“I was living the best life in Dubai: I was working as a Flight Attendant for one of the world’s best airlines and I was living in the most comfortable city in the world. But as they say, it’s not gold everything that shines, so it didn’t take me to long to understand what the toll was and the price I had to pay, in exchange for this luxury life-style.”– Carmen Lopez, Life after Dubai
In the mood for a light non-fiction memoir (because I hadn’t read one in a long time), I was back again on my Kindle, going through my Kindle Unlimited subscription catalogue, trying to figure out a book that I would be tempted to pick up.
The middle-east especially Dubai has always held a special charm for Indians, maybe because so many of us know people who have been there, or know people who live and work there.
Anyways, even behind all the glitz and glamour of the Dubai life, there is something else – a life that is difficult to adjust to and yet even more difficult to forsake. The comforts, the luxury, and the high money – it all has a big price. And that’s exactly what this book, Life After Dubai tries to tell us.
Carmen Lopez was a Spanish girl of twenty-six years when she first decided to move to Dubai. Her father had recently passed away and she was confused and unemployed, not to mention looking for an opportunity to spread her wings.
Attracted to travelling and to new adventures, and having previously worked at a short stint at a cruise ship, and later another year in London as a cabin crew member for an international airline, she had developed a taste for exotic experiences and that’s exactly when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with a middle-eastern airline came her way.
This new job had many perks, not to mention the lavish lifestyle and the unbelievable salary that she would be making. What’s more – most of the amenities were free and she wouldn’t be paying any taxes. What more could one want?
But it did come with a few challenges too – it required her to shift to Dubai, a middle-eastern country so far away from home and her family, and a country that was under Sharia law, which meant a great cultural shock for her.
In Life After Dubai, Carmen takes us not just through her life after Dubai, but also through her life before it, the experiences and the many challenges that she faced while living there, her conundrum with respect to living or not living there, and finally, after she does leave her ‘golden cage’, she takes us through the difficulties that she faced after going back.
After getting used to a new life in a new country, the reverse culture shock that she experienced post being back in Spain was unexpected, and she was quite ill-prepared for it.
Through her story, we get to know the insider’s point of view of living in Dubai, but it is not just that. We are also acquainted with the life of an air hostess and the unique challenges that people in the airline industry have to brave. Travelling long-haul flights, often crossing multiple time zones in a single day, messes up with the body’s natural circadian clock, thus messing up with their sleep cycles.
This means that sometimes even after a long-haul flight of over 22 hours, one might still be unable to sleep even though terribly exhausted. This is where Carmen also tells us that most crew members are prone to regularly taking sleeping pills or other such sedatives that may induce sleep.
She also acquaints us with how the lifestyle of crew members changes at different points in their age, the young ones really enjoy the travelling, vacationing at 5-star hotels in exotic locations, partying with their friends, and just making the most of the hectic lifestyle. But once the years go down, and monotony sets in, the irresistible urge to break free starts creeping in.
Years of functioning like a well-oiled machine finally take a toll on both the body and mind, and there start the problems.
She also narrates her experiences with passengers from different countries and tells how Indian flights are the most demanding ones, Nigeria is one of the most dangerous destinations, and also how the mannerisms of Chinese passengers would differ from African ones and so on.
The writing is simple though lacking finesse. Nothing that careful editing could not have changed. I also think that the author was much less candid than the book blurb made it seem. I also feel that the book lacks a proper structure and that some honest candid photos from the author’s life would have made it much more personal and relatable.
The second half of the book seems a bit dragged and repetitive but I understand how sharing her innermost thoughts on paper might have felt therapeutic to the writer.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Life After Dubai using the link below.
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