|Image Source: Random House India|
After I moved to the UAE, Desperate In Dubai, is the first fiction novel I am reading which is based out of Dubai. What initially attracted me to it, was the title – it sounded a lot like me! The second fact that caught my fancy was that, like Julie & Julia which I wrote about earlier, this book too initially started off as a blog, before garnering enough support to be written into a book. Now doesn’t every blogger wish for such a fairy tale? Sigh!
Anyway, coming to the point, it was good to read a book which spoke so much about the locales of Dubai – not from a touristy perspective, but from an insider’s. I am not really an expert of Dubai landmarks, but still it was nice to follow the characters around familiar places. Also I liked the observations that the writer has made about general life in Dubai, as I could very well relate to it. For example, she explains how the social hierarchy is structured – Arabs are the all important ones (which is kinda understandable, this being their country and all), followed by white-skinned people and only then do we Indians and the rest of the world including Filipinos and Africans come into the picture. So true! One can almost feel the stigma and this favouritism is quite evident even with employers who specifically state, “Only Western educated candidates will be considered”!
But that is where the similarity ends. My life is in no way similar to any of the main protagonists, who spend their time driving flashy cars, flaunting designer clothes and club-hopping at expensive discs, in short leading a totally extravagant lifestyle, which quite simply, I (and I suspect you too) can’t afford. Having said that, I found the book quite intriguing and the drama involved, pretty racy. The way the author has inter-connected the stories of the four leading ladies and inter-woven their lives is quite appealing.
The dilemmas of the women, are mostly to do with matters of the heart more than anything else – but still Desperate In Dubai, is hardly a romance novel. It goes into the lives of four women, who seemingly have everything in life, be it money or beauty, and exposes their weaknesses, vulnerabilities as well as the darker side of their characters.
If there was one thing that I wasn’t too impressed with, it is the names of the main characters. While Leila and Nadia are okay, Lady Luxe is weird although thankfully, we come to know that it is only a pseudonym; but Sugar?? Who names anyone Sugar anyway!? It sounds more like an endearment than a name.
Apparently, Desperate In Dubai, earned itself a ban in Dubai, which was later revoked! No one is really sure as to the reasons behind the temporary ban, but I would imagine it is because the book delves into the protected and hush-hush lives of influential Emiratis. This book is touted as ‘The UAE’s answer to Desperate Housewives’. I haven’t watched Desperate Housewives, so I can’t comment on that, but on the whole, it made for an interesting read.