You’ve Been Mangoed

As I write at the breakfast table, my iPhone is in the hands of a Bedouin who is skilled in taking phones apart, cleaning them, and putting them back together again. I’ve been told that he can get anything out of them. My phone has been mangoed.

I knew it was going to happen, too. I’d been carrying round a slightly leaky carton of mango juice in my bag for a day and knew it would spill on something. It spilled into a pocket of my bag, into which I unwittingly thrust my phone. Lovely. It carried on working as normal for a few hours so I thought I was in the clear, until it started saying NO SIM and suddenly trying to delete apps without me telling it to. I tried the old ‘bag of rice’ trick overnight to no avail.

I asked a range of people about my options – everyone mentioned the guy in Asilah Square with the magic touch so we went there last night. If he fixes it, I will be astonished. I’ll update you in my next post…

Poolside view, Acacia Hotel.

Poolside view, Acacia Hotel.

So this meant that I had a day without my iPhone and it turned out to be blessing. I’ve been spending the last couple of days at the pool of the Acacia Hotel, which is closer to the sea than the one I’m staying in (I checked out one of the rooms – pretty cool – around £30 per night). It has a relaxed poolside vibe with some interesting people busying themselves with dive trips, and a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the sea. I’ve just found a spot among the Bedouin cushions and stared at the Gulf across to Saudi Arabia.

The view from the restaurant over the Gulf of Aqaba across to Saudi Arabia.

The view from the restaurant over the Gulf of Aqaba across to Saudi Arabia.

As you do. I’ve also been joined by a variety of animals – Bufra’s daughter, Fatty, and a load of cats. NB. Don’t order the tuna salad unless you have a water gun by your side. They appear like something out of Dawn of the Dead.

Fatty is sleeping, with the trademark Bufra smile on her face.

Fatty is sleeping, with the trademark Bufra smile on her face.

You may have noticed that I’m a tad obsessed with the animals of Dahab, specifically the dogs. I have a theory that it is the Dogs of Dahab who rule the town, the humans are just incidental. There are street dogs, pet dogs, dogs that run gangs who literally hound each other around town, dogs that smile, dogs that can’t bear it if you stop stroking them, dogs covered in battle scars from a hard life, puppies that pull the hem of your dress. I heard that people often adopt dogs they like to save them from living on the streets. Sniff.

Yesterday I met my friend Sara’s little puppy and had a cuddle. I needed it after the iPhone fiasco. Puppy cuddles are the way forward, it seems. And a little retail therapy – I bought a couple of dresses from a guy I know who never hassles me and a bangle from quiet Mohamed Ghareb in the gorgeous Why Not shop (I ‘know’ him via Instagram). If only Egyptians learnt that the way to the tourist dollar is by NOT asking them to come into their shops. I make a point of only shopping in the quiet places.

After spending the day watching people prepare snorkelling and diving equipment at the Liquid Dive Centre next to the hotel I realised I must be the only person not doing it in Dahab. I can’t swim. I keep asking around for boat trips I can go on that don’t involve getting in the water. Why do I have to? What happened to just being on a boat? They seem to think it would be boring – not for me. The sea is never boring.

If I go on a dive boat I know I’ll be hassled to death, “Just wear a lifejacket! You will love it!” No. No I won’t. I will panic and you will have to save me. I’ll spend the whole time being a dickhead in front of everyone and having to explain myself. I almost feel bullied in these situations, to be honest. If one thing could improve my Dahab Days, it would be a simple boat trip into the Gulf. Just with my book and some drinks. Surely someone can provide that?

Until then, this is where you’ll find me…

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Insta Me

Yesterday I went on my very first ‘Instameet’ – a group of photo-app Instagram enthusiasts met up to socialise and photograph the Tall Ships Festival in Greenwich. There were about 100 of us ‘IGers’, as we are known, and there are ‘meets’ like this all over the world, in most major cities. I loved it – I met some really great people who are as curious as me about the world, with the same ‘that could be a great Instagram’ view on life in London.

I’ve always been a bit of an Instagram purist – I take the ‘insta’ part of it very seriously and HAVE to post photos then and there, in the moment. It slightly irks me when other IGers post things a day or even a week later. The ‘insta’ element has gone as far as I’m concerned and these photos become ‘latergrams’. 

So it took me by surprise that the majority of IGers are using state-of-the-art digital cameras, a range of editing apps, and taking and storing up pictures to be edited and posted later. I posted my Tall Ships pictures as we walked round, all of them taken on my lil’ ol’ iPhone, within the Instagram app, with only a filter added here and there. When I ‘checked in’ to a particular location, I was actually standing there. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with either way of working but it made me think about how I always want instant gratification and how difficult I find it to wait for things to happen. I like to live life in the moment, because very quickly the moment is gone.

This affects every facet of my life.

Some time ago, a work colleague coined the term, ‘Lisa Time.’ I’d go to the pub with her after work and complain about how long it took for people to do or respond to things. Whether it was a response to a work proposal or a text from a guy I liked, I’d moan to her about how long it all took. One night, she said, “Lisa – those people you think are slow are actually just running at normal speed. It is you who is going fast.” 

This was an epiphany for me. I started to think about all those times when I have found slowness so tiresome.

Commuting to work: quite apart from obvious delays on public transport, I often think that I could complete a day’s work by the time some people have moved out of the tube station. They seem to be rambling happily along, as though they’re on a relaxing holiday. In fact:

Holidays: when people take pictures of themselves ‘relaxing’ on holiday with a cocktail, I wince. Just the word ‘relaxing’ makes me cringe slightly. In these pictures, people are often staring soporifically at the camera, and you know they’re just going to be sitting there like that, without moving, for hours. I find it difficult to be so inactive, so anaesthetised from life – if I’m going to drink, then it comes with very lively conversation and possibly dancing. If people ask me what I do to ‘relax’, I say ‘I go for a run or walk to work.’ Yep, that’s my form of anaesthetic. I’ve actually had to train myself to do ‘sun-lounging’ on holiday, with regular breaks to do something relaxing. Like walking.

At the supermarket: my nemesis is the painfully slow self-checkout, with people moving items over the scanner at a glacial pace. I’m often tempted to just grab the stuff and do it for them. There you go, love. You just gained five minutes of extra time in your life. You’re welcome.

Buying stuff: instant gratification means I buy stuff now – clothes, holidays, drinks, books, food. When I want them (within reason). I don’t save for a rainy day. I know that freaks some people out, but I think I’ve seen too many lives fall apart in later life to wait for some mythical halcyon day to arrive when I can spend all my money. I want to enjoy it now.

Dating: the deliberately slow response to a message so that the receiver doesn’t think you’re too keen. I’ve given up on that. I just answer. I’m usually near or holding my phone when a message comes through so I just answer it. “That was quick!!” they always say. Yep, it is. Deal with it. 

Work emails: I operate a fast-response policy. Sometimes too hastily done, but I can’t bear the other person labouring under a false impression of something, if I have the correct answer to the query, or a correction to the content of the email. Over the years, I’ve caught sight of a few colleagues’ inboxes with hundreds of unread, unresponded-to emails. I can’t bear to look…

Facebook and Twitter: again, I operate my fast-response policy, if only to get rid of the annoying notification symbol from my wall. I want to answer or accept the invitation and move on. As with work emails, I sometimes see friends’ notifications numbering over 20 and shudder. If I get one – I see it, answer it if required, move on. 

Group activities: if I’m going out with a group of people to the pub or something, I always walk on ahead by myself. I can’t bear that moment of faffing around waiting for slowies, and then having to curb my pace as we walk to the venue, filling the time with small talk. I time my activities so I get there ‘just in time’, not before or after (well, maybe a little bit after, as slowies sometimes slow me down en route). It happened at yesterday’s Instameet – the moment after the initial group ‘meet’ in Greenwich saw me striding off on my own to find a space to take pictures. I caught up with a splinter group later, just as they were deciding to move on to the next location. Perfect.

Technology: my iPhone is actually too slow for me. If I accidentally open the wrong app, that split second where it opens and closes makes me want to yell with frustration. The same can be said for supermarket checkout scanners – I’ve put the item on the bagging area before it’s even recognised what it is. Keep up, Tesco, keep up.

I’m not sure if I’m cumulatively gaining extra time in my life by all this high-speed activity, but to me, it’s not high speed, it’s Lisa Time. It’s just the way I choose to live and I do find it difficult to witness people going at half pace. To me, they seem half alive, but maybe I am missing something.

I have tried to slow down in recent years and be kinder to myself, but still, my best moments are the spontaneous, fast-moving, ‘alive’ ones. Like the moment last night where I met one of the IGers from that morning and went drinking and dancing on the terrace outside the Royal Festival Hall. I was exhausted from the day but why would I go home and sleep when I could embrace the moment? It felt like the official Last Night of Summer, as we danced outside.

So today, I’m relaxing, after my Big Night. I’m writing this in bed at noon, with Sunday Brunch on my iPad next to me and espresso on tap. 

Ok.

Might go for a run in a bit…