The Paranormal Hotel (Dubai Panorama) - The Working Girls in Jockey's Pub

A Brief History of (a) Time

Some years ago, I found myself gainfully employed but homeless in Dubai, and in urgent need of accommodation for about six months.

My Bulgarian friend (it's a cosmopolitan city) used her influence to secure me a long-term stay in Bur Dubai Panorama Hotel. So strange was this place that I had to commit it to paper, or at least to Blogspot. To this end, I dubbed it the Paranormal and myself, Paraglider, and set to 'work', immortalising...

The Paranormal Hotel

a vision in pink concrete
a vision in pink concrete | Source

By any standards, the Paranormal is an unprepossessing building. Six residential floors in low quality concrete, clad in pink crud. Still, the rooms are spacious and functional enough, once you get used to the idea that the cold water, in summer, is too hot to touch. But let me leave the description of the ground floor to a Professional Travel Writer. This, from a travel website:

Guests can also sip various beverages at Jockey's Pub, while enjoying various entertainments.

Jings. Quite apart from the strange 'various' fixation, in many years, possibly amounting to man-years, in Jockey's, I can honestly say I have never witnessed the ignoble perversion of 'sipping'. Gulping is the good honest norm. The same travelogue-ist observes:

During the daytime, the visitors can enjoy various (!) activities like dune bashing, camel riding and sand surfing on the sands of Dubai.

Yes, but, selfsame sands are not cheek-to-cheek with Paranormal and it is arguable that the hotel's camel stock has dwindled to less than one. In fact, our nearest sands are the car park to the right and the graveyard to the left. The graveyard is best observed from 2nd floor bedrooms and above. There are dead people there, but that's OK too. They don't make too much noise, and don't sip any more, if they ever did. Still, s/he was right about 'various entertainments'.

These comprise: a DJ with the good sense to play popular music quietly until about 9 p.m. when the volume and the bar prices go up, a few wall-mounted screens showing Sky News and Sky Sports, a dart board mounted on a pillar (think about it!), and, of course:

Helga's Chickens

Helga's Chickens take the floor
around eight thirty every night.
Could anybody ask for more?

Perhaps some spotty troglodyte
would rather hide away and write
computer code, but that's a bore

and hardly likely to delight
Helga's Chickens. Take the floor
for instance - even if it wore

a carpet of a lurid white
our eyes would still be on the door
around eight thirty. Every night

the Paranormal's heaving. Quite
a crowd prepares for what's in store
and brightens as they dim the light.

Could anybody ask for more
than Helga and her brood? Before
you rush to call her 'parasite'

or breathe the appellation 'whore',
perhaps some spotty troglodyte
will rush to her defence and cite

an evening back in '94
when he succumbed, gave up the fight
and sang - O come let us adore
Helga's Chickens!

In other words, it's the best little whore-house in the Middle East. And as such, it's the best venue you'll ever find for people-watching. It's also a blogger's paradise. Every day, there's some new lunacy to see and describe. So much more fun than second hand commentary on local politics! Here are a few vignettes from The Paranormal - some of the girls, some of the regulars:

Breaking the Ice

Some carry a notebook with useful phrases. "You take lady? Your friend take lady?" But the phrases are written in Russian, with the English translation rendered phonetically in the Russian alphabet. This makes it hard to suggest improvements. One red-haired girl has an unusual line of patter. "Do not talk to your friend. He is going to kill you." Clairvoyant? Or perhaps someone doctored the notebook.

A Taste of the Dark

Eric's dance was a long time coming. Maybe half a dozen double whiskies and fourteen tentative approaches from all nations East of Turkey. He seemed impervious, even to the wiles of Kyrgyz Carina who retired gracefully, knowing herself rebuffed, albeit in barely comprehensible slurred County. Enter Stella from Eritrea, beaming her beam as only she can. Eric's dance began, all elbows, knees and wire-rimmed glasses. Snake-charmer par excellence, you'd almost think he didn't know he didn't have to try. From her corner stool, Carina said something like "Blyatt!"

Your Feet's Too Big

There's good posture, and there's presence. Anna has both, especially the latter. And eyes. Eyes that don't so much look as inhale. Rather like the old Superman comics: Aside - With my X-ray vision, I can see that he's carrying a ray-gun in his haversack. It turns out (since you have no option but to talk to her) that her father was in the KGB and doesn't know she's in Dubai. Which says a lot for intelligence. And that she was an aspiring ballet dancer with a wodge of potential until, sadly, her feet grew too big. Well, they're not huge, but, looking down, her story is certainly believable. Still, you might think there would be some happy medium between stardom and the Para. Maybe some modern dance troupe with progressive attitudes towards feet? Apparently not. So it's good to know that the Paranormal is there, rather like a donkey sanctuary, for ballerinas in free-fall.

one of the regulars
one of the regulars | Source

Well, times change. I've left the Paranormal and Dubai behind me and am now working in Qatar. But the Paranormal Hotel blog goes on. Our moment of glory was inclusion in the literary e-zine The Chimaera who republished a number of my vignettes and the poem Helga's Chickens (a rondeau rédoublé). The flavour of the blog has changed, as Qatar provides a very different kind of inspiration, but the spirit of the Paranormal, best described as convivial surrealism, lives on. Repeat after me:

  • Where you from?
  • What your name?
  • How long you in Dubai?
  • You take lady?

More by this Author


Comments 38 comments

ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

Your travels and experiences seem enviable. Things, of course, are not always as they seem but you do relate your adventures with apparent pleasure. Have you written any books? You probably possess the makings of more than one.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

CWB - no books yet, but I have a few ideas for when I finally have some time at my disposal. Travelling a lot, I've found the 'secret', if there is one, is not to rush to judgment. That way, you get to meet all sorts of people and see a lot of good in most of them.


robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Thanks so much for this, Paraglider. I've been over rumaging through the paranormal hotel and getting a feel for what an interesting sojourn you had there. Helga's chickens are lovely:-) I also checked out your real life blog and your LinkedIn profile-- I feel like I know you a bit better now. I've got you bookmarked:-)


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Robie! Helga's Chickens are mostly casualties of the collapse of the Soviet block. A few are genuinely Russian but most are from the "Stans", Khazakstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kurdistan, etc. To start to do that 'job' in UK or US, you're usually already feeding a habit. But these girls are more likely to be feeding a family back home. And they're proud too. These are not charity cases.

I must update the real life blog soon. After the series on the old house was finished, I lost momentum. Thanks for your interest - much appreciated.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Very interesting piece Paraglider. Thanks for sharing.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

SweetiePie - the world is full of surprises. That's the wonder of life, not the 'answers'.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Interesting response, of course you know I am already cognizant of these things LOL.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Another surprise :)


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Very amusing.


laringo profile image

laringo 8 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

Your life and writings are very intriguing to say the least. I have a lot of catching up to do with your Hubs. I'm hooked.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Laringo - thanks, and welcome. My life isn't all Paranormal, but it has its moments!


Bovine Currency profile image

Bovine Currency 6 years ago

A dart board mounted on a pillar... Classic!

When I get time I will share with you some stories of some 'chickens' I in my home town.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Please do, and thanks for digging into the archive!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

hi Dave, hmmm, nice writing style as always, what is dune bashing by the way? and sand surfing, hmmm, protect my eyes,,,

its funny, "you take lady" haha.

whose image is that lady there?

have a good day Dave. Maita


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Dune bashing and sand surfing are the desert versions of rally driving and snow-boarding.

And the photo is just one of the Paranormal regulars from a few years ago. Taken at her request, as it happens.

It was a strange place to be living!


mohamed farook 5 years ago

itz an grt pub in bur - dubai . itz an best night club in bur-duabi.no words to say u can feel once u go their!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Mohamed - I'm with you on that. Jockey's atmosphere is something else :)


PRP 5 years ago

Jockeys ,,,, What a place, used to love to take first time visitors there just for the look on their face .


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi PRP - yes, it usually takes a few minutes for newbies to work out what's going on. Best is to go straight in from a sunny day, then you can't see a thing for the first few minutes...


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

So glad I followed your link to the hotel! Am enjoying "sipping" my way through your writings. You have a lovely, gentle spirit, especially refreshing when others, myself included, are so often ready to rush to judgment. I have dedicated my upcoming HubNuggets hub to you, by the way. Hope your sense of humor survives it :D


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

RedElf - all I can say is, we all do what we have to, for our parents, siblings, children. The world is a varied place :)


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

A great tour of a place that is new to me. In case I don't get there, at least I have had a glimpse through your excellent hub. Thank you.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Earnest - always a welcome guest! The Gulf region is a bundle of contradictions. I've found the best way to handle it is to view the extremes as surrealism and keep calm, otherwise you'd go crazy, or leave!


WABR 5 years ago

Yes the place is still the same i used to drink in there every weekend with frinds its a place to watch and learn


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

WABR - it changes, but it stays the same ;)


Ali 5 years ago

Hey went paranormal pub gazilion tyms .. N loved to be there . Yes i do take girls hahhahahha ... I came to knw that there is a room above the pub and they charge for /hrs :) ny idea how mch n is that true hehe


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Ali - I think that's not true. CID would never allow it (and they do know everything). You'd have to be a booked hotel guest to be allowed upstairs. Otherwise you'd have to take your lady off the premises.


clark farley profile image

clark farley 4 years ago

v enjoyable hub! I ran into (this paraglider/persona) over on 'the Facebook' ( motto: 'Complete sentences? We don't need no complete...')

enjoy reading about faraway places and strange people (or is that 'strange people..' lol)

In any event I would follow this Hub!

Come visit us at the Wakefield Doctrine, we have a hat with your name on it*! Again, enjoyed reading and will see you at the FB.

* well, not really**

** not really *your* name, actually one of the three names that are associated with the Wakefield Doctrine..but the hats are (nearly) free and we would enjoy sending you one (for your damn head)


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Clark, thanks for the visit. If you live here long enough, faraway disappears and the strange people become normal. That's why extended travel is good for us :)


clark farley profile image

clark farley 4 years ago

agree...the routine turns into the mundane and that leads to death (mental and spiritual first, of course) but even physical eventually


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

That's why we invented the Internet!


clark farley profile image

clark farley 4 years ago

agree...before the internet, all of this was available to the individual (with the Will) it was just much, much more difficult to invite others along...lol


tastiger04 profile image

tastiger04 3 years ago

Very interesting! Places like this always get my attention on trips :) voted up and awesome


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 3 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

It's a fun place, especially in the afternoon and early evening. (Except during Ramadan when nothing opens till after sunset).


rehan 21 months ago

Think back to the first time you ever heard of

. At first glance Russian to English Translation in Dubai may seem unenchanting, however its study is a necessity for any one wishing to intellectually advance beyond their childhood. Until recently considered taboo amongst polite society, Russian to English Translation in Dubai is not given the credit if deserves for inspiring many of the worlds famous painters. Inevitably Russian to English Translation in Dubai is often misunderstood by global commercial enterprises.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 21 months ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

rehan - I couldn't agree more fully :)


Hootsmon 6 months ago

Hilarious stuff Dave. I chuckled all the way through it. Arriving in Dubai on Monday 14th, my first visit there and was just looking around for stuff and your blog on the Paranormal popped up. Staying in rather more salubrious accommodation on Jumeira beach, but very seriously tempted to grab a cab up to Jockey's one night.

Could be a real caper with lots of shenanigins going on! Although suspect you have to be careful given some of the stores about arrests for drunkenness etc.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 months ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hootsmon - definitely worth a visit. afternoon or early evening is best.

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