If you’d perused the latest My Kind Of Weekend, a round-up of the most fun activities across the UAE during your days off in Thursday’s City Times, you may have caught a mention of the Radisson Red Silicon Oasis’ Urban Market, which took place on Friday. Heeding my own published advice and taking a trip down, the hipster mix of vintage thrift store stalls, arts and crafts, games and live music certainly made for a fun mid-afternoon excursion with the onsite electric violin player proving to be a major draw. However, perhaps the most illuminating aspect of attending was not necessarily the entertainment or one-off clothing items, but the crowd the event attracted. Like moths to a flame, the uber trendy get-together mainly enticed the town’s uber trendy students in what appeared to be a pre-academic new year shindig. Being neither in vogue nor a pupil for more years than I’d care to mention, you’d think finding myself in the midst of bright, starry-eyed enthusiasm would be overwhelming for a card-carrying curmudgeon, though surprisingly the opposite occurred. Inclusive organistation meant there was something for everyone to enjoy no matter the age group, yet it was the open friendliness the gaggle of university scholars displayed which couldn’t fail to jog my memory nor evoke a wry smile. Remember when meeting new people wasn’t a chore but a pursuit in itself?
There was once a time when experiencing the unfamiliar was a priority rather than a reason to decline the invite; when different faces represented an opportunity to expand your network rather than obstacles to be avoided in the quest to find the crew squirreled away in some corner with whom you spend all your free moments. What changes? Why, in the space of ten years or so, do you go from the real-world equivalent of Van Wilder to Wuthering Heights’ Heathcliff (minus the fierce visage)? Surreptitiously inserting yourself into a ragtag group deep in conversation and offering an opinion is replaced with shutting yourself off from the merriment and carrying on the same discussion you’ve been having for weeks with your existing friend/s. Or worse: not going out at all and debating the point over text message whilst bingeing White Lotus.
I fully understand with advancing years comes increased responsibility and decreased spare time to go out gallivanting. Every weekend, an extra hour or five in bed can seem a far more attractive prospect than turning up to a mystery function and listening to someone you have not vetted to make sure they hold near-enough identical views. You want to savour your minutes not spent in the office, why take the risk wasting them on someone who could turn out to be a City fan? However, if the Urban Market gang taught me anything, we shouldn’t so drastically shun that college social spirit. Judging from the smiles, after the 18 months we’ve all experienced, it may be the tonic for which we’ve all been searching