Slaves of Happiness Island: Molly Crabapple on Abu Dhabi and the Dark Side of High Art
“My message to the head of the Louvre would be to come and see how we are living here,” said Tariq,* a carpenter’s helper working on construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a $653 million Middle Eastern outpost of the iconic Parisian museum. Set to be completed in 2015, its collection will include a Torah from 19th-century Yemen, Picassos, and Magrittes.
“See our living conditions and think about the promises they made,” Tariq told me through a translator.
Last year, in his mid 30s, Tariq left his job at a Pakistani textile mill with dreams of being a crane operator in the Gulf. He showed me his certificate of crane proficiency, pulling the worn piece of paper out of the pocket of his beige salwar kameez. Recruiters promised him a salary of $326 a month—for a $1,776 recruitment fee to be paid in advance. With a cousin guiding him through the process, Tariq flew to Abu Dhabi to work for the Regal Construction company, one of roughly 900 construction outfits that employ foreign workers in the emirate.
But when Tariq arrived, Regal didn’t need him. For 24 days, he waited without pay, living in a squalid workers’ camp. When work finally materialized, he learned he would make only $176 a month. His boss confiscated his passport so that he couldn’t change jobs or leave the country. He sends half his salary back to his family. After 11 months in the Gulf, he still has not paid back the loan he took out to get there.
“How can I stay happy with a salary of $176?” Tariq asked, with an uncomfortable smile.
WOW OK I NEVER EVEN THOUGHT OF THAT BUT HERE WE GO! Considering Kwamiis are not around:
1. Marinette and Adrien are from District 9, Textiles. (Considering Marinettte’s fashion dream and Mr Agreste’s fashion company.)
1. Manon gets reaped her first year in the running. Marinette volunteers without even thinking about it. She immediately regrets it, but seeing Manon’s mothers relieved tears makes her feel a litter stronger.
2. Adrien, the poor little cinnamon roll gets reaped and his father doesn’t even go to the reaping. No one cries for him. He is alone and he leaves his home district without saying goodbye to anyone
3. The two don’t talk much until training. Marinette befriends Alya, a tribute from District 3 (technology) and Alya convinces her to talk to Adrien after they see him throw a spear at a moving target dead on. He is happy to join them, glad to have friends, even if only for a week.
4. Marinette becomes a skilled knife thrower, while Alya works an Axe. Adrien has his spears. The three become a deadly trio, though they never really consider themselves a threat because they’re all such cinnamon rolls. This gives them trouble in the games. Alya is the first of the three to die, at the hands of a Career tribute. Marinette is devastated and only stays sane for Adrien’s sake.
5. Adrien dies in Marinettes arms. Not until after surviving in there with her long enough to to be of the last three standing. Kim, from District 2, drives a sword through his chest just as Marinette hurls a dagger into his throat. She holds him, refusing to let him go even as the canon sounds and the claw comes for her. She clings to him and carries his body out of the arena. Peacekeepers rip her away from him but she doesn’t go without a fight. They have to sedate her to get her to calm down.
This haunts her. She dreams about the boy she couldn’t save fast enough every night. She hates herself for it. She hates the games. She wakes up screaming in her clean, victors house every night. Poor Marinette wishes she’d died in the games.