Seeing is not always believing


SEEING is believing… or so I was taught, when I first went to school.

But times have changed. I have just spent a break from Dubai’s summer heat in England and, watching TV in the evenings, I’ve been mesmerised by some of the many commercials on the box.
One brand of toothpaste is talking up its whitening features, which can make one’s teeth look like a famous film star’s. My cynical husband then told me that most of Hollywood actors and actresses have had their teeth capped as part of the transformation into stardom. This is a process, which we mere mortals can also copy, if we are prepared to pay about $45,000 a mouthful. He then pointed out that most models promoting the toothpaste had had their teeth whitened by a special dental process before the filming of the commercial. That’s why, even if one uses the toothpaste for the stipulated six months, one’s teeth would still not be as pearly white as portrayed.
While I am on the subject of TV commercials in the UK, I noticed that all the fanciest advertisements seem to be for small, little-bitty cars that your average Dubai resident would never bother to contemplate buying.
"But that is because of the petrol prices," I can hear you saying. That is also true. You are correct. But have you noticed how your choices change when you have been in the Gulf for any length of time? I don't think, I'll ever drive a two-litre car ever again, even if the commercial says, it has 16 valves (what do they do?) and fog-lamps (don't all cars have those?).
Petrol is pretty expensive up north of Kuwait, but it still would not encourage me to buy one of the advertised small cars, which the car hire companies offer in their cheapest category. 
And why are the reader letters in the English tabloids grumbling about gas-guzzling four-wheel drive vehicles, which some mothers use to take their children to school? If you can afford it, I think, it’s a great idea, they’re much safer than those other cars I mentioned before.
Seeing is believing... some so-called experts from the south of the country have dubbed Lincolnshire the fourth ugliest county in the UK. However if you visit the county, you will find it is scattered with delightful villages with old Viking names, country towns with age-old markets, old RAF aerodromes, a multitude of festivals and Lancaster bombers giving fly-by displays, garden nurseries full of flowers attracting the fast-disappearing butterflies and working water-mills with tea-shops.
Seeing is believing... the tourist brochures tell only a fraction of the story, as all of us involved in the travel business know only too well. How can a brochure portray the sadness and happiness of a Nepalese girl in the Himalayas, frightened by my camera, but delighted by the Polaroid print I gave her?
How to explain the thrill of holding a lion cub in your arms in Kenya? The taste of home-made yoghurt in that tiny inn in the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus? The majestic feeling of awe viewing the golden temples lining the river in Bangkok for the very first time?
Seeing is not always believing... for with today's digital cameras, you can actually change part of the scenery or the colours of the sky in any photograph you take.
We were in Ireland the other week attending the Irish Oaks at the Curragh Race Course – and as one approached the paddocks, there was a picture of Frankie Dettori making his famous victory leap from his horse, but with his head and face missing. You were invited to put your own head and face through the hole for the photographer to take your picture, as you leapt from the saddle. It reminded me of the old-fashioned seaside fun, we had with similar ‘Fat Lady’ models, where your parents were invited to stick their heads into similar displays.
So from old-fashioned seaside fun to digital image magic, nothing much has changed over the years... except we now know that we should not believe that a picture is worth more than a thousand words... unless we took the picture.

Speaking Out by Jonna Simon