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  • Writer's pictureThe Fake Guru

The Man Who Claimed to be Off the Grid

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

ONE AFTERNOON we decided to join some friends at a pool party. The Soul Street, a gourmet street food restaurant with pool access DJ was on the top floor of the FIVE Jumeirah Village Hotel, Dubai – a chic hotel with beach access.

The entry-fee was steep but worth it: Free drinks all afternoon and a buffet fit for a king. If only it hadn’t been for the loud music and the strangers around us, my social anxiety (by then professionally camouflaged thanks to years of practicing the extrovert) would have been virtually non-existent. But drink and socialize we did until finally the plump and generous host, amid a semi-squat-grind, yelled to the crowds: “After-party in my apartment!”

For the past twenty minutes I’d been playing out possible exit-strategies in my mind: Usually I preferred to slip out gracefully; or to disappear suddenly – and I had no preference of the two as long as we remained charming, mysterious, or utterly forgettable to those we left behind. But the temptation to see what a high-class hotel apartment in Dubai might look like won me over – and so we lingered too long at the elevator when the moment for mysterious disappearance was ripe.

Aside from the incredible panoramic view of majestically displaced steel skyscrapers, the infinity pool, the whirlpool, the karaoke machine, the three bathrooms, the king size bed, and the fridge filled to burst with alcoholic beverages, the apartment was completely unremarkable. Our host was a nomad, a wandering gambler – poker being his game of choice. He did not like for his lifestyle to be weighed down by personal affects.

A tall, viking-esque Swede had become the life of the party. He beamed at the room, embracing us all and handing out shots. When I asked, “Good Viking, what do you do for a living?” he laughed heartily and said:

“Crypto, my friend! Crypto! I trade in crypto and I’m completely off the grid!”

I wasn’t sure I’d understood, so I asked again. The Viking, with a disarming smile in response:

“That’s right! I have no credit cards, no cash, no bank account – I buy and pay in Crypto, I have now for many years – so I’m completely off the grid!”

In that moment I envied him; because to be off the grid – at least the way the spoke of it – seemed to be an enviable thing. But I turned away, somewhat baffled, somewhat skeptical and whispered into her ear:

“Watch out for that one. The brightest light at the party casts the darkest shadow by day.”

And soon after, we executed our exit plan.

In the morning we met up again with a girlfriend of hers – our link to the party – who relayed to us, in trauma and drama:

“That Viking guy from last night: First he locked me in a room and wouldn’t let me out; then he fell into the whirlpool and dragged another girl in with him by her hair; later he was punched in the face by a friend who finally rescued me from the room; and in the end, he was escorted away by the police!”

We sat and listened in disbelief.

Off the grid, my ass, I thought. I wonder whether the Dubai police accept cryptocurrency for bail?


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