A weekly take on the life of a Cork emigrant in Abu Dhabi by Denise Hession
IT may sometimes seem that all expats do is complain and look at the negative side of living abroad, away from home, away from family, away from one’s own culture and lifestyle.
Dry your eyes! Sometimes life isn’t all that bad in the Middle East, and sometimes, just sometimes, it can run quite smoothly.
This is exactly what I thought the day. I had arranged to meet my pre-summer buddy from Khalifa City, originally from Clifden, Co. Galway. Fairly glamorous, witty, outgoing and Irish, she was a real go-getter — friends like these in Abu Dhabi were hard to come by.
It had taken a few weeks to settle back into life in Abu Dhabi and its foibles, but this day all seemed well. The gardener arrived on the day he said he would — yes, already my green-fingered promise of last week was falling asunder, but I reckon being willing to pay someone to do the work shows the same commitment to the task at hand.
Besides, I was busy rolling up my sleeves on something else… my nail appointment, and I already knew the summer coral shade I was going to use, it would compliment my newHavaianas perfectly.
Midday all was in the order, the coral colour came out beautifully, my new silver Havaianas were perfect with my snow white Capri pants and starched white sleeveless shirt. The stars were aligned.
We had arranged to meet halfway for lunch to catch up after summer. On the way I decided to push efficiency into overdrive and call to the post office to collect the mail, most of which is re-directed from Ireland and none of which makes for happy reading. The postal system in the Middle East is via PO Box so you must collect mail in a central office. Pulling up outside the post office, all seemed fine. The car park is a sandy space outside the building with no defined boundaries, paths or kerbs. There are a few worn tracks where most cars go, so pulling in and out is easy, just come off the road, wherever you like.
Arms laden with envelopes (it’s never a good sign when half your post has a harp on the front of a brown envelope and the other half are the windowed white bank ones — this batch contained no light reading material at all, not even a flyer from Pizza Hut).
Anyway, determined to get on and enjoy the day I sat back into the Jeep and revved up. I revved up again, and again, I didn’t move. Maybe there was a blockage, I slipping it into reverse, turned the wheels a notch and revved again, no movement. A sinking feeling began to develop, both physically and emotionally. I stood out of the Jeep to witness the two back wheels buried halfway in sand. I did what I knew every man I knew would shriek at, I sat in and revved it goodo again. Of course, this deepened the problem and my plans were now looking well and truly sunk.
I waited for a time to see if someone, like a handy lookin’ kinda guy, would pull up beside me, but on clearer thought I decided there was more likelihood of a camel walking past than a fella with a couple of sand scoops under his arm.
Kneeling down in my crisp Capri pants, I started to scoop the dry as a bone dusty sand using none other than my brand new Havaianas . The sand sprayed on my face, hair, clothes and coral nails as I scooped relentlessly. Sweat and dust formed a crust in my hair, in 48C heat. I was well and truly late for lunch.
A loud guffaw came from behind, a man offering to help. He sat into the Jeep, tugged the level that said 4×4 and drove out with ease.
Dusting down his Dishdasha, he walked away shaking his head and tutted: “Expat women shouldn’t drive cars.”