After the shenanigans of the past two weeks, I have decided that I never want to go to another party, drink another dodgy cocktail or wake up after only having had a few hours sleep, more than likely nursing a thumping head.
That was all too much to have to contend with let alone knowing that this merry go round would be starting all over again in a few hours time, we should be so popular! Stop the World I want to get off, just for a moment, please!
That my friends admirably sums up 24 hours in Dubai during the silly season. Lest we forget, and would you believe, somewhere in that time span one had to clear the decks, for a few hours, for another funny pastime, called work! Actually, it definitely wasn’t get me to the church on time it was more like get me to the office on time, preferably compos mentis!
Yes, we had survived not only all those parties but most importantly 1971, how would I rate our progress? To purloin a phrase from those dreaded school reports, good steady progress has been made but needs a little more dedication and attention to detail!
In other words, we are no longer just hanging on in there, clutching at any flotsam and jetsam that flowed by. No, I am very relieved to report that we are swimming along nicely and would go as far as to say gathering a little momentum along the way. At least we have not sunk without trace!
Arousing from my slumbers that first workday morning in 1972, I had a little time to contemplate, and wonder what the New Year would have in store. How many surprises would it have up its sleeve, good or bad. More importantly would I be up for the challenge, don’t be silly, of course, I would!
These days there was always a buzz in the air, in fact, life was for living and it would seem that there was no better place in the World to illustrate this point than Dubai.
Leafy, sleepy Surrey was now light years away, her memory fading fast. This was coupled with the memory of that other girl wearing pearls, the one who boarded that plane for pastures new, in fear and trepidation, but as the song goes, Just look at her now! My what a transformation!
It’s now time to shake a leg and start the New Year with my best foot forward; I’m off, are you coming?
I have known doubt that Mike will be very busy with his Bitumen Company, as they are opening Bitumen Depots up and down the Gulf.
He will also be making sure that his little Tankers are operating up to speed, ensuring that there is a constant supply of bitumen making its way down from Abadan to meet the requirements of the Construction Companies, who are busy building the infrastructure.
Those desert tracks were being tamed, morphing rapidly into spanking new high ways. In some cases dual carriage ways are on the agenda, wow that will indeed be progress. Naturally, we were blissfully unaware that those first major construction works were the very foundations on which today’s Dubai has so successfully been crafted.
Once these initial projects are completed, desert bashing will surely become a thing of the past, only being enjoyed by the dare devils amongst us and called Friday fun, now not having to be endured out of necessity Maybe, the next pastime will be doing a ton up the new Abu Dhabi highway who knows, but this exercise won’t be without its dangers too. Why, because the road is scheduled to cut across the local camel’s domain.
Camels are always to be seen trotting hither and yon in the desert, not surprisingly; after all it is their neck of the woods. What is going to happen once the highway is complete and they realise that this extraordinary man-made object, which has appeared in their midst, will most definitely hamper their movements. I wonder who will have right of way?
At present, they are free spirits, with no constraints, wondering contentedly to pastures new to their hearts’ content. Imagine, what a terrifying experience it would be sighting one of these big beasts of the desert galloping towards you when you are driving at a rate of knots up the new highway, it definitely wouldn’t be a sight for sore eyes, it would be an encounter of nightmare proportions, to be avoided at all costs!
I too will be busy, waltzing around the Airport, will a smile on my face with surely not a care in the world, possibly whistling a happy tune. Sometimes though, life has to be taken a little more seriously. As this is the New Year, it is the time when sons and daughters of Ex-Patriots working in Dubai have to return to school in the UK, or maybe else where in the World.
This was a heart wrenching time for many a family, especially those with young children. In those days, boys of 8 or 9 years old were required to be schooled back home, as there was no adequate schooling beyond that age, here in Dubai.
As the ex-patriot community was so small, we mostly knew each other. I can vividly remember one distraught Mother phoning me with a heart felt plea. Which was to say that her son was so very distressed about returning to school, but could possibly be persuaded to board the plane, if I personally accompanied him – Now that surely was an honor indeed!
It really was a stomach wrenching time standing at check-in seeing distraught Mothers, beside their equally distraught offspring with a Father a few steps, behind trying to make light of the occasion, but with enormous difficulty. All knowing in their hearts that this shouldn’t be happening and if it hadn’t been for fate playing a hand they too, like me, would have been tucked up in Surrey or somewhere similar within walking distance of a school – Oh, the injustice of it all.
Time marches on and a BOAC VClO waits for no one. What a tearful handover it was, everyone crying, and me trying to be all things to all people, with out dissolving into tears too. At last, clutching the hands of the little ones, and with no looking back, we whizzed into the departure lounge and usually managed to time it so there was no hanging around.
To board the plane one had to descend one floor via what we used to call a whirly gig, actually designed like a fair ground helter skelter. It was a unique design, way ahead of it’s time and the Architects Page and Broughton were indeed commended for dreaming up such a gateway but was it a gateway to heaven or to hell? I think for these little souls it must have been like descending down a whirly gig to hell!
My mission was almost complete once we had climbed those, so steep steps and I had handed my charges over to the onward going Stewardess with a wink and a nod. Although, I did have one very important last task, that was to settle them in, make sure that their seat belts were fastened and that they were as comfortable as possible. In return I usually received a big soggy kiss.
With that I would assure them that the Easter holidays would be here before they knew it, and guess what I would definitely be on the tarmac to greet them on their arrival. That usually brought a watery smile
On that sad note my next task was to seek out their parents. That was easy; they were always to be found on the upper deck of the Departure Lounge waving their little ones off, as the big blue bird was getting ready for take off. They almost always had tears streaming down their faces – It was so very sad.
This is what being part of the Dubai community was all about, the motto must have been all for one and one for all – Yes, we needed each other for better or worse!
The sad tears were wiped away, somehow life had to go on, and Easter wasn’t too far away, was it? As then it would be the return of those little heroes, who would no doubt be ten feet taller, possibly sporting a new front tooth together with a wonky smile, and may be in need of a hair cut too. – This time though there would only be tears of joy.
I hope you have enjoyed this little read? Essay 39 will be posted on Tuesday l4th July.
May I take this opportunity of wishing all my American followers a very happy 4th July!