Essay 03 – Dante’s Inferno

March 20, 2014

by — Posted in Dubai

We had survived two weeks in a place akin to Dante’s Inferno , not a bad effort, especially as this was due to our own ingenuity and those stiff upper lips, actually mine quivered on many occasion but that’s another story.   Mike had little time to be aware of his surroundings as he had been pushed into the deep end, the first plant of his Bitumen Supply Company was being commissioned and he was required to be in attendance almost 24/7.    I,  on the other hand,  had all the time in the world to reflect and wonder, what if.   Most of the time I was utterly bemused and would look out of the

creekside dubai abbras crossing creek

window of the hotel gazing at all the activity along the Creek where the Dhows were moored.   The activity was non-stop with the rag tag crew members for ever sluicing the decks, mending the sails or making ropes and the most important member ‘cookie’ stirring the giant cooking pot containing yet another curry to sustain them.

These Dhows were kept in pristine condition so much so that most of them had Persian carpets strewn over the decks where the crew would sleep under the stars at night, these boats had little in the way of ‘facilities’ the chaps used buckets of water hauled up from the Creek for their ablutions and their toilet facilities were both fascinating and ingenious, at the stern of every ship was a wonderful arrangement affectionately called a ‘thunder box’ this was a seat installed inside a little house where they nd perform as if it was the most normal routine in the world.   So there we have it my room with a ‘view’ a world away from my room with a ‘view’ in Surrey.goats on abragreen hillsleafy surrey

At this stage we had been living in the hotel for two weeks waiting for news of our permanent accommodation, it came one day like a hammer blow, we were being allocated an apartment one block along from the hotel, which at that stage had not even been finished, I was devastated why were we not going to Jumeirah where the other ex-pats lived in their exotic villas at least that is what I thought, oh what ignominy.   Nothing could be done about this as it was a decision from up high, oh dear.   The creek to me seemed like the Rubicon, how was I ever going to cross to the other side where Jumeirah lay.

Now I had other things to tax my mind, furniture, was there such a thing as a furniture shop in Dubai, help was at hand, or so I thought, the GM’s wife rang to make a dateto take me shopping.   The due day arrived and I was collected from the hotel by her driver and we set-off over thesubcatracts, there were few tarmac roads in Dubai in those days,  and very quickly arrived at a single story building on the edge of town, although only about 5 minutes from the hotel,  it was a very bumpy journey which tookfor ever,  on arrival  wonder of wonders it turned out to be a furniture emporium?  We alighted from the car and entered, oh my god, everything was covered in sand dust, the choice was negligible, one sofa set an assortment of teak easy chairs,dinning sets and beds the frames made of wood on which a mattress rested, slumberland it was not!   I was then whisked to another such shop this one was nestling behind some sand dune address unknown, Knightsbridge it certainly wasn’t.   Again it contained a similar selection of furniture, but this time amazingly it had a sofa set in blue, my spirits lifted as it was not as dour as the oatmeal one in the previous shop – I voiced this to the GM’s wife who informed me in no

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uncertain words that I would not be allowed the blue set as the sofa had four seats, why I asked, you are a junior wife and only allowed a three seater sofa , boy that put me in my place. To add further insult I was informed that the driver would have to drop me half way into town as she had a luncheon date at the Petroleum Wives Club and time was short.  So there was I picking my way over the sand strewn paths back to the hotel wishing that I was far far away and then a thought occurred to me was I not now a Petroleum Wife,  albeit one who was a little wet behind the Al-Nasr-Square3ears.!four seater sofa set

I took refuge in the hotel which was fast becoming ‘ home from home’ away from home what a shock all this was to the system , my life had really been turned upside down and obviously there was no going back to genteel Camberley, where my days had been happily filled with fripperies, lunch and tennis dates, hair appointments,. flower arranging and coloured ladies lunchingcookery classes also enjoying and arranging  wonderful dinner parties and not least being invited to sumptuous Army balls, this part of the world being Army territory, in today’s parlance I would have been the very ball gownsepitome of a ‘lady that lunches’.   On reflection,  although all this was to stand me in good stead , I should really have been spending my time developing a career as I had had an excellent education, but a ‘girl in pearls’ I was brought up to be and I didn’t know anything else.   No wonder I was finding my new situation a little tricky it sure was going to take all the ingenuity that I could muster to make something of the very extraordinary situation I found myself in and not to run away.!!running awayI so hope you have enjoyed my reminiscences, comments can be made below.

Reminder that Essay 4 will be published next Tuesday




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19 thoughts on “Essay 03 – Dante’s Inferno

  1. Jan – I am so glad you decided to start a blog, as I didn’t join the memoirs group until you were well on into your story. I now get to enjoy the beginning.

  2. Well done, Jan. I can’t think why you didn’t catch the next plane back to Heathrow. I should think being told that you were not allowed the blue sofa must have been the last straw.

  3. By a strange coincidence a couple of days ago I uploaded an image of Dubai Creek showing the Bitumen Tanks for which your Mike must have been responsible! It’s here…..
    Image is in the last section about “keeping Dubai’s roads moving”.
    I recall Mike as a very capable Golfer at the Country Club. Amused at your “blue sofa”. There were “company rules” back then so everyone had to learn to negotiate, compromise or just plain cheat! I’m sure if you had spoken directly with the Furniture Store without the presence of the Boss’s wife they would have “sorted something out” in true Dubai fashion! You would have got your blue 4 seater sofa but the invoice would probably have said something different!!

    1. Hi Len, So nice of you to take time out re. My Blog your memory is pretty good too!!

      I have been persuaded to write ‘my story’ and its quite amazing the reaction I have received so far but finding it difficult being the author and the publicist!! Have you any ideas as to how I can broadcast My Blog for and wide particularly to people who might resonate with my story?
      Essy 4 published next Tuesday! Jan

  4. Loved your blog. Your live overseas is very in interesting. Your 4 seater sofa is great but you need a large house for that. Looking forward to the next instalment.

  5. I can only concur with Tara. I certainly missed out on a lot of your early essays, so it is great to catch up.

    Good going Jan. 🙂

  6. Jan – It’s hard work establishing a following! What I did in the early days of establishing my website was to search for other similar websites or blogs and comment on their website or blog but making sure to mention my own website in the process. Also I had a links section whereby I showed links to other websites and blogs and hopefully they did the same for me. A good example for your blog is…

    1. Thanks Len, Will give all this a go!!! I have just looked at the Stats and the numbers who have already visited a pretty good – I’m a little over bemused but must keep going!
      PS Spoke to Julie Butcher yesterday and she has read it, also Jane in Dubai! Thanks Jan

  7. Really enjoying reading of your adventures in Dubai – looking forward to next Tuesday’s segment. Keep them coming!

    1. Thank you Wendy – It’s all giving me much needed encouragement.

      PS Where are you in the big wide world of ours?

  8. Jan, enjoyed essay 2 f 3 and now looking forward to 4! I remember shopping for our first sofa set in Jashimals, Abu Dhabi poste corniche, not much choice and as for the “colours”, I’ll leave that to your imagination. Keep up the good work! Marionx

    1. Marion, thank you for your lovely comments, they all help to spur me on!! Please can you send to any of your Dubai pals that I might not know!!! Must get these out and about.

      Essay 5 is out tomorrow but you need to read Essay 4. !! xxx

    1. Wendy was thrilled to receive your note re My Blog, look out for Essay 5 tomorrow and how about telling ‘your’ Dubai friends please xxx

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