Essay 05 – Smoke Signal

April 23, 2014

by — Posted in Dubai

Still playing the waiting game!   It´s now over six weeks since we arrived in Dubai and we are champing at the bit to move into the apartment, at present its as if we have been shunted into a siding with no knowledge of when the next train will arrive, it’s like playing a game of chess but  who is going to make the next move.rail track



With Ali’s elbow grease and my newly acquired status as Memsahib, directing operations, the apartment is as ready to receive it’s two VIP tenants as it will ever be, except for one vital fact, our kit from the UK is still on board the ship which is somewhere off shore, so near and yet so far, and there is no news as to when it will be off loaded and delivered.crrek dubai 3

At long last, we received a smoke signal to say the shipment had been off loaded and was at the quay side waiting for coolies with their carts to be loaded up and trundled along the creekside to it’s final destination, our new home, what a thrill.

cargo on creeside It took some time but eventually everything was delivered by this rag, tag and bobtail army of coolies, and I lost no time in unpacking , it was just like Christmas.  It had been such a long time since I had last seen the contents of these boxes  I had forgotten what had been packed in the first place except, of course, for the 5OO Jay clothes!!!… We were now ready to actually call Apartment 603, The Almulla Building, Creekside, Dubai our home for the foreseeable future, fond farewells were made to one and all at the hotel and off we trotted. Too good to be true, nothing is ever plain sailing and this little exercise was no exception, especially when you are trying to set-up home way out of your comfort zone and in temperatures that would literally have singed your eyebrows off!!

A note:  Below, building on the right is The Almulla Building  which  was our ‘home from home,  and the building on the far left The Rivera Hotel, where these adventures began all those years ago.  Before you ask those tall buildings behind didn’t exist!!!!!!!

almulla building

We hadn’t even been in the wretched place a day and were about to experience our first crisis, it was discovered that none of the air-conditioners were working, why, they had not been charged with any cooling agent, namely Freon gas, panic stations,  without which they would not cool, boy, it really felt as if we were experiencing the full wrath of Dante, outside the temperatures were well above  4Oc and inside it was not much better – far too hot for comfort  – Welcome to Dubai in July!!! Yes, this should have been checked but now we were stuck having moved out of the hotel we had to sit it out!

freon gas



At this stage what should have been quiet euphoria having straddled the great divide from Surrey to down town Dubai relatively unscathed, was turning into yet another test of one’s metal.  Far from being great I found myself rattling around the apartment, which was sparsely furnished and, dare I say a little inhospitable, with my wondrous purchases, eyeing me up and down saying when will you ever use me!!!   I couldn’t have agreed more, yes, what was I doing with Waterford Crystal glasses, King’s pattern cutlery a bone china dinner service and all those cosmetics!! – At this stage,  it was unimaginable that all would eventually be put to very good use and together we would bloom like the desert rose.

Yes, yet again I was a prisoner, doomed, but this time had no BOAC pals to jolly the situation along – Mike was away for what seemed like an eternity every day, we had no telephone and in those stone age days there was no radio or television in Dubai.  About two weeks after we had moved in Mike informed me that he was going to Abu Dhabi for the day, a very long day and a very long way, this was to do a recce to ascertain whether it would be feasible for his enormous bitumen road tankers to transverse the route safely, in those days there were no roads just rolling sand dunes  and the occasional subka track, I can testify it sure was a desperate Dan sort of ride!





Off he went and I passed the day waiting for his return. It got to about 9pm and I was stiff with fear – Where was he?  Then there was a knock on the door, halleluiah, I cried but it was not Mike but his Driver who handed me a note which was from Mike saying he had collapsed on arrival in Abu Dhabi due to heat exhaustion and lack of salt and would return the next day by plane.

There just had to be a little bit of Bull Dog spirit lurking underneath this brittle surface of mine to enable me to cope with my first night alone in this desert kingdom not having a clue as to when I would see Mike again, or for that matter if I would ever see him again!!!bull dog with yellow hat

It transpired that the journey took over 9 hours in temperatures upwards of 4Oc, this toxic mix took it’s toll and heat exhaustion was the result.   Now this was a salutary lesson, the body requires extra salt to withstand these high temperatures without which it is unable to function properly, that my friends is the understatement of the year!!   A note, in those days we were issued with salt tablets which we were required to take every day over and above our normal intake, to enable the body to keep on an even keel.

Not bad going two sagas resolved now surely it will be full steam ahead without any more catastrophes, life might even settle into some sort of pattern, but I wasn’t holding my breath. It will be a question of taking each day as it comes hoping against hope that some progress has been made to enable our new life to fully blossom into that wonderous flower the desert rose – I think I might need to hold my breath though!!desert rose 2


I hope you have enjoyed reading Essay 5 and look forward to receiving your comments!!

Essay 6 to be pu

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11 thoughts on “Essay 05 – Smoke Signal

  1. What an experience. It is incredibly difficult to understand the oppression of such heat, when you are not actually in it. It must have been terrible, just sitting around all day with no aircon. It was perhaps as well you had nothing to do. 🙂

  2. I am with you all the way, Jan. with the exception that dear Malcolm thought Dxb was in Saudi before we arrived.
    Despite the hardships at least we were able to have our “tiffin”.
    Can’t wait for number six. X Jane

    1. Thanks Jane, Your encouragement is very much appreciated! Keep reading please.

      Any chance you could enlighted the contingent in Javea?????? I need my writings to be distributed far and wide.!!!! xx

  3. Hi Jan

    Great reading of all your adventures, brings it all back when we arrived in Jeddah but later than you and a little more hospitable. However, ACs kept stopping, thought I would never sleep with them on and the call to prayers but then couldn’t sleep without.! Did I tell you my driver would not let me sit in the front because I was far too precious!! Will never forget the Jay clothes sitting in your spare room. xx

  4. Hi Jan
    At last I’ve found time away from campaigning to save the field (so far so good) Your essays are great. I’ve read up to no.5. Very entertaining! I had no idea what you went through. Will look forward to the next one.

    1. Pam, thank you so much for your kind words, Essay6 will be published next Tuesday.

      So glad that the news is encouraging re. the field! It must be exhausting but keep up the good work. xx

  5. Dear Jan,

    I am really enjoying your essays with the details of how you and Mike managed to settle into life in Dubai in the middle of summer!! It is interesting to hear how basic everything was in the early 70’s and how adaptable you had to be in order to survive. A great story which I look forward to following.


  6. Hi Jan, Well done, this is fascinating, love reading your experiences, we were in Abu Dhabi about the same time and it all rings true. Look forward to reading the next installment!! Gill x

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