Hey ho into battle we go. Yes, I think I can safely say that we can give ourselves a little pat on the back as all is well in Apartment 603. This well-being has come about because we are now receiving invitations to the young bachelor’s curry lunch parties, which were held most Thursday lunchtimes and hosted by the boys from the Banking and Accountancy fraternity. We were quite literally guaranteed to be propelled into the weekend at breakneck speed and quite often rendered rudderless, like a molotov cocktail. Thinking about it that’s properly what we were offered to drink!!
Being with these boys always brought a smile to one’s face, they were bright, very funny always irreverent and their jokes were quite preposterous, at that time making the best of what was on offer in Dubai wasn’t always easy, but they usually found a way!
The first time we were guided there by some of the worse for wear bachelors, yes, those curry lunches carried on for hours and hours!!, but by now Mike and I were going with the flow too and really didn’t bat an eyelid. I’m quite positive this would never have happened in the UK a young married woman constantly being surrounded by young single men!! and maybe being a little flattered by all the attention!!, perish the thought!! Oh, the memory of it all.
We were not too sure as to what to expect on our first visit to the Bustan but I suppose it might have been akin to finding oneself in the Kingdom of heaven as we exploded into a large ornate room the likes of which we had never seen before, the chairs being upholstered in red velvet with heavy velvet drapes complete with sways at the windows, how plush. I was to discover that the owners of the hotel were Lebanese, and in those days this type of décor was very much their style, me thinks it was a touch of the Versailles!!
It sure seemed at odds with the young blades who were there enjoying a few beers and maybe, if lucky, a hop around the dance floor. Mind you there was one mighty problem dancing partners were thin on the ground as there were few single girls in Dubai in those days. I have to add that it was and still is forbidden in certain Arab countries to cohabit if you are not married, it maybe a little more lenient now in some quarters, but in those days it really makes me shudder to think what might have happened to the ‘guilty parties’ if they were rumbled!
The very first time we went to this Thursday night ‘hop’ was a total amazement because of the number of people that seemed to be crammed into the room, all ex- pats, bachelor boys, hoping to find a single girl to whirl around the dance floor and lonely husbands whiling away the time until their wives returned from summer leave. We found it quite extraordinary as so many of them knew who we were, how was that? We soon discovered it was because we were the newest couple in town, no it wasn’t fame, it emphasised just how small Dubai was in those days.
At long last we were to discover just how this town operated as we were now being taken under the wing of the old hands who knew a thing or two about survival. Soothing words came my way from various summer bachelors, you will be fine once our wives return and it won’t be long now, they will get you organized, so ‘chin up’!! Suppose it was our version of ‘carry on regardless’, what ever, it was an enormous breakthrough and a relief to see lots of young happy faces, mind you that might have been because it was Dubai’s equivalent of happy hour down at the pub and tomorrow, Friday was a holiday.
Friday’s was the day of rest and prayer, if you were a Muslim! And a day of hijinks if you weren’t I think for us there was much more emphasis on ‘play’ and why not indeed we were like birds whose wings had been clipped desperately trying to flee the confines of the ‘nest’ which was for us the apartment! .
After this introduction to the Bustan hotel for evening entertainment we then discovered that it could provide daytime entertainment too as it had a lovely swimming pool and two or three tennis courts so we now had a ‘Friday’ bolt hole, ‘el humdillah’, wonders will never cease!!
There was just one stumbling block, we had to forget that the temperatures were upside of 4Oc, it was either die of boredom in the apartment or of sunstroke at the pool, no contest really! And to think we hardly donned a sunhat let alone slather ourselves with sun oil in those days, we would be for the high jump now in today’s politically correct world.Little did we know that this was the real beginning of a far, far different way of life than the one we had left behind and one we would never have imagined possible a few months earlier before we were hurled onto this roller coaster and, I think, yes maybe we were warming to the theme?
Other people we met during those hot hazy days were some of the young Officers who were stationed at Sharjah, about 2O kilometers away over the desert – They were either from RAF Sharjah or a small British Military contingent stationed alongside and then there were the dashing, mostly British, young Officers from the, The Trucial Oman Scouts, affectionately known as the TOS – To receive an invitation to one of their curry lunches was deemed to have arrived, and the first time Mike and I had the honor, I nearly fainted with excitement!
The TOS were based in Sharjah and was primarily a desert based regiment initially called the Oman Levies. The bulk of the Regiment was made up of Bedouins recruited many from Abu Dhabi and the young Officers were seconded from the British Army and were in the main from mounted British Regiments, without exception they seemed to revel in their new found status of budding Lawrence’s of Arabia.
Noel Coward’s song, Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go out in the Midday Sun, could well have been penned with these pucca young chaps in mind. I am sure though that when he wrote this ditty he had no real idea of how true his words would resonate with these passionate young chaps who truly embraced this different type of soldering, loving the desert, happily replacing horses with camels as their mounts and generally having a true empathy with their men and conversing in Arabic when necessary. Although, once in the Officer’s Mess normal service was always resumed
They were Officers and gentlemen through and through.
Please be minded that I would so love some feed back on this Essay
Essay 10 will be published on Tuesday 03 June (a fortnight hence) –
Taking a week out to celebrate My Birthday!!!!!!!