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Published: November 2nd 2009
So there we were, all settled in our permanent home after a year of temporary accommodation, when the email popped up: 'The lease hasn’t been renewed so please contact us about relocation.' Three weeks later, and would you believe it, we’re on the move again … I say ‘we’, but really I mean ‘hubby’ because the boys and I were totally AWOL. We were 3,000 miles away on our summer vacation, escaping the UAE’s furnace-like summer temperatures. Knowing that the littleboys would be no help at all with the move, it made sense for us to stay put! So my hubby - the trouper - found himself organising yet another move - his fifth since arriving in Dubai - in the middle of August, during Ramadan, and while flying nights to India (not quite what he’d had in mind for his month of bachelor-style living!)
Now we really are in the desert. Outside our bedroom window, the sandy dunes stretch for as far as the eye can see, punctuated by desert shrubs and the odd tree. Every now and then, sandstorms sweep through, re-landscaping the grounds and depositing sand all over the place. Everything is yellow. Actually it’s great! The
compound may not be fully built yet (the area is called ‘Future City’, suggesting that it won’t be finished until some undetermined point in the future!), but it’s where I secretly wanted to live all along. The reason? My best mate here is next door, and in the compound there are literally hundreds of families from all over the world, so it’s like a ready-made neighborhood, with kids out on their bikes, moms chatting and usually something going on. A little desperate housewives, maybe (and I heard a rumour that at the other big compound, wife swaps actually take place), but a great environment for families, especially with the menfolk away flying so much. Hubby misses the schwarma stand across the road, but happy wife, happy life!
Of course, the move wasn’t without its stresses. On our return from the UK, it felt like moving to Dubai all over again - a completely different area, new roads to master occupied by huge trucks making their way across the desert, a new nursery to settle the Big Boy into and much further away so it feels like we’re commuting every day (passing en route signs to an area called ‘International
Endurance City’ - who in their right minds would move there? Or full of marathon runners, maybe??). Setting up home
Getting curtains up (again!) involved making a trip to one of my favourite places - Dragonmart, an enormous Chinese emporium selling everything from fork-lift trucks to office furniture. Our curtain pole fixer, a sweet Chinese man with very little English, came home with us in the car and looked bemused when I made requests such as ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ (actually, he did a good job!). Determined to get some colour on the walls, I also hired a painting company, who sent round an army of painters from India. An easy job painting a few walls, they must have thought, until I requested fluffy clouds on the ceiling in the playroom. Communication is often a problem in Dubai and knowing they had no idea what this crazy English lady was talking about, I waved my arms around and pointed out the window - but alas, of course, fluffy clouds are a rarity in the skies above Dubai.
One of our biggest challenges was the garden, which by Dubai standards is fairly sizeable. That’s the good news. The bad news:
it was just a giant sandpit. Numerous landscaping companies knocked on our door, promising to turn our desert lot green, and we were reeled in by some gardeners who impressed us with their laptop presentation and persistence. They laid irrigation pipes so the garden is self-watering, and - clearly suffering from green grass deprivation syndrome - I opted for instant grass (Hooray! Let’s just roll it out like a carpet!). In the end, after learning that instant grass might only look good for three weeks, I chose ‘plug-in’ grass, which is planted in clumps and over the next two months will spread to form a real lawn! (though we did leave a big sandpit for the boys, the Big Boy would prefer the whole garden was still desert).
Moving house also left us incommunicardo again for ages. Dubai is hopelessly ill-prepared when it comes to the internet and the one company we’re allowed to use in our compound took over a month - and frequent harassing both on the phone and at their HQ - to tell us that a connection was missing and it wasn’t their responsibility. When they foolishly phoned up the next day wanting to do
a customer satisfaction survey, we had a field day. We were also without TV for weeks and, despite not being allowed satellite dishes in our compound, we were VERY tempted to do what quite a few people here did - meet the satellite guys outside the compound and smuggle them in, past security, in your own car. No-one seemed to mind particularly, even when I saw one SUV with a satellite dish being transported not-so-subtly on the roof of the car! Now we’re just about hooked up and thank goodness - I can get on facebook again, Baby can watch Pingu and the Big Boy can indulge in his favourite pastime - watching train crashes on Youtube.
More from me soon …
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