just call it “being Dubai-ed”
I know a lot of people who have moved here and they pretty much all tell you – it will take a good 6-12 months to settle into the place. I also know there are many blogs out there dedicated to how hard it can be to live in Dubai and what an adjustment it is for a Westerner.
Now I am certainly not disagreeing with these sentiments, nor would I go as far as to say that the transition has been super easy, however, in my journey to owning thoughts and keeping them positive, I stumbled across a way to keep anything that ruins your plans in perspective.
For those of you who have not lived here, there is a strange phenomenon that occurs, especially in the first few weeks where you are sorting through paperwork, furniture buying, school enrollments and generally getting your life sorted. That phenomenon is that you can set out with a to-do list for the day – make the list as long or short as you want, simple, complex, it doesn’t matter.
What you will find is that by the end of the day, its eminently possible that you will have achieved not ONE thing on that list. This is what I have affectionately branded as “being Dubai-ed”.
Let me walk you through an example.
Chubs and I set out the other day for a lovely adventure together. Our plan was simple – get in the car, head to the local, slightly deserted indoor toddler playground for much-needed toddler energy disbursement; maybe head to the mall for a coffee and grab something for dinner, then head home.
Not an overly ambitious plan do you think? My thoughts were very positively musing about what a nice day this would be with my small son, just enjoying our new ‘hood’.
But it struck – we well and truly were victims of “being Dubai-ed”!!
Here’s how it went…
We headed to the car park of our building and Chubs decided he wanted to hop in the shiny new Mercedes parked next to our ‘so dirty you would think it’s brown’ rented Nissan (can you blame him). So mummy had to drag him away and shove him into his car seat whilst accidentally smacking his overly large head on the door frame, as the guard stood nearby chuckling and waving… All this while the humidity reached around 83000% and the temperature was somewhere around 300deg. Not a great start.
As Chubs screamed in the back seat, I set the GPS for the park – a park I had been to the week before and remembered as a simple drive about 10 mins down the road. However, this time I made the crucial mistake of adding “avoid toll roads” to the route.
So, off we go, turning not towards the lovely 5-laned highway nearby, but in the opposite direction through the streets of the suburb.
One thing I have learned since driving here is that people like to pretty much go just one speed – FAST! And it doesn’t seem to matter the size of the road you are on. So while the week before I had cruised down that 5 lane highway and speeds seemed to be very reasonable, those same speeds translated into suburban streets meant damn scary driving!
So, I proceeded to miss turns, take wrong turns, go over bridges leading to strange pockets of the city that I’m sure weren’t there before, all with a screaming one year old in the back who will only be placated with prunes (which I had just run out of)…The poor GPS almost threw its virtual hands up in despair after around 100 route recalculations!
So after about half an hour of this crazy driving, I finally seem to get on a turn the GPS is actually saying to take, and I end up driving down a lovely, tree-lined street. It’s telling me I’m 1km from my destination. At this point I’m a little confused as I’m sure I am not on the right side of the creek (did I cross the bridge again or not?), but I quickly stomp on any negative thoughts arising and figure that I took so many turns, I could just be coming from a different direction to last week. Nice positive thought control.
So I pull into a carpark and yes, you guessed it, nothing like the place where the playground is. I grab the GPS, inwardly (or possibly outwardly) swearing while Chubs continues to sob in the back seat, and I try to re-program it as this is clearly not the right park. And would you believe it, the GPS guy is done – he basically says to me ‘just give it up… I have no idea where to go”. I am shocked!! This is the same GPS that took me to the playground last week and now it’s saying it doesn’t know where to go? I try all the programming I can think of and it just won’t find it.
Determined this will be a nice day for us, I decide to try to find my own way there… ” yeah.. I’ve been there once… I can remember where it is. I just have to get on that big road going over that big bridge and cross that really big river don’t I?”
After another half hour of sitting in traffic that is not moving – literally, I moved about 500m in that half hour – I start to re-think my plan. What if this isn’t the road? Can I cope with this any longer – hey, wait, those two massive 4WDs with the black windows are about to merge on top of each other and if the guy behind me beeps and flashes his lights one more time I’m going to have to do something I regret…
I make the decision to abort the mission and head to the mall instead and then go home.
A sound decision I think – we are still getting out about, just maybe not with the fun factor.
So… yet another half hour passes in traffic – a few wrong turns, a couple of accidental car park entries and bridges later and I appear to be no closer to the mall. I once again decide to abort the mission and this time, just head home. Still not simple… the GPS is still avoiding toll roads so I’m ferrying through one way streets and continuing to be cut off by bigger and bigger 4WDs all whilst moving at an average speed of about 20kms per hour. Finally I see the car park driveway, like an oasis on the other side of the very large dirt patch at the bottom of our building. Almost tears of relief!
So, after hours of sitting in a car, in traffic like you’ve never seen, getting nowhere and not even making the mall, I return home defeated and having achieved nothing. And it’s then that I realise – I have just been ‘Dubai-ed’!
I have determined that this phenomenon is most likely to occur when you make a plan that you think is simple, or when you get a little too cocky about living here and how it’s really just like anywhere else. The city will simply sneak up on you, hijack your plans leaving you a somewhat deflated, exhausted mess, all the while proving to you not to underestimate who you are dealing with. For me, this also means dragging an exhausted one year old inside wondering why he had to get all dressed up to sit in the car all afternoon and listen to mummy curse and sigh.
My beautiful husband comes home later that evening with the inevitable “so what did you do today baby?” to which he receives the simple, deadpan response of “I got Dubai-ed”.
No further words needed…
We don’t tie ourselves up in knots over what happened or why; we don’t stress about what could have happened or dwell on what circumstances led to the day being so de-railed. We just simply take it in our stride and realise that this will happen from time to time and it’s best to just accept. This is the best my mind could do to overcome the negatives around the city and these types of issues and you know what? It actually works really well. Try it yourself if you can!
Have a lovely day everyone 🙂