Having arrived in the sandpit over 8 years ago, I can safely say that I have settled a lot better than I thought I would have. Not a fan of anything above 20 degrees celsius, I honestly didn’t think I would have the staying power to last beyond the initial 3 year visa! Like everywhere, Dubai presents its inhabitants with many challenges such as: the heat; the bureaucracy; the driving, to name but a few. As with everything, it takes time to adapt, adjust and regulate one’s expectations. That said, there is still one thing I have yet to get used to, and that is how frequently I still get lost…..I used to think that getting lost was often the best way to get to know your way round…but most of the time I don’t have time to get lost!
Some of my friends make fun of me because, when faced with finding a new location, I employ my husband’s superior sense of direction to undertake reconnaissance missions before I have to make my way to the new location by myself. GPS, Google Maps etc. were designed specifically for people like me…..and yet, I still can’t trust myself to follow them with success!
When DD cheerily bounced out of school waving the latest birthday party invitation, I braced myself. Ignoring the celebrant and date details, my eyes nervously scanned for the venue. It was then that I felt the blood drain from my face. A bubble football party in Dubai’s very own Bermuda Triangle – Al Quoz, a place I try to avoid at all costs. When I had finished mentally berating the selfish parents who favoured a party in the Wild West over a party at an easily, accessible mall, I looked for the date, secretly hoping DH could do drop off and pick up duty. No such luck that weekend. I would be on my directionless own.
Finding anything in Al Quoz is akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. It is a lawless jungle of trucks and cars, where road signs and names are for wusses. An industrial estate constructed around concentric circled roads aimed at drawing you deeper and deeper into its greedy clutches, it eventually cuts you off from any logical, direct route back to the main thoroughfares. To my surprise however, a quick scan of the map accompanying the invitation suggested the venue was more towards the outskirts of the ‘danger zone’, near the main bypassing roads. Could this be? Could I find my way? Armed with foolish confidence, I did not bother with my usual husband-led ‘reccie’.
When D-day arrived, I packed DD and DS2 into the car and left the house one hour before the party was due to start. It really only looked like a 15 minute drive away, 20 tops, if I hit traffic.
55 minutes later, I was at my navagational wits’ end. I had driven up and down the same road what felt like a million times. The road on the address was nowhere to be seen. I turned into all of the roads exiting the main road, hoping I might find the party venue tucked in beside a random warehouse. DD was looking at Google maps and the party venue location map online….and we still came up with nothing. It’s stressful enough when you spend almost an hour looking for a location by yourself, but the stress hits quite another level when you have an increasingly agitated 8 year old in the back of the car, worried about how everyone will stare at him when he walks into the party late. Being late to a party (or anywhere for that matter) with your child is right up there on the Top 5 of Epic Mummy Fails…..
A call to a friend finally put DS2 out of his misery, and although we arrived late, we were not the last to arrive! It seems I am not the only one who gets lost in Al Quoz!