Skip to main content

The Best Laid Plans

“Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it." Lao Tzu.

I had a slight problem our first week in Dubai. We live in the desert. Although the transformation of Dubai means our skyline is constantly changing and it is becoming increasingly more challenging to count the malls, there is a little bit of sand left, mostly surrounding the area near my apartment. Because of the climate here, we wear sandals and open-toed shoes, and one has to walk somewhere, even if to the nearest road, to catch a cab. Therefore, my feet are always dirty by the end of the evening. Always.

I don't mind getting dirty, but I hate dirty feet and I despise the black marks they make on my new bathtub, in my new home. This is my first experience with anything close to living a luxurious life, and it's still new. Those of you who know me, know I love a hot bath, preferably every night. So every night, I had to wash my feet, and then clean the tub, and then take a bath.

However, after a couple of days, I got used to the fact that I have 2 1/2 baths, and I was enjoying using all of them. I would actually decide which water closet I wanted to use every time I needed to wash my hands or what have you. Utilizing the space in my elaborate flat was becoming fun.

So, I had a brilliant idea to use the blue bathroom to shower in, and the pink one for baths and as my main lavatory. This would solve two problems - by showering in the blue bathroom, I would no longer have to worry about the waterfall issue in the pink shower*, and I could just shower before I took a bath at night (it has gradually become more humid in the days after I arrived, and frequent bathing is essential).

As normal, I turned on the water heater approximately 30 minutes to an hour before I planned to shower. The pink bathroom has rockin' hot water, as does the kitchen, so I expected nothing less of the blue bathroom. (Each room has a separate hot water heater in the apartments in our building). I considered myself lucky because many from our crew were having hot water - or shall I say lukewarm water - issues.

I showered the first night, and my shower was lukewarm. The next day, I decided to leave the hot water heater on overnight for my morning shower. It was no warmer.

Everyone in our Al Barsha crew - Ann & Grant, Caira, Lee, Kelli & Adam, and I - had been calling maintenance for some reason or another in those two days. We figured out to leave our keys with the watchmen while we were at work during the day, so that deliveries and maintenance could have access to our flats and do what they deemed necessary. I called maintenance again and requested they increase the hot water in my guest bathroom. They'd done so for my coworkers, and it had worked. I also left a note with my key at the desk - "Binu - please make more hot water in the blue bathroom."

When I showered that night, the aqua was piping hot. I had my remedy for dirty feet, and a poorly designed bathtub.* Golden.

Or so I thought.

As I was showering yesterday morning, I heard a loud pop. The pop sounded hot. I know that seems like an inaccurate description, but that was the experience. I looked up, and water was coming out of the ceiling.

"I guess I am not shaving today." I turned off the water, got out of the tub, and proceeded to wash my face at the sink. The water was still coming. Steam began pouring from the ceiling. I turned off all the water in that bathroom, the lights and the water heater. I ran around trying to find something to put on that covered my shoulders and my knees and ran downstairs. On my way, I tried to call maintenance. The message said they arrive at 7:00. It was 6:45.

I got downstairs and I told the watchman. He seemed unconcerned. He told me to call Binu, our building's maintenance supervisor and walked me to an alcove where I thought I would find Binu but did not. Perhaps the guard just thought I would have better phone reception there. I reached Binu, who was not in the building, and told him the situation. He sounded like I had awoken him from sleep. He said he would come by. He also portrayed an attitude of disturbing nonchalance. I went back upstairs.

My bathroom was filling with water. It was not going down the drain. In our dear Al-Barsha building, each room that has water in it, has a drain. I called Binu again. He did not answer. I tried twice more. I got dressed. The bus was picking us up for work at 7:15. I was going to have to forgo breakfast - that disappointed me because I'd been looking forward to it all morning.

Once I was ready for the day, I tried to call Binu again - no answer. I got all my dirty towels - not many since my shipment had not yet arrived, and placed them between the bathroom and the guest room. Thank goodness neither my furniture nor my shipment was here yet. I went upstairs to get advice from Lee. She reminded me to get everything off the floor in the entire apartment - and to move my happy chaise as close to the balcony as possible. When I went upstairs, the water was in the guestroom. When I came back down, it was drifting into the hallway toward my bedroom.

I called Binu again. He answered.

"Water everywhere!" I said, following the 'eliminate all helping verbs, prepositions and pronouns rule'.** He said the technicians were already on their way, and he would call them and tell them the latest.

I went into the bathroom, drenching the bottom of my pants and getting rained on. I moved the drain cover - genius move - a little late - and heard the lovely sound of water draining, albeit too late.

The doorbell rang and the technicians rushed in with a ladder and some tools. I made a peanut butter sandwich. It was time to leave. I heard the water finally stop running from the ceiling. I picked up my bags, thanked the men, and went down to catch the bus for work.


Popular posts from this blog

Marching in Gaza - Partying in Beirut

"The mere possession of a vision is not the same as living it, nor can we encourage others with it if we do not, ourselves, understand and follow its truths. The pattern of the Great Spirit is over us all, but if we follow our own spirits from within, our pattern becomes clearer. For centuries, others have sought their visions. They prepare themselves, so that if the Creator desires them to know their life's purpose, then a vision would be revealed. To be blessed with visions is not enough...we must live them!" - High Eagle

I received three important emails today. The first was from a former colleague—a teacher, an organizer—asking for support on an upcoming trip; the second was from a close family friend introducing me to someone who will occasionally be in the area; and the third was from a close friend asking me to review his latest creative endeavor. All three emails managed to elicit in me some measure of guilt.

None precipitated as much guilt as the first. My form…

The Dubai Dream

"Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living." - Anais Nin

I was chatting with YG online one morning when I first arrived (actually it was about two weeks ago, but it feels like much longer...).

How is dubai U like? 7:15 PM me: i do...but it's a little too western...i'll probably only stay 3 years too much air conditioning YG: Word 7:16 PM me: but i like. it's like living in new york 120 years ago YG: Lol me: you know, while they were buildin[g] everything and people just kept coming and coming and there was probably always construction
Dubai does remind me of a growing New York, and the reason people come reminds me of the former American Dream. I say former because the American Dream does not seem as likely as it once did. Coining the term first in 1931 (according to the Library of Congress), James Truslow Adams in his book The Epic of America states:

"The American D…

Yes, We Can; Yes, We Did; Yes, We Can

"And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments to palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand." - President-Elect Barack Obama

I left the high school around 7:45 this morning to run an errand at the elementary school. It was 10:45 pm eastern time in the States. On my way back to the high school, I passed a group of middle-school students.

"We got Florida!" a boy yelled while pumping his fist into the air.

"And we got New York too!" replied his comrade, a little blond boy.

I smiled to myself, but I did not yet know if it was because they clearly understood the electoral process, or because they were so enthused so early in the morning that Black is the new president.

As I walked, I was lost in my own thoughts regarding an earlier event in the morning. I awoke at 4:45 and checked the …