Saturday, September 03, 2005

Moving to Sharjah

“We need to move to a bigger, better place”

“The place we are in is just two and a half times my toilet back in India.”

“It’s dingy, there’s no light… There is not even space to move freely…”

These dialogues seemed familiar and repetitive till we decided we need to find a bigger better place for sure. When we decided we also decided we wouldn’t even consider mainland Dubai, where we were living till now because of the skyscraper size rents. The next best option was Sharjah, another emirate. Meaning it is another kingdom part of the UAE.

Now we analyzed the pros and cons. It was distant definitely, the traffic between Dubai and Sharjah, unimaginably bad. Frequent traffic jams, accidents, bad drivers all along and more the dreaded trio drivers all along (read as Paki, Mallu, Tamil). Now for the positives, the rent – affordable, more spacious living space among others.

The one thing I was more concerned about, more than anything was about the zero tolerance policy towards alcohol in Sharjah. Even possession and consumption is forbidden leave alone driving.

But every one does it discretely openly, so I said okay chalo lets go to Sharjah.

It didn’t take much of a time for us to shortlist and visit a few places before we finalized on Al Amal towers. It was a huge house with a hall that could be converted a disco accommodating at least 30 guests, who could dance without any problems of restriction to movement. A reasonably big dining area, a spacious kitchen, three huge bedrooms, a smaller bedroom and the other stuff one would imagine as part of his dream house. To add to all these inside the house this flat also has a fully equipped gym and a nice swimming pool. Who would not want to live in this kind of an amazing house.

The only bit of convincing the landlord required was about the fact that there were two families moving in, mine and Krishna’s in a three bedroom flat making it all of 4 adults and a “very minor” minor (my kid should be 3 months when my wife joins me here by December 2005). And the other fact that only the gentlemen from the family would move in immediately. Krishna has to get married to bring his wife in, which anyways is happening by the end of September 2005, so by all means the couple should be in by November. And I have to wait till my wife delivered (most probably in the next week) and recuperated before I brought them in.

The representative of the landlord, a lady in her 20s understood us and was very cooperative. So we had the house but had to pay the hefty advance monies in 3 days time.
And now the problem in focus was money. Krishna is getting married soon, he had borrowed with Citibank to take care of that. His coffers were already empty. So it was left to me to beg or borrow and make the money up.

I did both. I took an advance from the office with a promise that I would replace it once my Citi loan comes in and then applied for a loan with Citibank. Finally we managed to pay the monies required and we were ready to move.

I always thought shifting a bachelor accommodation was not all that tough. I had done that myself thrice back in Chennai. But this time we had 2 cots to move, a dressing table, a cupboard, an entertainment rack, a TV and a whole host of systems, lots of my books, clothing to move. We fixed Friday as the D-day when we would shift, Friday is a holiday here in the Gulf region. We fixed up a truck to transport all the stuff, this was supposed to come in by 10a. It was going to be a tough day, we usually wake up by 2p on Fridays, how are we going to manage now?

To add to my cup of woes, Krishna wanted to do a housewarming ceremony. He was adamant that we at least boil milk (back in India this is done as part of the housewarming ceremonies) and do a small pooja ourselves with the Vinayaka my wife had woven as the hero. I finally relented and now we were discussing the guest list for the housewarming. We finalized on 3 from Bala’s family (Bala is my boss!!), 2 from a friend called Jude, another guy called Karthik and Caroline, my colleague at office. And now my worries tripled as the goodtime for the ceremony was 7a on Friday. So I had to wake up by 5.45a have a bath, get ready and then drive all the way to Sharjah from Dubai. But finally I had to.

We started packing on Thursday, there was Karthik to help us do things and a guy called Swami from our office to dismantle things for us. I played a good boss that day meticulously ordering and directing my boys (Krishna & Karthik) on what to do and how to. I didn’t even bother to move an inch of my butt. When things were done, like a good boss I congratulated the boys for a job well done and also added that they could have done better. We ended the day with the quest for a vessel and the kitchen ware to boil milk, we had to settle for an electric cooker after a long search. That too was borrowed from Karthik because we didn’t have any money left with us to buy one.

Friday started as early as 6a. Fanatic calls to all the invitee’s asking them to get ready so that we could pick them up on the way, getting my wife’s f(r)amed Vinayaka etc. It was about 15 minutes after we left that we realized that we need milk to boil and sugar to mix for making it drinkable. We stopped at a few closed shops before Krishna got the milk and as usual forgot to pick sugar up. Now we called Bala who was coming in directly from Sharjah, where he stays to get some sugar in along with his entourage. At 7.45a all was over and fine.

We left the new house for a breakfast which was supposed to be a treat to the guys who had come in for the house warming. After an economy Dh. 7 a head buffet at Dwarka in Sharjah, we headed back to our old place to send things by the van which was supposed to come in by 10.30a.

And now I couldn’t be the same old boss, I had to be a leader. Do things along the boys. It was back breaking, for the first time I felt “Oh god why are we shifting at all, why can’t we stay back in this dingy pigeon hole”. It took more or less 3 hours for us to load all the stuff. We had to lead the van to our new place as he didn’t know where it was. We could see in our rear view mirrors the planks for the base of the bed flapping. We were praying that it doesn’t fall down or do something to obstruct the traffic and nobody takes this as an obstruction to traffic and call the police.

We were lucky to have the truck in front of our new place without a thing falling down on the way or broken or missing. There were only minor cracks or the odd scratches on some stuff. It took another 2 hours for us to move things from the truck to our brand new 3 bed room apartment in the 4th floor. We arranged what we could, what we could not was moved to places where they were meant to sit in. And those things whose fate was not decided were left to find comfort in the big huge hall for now. By then it was time for our lunch, it was 2p. We also had to pick Swami up so that he fixes the cupboard, the entertainment rack, the cots and the dressing table back.

It was 3p when we picked up Swami and headed back to Sharjah, again for the third time the same day without any rest. We were all helping Swami so that the stuff could be finished by 5p when he had to leave (he had to be dropped back). It was back breaking, we also realized that the screws for the cots were lost in transit. Now we don’t have a bed to sleep, we were left with the floor in the hall to find refuge. Things finally got over by 6.30p and it was 7.30p when we managed to reach Dubai to drop Swami, thanks to the famed Sharjah – Dubai traffic. When we dropped Swami we thought the house was in order and now it was up to us to make a home out of it, except for the cots for which we had to hunt for screws.

When we finished our dinner by 9p we felt like the mummies of Egypt, so dead tired. With the Sharjah traffic guiding us we headed back home, to reach there by 9.30p. Sporting a huge “mission accomplished” smile in our faces Krishna and me opened the door of our new home. We found the entire hall where we were supposed to sleep littered with various things, from shaving razor to combs, from hair styling gel to orange juice and lots more including pillows, covers, neck ties and others. We definitely didn’t have energies or time to get back to arranging things. The next day, Saturday was a working day and we had to hit office at least by 9a. So we shoveled all the stuff to one side and spread our bed in between. I slept like a log till 8.30a when my alarm woke me up and it was time I got up and hit the road back to office.

It is three days since we shifted places. But the hall is not looking any better, we still have miles to go in terms of cleaning it up and arranging stuff. And we are sick and tired of doing this on a working day evening.

So things would wait till the next Friday… Hope we manage to tidy the place up then…

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