I was filling DH in this morning on everything that had happened while he was away – a catch up that takes place regularly in our household as we mesh our lives together again after his trips.
“And there was some excitement at the gym,” I suddenly recalled (it’s a fact of life that while he’s traversing the earth, the furthest I often get is to school and the gym).
“It was vandalised,” I said, probably putting a bit too much emphasis on the word, because the damage was very minor.
“It looked like a tiger had been working out,” I added for good effect.
“What do you mean?” he enquired. “There were dead goats left lying around?” (not quite as far-fetched as it sounds, as down the road from our first villa in Dubai there was a house where goats were kept).
“No,” I replied. “Someone broke in during the night and ripped the material on the work-out benches. The police came and everything.
“And took FINGERPRINTS, ” I finished with a flurry.
It was a good story, because this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often in Dubai (punishments are harsh). And it’s not every day you find yourself bouncing up and down on the step machine with an Emirati policeman prowling around.
But, later that day – still on a police theme – I read a brilliant post from a blog I follow based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. The blogger writes The Reluctant Emigrant, inspired by recession in Ireland and emigration to the Middle East, and had just experienced a run-in with a UAE squad car – something I try very hard to avoid out here.
I hope she doesn’t mind me recounting her story.
In her words, she was ‘driving at the speed of a 10-year-old people carrier in need of a service’, when she was surprised to see the flashing lights of a police car in her rear view mirror. He tailed her, pulled in right behind her and engaged even more flashing lights to get her to stop.
“During the 24 steps it took him to get to my driver’s mirror, the world slipped into slow motion,” she writes. “I pictured myself being cuffed while face-down on the bonnet for some minor road offence. The children taken into care and the car confiscated, all because I didn’t use my indicators on the roundabout or some similar mistake.”
The young Emirati officer tapped his stylus on his electronic notepad and told her: “Madam, in order to maintain the aesthetic appearance of the city, I will have to issue you a warning to go home and wash, otherwise there will be a fine.
“Under UAE law, it is a crime to have your car this dirty,” he continued. “Please wash immediately. Also, I will warn you it is illegal to wash using water outside your home, so you must visit service station.”
Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!