Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Late for School

School in Dubai starts early. Ridiculously early. We have to be there for 7.30am. To be there for 7.30, we have to leave home at 7.00. And to leave home at 7.00 we have to get up at 6.30am - although we are usually conveniently woken at around 5.30am by Dylan's dulcet tones:

"someone wipe my bottom..."

Therefore, yesterday, when Rachel, Jody and Dylan piled into the Barbie car and realised the petrol tank was nearly empty, Rachel decided to risk it to get to school on time.

But we didn't get to school on time. We nearly didn't get to school at all.

The first sign something was wrong was the man on the radio warning everyone to stay away from Exit 44 on the Emirates Road as a gas lorry had collided with a dodgy waste truck and the roads were blocked. But because Rachel still has no idea what any of the roads are called, our happy carload remained in blissful ignorance, warbling along with Dylan's new favourite song ...

"If you ain't got no money take your broke ass home.
You say: If you ain't got no money take your broke ass home
G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S, yeah G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S"

The second sign was harder to miss. A huge wall of gridlocked traffic blocking the entire 5-lane highway - made up predominantly of horribly huge lorries

Then the phone rang:

'Hi, it's Dina. Just calling to see what the Emirates Road is like?'


'Yes, the radio said traffic hadn't moved since 6am. Oh well, good to know. I'll take the other route. Byeee'

But there was no other route for us. There was no movement at all. So there we sat. And sat. And sat. Our only consolation was that we were stuck next to a lovely picture of our 'visionary leaders' - the three Sheiks, who Dylan is still convinced are called Shrek 1, Shrek 2 and Shrek 3. But at least he has now been trained not to say so in public.

But even our visionary leaders couldn't help when the petrol gauge hit empty.

In a desperate attempt to save the last dribble of petrol, we turned off the air conditioning. With Sheik Mohammed looking down sympathetically, we sat, we sweated, and we played 'Eye Spy'.

JODY: "I spy something beginning with 'g'"

RACHEL: "Gear stick? Gravel? Glove compartment? (and various other excellent guesses) ...Okay, I give up. What is it?"

JODY: "It's granny. I win"

RACHEL: "How can you 'spy' granny if she's in England? Rubbish. You're not the wi-... Okay, okay, don't cry. Yes, I know it's hot. Fine, never mind, be the winner. Congratulation. Okay, Dylan, your turn"

DYLAN: "I spy something beginning with 'r'"

JODY & RACHEL: "Road?", "Range Rover?", "Rachel?" ....

DYLAN: "Wrong, wrong, wrong. Time's up. The answer is 'tree'"

RACHEL: "Aaarrrrrrgggghghghghghhhh"

As Rachel began banging her head against the steering wheel, she noticed several braver drivers 'off-roading' across the sand dunes.

Tempting. Particularly given that the Barbie Car comes equipped with a 4 wheel drive shift-stick-thing. Unfortunately, it doesn't also come with a shift-stick-thing instruction manual, and the idea of being stuck in the middle of the desert with no petrol and no air conditioning, seemed even worse than being stuck on the hard shoulder in the same situation.

At least Dylan had cheered up, and had even stopped kicking Jody, because he had come up with the brilliant idea of building a very big sandcastle at the side of the road for us to live in.

Slightly freaked out by the idea of sandcastle-living, Rachel called Mark because she needed someone to shout at, and the kids were too busy shouting at each other to pay her any attention.

Mid-conversation, Rachel spotted a track at the side of the road that led directly to the overpass and tried to squeeze through it. When a police car appeared, she dropped the mobile phone on to the floor and forgot all about it until she finally arrived at school at 9.20 - nearly two hours late.

Mark later explained that what he heard on his side of the call was:

RACHEL: "Yes, and we're stuck here, the kids are turning purple, the petrol's about to run out, and there's a massive truck parked on my bumper. You have to do something ... Ah, wait, there's a tiny gap I might be able to get through if I can convince this lorry to move. Uh oh, I'm not sure we'll fit - .... Oh bu*%&^&"

JODY: "Look out, mummy"

BACKGROUND NOISE: Cacaphonic blaring of lorry horns

Mark was so worried he called back to check we were okay. Four hours later.

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