After four years of living in the ‘car park in the desert’ as she refers to it, Sarah is still in denial about the 5 months of the year in which she finds herself totally incapacitated. Similar to the hormone released after child-birth that sees millions of women forget labour and decide to have more children, the winter months seem to eradicate her memory of the previous summer and she is therefore flabbergasted and outraged every May when life in this part of the world becomes, well… uncomfortable. This year she is particularly upset as, not only is she dealing with the usual steamed-up sunglasses, permanent sweaty pits and bloated ankles but she also now has thigh-chafing to add to the list of complaints. (Thankfully someone has posted about it on her favourite forum so she knows she is not alone).
One recent bonus has been her husband’s decision, after much haranguing, to hire a dog-walker, so Sarah no longer has to get up at 5am to stand awkwardly on a patch of sand while their pooch performs the morning ritual. However, she has not managed to find a ‘child-walker’ and with the exception of the mornings spent at the mind-blowingly expensive summer camps, she finds herself at a loss at how to entertain her offspring without causing herself any discomfort. Yesterday’s trip to Teeny-Terrors (what was so ‘teeny’ about those uncontrolled, sugar-fuelled, screaming giants?) was one of the worst indoor soft-play experiences to date. While trying to rescue her youngest from a ball-pit after he had disappeared for a worrying length of time and desperately trying to ignore the wet, squishy feeling between her toes, her eldest appeared with what appeared to be some other child’s vomit all over her dress, after she realised only too late that the previous entrant to the neon-coloured tunnel had endured an unhappy trip. Removing a chip from her son’s nostril and wondering how she would ever rid herself and her children of the smell of fried food, Sarah decided to surrender and head home, only to find her shoes had been given to someone else and she was now the proud owner of a pair of pink Crocs complete with Hello Kitty charms.
Life wouldn’t be quite so bad however if she and her children weren’t all suffering from streaming colds having endured Dubai’s altogether less pleasant version of a Finnish spa procedure: running the car-to-building gauntlet. Leaving behind the dank furnace of the mall car parks to enter the sub-zero climates of the malls inevitably results in a shivering cold-sweat. As a result, Sarah is wiping noses like she were back in the UK in January (what she wouldn’t give for a walk in the pissing rain and biting wind!) and making enough trips to the doctor’s for the receptionists to greet her on a first-name basis. Typically her own air-conditioning is programmed to break-down on a Thursday night, forcing them to look for alternative cooling measures to survive the weekend and commit retail hara-kiri: Carrefour on a Friday afternoon.
In Sarah’s mind, there is only one upside to this miserable time of year… FINALLY, she doesn’t have any bloody visitors.