We could not at first find the elephants, the hippo was elusive, the camel was slightly injured and even the dog had disappeared.
No, we were not on a safari in Africa… we were in the middle of our 14th house move.
This time around it was not a trans-continental switch, but just a move around the corner in Al Barsha in Dubai. This new move was forced upon us by a landlord, who had decided, that he wanted to move into his own house, fair enough!
I had, after nearly five years, blissfully forgotten about the trauma, which a house move can create. The packers, bless them were wonderful, efficient and professional. However, having resided in the Gulf region for some 25 years, we have accumulated many knick-knacks, near-antiques, paintings, collectibles of all types from candle sticks to Bakelite items… and all of them arrived in one piece.
I would not dream of proposing the best procedure for moving domicile, for everyone has their own system. I always start with the master bedroom. The bed, linen and bathroom essentials are the first things to move and unpack, followed by the kitchen… somewhere to eat and sleep, is the Simon motto.
I do not think we have ever had a move where we have not discovered a long lost treasure. This time it was a large photograph taken many years ago, when we were visiting Rio de Janeiro. My husband argued it could be Barbados, but eventually agreed that I would better know the age of fashions in those days.
Copacabana beach was then a relaxing, safe location, where you could sit or stroll with complete freedom. I understand that today it is one of those areas in Brazil, which have changed quite dramatically and one has to be careful and preferably move around in a group rather than as an individual, shame.
The wooden statues from Thailand were intact. We never feel at home unless these three ladies have pride of place in our lounge, next to the tall wooden candlesticks, which our younger daughter bought for us.
The three Thai girls were bought on three different occasions and I recall on one trip back from Bangkok, one statue occupied her own seat on the airplane much to the amusement of the cabin staff, one of whom came with an “extra drink” for “your companion”. Yes, many cabin crew members have a wonderful sense of humour, which makes the flight so enjoyable and memorable.
There is often one moment during a house move, which you remember. This time, after a day of unpacking boxes and feeling dusty and grimy, I staggered into the bathroom to discover only cold water.
“The water is freezing, switch on the water heater!” I yelled. About ten minutes later my better half announced very slowly and unhappily: “Sorry, I cannot find the switches for the hot water.” The engineer was summoned. “Solo” he explained. “So low?” translated my husband, searching everywhere in the house. “No, solo”, the engineer repeated. “Ah, just one witch, I understand”, my husband concluded.
No switch could be found anywhere eventually we realised, that the engineer was telling us the house was heated with solar energy, and the pump was situated on the roof and had apparently not been switched on.
We are used to solar energy in Cyprus, but this was our first experience in Dubai. It is a great idea of course as soon as you are aware about it and the appropriate machinery is activated.
My husband discovered a slide projector, he had totally forgotten he possessed. “Now, I can show you some of the transparencies from Toronto”, he enthused. My office chair was damaged in the move and cannot be raised in a comfortable position, so I shall have to purchase another chair.
The TV does not want to operate properly, but he has promised to have it fixed. I am typing this on an old portable typewrite, age circa 1988.
The new abode, no. 66, clickety-click, is very well designed, roomy, comfortable and pleasant with a nice garden, a small pool and a small mosque right next door, which several times daily reminds us that we are indeed still in the Middle East.
However, I am not sure I can still believe in the often quoted saying “A change is as good as a rest…” I am exhausted after eight days of unpacking boxes, arranging furniture, furnishings and picture displays. I am more inclined to believe people, who state that the two worst occurrences for a family are divorce and moving to a new domicile.
Speaking Out by Jonna Simon
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