Sunday, January 02, 2005

New near, new place


Shafiq, a forty-something Pakistani driver, helped solve one of my biggest problems as the year of the rooster pulled in: moving to a new place.

After the bags were packed (started packing since after Christmas), I thought I was ready to go today (my off). But not quite.

I did what post people would — starting packing up the big stuff. Just when you think you’ve bunched everything clean, little stuff left here and there came into view — and there's no place or box to fit them in.

Moving around — part of the so-called permanent temporariness — defines expatriate workers' lives in a country not ready to naturalise immigrants.

To get rid of some stuff, I called the Filipino cargo forwarder, for whom Shafiq works.

By the time Shafiq (and Joey, a Filipino crew) showed up to pick up the ‘Kabayan’ box (bound for Cavite), around 5pm, it was all wrapped up and tagged properly.

Since I had no breakfast or lunch (save for a left-over shawarma), I took a quick snack (luncheon meat, leftover New Year cake) to cap the day.

Packing was the easy part. Moving was not, especially if you have heavy cabinet and huge table to handle. Finally started to take them on the road on Shafiq’s hardy pick-up around 7.30pm.

Had to leave them at an inconspicuous corner at Kuya Fred’s. I though I'll move the rest — electronics, wardrobe, books and all — in my small car early next month when I finally move in.

Since I’m welcome at my current place till January 6, I must find some place else to stay till February 6, the day Kuya Fred's family flies to London. A typical bed space scene in Dubai would have three or four people in one room… Works just fine for me for a month. Officially, though, I’m homeless now.

(I was thinking maybe it's time to consider moving to nearby Sharjah, where rents are cheaper, and finally live alone. But the traffic between that emirate and Dubai would probably drive me nuts. I don't want to be reminded of my Manila days. The thought of living in my car or driving on the freeway to Mama Ling’s in Al Ain, about about 130km from Dubai, daily also crossed my mind. That way I'll skip renting for a month, haha.)

During the short trip from Karama to Deira, I learned Shafiq, a father of seven from Peshawar used to work in Qatar as a mechanic for the oil-rich state’s police department.

With the little Arabic I knew, we got along pretty well. Talked about what men meeting for the first time break the ice with. He claims having screwed 50, maybe more, Russian women in Dubai during his prime. I couldn’t share a thing in this department, but feel fine having no similar tales to offer.

Thankfully, the cabinet and table fitted well in the elevators, both at the flat I’m leaving (on the second floor) and the new one I’m moving to (on the 7th).

Shafiq has become my friend by the time the big move was over and we exchanged mobile phone numbers. I offered to refer him to other people who might need his help in the future. He walked away happy with Dh50 I forked out of my wallet, 10 dirhams more than what he asked for.

Though today did not go exactly like the other off days (breaking my traditional ritual of snuggling with a book and having hot soup in between or watching a DVD), it's a prelude of things to come.

Hope the rest of the year brings excitement, less stress and more reasons to cheer.

* * *

I just learned my colleague Abdullah Arbab was asked to leave the company. Non-performance. I think I also saw it coming. Incorigible work attitude. Or could it also be because he is black?

* * *

Reminders for the New Year

According to the Stylebook, we do the following:

- Adviser
- Italicise newspaper names
- Second World War (not World War II)
- use the em dash (the long one, which looks like this —) for parenthetical information
- Single quote marks are only allowed to be used for a quote within a quote in copy
- South East Asia (not Southeast Asia)
- Robert C. Byrd (all initials take a full stop, except Harry S Truman, whose middle name was S, although there is some doubt this is true)


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