The time has come for us to prepare for our departure from the nearly indescribable place we have called home for 10 months.
In Arabic, the name actually comes out as Abu Zhaby, and means “father of the gazelle.” Please note that I have never seen any gazelles or gazelle imagery in my time here — I borrowed the accompanying image from the Internet. Gazelles probably roamed Abu Dhabi before the city/state grew by leaps and bounds.
I would describe Abu as being very Zhaby; and, when you live here, you become Zhaby too. Not that you start fathering gazelles, of course. You just feel like the name sounds. Onomatopoeia!
Okay, here’s the rundown of pre-departure plans.
Allan’s last day of work is April 30. On Friday, we’re going on a sunset dhow cruise with some of the Zhabalicious people we’ve met here. I just looked up the definition of dhow, which is a traditional Arab seafaring vessel, and discovered that the boat is characterized by a “high poop.” Well that’s just perfect considering the bowel trouble I’ve encountered in this land.
On May 9, we move back to the Royal Ramee Hotel. Yes, the one where the housekeepers arranged David’s stuffed animals into kooky dioramas. Yes, the place that has a brothel on the roof. The Hotel Abu Zhaby, as I call it. I’m excited about returning to where it all began for us because:
- The rooms have extremely good air conditioning systems.
- I can hear the call to prayer, which I find very soothing.
- I love the staff.
- The location is nearer my work and David’s school.
- Jones the Grocer, which is a great restaurant, is across the street.
In mid-May, Allan will head off to see the very last class of NYU’s TischAsia in Singapore graduate. You may recall that we lived in Singapore in 2010 while Allan taught film for NYU. He felt strongly about going to see the place and people again before they all disperse and the school closes for good. Singapore is only 9 hours from Abu Dhabi, instead of the 22 hours of flying from the U.S.
While Allan is in Singapore, David and I will fly to Delhi , India (only 3 hours away), where we plan to explore the city and take a day trip down to Agra (a 2-hour drive) to see the Taj Mahal. We had tickets to carry on to Kathmandu, but I canceled that leg of the trip immediately after the earthquake hit. Nepal does need not tourists, or amateur assistants, right now. (Send money not yourselves!)
I am pleased to report that the airport in Delhi takes “visas on arrival” and I have the paperwork in my purse. This will not be Jaipur, Part Deux. Being deported is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I hope.
In late May, Allan heads to Vermont via the Cannes Film Festival (don’t even ask about these turn of events, which is more Zhaby than I can fathom). David and I will head home the second week in June, after he completes the school year and I complete my terms with Khalifa University. When I say goodbye to my colleagues in External Relations, I anticipate heaving sobs and hysteria. That’s all I’m saying about that. I adore my Arab colleagues with every bone in my body. I shall count on my funny bone to see me through.
If our departure tickets go as I plan (and nothing does in Zhaby Land), then David and I will have 24 hours in Paris on the way back to the U.S.A. It would be nice to sip coffee in a cafe and see the Mona Lisa with my son after so much desert roaming and pit stops in far away lands. Paris is not Zhaby at all, which is why I haven’t ever really been fond of the place. But sometimes you need the opposite of Zhaby to unwind.
By mid June, we will all be located in our sweet South Burlington cottage and enjoying the cool Vermont summer. We also will retrieve our sweet dog Kip from the best dog-sitter ever, Dianne Shenton, in rural Pennsylvania. Mostly, though, we’ll be kissing grandbabies with all the accumulated Zhaby in our souls.