Call me absent minded but, I can’t find my way around no matter how many times I pass through the same way. It has always been that way ever since I could remember. The GPS in my head has some wiring issues. It can’t be programmed to save my life.
Kindergarten: Dad was late for work and 3 year old me, was in no mood to cooperate dressing up for school. After a big round of crying, throwing up of milk and eggs consumed with much distaste and a boxed ear, my father decided to pass the baton (me) to his brother ; the young chap with no hurry to get to work.
Landmarks and direction were given and off went Dad leaving me and my Appapan ( that’s what we call for a brother from Dad’s side) to get to school. Appapan was an amusing person to be with. He loved to regale me, his only niece at that time, with tales of all sorts of animals. He was my favourite person and so there was no problem anticipated in getting me to school.
With a skip at every step, I skipped happily as he walked looking around for the landmarks. Ten minutes into the walk, Appapan knew he was lost. The landmarks were nowhere in sight and everything looked the same. Dad had told him to ask me in case of confusion as we walked to school every day.
“So Anney, which way to the school?’ he asked expectantly.
I screwed up my face and thought a bit… mmmm…Dad had shown me a leaf and a few types of birds every morning to remember my English. I remembered them. They were close to school. With A big smile, I pulled his hand to the leaf I spotted….it was the same one….clever me “Appapaaaaaa…L for Leaf!!!” I said proudly showing him my find. There were at least 10 bougainvilleas in the vicinity with the same leaf on it!!!
Poor Appapan, he tried again….”Remember anything else?”
I looked around and pulled him quickly to the next thing… “Appapa…B for Bird!” I think his mind switched off at this point coz I don’t recollect a reply. The sparrow was a common bird and seen all around the villas near my small school. It was needless to say…we came home after 15 minutes of the hot sun and leaf and birds to a nice cold Pepsi and bunch of stories.
Quite recently, I heard him say that all his life, he had never found anything as hard to locate as the Nursery Anney studied in. No matter how he tried, all I could help him with was the L for Leaf and B for Bird.
High School: I was late for the first time and missed the school bus. Dad being the ever grumbling fellow pointed out for the umpteenth time that punctuality was a habit I had not learnt. Ignoring the dire warnings and verbal admonishing, I kept reading through my History text. The exam was really a bugger to have and I hated History…I could not remember dates or times to save my life let alone pass an exam.
“Which is the way to school?” asked Dad.
I stopped reading and looked surprised… Dad was good at location, why was I being asked the way?!
“The same way as always….Muroor road, Dad ” I replied still looking at my text.
“Give me the exact location” he said as the car stopped at a signal.
I knew where this question was leading. I had no clue as to where I was and if I pointed out on it, he would have my life for being inattentive. I decided to take a vague approach. “Well, go straight and…. then we see the school… to the right. Turn there.”
“You have no idea where we are, do you?” he asked.
There was no escape to a direct question. I shook my head.
He let out an exasperated sigh. “You have studied for 10 years in this school, travelled the same way every morning and not missed a single day at school…and you tell me that you are clueless as to where we ARE?”
“How is that possible?” his temper was rising.
“Well, the bus never made a mistake. It was always on time and on the same route, so I didn’t bother to notice. Besides, that’s what the bus is for. To take me to school and back…why do I have to watch the road? I got tons of things to do…homework, reading for test..(chatting, catching my breath after running to the next stop for the bus, putting my socks on….)..you know…am busy Dad.”
“So, are we close to the school now?” he asked trying to control his irritation.
I looked out and confidently replied ” Nope!…we have to go straight and then turn right.”
“Turn and look to your right….I believe that is the school you studied in since grade 1” he said drily.
Surely enough, there it was standing proudly to my right as always….what can I say….except “ Dad, you know I am handicapped location wise...” with those wise words I parted leaving my Dad to wonder what he had done wrong.
Last week: Our car broke down on the Dubai –Abu Dhabi road. We were stranded. I had to hitch hike a ride to reach Abu Dhabi which was just half hour away. Being born and brought up there, I knew where home was. There was no need for my husband to be so patronizing. Packing the kids into a good Samaritan’s car we drive off to Abu Dhabi. He was also new to the city and needed directions to reach the final destination. I was confident on the roads and told him that I was an expat local (Expat born in the UAE).So we drive and I begin to direct him
“Take a left and to our left we will see a fountain in the shape of a cannon and another one in the shape of a coffee pot. That’s how we know we are on the right path.”
He nods happily. As he drives he asks “Which left should I take?”
Good question….there were left turn all the way until the road disappeared. Darn! The car was still moving. We passed 3 left turns before i said “HERE” . The driver barely had time to put a signal and take the lane for the left. We hear honks and saw headlights being flashed in protest to the imprudent driving. The driver sighed “Well, at least we got the turn...” or so he thought.
To our left, the much expected fountain, cannon and coffee pot was missing. There was an alarm going off in my head.
“Are we in the right area? ” he asked.
Darn it! I think we are lost. I blink and smile… “A little further, we will see the fountain”…..15 mins later….no fountain. “Well, lets take a right turn…I can see Emirates Palace there. We can take directions from there…..”
Emirates Palace was at the other end of Abu Dhabi and 15 minutes later “ Are you sure that you know this road” he asked. I smiled.
The alarm in my head would not stop…I was hopelessly lost. I never knew that there were so many buildings in Abu Dhabi. So I make small talk…. “Is this you first time…have you been here before?” The guy slowed down his car.
“ Only once….but am not sure on the road, I thought you said you were born and brought up here…..”
“ Yeah…take a left here…Abu Dhabi has lots of short cuts” I prayed that this one took me to the familiar road home….but no luck.
Needless to say, after 20 minutes of sightseeing, my dad calls up. I heavy a sigh of relief and tell my tired Samaritan the correct direction to my house. This time the fountains were visible and I reached home safely in 10 minutes.
“So you are born and brought up here, huh?”.
I blushed when I replied “Actually, I am locationally challenged ”
Need I say more….?