I’m no stranger to the rain, hail, snow, sleet, crosswinds, downpours and constant drizzle, any or all the above which form part of the climate we’ve grown accustomed to in Ireland. Summer usually occurs for a couple of weeks at the start of June just when the Leaving Cert exams were being held and lays low throughout July and August waiting for the school bell to ring in September before releasing some much needed sunshine into our famously damp climate for another few weeks, just as the children form an orderly queue in the yard for school.
As I was perched outside in the pouring rain of Dublin Airport awaiting information on the departure gate for Abu Dhabi, I will admit that constant glorious sunshine was one of the things I looked forward to most. A life in the sun and all that goes with it. Barbeques, swimming pools, balmy sunsets on the patio sipping ice cold alcohol-free Arabian beers, enjoying the smell of fresh laundry from the clothes horse. Rose-tinted now I realize, despite many days being blissfully sunny, what I didn’t consider were the sandstorms, muggy overcast periods, intense heat and the sickening humidity which makes the Middle East unbearable from May to September. However, this is April and while the temperatures are climbing, the days are glorious.
So I’m listening for the weather to predict the coming day, as we are just after a spate of sandstorms and I was happy to hear that the day was going to be a constant thirty five, warm, sunny perfect weather for the back garden. Shaking out the threadbare beach towels on the burnt out grass and preparing to inflate a 4ft high bouncy castle without the help of pump, I haul all the outdoor toys and gizmos outside in an effort to entice my iKids to the great outdoors, when suddenly the world makes a jolt to the right.
I feel the earth move under my feet, out of logic and ignorance I put the sensation down to lightheadedness from blowing up the bouncy castle in under fifteen minutes, I blamed the kids for losing the nozzle for the foot pump in the first place. You can imagine the surprise and shock when I learned from my social networking platform ( the shop) that the shudder was a tremor as a result of an earthquake in Iran which measured 6.6 on the Richter scale. “We’re just above some plates you know”, went the casual chatter of the neighbours who obviously weren’t aware that I had left Ireland to dodge a shower of rain or two and didn’t take moving to a country that was “just above some plates” too lightly, where I risked being shaken from earth at most or at very least be witness to catastrophic disasters.
Shake rattle and roll wasn’t a climate option I had ticked as being acceptable when I wrote Abu Dhabi down on the approved list of places to emigrate to. The fact that the quake was 10klm down is supposed to act as some sort of compensate, not being a qualified seismologist but coming from the country in Ireland where my nearest neighbour was 2kilometers away equated in my mind to the quake being only five doors away. Buildings across Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain, Qatar and Abu Dhabi are reported to have swayed during the tremor with thousands being evacuated from offices, high rise apartment blocks and hotels.
The sun is out, the sky is blue there’s not a cloud to spoil the view but it’s moments after the 8 second tremor and uncertainty is thick in the air. The earthquake killed 37 people and injured over 750 in Iran. Home, towns lives destroyed. There is no raincoat to protect against an earthquake and no snow boots or sun cream to shield the effects.
Like a rolling stone, my idea of having the perfect climate, bobbed off down along the road and came to a sudden and final stop. Have I traded a teeny bit of rain for incessant humidity and a measly falling of snow for earthquake tremors? So not for the first time I found myself turning to Google and lo and behold, the advice is, “hide under a heavy object or stay clear of buildings altogether and go to a wide open space”, so as our table is a lightweight IKEA second, the desert might be the safest Home away from Home.