So we have settled into some kind of a routine here. This is our average day.
4.30am get woken up by the muezzin (call to prayer). Spend next two hours lying awake worrying about not getting back to sleep, when to get my nails done, what is happening to Max and Wolfie, if the children are settling in or if their constant bickering is a manifestation of insecurity, where we will live, how hot it will be today and just about anything else that comes into my head.
7am the children wake up. Leo covers me with kisses and tells me I am his “darling gal”. This is the highlight of my day. Actually the highlight of my day yesterday was lunch with my new friend and buying two pairs of designer sun-glasses for the price of one. It’s amazing how a bit of shopping can lift your spirits – and there is plenty of that here.
7.10am children start arguing
9am Breakfast at the club – Olivia and Bea very happy as they have a full English greasy breakfast. I am very happy as I have muesli and fruit and can see the beach. Rupert is happy as India playing Sri Lanka on the flat-screen TV. Leo just happy, as he always is.
10am Children go to the Turtle’s Club where they swim, ice-skate (I am not joking), climb walls, make friends (mainly called Hannah as far as I can make out) and play games until 4pm. Rupert and I go to the gym. I lose will to live after three minutes on the stair-master.
12 back to hotel, shower, change and go to office. Rupert works until 8.30-9, I have to leave at 3.30 to collect the children. Until we have somewhere to live I can’t arrange childcare. Housing is the key, once we have that, everything else will fall into place. Without it, we are all in limbo.
4pm collect children and go flat-hunting. This is the low-light of the day. Yesterday I saw somewhere I thought was fine, having seen a lot of really awful places. Rupert saw it and immediately declared it a “dump”. And there are two mosques outside the window. So we would be doubly sure to be woken at 4.30am. I must be getting desperate.
6pm back to hotel; children by now exhausted. Try to muster the energy to go out to eat (much cheaper) but opt for room service. Have food, bath, read Winne the Witch’s Birthday for the 400th time (I did bring Alice in Wonderland, but do they want that? They do not).
9pm Tuck children into bed. Children stop arguing. Rupes kisses them good night.
9.30 Collapse into bed with Wife in the North (the book that is) while Rupes watches Brazilian women playing volleyball at the Olympics on Arabic TV. Fall asleep.
2am wake up wondering when I will be woken up by the muezzin….
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008
Happily, following a lightning strike, the church bells of Caux have fallen silent, hence no more being woken up every hour all night. Why do the great religions insist on continually waking everyone up? This is a behaviour that offers some support to Manichean views of the world, and who is in charge.
Yes, it is strange. Anyone else who wakes people up in the middle of the night would be done for antisocial behaviour.
The call to prayer at 04:30 would be a joy if you were in some far flung corner of neighbouring Saudi Arabia. There, the religious police, the Muttawah, wake you up in your hotel room and check your passport at 04:15 to ascertain if you should be on your prayer rug. I have also been asked to leave restaurants which must close for 30 minutes during evening prayer, wait on the pavement and be politely invited back to finish a now cold meal.
Anybody else who keeps people awake in the middle of the night gets done for antisocial behaviour.