After much raucous excitement (go-karting, lasertag, pizza and ice cream x 15 kids), I let out a long, slow, deep breath – Son1’s birthday was OVER. Thank God! Everyone had gone home.
At least I thought they had … until DH piped up, “Oh wait, someone’s still here.”
A boy. Let’s call him H. He was inside the building, standing around quietly, waiting for someone to pick him up.
I told DH to head off with our two. H and I stood on the kerb outside, in the dark – the moon was full, the sky full of stars. We chatted – he was a nice kid, grown-up for his age. He was also getting worried about the fact no one had come for him. “I’m sure your mum will be here any minute,” I said kindly, stifling a yawn (end of the work/school week, blimin’ knackered).
“Can I use your phone?” he asked.
“Of course,” I said. “Do you know your mum’s number?”
He nodded, and I handed my mobile over.
A few seconds later, I heard a small voice – much more plaintiff than the polite tone he’d been using to chat with me. “Mummy!” he squeaked. A few more words were exchanged as he scuffed his foot against the pavement. “But there’s no-one here.”
When he got off the phone, I asked (and I’ll admit I was more than a little hopeful myself as I REALLY wanted to go home), “So is she coming?”
H shrugged. “My driver’s coming.”
Now, this in itself isn’t at all surprising in Dubai, but what did surprise me is we sat on the kerb for another 20+ minutes without so much as a message (or apology) from his parents, and when a car eventually screeched to a halt (a driver-maid combo), the darkened windows meant there was no eye contact. I walked round to make sure he was getting in the right vehicle, but they were clearly in a hurry. After a quick “sorreeee” and “goodbye”, the car door slammed and they were off in a puff of smoke.
I listened to the crunching of gravel as they veered across the car park, and thought, “Thank Gawd, now I can go home – half an hour late. Just in time to clear up all the shredded pieces of wrapping paper I’m sure will be strewn all over the floor by now.”
A little odd, I decided. Madam can’t have known her driver was running so late, or she would have texted. Wouldn’t she? Or am I too English and hung up on manners?
Either way, it takes all sorts to make Dubai go round, doesn’t it?