Saturday, October 11, 2008

"You are English, You Have Power."

Everything here takes an age to sort out, a combination of poor service, incompetence, and a general lack of initiative which seems to be endemic throughout the country.

Three months after moving into the apartment, I finally have blinds in the lounge. This was not without incident. The apartment complex has an army of security guards (what do they all do??) they are on the gates, at the doors, and each tower has its own concierge and team of staff. This meant that when my blind man came to install the blinds, he was met with a wall of people who didn’t want to let him in.

As with most trades of this nature, the blind man, and his team, were Indian. Despite me telling the concierge to let him into the lift to the apartment, there was a real hoo-ha with security, who refused to let them in. They kept the men waiting for over an hour in a tiny office in the basement, and it wasn’t until I got a call from a very upset blind man that I even realised that anything was wrong.

I had to go and rescue them from the bowels of the building, which was a very unpleasant experience. I don’t think I’ve ever been so embarrassed to be English, and I have been very embarrassed before (see previous posts.) This was the worst.

As soon as I arrived on the scene, things were different. I politely explained the situation (no-one speaks much English so there was a lot of gesturing and smiling on my part) and frog marched the team out of the office, out to their car, round the complex, and into my building. My concierge was most upset by this (as were the security guards) but I felt so bad that I had to get the guys in as quickly as possible.

The entire time they were virtually in tears, apologizing over and over for keeping me waiting (!). Howveer much I told them it was no problem (and it really wasn’t, they were the ones who had been kept prisoner for hours!) they were truly devastated to have kept me waiting.

One of them turned to me in the lift and said: “They don’t listen to us. But you’re English, you have power.” He laughed as he said it, and it was such a matter of fact statement that it made me a little sad. These are people, probably the hardest working that I have seen in my life. But because I’m English, my word is somehow more powerful that theirs. A sobering experience, but sadly, very typical here in Dubai.

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