It was a very Abu Dhabi day yesterday, filled with the frustrations and annoyances that life in Abu Dhabi sometimes brings. Nothing major, and nothing that wouldn’t happen at home only with an Abu Dhabi twist.

The school we have moved to is, like most things here, just opened, still under construction, having a few teething problems. Those problems are minor compared to the problems of the school we left which has only this week (the fifth since school started) moved children out to its new campus.

It seemed that this week, one of the teeth had finally come through with the sports-based extra-curricular activities finally open for business.

I know we live in the days of the overscheduled child, and that children need downtime, time for play, time to get bored and so on. But I’ve got the lads signed up for four days of extra-curricular activities. Soccer (twice per week), hockey and board games.

Do you know why they are signed up for so much stuff? Because this is what they do with their downtime: they go onto our front lawn which runs along the window of my study and they play soccer. Okay, awesome, except that ‘play soccer’ is here defined as: argue about which ball they’re going to use the one that’s badged Real Madrid or the one that’s FC Barcelona; argue about whether they’re playing an actual game or the goal-kicking game; if it’s the goal-kicking game, argue over who is going to be Casillas; if a goal is scored argue about whether the game has started or whether they’re still in warm-up; argue about whose turn it is to go and get the ball each time it is kicked over the wall. There is more, but I’m sure by now you get the picture.

So, I was pleased about the email at the end of last week declaring that the sport after school activities could now begin. Okay, so they haven’t all started yet which meant that yesterday I had to be at the school at 2.30 to pick up youngest whose programme will start next week, then back again at 4.30 to pick up eldest. But this was a step on the way, so, you know, run with what you’ve got, grace in small things and so on.

Except that, as I was standing in the foyer the mister rang and said there’s just been an email from the Principal and all sports activities are, due to an unforeseen legal technicality, off again. Tonight’s would go ahead, but the rest were on hold until further notice.

You know what…none of this has anything to do with the actual story I meant to tell you, and I have to leave for my fitness class in not much time, so let’s fast forward a few hours when I was back to pick up eldest and youngest had been hassling me, hassling, hassling me that he’s got library tomorrow and he wasn’t allowed to borrow any books last week because he didn’t have a library bag and no, he can’t just have a bag that his mother has made it has to be the one with the school crest on it, so I say,

‘ALL RIGHT. We’ll go out to the uniform shop.’

The uniform shop is out at Raha Mall and of all the weird malls, this is by far the weirdest, but there’s a music shop there as well and eldest needs reeds and a Tune a Day book anyway, so, you know, maybe we can kill two birds with one stone. We’ll go to Raha Mall.

Raha Mall is a long way from here. It’s about half way between my house and Melody’s. I think it’s supposed to service the Raha compounds, although the six lane highway separating the compounds from the mall makes such servicing a little awkward, but anyway. It’s also supposed to be part of this big Raha development. When I first came over, Etihad were showing video clips of what it was going to look like and my, but it looked fine. Then Global Financial Crisis so now it’s just a mall adjacent to a big round, glass building which is beautiful, though a little out of context.

Like everything in Abu Dhabi the road to Raha Mall is under construction, being diverted, not exactly straightforward, but anyway we got to the Raha Mall. Of course, the book bags have sold out, the music shop has neither reeds nor Tune A Day for sax.

But all was not lost, my friends, for I was able to take some photos of something I have long wanted to share with you.

This fridge in the colours of the flag might have been reward enough (in truth, I think it’s beautiful and if it weren’t quite so much I’d be tempted to buy it as a souvenir of my time here).

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But no, it’s not the fridge I want to show you. It’s these. Before you look at them, please to remember that when I first saw these I had been off the plane less than forty eight hours. I had been driven out to this half empty mall next to a half completed building in the middle of the desert, and I was greeted by the sight of children riding these.

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You can congratulate me that I have lasted nearly three years.