Nothing at all, Really…
The house we left behind in Doha was certainly a lovely house to live in. We had a pretty garden on all four sides of the house, which was a beauty in our early days when it was tended to by our Afghani gardener. We had a huge room, if you could call it that- for a lack of words we called it a verandah (that unfortunately functioned as a transitionary store room most of the time), right in the front of the house. A few years after we moved in we learnt that the previous tenant had taken the liberty of constructing a majlis for himself in the front of the house for the convenience of entertaining guests. It was an oddly built room sharing a wall with the rest of the house, having opaque panels on one side, glass panels on the remaining two, and a wooden door in the front. This gave the entire house the look of a greenhouse, and I remember a lot of my friends used to call it that too.
The rest of the house was rather spacious, with the dining and drawing rooms alone of about 50 square metres. We had three bedrooms, and the master bedroom also had a renovated master bathroom that was probably larger than the bedroom of an average apartment in Mumbai.
So when I walked into our ‘pad in the sky’ in Abu Dhabi just over a year ago I remember I wasn’t very happy. Well, this is a nice house, really. In fact, it’s what I wished I had been living in for ages now. Lovely finished tiled flooring with varnished wooden doors (as opposed to our crumbling mosaic and skirting and eggshell painted doors in the other house) fools you into thinking that they’ve only just finished the building- I’ve heard it’s been around for ages. What I like the most is the quality of sunlight. The spacious kitchen is flooded with light during the daytime, as is the rest of the house. You just can’t get enough of those windows that feel like french windows in the air cuz they’re almost ceiling-to-floor high!
However, I wish there was the same light quality in the bathrooms as well. In this building, all the bathrooms are planned around shafts/lightwells. Now how much light enters each bathroom depends on the size of the lightwell with proportion to the height of the building. So it’s alright to have a 2m x 2m lightwell in a 3-storey building, but when you have the same dimensions in a building with 20 storeys, you’re better off dropping the ‘light’ and just calling it a ‘well’. It almost makes me nostalgic about the early morning light rays that pierced the frosted glass whenever I brushed my teeth before school back in Doha. I’m not exactly asking for french windows in the bathroom, but I dislike having to switch on the lights every single time. What a waste of energy that is!
On the lines of energy waste, another thing that I dislike about the house is the absence of balconies. We just don’t have any. So when you’re indoors, you’re just completely…. indoors (Thank goodness for our larger-than-life windows, I say). So when the laundry’s done, we run it through a dryer cycle (which sounds like an aeroplane taking off), and then dry the clothes next to one of our large windows. Even if we did have a balcony, we probably couldn’t hang our laundry to dry, because in this place, there is a ban on clotheslines and drying your laundry in public, probably in an effort to preserve the aesthetic quality of all the towers in the horizon. Apparently this isn’t the only city in the world to come up with such a law. Muscat in Oman also has something of the sort, and my reading tells me that bans on clotheslines existed in the cities of Toronto and Ontario and even towns like Southampton (NY), though these have now been lifted. My reading also tells me that dryers are the biggest hogs of energy (accounting for 6% of typical household energy consumption).
Talk about not wanting people to wash their dirty linen in public! What I’d like to know just how much energy could be saved if the ban on clotheslines were instead transferred to a ban on dryers…!
On a lighter note though, you wouldn’t believe what else is against the law in the Emirates!
Since this is a post about nothing at all in particular, I thought I’d end it with a note on nothing at all actually. This video caught my fancy for the originality of performance and the eccentricity of Mike Myers’ (well he has to be) costume. Plus I think Manu Narayan is cute in a geeky Indian way, heh. They also happen to be playing one of my favorite songs!