THERE IS ONE THING I DON’T LIKE about living in a modern, high-rise apartment in the Middle East. No—there are two things. One thing is that in some of these apartments, there are no windows that actually open. You breathe re-circulated refrigerated air every single minute you are home. They say it’s fresh air, but you know they say lots of things. Luckily my apartment has one window in the bedroom that opens, so I can at least let in some fresh air in the mornings before the temperature roars into the high 90’s F (low 40’s C) or the simoom roils into a sandstorm so thick you can’t see two feet in front of you…if one, you’re stupid or unlucky enough to be outside in the thing. Or two, stupid or unlucky enough to leave your window open when the sand starts obliterating a normal day (been there).
The second thing I don’t like about living in high-rise apartments is that because you can’t open the windows, and because you’re so high up you can’t walk outside and wash your own windows yourself, you must wait until the guys who wash windows make it to your place, which here where I am, may be once every three months. Or not. This is especially bothersome to me, for two reasons. One, because I want clean windows: what’s the sense of paying the price to live in a place with a view like this—the ocean and islands beyond, a vista all the way to the horizon—when all you see is dust and crud on your windows. Two, I am the kind of person who hates relying on others to do things, for two reasons. One, you cannot depend on others doing things the way you want, nor when you want. And two, I may be something of a control freak about certain things, not every thing, but some things, for a couple reasons. One, I need to have some things done a certain way. And two, I need to have things done when I need to have things done. Not everything. I’m not a total control freak. But don’t fall in love with me: I’m hard to live with—ask anyone who has. Don’t be surprised when you google “Living with Badfish” and find no fan club. Hell, some times, I find it hard to live with myself. Why do we do this to ourselves. Or wait…am I the only one who does this to himself?
When the guys who wash your windows finally do show up, they appear out of nowhere, like superheroes flying in to save your day. No really, it feels just like that for two reasons: one, because by the time they get there, the wind, the sand, and the humidity have encrusted a patina of muck on your windows so thick, you really can’t see out well, let alone take photos through them. And two because, the window washers literally drop from the sky, as though flying. They dangle some 40 floors off the ground in a harness, with feet dangling, and water and soap spilling into thin air below from buckets hanging by rope beside them. It’s not a job for sissies, or people with acrophobia (or an IQ above 30).
When the washers have finished washing your windows, you feel like thanking them profusely, as though they had made your day in some spectacular way—which they have. Who would think that at some point in your life, having your windows washed would become an act of divine grace? And afford you the pleasure of being so grateful for something? And please don’t read any sarcasm, nor insincerity, into that line. This is serious quality-of-life shit we’re talking here.
So….you might ask, where is all this psychological babble going? Just where are we on our way to? Nowhere, really. Something else is going somewhere. Last week, the window washers showed up. But this time, they were riding in a metal cart tethered to steel wires attached to the roof of the building. First time I’d seen that. Maybe the harnesses were too dangerous? Duh. It takes them almost a week to go all the way around my building and wash all the windows. Sometimes, by the time they’ve gone all the way around, the first windows they washed need washing again—that is, if the wind has kicked up, and the humidity seeped into the air, and the sand has mixed itself into a fine paste on your glass. But not this time.
This time, the air is clear. The winds are calm. The humidity is normal for an island in an ocean. So I’m sitting in my leather easy chair, feet propped on the antique Iranian travel chest that I use as a coffee table, and sipping my first coffee of the day: Starbucks Sumatra, a fairly dark roast (I only drink Starbucks because I read somewhere online—and if it’s online, it must be true—that Starbucks puts extra caffeine in their beans, and why else are we drinking this stuff?). I take a sip, and glance out the window. That’s when I see the backhoes.
Two of them. They seem to be building something in the ocean. It is interesting for two reasons: firstly, because they seem to be reclaiming the ocean, transforming it into land. You’ve probably all heard about the islands that the city of Dubai built in the Arabian Gulf? The Dutch created the technique; because Holland land lies so low (much of it sits below sea level), they needed to find a way to protect their land from an ocean that didn’t give two twits about Holland’s land and would just as soon flood it as not. Well, 21 floors below my apartment, two yellow backhoes are on their way to doing something just like that here. And secondly, because whoever is driving those backhoes…they are very, very good at it. There is not the slightest hesitation in their movements, no faltering at all. There is a fluid grace in their motion, almost like watching a heavy-metal Swan Lake.
I’ve been watching the progress a few days now. The project is not finished. It started with their building one sprout of land, mostly rock. Then, they created another sprout of land maybe 100 meters away from the first. Now they are filling in some of the ocean in between these two sprouts of land. They are on their way to building something out of nothing. It seems like some sort of cove being built in a very strange place to build a cove—beside a bridge leading off the island. Maybe they’re building a “key” like in the Florida Keys? Or not. A fishing spot? A yacht harbor? A swimming beach? Where this is going, I’m not at all certain. We’re not quite there, yet.
You can find other Daily Post Photo Challenge photos here: On the Way
You can find other Photo Rehab Photos here: PHOTO REHAB