You cannot spend all your free time in the glitzy shopping malls. There’s football to watch, too. But how often in my Abu Dhabi exile will I have to watch Luton v Northampton?
It may just be my bad luck, but every time I surf the TV stations in my hotel, or pop into a bar showing sports channels, I end up watching that game. I mean, there may have been five goals but PLEASE no more Hatters and Cobblers, whether the commentary comes in Arabic or English.
Needless to say, I have been ignoring England’s latest sporting setback and exploring the options for catching our game at Upton Park live on Sunday. Sunday is a working day in the Emirates but the three-hour time difference means I should be away in time to see it live.
But where to go? I have located an expats’ hangout that used to be called the British Club, and is still known by that name to taxi drivers although, in a spirit of inclusiveness, it has dropped the “British”.
Inclusiveness comes at a price; the waiting list for membership is a mile long, though I did manage to sign up for a one month visitor’s card after attending a quiz night as a Romanian member’s guest on my first full night here.
I also acquired an Australian badminton partner; he’s a lot younger and recalls captaining his team at school or college. But he hasn’t played for years and suffers from migraine so there’s got to be hope.
Most of you probably think badminton is, in any case, a soft game for girls to play on the beach. So back to more important matters. What have I decided to do for West Ham v Sunderland?
There are choices. The Third Avenue, a German bar where I actually found Guinness and fish & chips on the menu, promises there’ll be no live music to drown out the footie as there was tonight (during, it has to be said, yet another re-run of Luton v Northampton, so the drowning out was welcome).
But a fellow Sunderland fan who already lives here (I found him on the Ready to Go SMB forum) has offered a couple of alternatives, a bar called Heroes and another where they also show live games. At the latter, says Abu Dhabi Mackem or AD RAW – no prizes for workign that out – as he calls himself, you should “watch out for the Chinese hookers”. It’s the “watch out” part of that advice that puzzles me.
I suspect it will be Third Avenue for the rugby – more for the sense of occasion than for a sport I barely understand, despite having a brother who played and now referees it – and the Club formerly known as British for the Lads.
And among my new colleagues here in Abu Dhabi, I have already found a charming Canadian newlywed who is either anxious to learn, or willing to humour those with whom she works.
Perhaps it has something to do with being temporarily separated from her husband so early in married life, but Laura has already got the hang of Ha’way the Lads, to the impressive extent of appreciating the distinction between Ha’way and Ho’way.
* A modified version of this posting also appears at my main site Salut!