When I first came to Dubai on October 1, 2006, I refused to get out of the hotel building I was staying and wait outside for the company driver who’ll pick me up and take me to my interview. October would be the end of summer but I thought at 9 am, I was in the third circle of hell. It was so hot and the temperatures that time was “only” 38C. I felt I couldn’t breath and that there’s no way I can live in this kind of weather unless I get an additional anti-perspirant allowance in my job offer.
Fast forward more than 3 years later, my tolerance to heat eased. A LOT. Now I would think that 38C is still pleasant and by pleasant, it just means “yeah, I can live with that” sort of temperature. I no longer whine or curse under my breath. Mostly.
But not yesterday.
I went to Al Wasl Hospital for follow-up checkup in the morning. I could’ve easily drove there but my husband offered me a lift. There are public buses at the hospital entrance so I thought, this should not be that tough. Sure enough, I got on a bus that took me to Burjuman Station where I took the train going to Emirates station. I need to get on another bus to reach home. It was already 1 pm. The bus stop is a walking distance from the Metro exit, maybe less than a minute walk but this is Dubai and it’s summer. When I reached the world’s one of a kind airconditioned bus shelter…this monster?
Photo for illustration purposes only
It wasn’t working. No a/c, no fans, no nothing but a overheating metal box hot enough to bake your grandma’s cupcakes. And there were people waiting inside the stupid box, hiding away from the sun!
I got inside because I thought it would be more bearable than outside. I prayed that the bus will come soon – there are plenty of buses going to my place the last time I remembered (just a few weeks ago). But on that particular day, particular moment and particular weather of 48C (118F), the bus refused to appear.
I got out of the box after 5 minutes or else I would’ve melted like a cheap candle. There’s a big tree near the bus stop so I sought shade there, and other people followed. It was so much better than being in that hot box! What the hell (pun intended), Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) encourages people to use public transport to reduce carbon footprint and traffic. How can the people use public transport if they’ll die before getting on it!? The most ironic of it all was that the non-functional bus shelter was located RIGHT IN FRONT of the RTA office! RTA people in big, heavily tinted, airconditioned cars came and went through the main gate and no one bothered to stop or check why people had to run for shade in the nearest trees despite the existence of the bus stop shelter.
By some unknown reason, the bus came only after 40 minutes. A cab wasn’t an option, you say? I didn’t have cash with me and was really optimistic with Dubai’s public transport system (they promised to serve us better, hey). Sucks that stupidity and optimism was with me on the same day.