Well, our Eid mini-break was a smashing success, interrupted by moments of trauma and ending up with a domestic disaster.
Good stuff first: a lovely trip, really, visiting both the usual destination for depravity in these parts, Dubai, and several of its satellite emirates (one, Abu Dhabi, is actually the center off which the others, even Dubai - especially Dubai, these days - depend, but don't tell Dubai that). We lazed poolside at our favorite hotel and were pummelled into submission by large, stern Indian masseurs. We ate and, yes, drank immoderately. We shopped, we caught up on the local gossip (the general opinion: the bottom, although perhaps not yet here, may be in sight, although it's still dispiriting to see all the half-finished towers languishing), and in general we enjoyed life on a slightly larger scale than is generally possible in our own little Sultanate.
We also got lost, a lot, for signage is not always this region's long suit, especially given how frequently, up in the Emirates, construction has gone on well ahead of common sense, meaning that you will realize just as an exit ramp fades into the rear-view that the sign really meant... all very boring. On the other hand, we certainly did see parts of the various statelets that we would have missed by going direct from points A to B.
And let's not even talk about the traffic. Mr. Muscato and I agreed that one of the less salubrious developments over our time in this part of the world is that the Sultanate's drivers have in that time managed to catch up with and even exceed their neighbors in sheer badness of driving, with the local specialities - extreme tailgating and signal-free lane weaving - adding a very special frisson to the travel experience.
It's as if driving offered the normally congenitally mild-mannered and intricately polite local citizen an irresistably enticing outlet for aggression and rudeness, one which they seize with highly uncharacteristic gusto. When you're surrounded with worse drivers than those in Cairo or Dubai, you know you're facing some of the world's most challenging roads. Sadly, the local fatality statistics reflect the situation all too accurately, and I'm starting to be surprised that the Powers What Be, normally so concerned with maintaining the image of pristine perfection in regard to all things local, haven't taken more vigorous steps.
Our homecoming, alas, was not quite the idyll promised above by the euphoniously enamed Cyril Ornadel and his terribly formal-sounding Westminster Orchestra of London (which also seems vaguely redundant - one wouldn't expect, after all, a Westminster Orchestra of Bucharest, would one?). No, indeed; we instead were faced with a distraught Ermilia and tales of a broken pipe and an inundation that wreaked havoc upstairs, including completely flooding our cosy parlor.
The combination of the climate and the concrete construction used to create the Villa Muscato (and all its neighbors, for that matter) pretty much guarantees a slow drying-out and the possibility of vicious molds, but fortunately Ermilia is extremely resourceful and had already marshalled a platoon of plumbers, cleaners, and other necessities, likely minimizing the longer-term difficulties. As it is, we may be in the catbird-seat position of at last persuading the landlord to remove several rooms of regrettable wall-to-wall and possibly even a full bathroom makeover. We shall see.
The dog, of course, was quite delighted by the chaos and the chance, disgusting creature, to roll around on sodden rugs. It could all have been a great deal worse, but as it is we've lost a stack of books (don't you keep some handy in the bathroom?), will have distinctive strips of lost finish around the feet of various pieces of furniture, and will have to make unaccustomed use of our mostly-for-company downstairs drawing room until we regain possession of the flood zone. Bother.
But we've resolved not to let all that interrupt our enjoyment of our last day of Eid holiday, instead working to maintain our mini-break-induced zenlike calm so as to be ready for what promises to be a busy few months. Tomorrow it's back to the grindstone, and I for one don't plan to let a little extra water here and there distract me from a last day of lounging, reading, and a little something cooling. Just like Mr. Ornadel's be-peignoired pal up there, in fact.