And I thought getting Showtime hooked up was a comedy of errors:
"Ma'am it's Matthew from Etisalat, can I come now?
"Ma'am can I have your internet account number?"
"Ma'am where do you live?" (he's been here before) A five minute conversation ensues where I give directions to my flat, which includes mention of four main arterial roads, a laundry and the furnishings store on the main floor.
"Across from Zayed University?"
"Ma'am where is your watchman? Because the internet is not working."
He tells me my computer is configured, it's communicating with the router, but someone has fiddled with my line in "the telephone room" and it's broken. He goes to find the watchman while I try to phone the building manager.
10am Matthew comes back, having found my watchman (and kudos, because I have never been able to) but been unable to communicate with him.
10.01am I phone the watchman, he yells every time I speak, I think in Urdu, and I hang up in frustration.
10.02am I phone a friend who speaks Urdu to get her to phone the watchman.
10.03am She calls the watchman, calls back and says she is not sure what language he was speaking, he yelled every time she spoke, so she yelled as well, but she believes he is now standing in the lobby.
10.05am Matthew goes down to meet the watchman, several minutes pass, I suddenly get four green lights on the assortment of Etisalat gear that decorates the corner of my apartment. A feeling of great peace washes over me.
10.06am Matthew, who is from India, comes back to tell me that my internet is working, that the watchman is from Pakistan, he is "very difficult" to deal with, suggesting he is tired because he is the watchman for too many buildings, he probably has Arab bosses that are "only interested in money", "big problems... people are very unhappy", and also that Etisalat has sub-contracted "Chinese" people to do their connection work who "don't know what they are doing" and it's quite likely they will cut my line in "the telephone room" again, as he believes they have since he was last here. (I marvel, yet again, at how prominently nationality features here in Abu Dhabi, and wonder, yet again, if somehow living here could make me some sort of racist just by sheer exposure)
Anyhoo, if the thing goes on the fritz, says Matthew, I need to call 101, Etislat's handy "help" line. (Quotations mine) Normally mention of the "101" line in reference to Etisalat makes me apoplectic, but today I have four green dots and an internet connection. For the first time since March 4 and really, in the 14 months that I have lived here, I won't have to haul my laptop to Starbucks or stay late at work anymore to talk to my friends and write on my blog and go on Facebook or read Perez Hilton and Bourque and CBC and the Globe and Mail and The Onion, and go to catsthatlooklikehitler.com or YouTube or DailyOm.com any other dumb thing I feel like doing online, and that is all that matters. So I smile and say "thank you" and decide I will worry about the internet NOT working another day. Like when it's not working.
10.20am The watchman knocks on my door and asks why I was calling him. "Etisalat problem," he says.
It's okay, I say, thank you, and shut the door.