Ah! The bliss of days off. You think you’ve got time on your hands to pursue what you love to do most.
The truth is that, unless you have a good number of consecutive days off, the day simply slips by and you’re still deciding whether or not to hit the gym before going out. Time is a funny concept in Dubai. One moment you’re thinking how everything is simply dragging by. The next you realise the sun’s already setting and the day is almost over. Dubai probably has nothing to do with it. It’s the job which messes the idea of time and days in our head. Travelling through different timezones can be very confusing. The most annoying question I ask when I Skype friends and family back home is, “What day of the week is it?”. It gets exasperating when it’s past midnight here and the Rock is still living in “yesterday”. The joys of timezones. That aside, I have managed to do quite a lot today and still find some time for myself. I think I might be getting good at managing my time. Just maybe.
Back to the subject at hand. The Golden Call is Emirates crew lingo for the day you receive the call telling you you have been accepted. Any call with a prefix of +971 after a final interview is good news. They will never call you to tell you you haven’t been chosen. That will be the less personal job of an e-mail. I remember that after a week from my final interview, the status on my profile (you build a profile before or after attending the open day. It gives you the status of your standing with the company) changed from Under Review to Approval in Process, AIP. I remember I had no idea what it could mean but I was already entertaining hopeful thoughts. The word “approval” is, after all, quite self-explanatory. I looked it up on Google and my frown lines grew deeper. Everyone was saying something different. Some claimed it meant that you were in, some that it actually didn’t mean anything and that you could still be refused. I tried suppressing my happiness as much as I could. No use in building castles on thin air. At that point, I remember knowing full well that I still had no idea whether I would eventually accept the job offer or not. But I wanted it to happen. I wanted to keep my options open. So I refreshed the page as often as is sanely possible for any human being. I crossed my fingers. And my toes. And waited.
It was the 28th of May. 17 days after the Open Day. I was in the school staffroom. For those who do not know, I was a full time English teacher. I was probably eating something unhealthy and refreshing my profile. I happened to look at my mobile phone. One facebook message. One Whatsapp message. One missed call. My heart skipped a beat. It was a friend who was at the final interview with me and I knew that that kind of urgency meant only one thing. I refreshed. My profile wouldn’t come up. Instead there was just one phrase. “YOU WILL BE CONTACTED BY YOUR RECRUITMENT CO-ORDINATOR AT THE EARLIEST.” I had read too many forums and blogs to not know what that phrase meant. It meant I was in. I don’t remember much of what happened shortly afterwards. I know a cried a bit. I know I was surrounded by my colleagues who hugged me and patted my shoulders. There was only one thing left to wait for. The next day my friend told me she had received the call. With shaking hands I lay my phone on the table in front of me and had to wait only for a couple of minutes. The phone rang. +971…. I think I may have whimpered before I took the call. I know I was crying throughout it all, had no idea what she was telling me except for one thing. My date of joining. When I told my mother her first words were, “Ilallu Ro, so soon!”, not bothering to hide her dismay. I was going to join on the 9th of August. Less than 3 months away. That was when I realised how little time I had left to take one of the hardest decisions in my life. How little time I had left to seal the cracks which I felt in me at the time. I had to be strong if I was ever going to do this. No excuses. In all honestly I believe if it wasn’t for the occasional push I received along the way, I’d never have done it. I’d lie awake at night wondering at the whirlwind which was happening around me. Thinking that if everything happened for a reason, then this was a sign pointing towards the opposite direction I was heading. That maybe, just maybe, life allowed these kind of U-turns because we needed them. At that precise moment. Not sooner, not later. Just then. And I remember saying to my 23 year old self, “If I don’t do this now, I never will.” And never, as my dear friend Peter Pan would say, is an awfully long time.
A dear friend had told me, less than a month before, “What have you got to lose?” I would be lying if I said that right then I had nothing to lose, because I knew there were things I was sacrificing. I knew that there were things that might be lost to me, possibly forever. But if we all dwell on what might happen, and forget to live, then there would be no adventures to tell. Would there?