Image by Alexbip via FlickrMany moons ago, we decided to resist the cunningly worded invitation from the motley crew at SEWA to accept their piped gas for a mere Dhs 1,000 service fee. I applied the same logic to this as my old landlord, Mr Mohammed, had applied to the use of power tools.
Back in the day, our old villa had a bathroom that featured terracotta walls, burnt umber flooring and a vibrant, custard yellow bath suite. We stood it for so long, but then I suggested to Mr. Mohammed that we replace it with a nice, clean white bathroom. I’d pay half the cost. Being a builder, he quoted a paltry sum which I agreed and then he got massively over-enthusiastic and completely remodeled the bathroom from, literally, the ground up – including re-routing all of the piping in the floor and walls. I have to say, we only paid the paltry sum. We have been Lucky In Landlords here.
During the inevitably extended period of work, Mr Mohammed and I stood together one day watching his men re-channelling the pipe work in the 20 year old concrete floor using nothing more than hammers and chisels.
“Why don’t you use Hiltis for this?” I asked, all innocent, like.
His incredulity was a picture. “Hilti? HILTI? Shou? Why for I want to use Hilti? This one piece cost same like two years’ salary for this man! Better I use this man!” said Mr Mohammed, with irrefutable (if brutal) logic.
I have to confess, I applied Mr Mohammed’s Theorem to the question of gas. Rather than pay SEWA Dhs 1,000 for the gift of gas (and then pay them whatever mad rate they decided to apply to expats for all time, raising it annually for all we knew, just like they’ve raised the electricity for us but kept it at the same rate for ‘nationals’), I decided to live with the occasional upset of running out – because having to call Mr Speedy Gas twice a year wasn’t the end of the world. He usually made it in 20 mins and cost Dhs 40 a canister. These days he’s charging Dhs 100 and taking his sweet time, as we found out last night. What's more, gas doesn't seem to last like it used to. Adding to all that, I do have to wonder how much longer he’ll keep going for, this supplier of what is now almost black market bottled gas to Sharjah's last gas holdouts.
It seems inevitable that some time in the future we’ll have to become SEWA’s Gas Bitches. Funnily enough, I'm not looking forward to it...