Who takes cupcakes into a toilet? Who takes cupcakes into a whole row of public toilets? I do!
And truth be told, I’d take a four-course meal and eat it off the floor in a Dubai public toilet if I had to. They have to be the cleanest in the world. And that’s not only because I’ve lived in Africa most of my life and appreciate plumbing with a depth few out-of-Africans do. Believe me my bums been blessed with the best and the worst of long drops, top drops, flushers, flushers that don’t flush, outhouses, a hole in the ground with footrests, a hole in the ground with no footrests, holes dug deep on remote beaches, behind big bushes, between giant rocks … the list as endless as the need.
Anyway, here in the all-that-glitters-gold sandpit, public toilets are a right royal treat. Each one big enough to host a dance party and glory hallelujah, the doors don’t have side slits that leave you hovering in anxious wonder at who’s next to play peek-a-boo while you poo. And those automatic flushers – ahhh sweet! Until the timing is off, and the spray goes off before you’re actually off the seat causing you to involuntarily lift off – usually much higher than necessary. Oh men, you just don’t know how easy you have it. And then there’s those high-pressure hoses next to the loo’s that the local culture prefers you to use instead of toilet paper – but don’t let me go there right now. This is a public forum – so enough said about public toilets, other than if they are so spotlessly clean….
Someone must be doing the cleaning.
Meet Mulrasi Gurung. She works as one of the cleaners in the many ladies washrooms in Mirdif City Centre which is about 2 kilometres from our home. It has a footfall of 23 million people annually and hosts 465 retail stores, 80 eateries, cinemas and an indoor skydiving centre. Its 3,116,451 sq ft huge and has a resident walking club that makes good use of its air conditioned walkways. Mulrasi comes from Nepal and has very limited English, a little Arabic and since I don’t speak either Nepalese or Arabic we had a challenge communicating other than through body language. Her sad slumping body barely held up a face that hung from a broken heart. I don’t know why she’s in Dubai, who she supports back home, if her family were affected by the recent earthquakes or even if she has any family at all. I don’t know what her hopes and dreams are or even how old she is. What I do know is that a box of cupcakes and a thank you note (which she obviously wont be able to read) given with a warm hug brought on a bought of giggles and a smiley face big enough to envelope my heart.
Meet Sophia Babirye.
She’s from Uganda and speaks perfect English, every sentence interjected with a shrug and “what to do?” She’s just ended the first year of a two year contract as the housekeeper, in another of the Mirdif City Centre ladies rooms. She’s sharp and articulate and has no malice with her circumstances although her 12 hour shifts, six days straight only allow her to sleep with no play on her one day off a week. She’s supporting her parents and two little boys of four and seven back home at the same time trying to save all she can. She has a drivers licence and her goal is to be a taxi driver in Dubai. To get a permit to do so, she needs $1500.00 which will then allow her to join the taxi training school. She tells me with tear filled eyes that she would love to speak to her boys on the phone more than once a month but that would eat into her savings. She coughs away the tears, shrugs and says “what to do?” She has no access to skype or such like as she does not own a computer and neither do they.
Mulrasi and Sophia and the thousands of other housekeepers across the city – its the sacrifices of dear people like you that silently keep this city so impeccably clean and comfortable for people like us.
And for that we thank you from the bottom of our