It had been a long day in the office and the traffic coming back into Dubai from Abu Dhabi was torturous. I could have hopped faster from Jebel Ali. Still, never mind. It was Sunday night. I was going to have an evening lying on my sofa watching The Thick of It on my laptop. This would lie balancing on my stomach, as it has become accustomed to doing, while I dropped Minstrels into my mouth like a Roman eating grapes. Not the small singing men, you understand, but the crunchy chocolate buttons.
Unhappily, it was not to be. As I walked into my apartment and kicked an errant shoe from my path, a single fat cockroach scuttled from underneath it into my kitchen and took refuge underneath my washing machine. I don't scare easily, but anything with more than four legs will do it. I felt itchy and dirty, like I was eight years old again and suffering a bad case of nits. I wanted to heave aside every piece of furniture to make sure its cockroach friends did not lurk there.
Instead, I screamed and jumped as women do in cartoons when they spy a mouse. I then plucked the insect spray out from its cupboard and liberally doused my kitchen floor in the stuff. Had the cockroach been the same size as me, I sprayed enough to defeat it. Trouble was, this duly set off the gas leak alarm, which vied with my screams for attention. My peaceful Sunday night was ruined. Sadly I've been expecting such drama. I live on the first floor of my building, and some months ago a small notice went up on the glass front of the space below me. "Cafe opening," it said in tiny letters.
My first thought, which I'm not ashamed to admit, was "Please let it be a Starbucks." Even though there is a branch mere minutes away, my devotion to their grande skinny lattes knows no bounds and this would mean I could meander in there every morning in my dressing gown, like Noel Coward. My second thought was more practical: "Living above a cafe means cockroaches." I have been worrying about this over the past months as the banging and the drilling for the cafe continued. There was a brief lull in activity over Christmas, but work has started again in earnest for this new cafe. And with it, as prophesied, have crawled nasty six-legged bugs.
"How big? Tell me in centimetres. If it's under 3cm, you're a big chicken," said my friend Zeena when I recounted my sad tale the next day via e-mail. I replied that it was probably just under 3cm, maybe two and a half. Going by Zeena's scale, that indeed made me a chicken. But cockroaches hunt in packs, I'm sure of it, so I need to stock up on spray.