Monday, August 14, 2006

Drrrrrrrrrrrring Drrrrrrrrrrrring
Drrrrrrrrrrring Drrrrrrrrrring
Shirin quickly picks up the phone, at the same time producing a very unnecessary cough. ‘Hello?’ she says, trying her hardest to sound awake. As if sleeping is some sort of crime.
‘Good morning’ says the hotel receptionist from the other end, ‘I have Europe Car people here. They have come to pick up the car you rented.’
‘Oh!’ she replies, blinking rapidly a few times to try and get things in focus whilst looking at the clock, ‘But we were supposed to return the car at ten, it’s not even nine now and we still haven’t put the petrol we used back in.’
‘Oh!’ replies the receptionist.
‘Well the petrol station was shut when we got back last night so we thought we would do that this morning.’
‘Please excuse me a moment.’
And then two Greek voices discuss the matter on the other side. Shirin takes this opportunity to rub her eyes with the back of her free hand and check out her tan. It’s looking good but it could be better and today is her last chance to try and get it just perfect.
‘Hello?’ Says a nervous Greek voice from the other end.
‘Yes? Hello’
‘I am very sorry but I need to take the car now.’
‘But what about the petrol?’
‘It is ok. I will see how much you used and take the money from your card.’ And then her voice goes from nervous to sounding like she is about to cry, ‘Please, I need to take the car now. I will not be able to come back in this weather.’
That’s when Shirin notices the ‘wishhhhhh, wishhhhhh’ sound from outside. It’s raining. ‘Oh Greeks’ she thinks to herself swallowing her laughter while shaking her head from side to side in the knowing manner of a person from the UK.
‘Please’ the woman pleads again.
‘Ok’ she replies, ‘Don’t worry, my husband is on his way to the reception now.’ looking at the poor, half sleep husband next to her and waving him out of the bed.
‘Oh thank you’ says the woman on the other side, sounding very relieved.

Outside, rain is coming down hard on the lawn and on the flowers and on their drenched towels hanging out to dry. Shirin sits on the edge of the bed, scratching her legs and looking at the too familiar English style sky. ‘So you missed me so much that you had to follow me all the way to Greece then hey?’ she says looking up at the clouds.
‘What about the petrol?’ asks Kamyar, pulling his T-shirt over his head. ‘It’s ok’ she replies, watching the fat drops of rain land in the anti-mosquito candle left outside on the table, ‘she says she can just take the money.’

The next ten minutes are dedicated entirely to Shirin thinking about what she is going to have for her breakfast. By the time Kamyar gets back, drenched from head to toe, she has worked out exactly what she is going to have: three pieces of toast dripping with double cream and topped with blackcurrant jam washed down with a cup of coffee. But the storm is getting worst by the minute. ‘So this is the catch.’ She says to herself, ‘being stranded in our room on our last day here without any jam.’
She had wondered about the catch ever since the very cheap last minute holiday they had booked without even knowing exactly which hotel or which town they were going to, had turned out to be an amazing holiday in a wonderfully gorgeous place, not far from her idea of paradise.
They had been given a little house all to themselves, about five minutes away from a huge swimming pool and a beautiful beach, with amazing views of Greek mainland. But somehow non of it had felt right and everyday, lying back on the beach or by the pool, jet skiing in the Mediterranean, eating fresh swordfish, accidentally receiving a much better rented car than they had paid for, she had asked herself over and over again: What is the catch?
‘But if this really is the catch’ she thinks to herself, ‘it’s actually an ok one. We’ve had a fantastic week and now it’s raining a little, so what?’

‘Terrible weather, isn’t it?’ the old lady from next door was shouting to the people standing by the front door in the house opposite from them, ‘Do you have supplies?’
‘Supplies!’ Shirin chuckled to herself.
The lady continued, ‘Have you heard about the airports? ...Terrible, isn’t it?’
‘The airports?’ Shirin thought, ‘Oh no, have the airports closed down because of the rain? Oh fogodsakes’ she thought, getting up from the bed and walking to the door, ‘it’s just a bit of rain.’
Outside the rain had been busy. It was still coming down hard and now everything was under at least two inches of water. ‘Umm’ she thought, things were starting to look serious now.
‘Look at this’ she said to Kamyar who was pouring water in the kettle to make coffee, ‘There’s water everywhere.’
And so they both did what any normal holidaymaker in their position would do; they took out their cameras and started to shoot.

Their paradise had gone from this

and this

to this

and this

For the first time since they had bought their tickets, Shirin thought about the annoying mandatory insurance that they had been made to buy, wondering if the cheap £17.99 one they had chosen, offered a helicopter rescue from the roof or not.
‘Oh we must watch the news’ she said, suddenly remembering what she had overheard earlier, ‘The lady next door was saying something about the airports being closed.’

‘Airport plot’ read the white writing on the red band at the bottom of the television screen on BBC World Channel. And then it changed to ‘Terror Alert’
It took them a while to work out exactly what was going on. Basically the British police had been informed that terrorists had plotted to blow up planes in midair, using bombs in liquid form (a Doctor Evil kind of plan basically) and now many flights had been cancelled and all airports were in chaos. Shirin and Kamyar watched in disbelief.
‘So this is the catch’ Shirin thought to herself.
Outside, rainwater was only about an inch away from reaching the top of their doorstep and pouring into the house. Occasionally a lobster-red, English man in shorts would slosh past their door, ankle deep in water to get to the shop for some food for his family. ‘Wonder if the shop has any jam left.’ Shirin thought to herself.

They spent the rest of the morning staring at the television or reading their books. The rain would ease off for a while and then start up again. By twelve o’clock they noticed an opening in the clouds and then a small brown dog with a goatee swam past their front door. The situation was still extremely surreal but things were definitely improving.

By two o’clock the rain had stopped. Blue skies had come out again and Shirin was sitting outside in the sun eating her three pieces of toast with cream and jam, hoping the dog with the goatee managed to swim home ok. They still had the airport situation to worry about but now that it was sunny again, it wouldn’t actually be that bad really if they had to stay a few extra days.


Amir Sharifi said...

Glad to see you made it back, and have fun stories and photos to share. :0)

Anonymous said...

I must say it can be nice to have a cooling rain, as you had, if it stops at afternoon.we had long siestas with lots cooking and food and infact I put on weight by the lazyness the heat creates. brought back at least 10 buttles wine and rum just the day before they stopped handluggage...were you allowed to bring any handluggage?

Shirin said...

Hi Amir :-) yeah it’s good to be back at home now after all that. We were lucky we didn’t get stuck out there.

At first we were told that we weren’t allowed to bring any hand luggage Marieh, so we shoved everything into our suitcase, including Kamyar’s camera bag and his camera, which he wasn’t happy about ;-) but then when we got to the airport they said it was ok to have hand luggage. I had a bottle of water as well that I took in with me and nobody said anything about. So where did you go then? It sounds hot. We were told by the people that were there on their second week, that we had just missed a terrible heat wave. The weather was really nice in that one week we spent in Corfu.

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