Exploring new parts of Abu Dhabi is always an adventure.
I took on the renovation of a condominium near our house when I was in DC over the summer and loved getting back into the puzzle solving of a project. With some additional design work necessary, I brought the drawings back here to Abu Dhabi and finished them up in my drafting room that seconds as the third bedroom.
Back in the US, I know that ABC Printing can pick up my drawings, scan them to a pdf file and return them back to my office. Simple and easy. Here, I had to find a place that could scan large scale drawings and change them to pdf’s. My architect friends work at firms where drawings begin on the computer so no one needs that intermediate scanning process.
After class today, I checked the on-line yellow pages. I chose to call Al Saif printers and explained what I needed to Ismael. I was pretty sure but not positive that he indeed could do the work. (I actually just got the originals back and learned that his firm could not do the work. He took my drawings to another shop down the street) I asked for directions and was told it was behind the Etisalat (the phone company) building, off Street #10. I asked him if that was the old #10 or the new #10. A few months ago Street #10 was Street #2. (Also, there are “major” numbered streets and, between them, “minor” numbered streets, but that’s another level of complexity.) You have to make sure everyone is talking about the same streets. Ismael re-assured me that it was easy to find because it was over the famous and delicious Hindu restaurant, Haveli.
Off I set with my vague directions. Near to where I thought Haveli was, I went into another print shop and asked if Haveli was nearby. The Indian owner and Emirati customer in the store looked at me blankly and said, “No, they never heard of this restaurant.”
A woman clad in her black burqua then came over to me as I was about to walk out and said, “Havile? I think I know that place. It’s the Indian restaurant.” I said yes and she instructed me to walk down that street (I wasn’t exactly sure what “that” street was) and it was the 6th or 7th building…right near where she lived.
So off I went and of course, couldn’t find Haveli. Back and forth I went, but along the way saw a brazier that was heating up the coals that bubble the water in the shisha pipes.
And, I wondered about the name of the store “The Joker Sports Club”… not many locals are that athletic.
After asking four more people, I found the Haveli. Inside the restaurant I was told that the entrance to the upper floors and business areas was around back. When you go out back, you know you are in a different part of Abu Dhabi than the tourists see. It feels like you are in India, complete with stray cats. Walking inside and up dimly lit stairs, I wondered if I could truly be in the right place.
But off the landing, there was Al Saif’s office. Two nice women and Ismael greeted me, knew exactly who I was, and happily took my drawings. An hour later I had pdf’s to email back to the US! Exploring is good.