There, the inevitable always has to happen and so it does as the incessantly strident alarm rouses me rather rudely from deep slumber. I frantically grope in the stygian darkness to shut off the infernal clamor and a calming silence descends, beckoning me to curl up once again in the warmth of my cocoon. Given the unearthly hour a little before sunrise, bleary eyes open a tad reluctantly and as I take stock of the situation, the perennial question resurfaces ? where am I and do I really need to do what I have to do; many miles away from home and that too on an island of all the places?
Providentially, realization dawns rather instantaneously and with better sense predominating, it is a mad rush to get done with the usual morning routine and get cracking. Eyelids still at half-mast, I ruefully scan the mirror for any new whites that might have sprung up in my stubble during the night and as I mull over sporting the clean-shaven look to belie the fact that I’m not as young as I used to be, I fortuitously bump my posterior rather unceremoniously on the protruding door handle in the confined space that passes off for a bathroom! That jolts me back to reality and I’m sorely tempted to file that – with a dash of spice of course; in a ?Near Miss Report’ to help keep our Safety Officer in good spirits by meeting his stipulated quota for the month!
As I deliberate on the wisdom of it all, my stomach gives an ominous rumble and I know its time to get on the move and hit the road, pronto! A glob of toothpaste on my well-worn brush with the bristles gawking out in all possible directions; a couple of hurriedly but practiced passes here and there & well, while I couldn’t give good old Ash a run for her money, there is definitely a gleam on my pearlies. There, feeling rather smug about it, I hit the shower & while the near-scalding water cascades off me, I feel infinitely better. I hasten through my routine and in a jiffy, all spruced up & feeling on top of the world; I stride purposefully towards the Mess.
The tantalizing aroma of coffee mingled with an assortment of freshly baked food; incidentally sufficient to feed a marauding army, wafts across my nostrils and manages to shake off the remnants of my lingering lethargy. As I settle down and take in the smiling faces, I feel the throbbing pulse that keeps this place on the move. I revel in its uniqueness by virtue of isolation, the tranquil surroundings, peaceful coexistence and the easy camaraderie that translates into synergy and keeps this place ticking over like clockwork. It buttresses my conviction that if solitude is indeed catharsis for the soul and if one is attuned to splendid isolation and has a penchant for it; life here can indeed be bliss.
Two hoots for my bravado and talks about bliss & the like coz such euphoric thoughts are relegated to the so called ?good’ days! At times, especially on Friday evenings since the noon’s are off and you wake up after catching up on your lost sleep, loneliness can bog you down & swamp your senses! With some deserted pristine beach around and your loved ones far across the sea, the sight of sundown as it dips into the azure waters with the accompanying crimson hues can move you. Loneliness – that despairing scourge of isolation can engulf you & the longing for your sweetheart can give one more than just a touch of the blues as a m?lange of repressed thoughts run amok.
Standing all alone by the beach & staring out emptily into the great expanse of sea, I’m assailed by doubts and as myriad questions crop up and I ask myself:
"Do I really need to be in splendid isolation – this self-imposed exile & so detached from the outside world?"
"What am I doing in here literally marooned on an island while the world revels merrily in anticipation of Christmas & the New Year?"
"What’s my role in the greater scheme of things and am I really as insignificant as the myriad grains of sand that I’m standing on?"
"My feelings, my thoughts and my aspirations ? do they count for anything?"
…Do I really need to be in splendid isolation – this self-imposed exile & so detached from the outside world?….
"Is there anybody out there….can somebody hear my soulful cry as I’m feeling despondent, lost and empty in this remote-outpost-of-a-microcosm that I’m in?"
How I wish for some warmth and laughter & a bit of that human touch! A whole host of questions and nary an answer in sight at the end of it all!
And then that very special thought; "Have I reminded my special someone that I love her and does she sense the emptiness that I perceive in my soul at times like these?" I reach for my phone and from across the ether the reassuring voice from that petite 5ft 2" frame soothes me and eases my furrowed brow. A couple of hasty blinks & then I close my eyes & feel the love flow from my beloved out there yonder & I console myself ? a few more days to be back with her where I truly belong & voila; the melancholy lifts like a miasma on a warm summer morn, my vision clears, the usual level headedness returns and I am whole again! After all, a man’s got to do what he’s got to do and we have no Manna falling from the heavens hereabouts you see! No sir, we get no manna; not on Das Island at least!
There; I guess I’ve slipped into a time-warp with my reminisces and then a quick look at my watch & I think to myself, well, time to shake my-self out of my reverie, join the Men in Blue and get down to business. It’s a bright sunny day and the temperature’s just right with a cold wind blowing across the sea whipping the waves into white-tops. I’ve got a spring in my step and hey, it’s just another great day at Das until sunup the next morning!
Pictures: Courtesy – The official website of Abu Dhabi Gas Liquefaction Co. Ltd; ? www.adgas.com
Das Island lies within the territorial waters of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, approximately 160 Km. northwest of Abu Dhabi city. Its total area is about 2.5 sq.
No families are allowed to reside on Das Island and most of the employees who are based here work on rotation shifts i.e., 5 on & 2 off (in Abu Dhabi) 35 days on & 28 days off (in their hometown) , 56/28, 70/20 etc) depending on whether you work for the client company or as a contractor.
On any given day there are about 3500 people from 30 odd different countries working on the island and during shut-downs, the number can swell up to more than 5000!
Photography is strictly prohibited & obviously this is NOT a tourist spot to take in some sun and work on that tan.
Don’t be misled by the rather austere look of the island in the aerial pictures. We have excellent residential infrastructure with top-notch 5 star multi-ethnic cuisine & various recreational facilities such as Football, Basketball, Hockey, Squash, Tennis, Badminton courts, a state-of-the-art Gymnasium/Fitness club, 3 Swimming pools, 4 Libraries, 4 Theatres, Internet facilities, various associations & clubs, well, you name it, we got it all!
Author: Chris Rego- UAE