SOME people are born with an inner radar … and some people are not. Unfortunately my sense of direction is notoriously non-existent.
The only way I can remember my way around is to remember a particular sign, building or monument; head for that and I can happily go on my merry way, even if it means a detour of several kilometres compared to those who follow a more direct route.
I recall when I first arrived in Bahrain that if I spotted the Gulf Hotel sign (which at the time shone brightly from the top of the building like a homing beacon) I could find my way to the office in Hoora or the right road home to Saar.
Things went incredibly well for months until the property was renovated and out went the neon flashing symbol for a more subtle and modern look.
It was a great improvement to the property but left me lost and heading towards the Saudi Causeway instead of home for several months.
Things have not improved. Not only have I moved from the expat heartland to Sanabis but I’ve also moved offices from Exhibitions Avenue to Sanad.
This is seriously challenging.
None more so than when I set off for an appointment at the Brit Club for a gathering arranged by the British Embassy Bahrain team.
I have yet to master the ‘travel time’ required for travelling from the GDN offices to various locations on the island. Each place has its own peculiarities and I had perfected the Hoora run to perfection when you take into account the time of day, school runs, roundabouts and traffic lights, especially if a police officer has switched off the automatic sequencing to take manual control of them.
But Isa Town has its own unique challenges, I’ve discovered in recent weeks, including road ‘improvements’, numerous ministries, a driving school, roundabouts, supermarket entrances and an education zone where parents and school buses have created their own set of rules when it comes to driving and parking etiquette.
So, there was no chance that I was going to arrive at my destination on time by only allowing Google Maps’ suggested 16-minutes for the journey.
I arrived at the Brit Club just as the embassy team was packing up to go having dished out their help and advice to mostly newcomers to the island and a rather vocal number of Arab women married to Brits, who were keen to know whether they would be given sanctuary alongside their husband and kids if circumstances dictated a swift departure from the region.
The embassy team neatly side-footed such conversations offering contact details to the relevant British governmental departments but, at least, I got a nod of sympathy when I raised the issue of my British-born son being forced to return to the UK to study so that he wouldn’t be treated as an international student when it comes to university.
Having enjoyed a hearty hotel lunch with friends and a business appointment at a beach resort where the new executive chef insisted I try one of his fancy pastries, I was pretty full but noticed that there was a plethora of chafing dishes by the embassy roadshow signs.
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth is always one of my favourite sayings, so I wandered over, placed a handful of salad on a plate along with a couple of Indian bhajjis.
Seconds later I was swooped on by a member of staff and told the buffet was BD6.500-a-head.
It was not a complementary stack set up by the embassy team but the tented venue’s Indian buffet being sold by the club’s Ruby Murray restaurant chefs.
That’ll teach me. Another phrase comes to mind: 'there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch' … or evening snack for that matter.
It was time for bed.
Now, I have a history of getting lost on my way to and from Um Al Hassam, as the Manama Theatre Club will bear witness by the number of calls I’ve made to producers saying ‘I’m on my way’ to review a show.
This time, I had good old Google maps on standby. Unfortunately, I punched in Sanad instead of Sanabis and arrived at work instead of home.
Mind you, it impressed my boss, Editor-in-chief George Williams, who said: “Hello Stan, back again?” as I strode purposely into the office.
Well, it’s a new job and first impressions count.