Saturday, July 12, 2014

DAY TWO HUNDRED FIFTY FOUR - A Quiet Morning "In Command"

It's Saturday morning and I am sitting at a table in the main foyer of the NYU Abu Dhabi Campus Center. Behind me is a large TV monitor which scrolls through campus announcements: the Iftar and Suhoor schedule (the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast and the pre-dawn/pre-fast meal), the IT Walk-In Center hours, and upcoming community events such as tonight's FIFA third place play-off which is being televised in the Conference Center. The table in front of me is full of hand-outs: the shuttle bus schedule, a campus map, a list of resident services and more. The only people out and about appear to be the workmen who get much of their work done in the evening and morning hours before the heat of day. The sun glares outside the full wall of windows in front of me, and the palm tree fronds in the courtyard are dancing in the hot breeze. Beyond the towering palms I see the city skyline. The humidity has not yet set in for the day, but once it does, the skyscrapers will disappear into the haze. 

The OCC table in the Campus Center. Behind the partition is an office with phones.

This is Transition Time for the new campus. There is a summer-long, very orderly schedule for moving offices over from their temporary downtown location in Abu Dhabi out to Saadiyat Island. Residents are moving here at the same time as their offices so that they don't have to manage the commute between downtown and Saadiyat. And while all of this moving and setting up is happening, the workmen continue with the finishing touches to the campus. Daily I see progress being made as I peek through windows and wander through corridors and into rooms. Two days ago I heard water splashing and was delighted to see the falages, the water features on campus that are inspired by traditional Arab irrigation "ditches", were being filled. 

The view from my OCC table as people work on what looks like wiring above the door. You can see the main courtyard beyond. The palms were grown for several years in Egypt before being transported and planted here. 

For the Summer transition time it was felt that NYUAD should have a place to handle questions in person and on the phone because surely there would be questions and lots of them. Everything is new here. Everything. The idea was that many questions could be answered on the spot and the rest would be directed to the people or office that could provide assistance. It was named the Operations Command Center, OCC for short, and volunteers were recruited from the NYUAD staff. And so here I sit in my very official NYU purple polo shirt, neatly embroidered with the new NYUAD logo on the front and the words Operations Command Center on the back. 

But..... it's Saturday morning and it's quiet. Many people are away on vacation - this is the perfect time to leave this hot and humid country for cooler, greener places. And I assume the rest of the people are relaxing at home or have headed out for brunch or shopping. I am supposed to have a second person working with me today, but there was a schedule conflict and she couldn't make it. Just as well. If I have any problems Doug said he'd come down and help me. 

Finally one young woman stops by my desk looking for the Fitness Center. It's upstairs, I tell her and give instructions on how to find it behind the gymnasium. We introduce ourselves and when I learn Brittany moved here just this past week, I offer to share any and all tips I have with regard to settling in and finding things. 

Then Joe appears. He's the consultant-person who designs all the office layouts - a really nice guy.  He needs help geting a taxi. so I call one for him. As I watch him stride down toward the front entrance I cross my fngers that the cab actually finds him. Most cabbies still haven't a clue as to where NYUAD is located, so I am forever giving instructions over the phone. "You're coming from the city, right? Take exit 11 and then bear right. No, I'm not calling from the St. Regis. This is NYUAD. It's new. Go in the opposite direction from the St. Regis and you'll come to a guard booth. Pass by and continue to the front entrance". 

One of the guys from the IT Help Desk walks over and calls me by name. Oh dear, I can't remember his name! He wants to know where the men's prayer room is located. I know the women's is to the left of me around the corner, so I guess the men's prayer room is to my right and around the corner. He heads in that direction, and I tell him to let me know when he returns if he found it because this is something I realize I should know. 

It's quiet again. Across the courtyard I see workers carrying ladders. The only sound is the hum of air conditioning. Two and half hours down and the same yet to go. 

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