Al Ain: Sanayia is a part of the Oasis City that’s far from green. Welding workshops make bedfellows with cheap barber shops and cheaper cafeterias. At the Falcon Cafeteria, a group of 20 or so uniformed workers watched the ticker on a television high over the corner of the steel tables as the ticker of a channel beaming from their homeland of India gave details of the terrible tragedy that shook this city yesterday morning.
“Shsh,” one said as he played with a plate of rice. “Now it’s 22.”
The chatter in Bengali grew to a cacophony, with one with reasonable English acting as a translator and spokesperson.
“I heard they were buried alive,” Biji, a worker at a nearby leather factory said. “They never stood a chance. The sand buried them and they died on the spot.”
More chatter, and concerned conversations about friends or acquaintances that may have been on the bus full of cleaners.
One identifies himself as Navinchandra, a mechanic, from Mumbai and says he knows some cleaners who live in a camp near the cement works roundabout, and wonders if they are among the dead or injured.
Here in Sanaiya, there are thousands of expatriate workers living and labouring the bachelor life, little time to get to know countrymen.
At a barber shop, two hairdressers in white jackets and wearing blue surgical masks clip the heads of Bangladeshi patrons, but none have heard anything about the accident.
Nearby, at the Taqua mosque, Bangladeshis come to pray and chat.
Mohammad Mahaba Alam, 24, from Chittagong, joins a group of fellow countrymen as they discuss the sad events.
One, Prashad, says he saw the accident scene in the distance on the truck road around noon, but wasn’t let near the scene. Yellow and red civil defence cars and police patrol 4x4s had blocked the way and turned everyone back. A Nokia chime breaks up the conversation as Mohammad talks in Punjabi.
It’s a friend from the other side of Al Ain wanting to know if anyone at the traditional meeting place for those from Dhaka and Chittagong had heard anything. He tells Gulf News that he thinks one of the men was 24, was from a small village near his, and had worked in Al Ain for the past three years.
“But we don’t know for sure,” he says. “We can’t get any details and we don’t know who to talk to.”
Back at the cafeteria, some workers wonder if they should collect money and try and do something. But who will collect it and who will look after it, another says as the bulletin carries more details of the accident under a Breaking News ticker.