Indian expat couple builds 9-foot high Christmas village out of waste
Shraddha and Orson Dubai residents who made a big Santa Village created using waste material at their residence.
Dubai - It took 100 man-hours to build over a period of 45 days.
A Dubai-based couple from India has constructed a mini Christmas village made entirely of waste material, with the aim to celebrate the festive season the eco-friendly way, with all the bang for less buck.
For the fifth year in a row, Orson and Shraddha Alex, along with their friend Alistair, have turned one man's waste into a Christmas treasure.
Constructed along one wall of their living room, their 9ft-high backdrop is themed on Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health - Velankanni, located in Chennai, India.
Made entirely of thermocol collected from warehouse dumpsites around Dubai, the impressive main structure, which comprises nine separate pieces, wouldn't be out of place in some of Dubai's most luxury hotel resorts.
The trio spent three months bringing their idea to life from waste collection to finished product. And in total, the mini village, which includes a snowcapped landscape made of cotton filling from pillows and a snowy bridge leading to a manger, took 45 days to build, and about 100 man-hours.
"After the scene is complete, I just sit there, lights off, and stare at it for half an hour to take it all in. I sit in complete silence and look at the months of hard work. It gives me so much peace and joy," Orson told Khaleej Times during a visit to his home.
Surrounding the miniature Christmas scene is a wall of wooden stumps that were picked up (with permission) from a hotel in Dubai after the couple saw them dumped outside, and in the corner lies their Christmas tree - which although was bought - has been raised up on tyres.
"We try to make use of waste we produce and waste we see around Dubai. Those tyres for instance, I just had to get all four of mine changed on my car. So rather than leaving the old ones for trash, we made a platform," Shraddha said.
For this project, the trio did hit a snag on day 25, as the whole backdrop collapsed due to structural issues.
But Orson and Shraddha said as with anything "built with a labour of love", the trials and tribulations all add to the excitement of getting it right.
"We actually close our doors to visitors during the 45 day construction period because the house is upside down, mess everywhere, but when they come to see it, they love it. They stay for hours just so they can keep looking for all the little extra features, but little do they know all the drama that comes with building it."
Apart from the ornaments dotted around the village which have been collected along their travels over the years, the main features, including the church backdrop, bridge, snowcapped landscape, snowfall and fencing are all made entirely out of just three products: thermocol, wood and old pillow filling.
"To get the effect of snowfall, we actually spent hours grating the thermocol and sprinkling it across the setting. There were days where we would get in from work and get to work on it, only to realise its 5am and nearly time for work again," Orson said.
This is the fifth year in a row the couple have turned odds and ends into a Christmas centrepiece for next to nothing, and in 2017, the theme screamed all things Dubai.
"We made a Dubai Frame out of old wood, we constructed the Ain Dubai using an old bicycle wheel, and we carved the Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa out of thermocol."
Other than a feeling of satisfaction and nostalgia from creating their own personalised Christmas scene from scratch, the couple said what they want people to realise is that it doesn't have to cost the earth to decorate.
"Just think ahead and be money conscious and environment-conscious."