Watch Your (bleep) Mouth!

“Will they cut off your hand?” my friends ask me. “You know, if you commit a crime or do some other insulting thing.”

Come on please learn your geography.

Does the UAE look like some sort of hillbilly nation? Do you think we live in the dark ages with uncivilized rules — Where they are stoning women in the square and burning little girl’s schools? Continue reading “Watch Your (bleep) Mouth!”

Goodbye Dubai. Hello Abu Dhabi.

dubai-167872Goodbye Dubai I do not need you anymore.

Like a sexy new friend, you mesmerized me. You were the answer to all that was missing in my life.  I could rely upon you for everything between laundry detergent to a 7 star hotel. In awe, I shopped your malls. I marveled at your architecture. I salivated at your restaurants. I gorged on your ostentation. And then with a belly ache, I hobbled home and dreamt of when we would meet again.

Goodbye Dubai I do not need you anymore.

I loved you for what we were. You dazzled me with your sparkly and I fed it on it like a school girl. Bright eyed and in admiration of your grandeur and your resources. In you, I found what I was missing. No one within miles could fill your shoes. I talked about you to everyone I knew. And ended all of my sentences with, but in Dubai…..

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Hello Abu Dhabi.

I love your new found glamour and your worldly culture. You’re so approachable and within my reach, I can wrap my arms around you and give you a big hug. You’re like the friend I overlooked because I was busy with someone more chic. You’re comfortable like an old habit. Pleasing, enjoyable and never in your face.

Hello Abu Dhabi.

I think I’ll shout to the word that you’re enough for me. I do not need to travel for amusement, entertainment or to be wooed with a promise of something blingy. I can get my laundry detergent, my hot dogs and my Cherry Coke right here. I’m really very easy. You cannot beat Abu Dhabi’s beautiful beaches, the mesmerizing skylines, and the incredible Emirates Palace.

Goodbye Dubai. Hello Abu Dhabi.

There’s room enough for two. When I need a place to blow my mind. I’ll pick Dubai anytime. But when I need a place to call my own; cozy, comfortable and nothing over-the-top, I’m calling Abu Dhabi home.

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5 Things to Remember When Your Expat Family Comes Home For the Summer

 “Gone Girl” was filmed in my hometown…how exciting! Stay tuned for more on this subject.

Whew! The summer has come to an end. And for most expats we are very excited to get back to our own lives. Not that we don’t love you. Not that we didn’t love visiting you. But the summer exodus to our hometown is absolutely, positively, exhausting with a capital “E”. Ever wonder how it feels to be a displaced person no place to call your home roaming from place to place? Well, we do. Not that we don’t love you. Not that we didn’t love visiting you. But coming home is kind of weird.

Continue reading “5 Things to Remember When Your Expat Family Comes Home For the Summer”

The Two Bobs

“Well apparently there is a problem with the two bobs” Laura explained in her thick Italian accent. Elize and I stared at her at a complete loss. “What does she mean Gina?” Elize asked in her very precise South African accent which sounds more German and less British than many of the other South Africans — total mystery to me — don’t ask.  Sometimes it becomes quite confusing when we are all together trying to decipher exactly what the other person is talking about when we get stuck in our home country’s sayings, folk-lore and cultures. “The bobs!” Laura says waving her hand across her chest. Ahhh! Elize and I say in unison. Boobs! Laura they are called boobs not bobs. “Yes, of course — whatever. I once took a house slipper to the electrician because he asked for a ciabatta.”  I thought ciabatta was bread? “Yes, ciabatta is bread but it also an extension cord and a house slipper. How was I to know?” Laura explained to us with several hand gestures, a roll of the eyes and shrug of the shoulders; all in a way that only Italians can do.

Because many expat women in the UAE are somewhat confused as to what we can and cannot wear it, and where we can wear it; we sometimes cross the line of appropriateness. We are asked to cover our shoulders and knees while at the local mall, yet there are a number of women’s lingerie stores with very risky advertisements prominently displayed at the front entrance. For many women, it is extremely confusing. I remember when I first arrived staring with dropped jaw at the naughty nurse uniform and the stick on pasties in the front window of the Fredrick’s of Hollywood store. Fredrick’s is definitely a little risqué even for the United States.

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“I hate it when this (circling her hand over her entire upper torso) doesn’t seem to work.” Maha explains with a natural, yet unintentionally sultry  Middle Eastern accent. As I understand it, some of the women from some of the Middle Eastern countries rely heavily upon their assests, either directly or indirectly, to get stuff done — not that this is much different from other countries, but it just seems to be amplified when you add sky-high jewel embossed stilettos, tight flashy shirts, fake eye lashes and an entire pot of MAC eye shadow. The combination is a killer presentation intended to lure unsuspecting man flies into a sticky web. It was just the other day that I caught myself saying at the mall, God, she looks sexy in that abaya! Definitely words I never thought I would say but then IT WAS an incredibly sexy, feathery, lacy abaya! (I promise the entire topic of abayas is a future blog post). See why it is confusing? This is definitely a culture that appreciates the finer things and there isn’t a shortage of expensive lingerie stores. Then again, there isn’t a shortage of cheesy lingerie stores either. I found the below items near the children’s pajamas at local store.

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See why we are confused? As expats I think we feel that simply providing these clothing options gives us a license to wear them, but in this culture we can wear them but we have to put a housecoat on top of it. Most cultures dress for the outside world, but the Middle Eastern culture dresses for their inside world. Their best is viewed by their private inner circle and our best is on display for everyone. It’s a little tricky to get into the swing of it.

Pazzo fottuto driver degli Emirati!

It sounded like a good idea. Kerstin, our little momma bear, decided to organize a desert safari for the PTA. “Steve goes dune bashing all the time by himself” she said trying to insert a little confidence into the plan. Well, I thought to myself, Steve runs 20 miles for no reason and is as thin as a Holocaust survivor even after a big meal — so that’s really not too comforting. The thought of tackling massive hills of sand in the middle of nowhere with an Emirati behind the wheel was more than a little frightening but if I didn’t do it, I looked like a ninny-boo-boo and everyone would gossip about me behind my back so I was forced into it.

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Kerstin

We met in the school parking lot and began dividing people up into five car loads of five plus the drivers. Since HP is the only doctor in the group, we decided he would take the small children in case of a bloody nose or something like that, so he took the 5 elementary boys and the rest of us dispersed into the other SUVs. I was in the car with the Italians, Enrico and Laura, and Tonya, our Korean axis of evil (this is a story for another day) and her 4th grade daughter. I sat in front with our driver, Yousef, the Italians in the back seat and Tonya and her daughter in the third row.

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We stopped off at a camel farm which really wasn’t a farm more like a desert feed lot in the middle of nowhere. I guess I may have downgraded it from a farm because there were no tractors. But then again, there’s really nothing to use a tractor for so why buy one? It’s not like they are planting wheat or anything so as far as implements go, they were sparse. So, yes, it was a feed lot, in the middle of nowhere. With camels. And we stood and took pictures. So far the trip was pretty mundane.

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We piled back into the SUVs and headed on our way down a long sandy road which led to an even more deserted spot and as we drove the sand begin to get higher and higher. And all of a sudden the adventure began. The Emirati dropped the SUV into low gear and off we went! We started climbing a dune that had to be the height of a three story building. We drove across the very peak of a sand ridge which was barely a car width and then we would begin sliding sideways down the other side of the dune!

“How long have you been working here?” I asked the driver. “Four days!” he shouted with a smile.

OMG! OMG! I couldn’t breath. Between my allergies and the fact that I was scared I would let out an inappropriate blood curdling Stephen King scream, I couldn’t inhale air. I tried but it wasn’t happening. So I closed my eyes so I couldn’t see but this plan was subverted by Enrico’s praying in the seat behind me. As soon as we peaked and we were getting ready to fall down the other side, Enrico began to both pray and express himself in a way that only Italians can do.

Madre di Dio per favore non fateci morire dalle mani di questo pazzo degli Emirati Arabi!

Mamma mia! Stiamo andando a rotolare giù questa gigantesca collina di sabbia e morire.

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WTF! I was raised Southern Baptist so when we pray we don’t really want to ALARM God. We pray politely so not to inconvenience our Savior. Such as in a Jerry Falwell sort of voice. “Lorrrd,  Pleeease fiiiind the tiiiime in your verrry beeza schedule and hear our prayers our precious Lord” Where as the Italians pull the alarm, raise the roof, call the polizia! Some SH&%T is going down and we need GOD pronto, prego, allegra! And they speak fast, and loud, and close, and they have their hands going in a million different directions. When they discuss going to the supermarket, one would think the supermarket is on fire, not that they are simply having a sale.

So I am in the car with Enrico and some SH%&T IS GOING DOWN! And that SH%&T is us! We are going down a sand dune the size of the freaking Tetons in Wyoming. And my eyes are super glued shut and I would’ve been okay if it weren’t for the Italian in the back seat.

Wowzers! Madre di spaghetti ho bisogno di uscire da questa vettura o io potrei fare pipì miei pantaloni!

Odio la musica cazzo che questo ragazzo sta giocando!

I don’t understand. Enrico is excited, he’s happy, he’s crazy, he’s screaming and I don’t know if I should be concerned or enjoying myself. And then after an hour of emotional torment while listening to Arab club music (yes, didn’t know it existed either) it was over and we were delivered to a campsite, with food, henna, shisha, sand surfing, camel riding and a belly dancer.

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After we ate, danced, smoked, and drank (non-alcoholic drinks) and then we headed back into the city. Yousef, our driver, watched soccer on his phone while driving 90 mph on the highway. Yes, I could’ve said something. Any GOOD mother would have said something but this skinny Emirati guy took us on the most amazingly skilled adventure of our life. My guess is at birth he drove himself right out of his mother’s womb. He was that good! If you ever have a chance this is one adventure that you will absolutely never forget. Seriously, if someone ever says do you want to go on a desert safari? Say yes.

Pazzo fottuto driver degli Emirati!

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