Tuesday 23 September 2014

Preparing for reverse culture shock

A great place to park the car. 

After 2 years in Dubai, there are so many 'Dubai' things that are just normal now, that I rarely even think about.

We're heading home for a holiday in a couple of months and they'll be all these things that I'm suddenly reminded of again. It's likely I'll have reverse culture shock and things that will seem different. Such as:

* A big empty block of land (sand) is not a carpark.

* Bottle shops. I haven't been inside a bottle shop since I was last in Australia almost a year and a half ago.

* Having to get out of my car to put petrol in it.

* Having to park my own car when I go out for dinner.

* The speed limit will be actually what the signs says instead of 20km more.

* When you meet someone new asking  "what do you do?" instead of"where are you from?" or "how long have you been here?"

* When you go out it's not all you can eat and drink.

* Having to pay $3 for a bottle of water instead of 25c.

* Talking to someone on the phone and they'll understand me.

* Going into a shop and being called "love" instead of "madam"

* Asking how to get somewhere and getting an address instead of "Well you drive past the Address hotel and turn right at the Carrefour and you'll see a ramp, go past the ramp and you'll see two glass doors and a big pot plant, park in the righthand car park and then call me and I'll come and get you."

* Having to use indicators. Shamefully my use of indicators has dropped off, just like everyone else in Dubai.

* I'll have to remember how to reverse park. Something I rarely do these days.

* Re-learning my own language - being able to say "tomato sauce", "thongs" and "How's it going?" without receiving strange looks.

* Not receiving cheery "hellos" wherever I go.

Monday 22 September 2014

The consequence of being on high alert

Over the weekend I read comments on social media and news sites, I felt disappointed and sick.

"You can't help but hate them all", "why don't they just go back to where they came from?", "thank god none of them live near me"

The anger and frustration that rises up in me when I read that kind of garbage is almost overwhelming. I feel so relieved and blessed that we're living where we are at the moment. I'm glad that my kids have friends of all colours and religions. That they get to understand that people are just people, no matter what god they pray to or what holidays they celebrate. That just because their friend's mother may wear a scarf over her hair or an abaya over her clothes doesn't mean they can't play together or that they should be afraid of each other. They're friends, they look after each other, they make each other laugh, they care for each other. People are people. We don't need to be scared of each other.

Tomorrow I will have coffee with other mums from our school, there will be Christian, Muslim and Hindi mums. All chattering about their kids. Supporting each other, sharing their concerns and helping each other out. There will be a lot of laughter. There will be more similarities than differences.

There are monsters everywhere, one culture or religion doesn't have ownership on that. One group, such as ISIS, doesn't represent a whole religion. Hate and fear can bread fast. Make sure that hate isn't bred in you. If you don't understand something or feel fearful or threatened by it, don't hide behind it, go and seek it out and try to understand it. Stop reacting. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. What does it feel like to be them? They probably want the same things in life that you do.

I could write pages on my politics and my concerns about my country going to war, yet again, to vanquish yet another evil. But I won't. I just hope that you, the individual thinks about these things and, most importanly, reads about them. And don't read about them in the Murdoch media, but search out people who know about this stuff, have lived in the region and know the region. Get different views and ideas from what this leader or that leader is telling you. Come up with your own feelings and thoughts.

The most sane thing I've heard a MP say in the past few days has come from Malcolm Turnbull:

"What do the terrorists want us to do? They want to get the community to demonise the whole Australian Muslim community. Those people who want to attack Muslims in general, attack Islam in general, are doing the terrorists' work. Because the strategy of the terrorists is to enrage the broader community [to attack Muslims] which will cause the Muslims to join the extremists . . . We must recognise that the vast bulk of Muslims here are good, patriotic Australians, and we must get our arms around them, because they are our best allies in the fight against extremism."

Monday 1 September 2014

Summer marathon

Last minute school holiday fun of glow in the dark mini golf. 

Slowly the car park at Spinneys (the local supermarket) has been filling up again. Gone are the days when I could take my pick of a spot. The queues are returning at the check out. The malls too seem a little fuller. There are a few more people in the food courts and the play centres. You can hear: "How was your summer?" being asked around the place. People are returning to Dubai, getting ready to start another year. 

New school uniforms hang crisp and white in the cupboard. Fresh pencil cases with new pencils, sharpeners and rubbers lie in clean new back packs. Fees have been paid. 

After weeks of feeling the like the lone family in our desert city, familiar numbers are popping up on my phone. Messages requesting playdates and catch ups. Stories exchanged and "Boy, isn't it hot?" shared. 

Two more sleeps until the 6am rush begins. Rushed breakfasts, getting dressed and out the door by 7.10am. Two more sleeps until the bell rings, the anthem is sung and another school year begins. 

There are been tears and nervous tummies aplenty this week, along with excitement. Eleven weeks is a long time between school days. 

There has been intense boredom and frustration here this summer. There have been fights and aggravation. There has been talking back and attitude. There has also been a lot of fun and a lot of closeness. Door slamming and yelling has been booked ended with cuddles and whispers of ''I love you".

I feel nervous for the girls and they are thrown into another year. Meeting new teachers and classmates. Their school has swelled to almost 2000 students, so they are very little fish in a very big pond. 

The next two days will a be a mix of getting ready, having some last minute fun and sighing relief.

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