When I moved to the Middle East a few years ago I wasn’t used to skyscrapers and living on the higher floors. In my small town in Sweden the building usually don’t get any higher than 15 floors.
My first apartment in Doha, Qatar was on the 24th floor and had big windows from the floor to the roof. I had just gone through a long Swedish winter and was getting all the chances I could to see the sun and therefore the curtains were always wide open because… why not. Nobody could see me. Right?
One day I came straight out of the shower, doing a little bit of the “air drying” without towel and to my great surprice there were two men hanging outside my window! I made a graciouse jump behind the bed and laid there butt naked on my stomach and tried to figure out why people would be outside my window a kazillion meters up in the air (rough estimation). Once I got my blond head around that they were cleaning my windows, I was wrapped in the sheet that I pulled down from the bed and stood up like a newly showered Greek person from ancient times. No more sun through the windows.
I can only imagine what kind of things these guys must see on daily basis.
I guess people like me are the reason information like this exists in hotel rooms.
I was having an interesting conversation with one of my Filipino colleagues. We were discussing the differences in how we grew up, challenges in the daily life and missing family back home. A lot of the female Asian community here in Dubai leave their children back home with grandparents to go abroad to work and send money home. The dads are all mysteriously uninvolved. It hurted my mummy heart to listen to this but I have learnt to understand to be grateful for what I have and sometimes people just got to do what you have to in order for their families to be safe. Even if it means seeing your child once every two year. I know, we can’t even start to imagine. We take so much for granted in our lives.
While having this discussion she looked at me and said that so much is different here in the Middle East. How we live, how we talk, expressions….like “you have something in your nose”. I was like oh, ok what does that mean? I was wondering what that expression meant while she walked away to do grab on another desk. I told her that we have some funny expressions in Swedish. For example “there is no cow on the ice” means “don’t worry”. Makes sense right.
She came back and sat down and said “your nose” again. I nodded slowly and tried to look interested while thinking this is a weird expression. Is she going to tell me what it means. I looked at her and waited for her to explain.
She handed me a napkin and said “your nose…” and pointed. And that’s when I understood that I’m a stupid blond and actually had the biggest booger in my nose and the sentence didn’t have a culture meaning. It was just a straightforward wish from her side to remove the disgusting booger in my nose while I was sitting there doing nothing and just looking at her talk.
I nodded and walked slowly and embarrassed away from the situation and to remove what was hanging out of my nose.
My husband is English and I’m Swedish. I guess that makes our six months old daughter Swenglish. So far she is doing a great job being in between. We have weekly fights if she is more of a viking or a crazy Manchester United hooligan.
A few weeks ago my husband started taking Swedish lessons to be able to understand what me and our daughter are and will secretly be talking about. He has obviously already showed off in class that he knows important phrases like “mamma är din bästa kompis” (mum is your best friend) and “pappa är bajs” (dad is poo). Things that his incredibly talented wife thought him and made him believe it meant something else. I’m sure they were very impressed in class.
The other day he had a meeting at work with a Swedish supplier. My husband who is obviously proud of his new learning wanted to show off with shaking the suppliers hand and asking her “vad heter du?” (What’s your name?). He took her hand and his memory failed him slightly and he said “Hej, jag älskar dig” which means “Hi, I love you!”
The supplier was obviously flattered considering my husband is a handsome guy but she laughed and asked him if he was really sure about that considering it was the first time they’ve met.
Well, people that speaks more than one language knows how hard it is. I’ve done quiet some interesting mistakes like ordering a naked steak in France, asking for a blow job in Lebanon and asked my Arabic boss in Doha if he wanted to eat a road sweeper.