I didn’t really celebrate Halloween when I was a kid. We knew what it was but didn’t go trick or treat and we didn’t decorate. Fast forward about 100 years (that’s how old I feel) and I’m knocking my head in to freakin spider webs everywhere and falling over pumpkins all over the neighborhood.
I realize with great horror that today is the big trick or treat night and with a baby in the house I have one thing on my to do list today: Figure out how to disconnect the door bell. If someone rings on the door just when I put her to sleep, the kids will see a real monster. Trick all the way, little kids! Bring it on. Hope you don’t mind to be chased down the street by a naked mum. Now that will teach them scary.
Whats your geography skills like? Its super cool to have readers from all over the globe and some countries have better reputation on that subject than others *cough….USofA*. When I lived in the States I was constantly addressed as the Swiss girl. I tried to explain that Sweden is not Switzerland but after 5000 times or so I gave up and just agreed to know everything about watches, cheese and non understandable German. I even considered starting my morning with a little yodel towards the non existing mountains outside my window in Connecticut. Maybe yodeling is an Austrian thing actually…? Anyway, mountain as mountain right. No offense Swiss readers. I love Toblerone but your language is HARD!
A few years ago when I lived in Doha, Qatar, a girl was hired to help me with administration at work. We were shipping items from all over the world and talking a lot to international clients. We always made small talk to get to know one another and she asked me a lot about Sweden. Without really thinking further I pointed at the world map on the wall behind her and said “so you know where Sweden is right”. She looked at me and said “yes, of course. It’s kind of close to Mexico”. I could tell she wasn’t joking. She looked at me confused when I smiled and said that it wasn’t even close. She said “I’m sure it was in Europe so I just figured it was close to Mexico somewhere”. I just heard the sound in my head from the game show Jeopardy when you answer wrong, loudly ringing in my ear.
Where do you start after that ..
I discovered she knew the country she was from and Qatar. That was about it. So every day when I entered the office I started to randomly shout out a country name that she needed to find on the map and learn. Sometimes I lied and made places up like Karakastan, Miso soup (she caught me on that one), Lovepotania just to make sure she was kept on her toes. I was teaching her a whole lot about the countries in the world and I hope she has some kind of use for it today as well.
This experience was during my first months as an expat in Qatar. I just assumed that people not knowing things I took for granted as common knowledge, were just being ignorant considering the western world has such easy access to all kind of information. Suddenly I was surrounded by people from parts of Asia where they are happy if they can afford education. I had some fantastic and funny discussions and this was one of the turning points for me. I had to stop thinking everyone is the same. In the western world we take so much for granted. Education, human rights, gender equality (well..), high living standard etc. Living abroad has taught be to be so much more grateful for what I have and where I come from. I also learnt a lot about people and communication and that when a person from Sri Lanka says the food is not spicy, they are lying.
The “me too” movement online is a big eye opener to the world. Women all over the world has been putting these words in their Facebook statuses and twitter to show that them too has experienced sexual harassment and/or violence. It’s scary to see the magnitude of the problem. I hope this leads to a discussion of this HUGE problem that women experience daily. It shouldn’t be too hard to treat each other respectfully?
I have been working in a man dominated field my whole life and I could write a book about this subject. I have way too many examples of sexual harassment. I will share my first experience of harassment in the work field. This was absolutely not the first harassment in my life as in school girls in my class were constantly called “hore” or worse. It was a daily thing and nobody reacted. We were sad but no teachers ever took it serious. “Boy will be boys right”. NO, they fucking wouldn’t, if parents, teachers would start reacting and not making this a boy-thing. If I as a little girl would call my girlfriend in school the same word I can bet my right leg it would be a different reaction as “girls shouldnt talk like that”.
I was 18 years old and had started working at a big international company straight after school while I would somehow figure out what I wanted in life. I ended up in a department right next to the warehouse. All guys. Most were awesome guys that I’m still friends with. But some idiots. One day I was sitting by my desk working with administration. A colleague walks in. He was much older than me, probably in his 40s at the time. I was wetting my finger with every page I turned not to have the paper stuck to each other. He leaned over and said “why don’t you just stick that finger up your pussy and that I can assure you would get it wet”. All the guys in the room started laughing. I was shocked and so angry and yelled back “excuse me what did you say?”. Even if I was 18 years old I never took any shit. It didn’t mean I never got any. I got loads but I didn’t let it go. He just laughed and said got to go, meeting x (one of our biggest clients) to show them around our warehouse”. I saw red just like the color of my face. My whole body was shaking. Should he just leave now and get away with this? The adrenaline was pumping. I was so angry I wanted to cry. How could he humiliate me like that? What have I ever done to him? Answer was nothing. The only thing I “had done” was being a human with a vagina.
I left my desk and walked fast out to the warehouse. I had to walk around the whole mega building to get to his little office but I walked like I was freakin Forrest Gump and nothing would stop me. I walked up to his office and opened the door where he and three people from our client sat down and had a meeting. He was surprised to see me but said “Hello, we are little bit busy can you leave us please”. In a tone like nothing ever happened. Like a mature director voice from a dad of three pretending that he just didn’t comment on my private parts. The client recognized me and said hello as well. I didn’t leave. I stood in the door and said three times “what did you say to me before?”. Every time I asked he said “Not now please, we are busy”. I said , knowing I might get fired for this, you just told me to reach down to my pussy to wet my fingers, is that correct? He looked at me like he wanted to kill me. The people from the client was shocked and didn’t know where to look. The room was dead quiet. I said “don’t you ever….ever talk to me again that way. I hope we are clear.”
Boom closed the door and walked off.
And got shit scared. My heart was pounding like a drum. I was angry and sad at the same time. Still asking myself why he would say something like that to me. I was disappointed.
But nothing happened. He never mentioned it again and apparently not to any of our managers either as I didn’t hear about it. We continued working together and I know he talked about me behind my back but I think he knew that I would make a bigger deal out of it if I heard him mentioning the subject once again. So he stayed quiet. I think he was shocked that the new, young girl in the office had the courage to speak up. I think it scared the shit out of him. And I continued scaring the shit out of guys that thought I would let comments go and hasn’t stopped since. The above is just one example. Unfortunately I have many more. Sometimes I get tired. But I will never be quiet and I will always question. I will never just accept. I’m raising a girl and God knows I will teach her to be ruthless just like her mum. It’s so hard to speak up and you will always be questioned or labeled as “difficult”. I always wonder if guys like in my example ever think of how they would react if their daughter, girlfriend, mother or friend would be treated the same way.
Remember the people that appreciate you speaking up, women and men, are always the majority. They might not make the most noice but they are there. Let’s hope the #metoo movement has made them braver and the noisy ones can stay in their caves and scratch each other’s balls.
This week the 30 days fitness challenge in Dubai has started. This is to encourage people to get off their butts and exercise at least 30 minutes per day for 30 days. I signed up together with my dog. My dog had absolutely nothing to say about the decision and is currently wondering why I hate her. I told her during our run this morning that she is a Saluki and that she is suppose to run. Her lean little body has the look of something that is suppose to be fast. She laid down in the grass ten minutes in to the run and said she is part bulldog and don’t agree with this challenge. That’s a lie. She is just a lazy dog who wants to lay in the sun, order a cold drink and soak it up.
But the fact is she is a desert dog. My colleague found her under a car about a year ago when I was heavily pregnant and motherly and thought getting a dog just a few weeks before the baby would arrive was a great idea. Who could resist those puppy eyes. A small thought back in my head said “don’t get a saluki, she will tear down the house if she doesn’t get to run 10 km per day”. And me being the size of a few watermelons knew there would be no freakin running if it wasn’t to the bathroom.
As usual I didn’t listen. Not even to myself. She sure likes to take walks but I think the fact that we have been busy with a little baby has gotten her slightly lazy. Now after eight months I’m suddenly asking her to run and she is not having any of it. I told her there are no freakin excuses. We continued running and suddenly she jumped to the side like a kangaroo. I had my earplugs in with some lame running music to make sure I kept going and I didn’t notice that a woman on a bike tried to pass us from behind. So woman on bike passes us and my dog gets scared and jumps right in to her. Woman on bike falls. I’m in my own world with background music very loud in my ears. I’m just pretending I’m finishing the last 200 meters of a Maraton. People are cheering in the arena. I’m the star runner. “Run to the hills…”. I’m running for my life. In shock (I think…?) I looked at her quickly, said Ooops and kept running. For the hills again. After a few steps I realize I’m and idiot and there is a woman behind me on the grass probably swearing at me and I stop and turn around. She is still there on the grass. Fuck. I go back to apologize, ready to get yelled at. But she just waves off and says whatever. I guess she realized that biking on a running trail is not a good idea. I keep on telling myself this the whole way around the track. That it was her own fault. Not mine or my kangaroo dog. Thank God she was rude so I didn’t need to feel bad. She was rude for falling of the bike. Not me. I’m just finishing my imaginary marathon of three kilometers.
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.
Sometimes my child looks at me like she wants to chew my face. I take it as she is hungry or a new tooth is coming. Or she is a sociopath. She has so much from her dad.
She has a new hobby that we call The Hook and it’s goes a little something like this:
You need one big nose (an adult will do). One baby fist with long finger nails that nobody dares to cut. The baby sits just above your head as you lay down and her fingers goes in to your nose and gets STUCK. It’s called lock and pull. Baby now pulls her fingers upwards against herself making you look like a pig in pain. This is extremely fun to watch if you are like me and get very entertained by other people getting hurt.
And then we just have the normal nose grab. When you think you go in for a cuddle and want to take a cute picture. Occasionally you get a foot in your face at the same time.
I like massage. Just not the kind when it feels like the person doing it hates you. Like Thai massage. I always feel like I have to apologize for something I haven’t done about 10-15 minutes in to the session. How can this little person (normally compared to me) turn in to Thailand’s version of the Hulk slash Spiderman. I obviously don’t see exactly what she is doing but I lay there and imagine Spider-Man sitting in his (hers) famous pose with the knees bent on my back, looking around with crazy eyes for the next muscle or bendable jointto attack. If she say “please take a deep breath and relax” you know she will do something to you which will make a noise that sounds like she just broke your back.
Nowadays I go with the safe option of swedish massage. Not only because I am well traveled and seem to have one massage story for every country I’ve been to. Yes, the ones without a happy ending. Below are two of my most interesting massage experiences that I wanted to share with you.
1. Spiritual bullshit in Montpellier, France
Ok, maybe I didn’t read the spa menu correctly and I must have pointed out the wrong option, as the receptionist kindly stated when I complained afterwards. It started out ok but when the massage therapist (a man) asked me to turn around and took the towel off me, I started to think that something was up. Occasionally I have patience. Everyone that knows me will disagree but when travelling you need an open mind. So I just laid there with my boobs in the air wondering now what. The man suddenly started singing “ooooooohhhhhhmmmmmm” like a proper yoga instructor and made rings with his fingers around my boobs. I started laughing but was directly given a “sssssshhh” by the man who had closed his eyes and went on with ohm-song. Fuck this, I thought and went out. I went to the reception and asked what I just experienced and she gladly said “spiritual massage for your soul”. No, my soul was not having it but I’m sure his was.
2. Boob grabbing in Amsterdam
Do you notice a pattern? Its all about the boobs it seems. But this time it was at a Chinese hair dresser in the city centre of Amsterdam. I guess the exotic sign of “cheap head and back massage” appealed to me. My boyfriend at the time had a hair cut and I thought I would try out out the massage to make time pass. I was sitting on a chair facing the hair salon with a woman behind me. She started out with a normal shoulder massage. She continued massaging the muscles just above the breasts. This is usually very nice as we forget to stretch those muscles. But hey ho, she went further down with her hands and suddenly and rather hard, she grabbed my boobs and squeezed. I was too shocked to react and just opened my eyes and starred right out in to the people sitting in the room getting their hair cut. Did anyone see? It was over quickly again and I was just sitting still like a tensed stick wondering what just happened. Just in time for her to stick her fingers in to my ears and whirl around. Do we have a lot of spots in our ears that needs massage? I’m still wondering. I’m also happy that I wasn’t a new mum at the time and breastfeeding. That boob grab would have caused a smaller milk explosion.
Yesterday one of my friends told me that she had a full body scrub in Dubai. After a while the woman scrubbing her told her that she was getting too wet in her clothes and just took removed them like no big deal. She continued to scrub her while she was mostly naked, only wearing small panties.
Gotta love travelling!