Happy Birthday UAE!

Isn’t it awesome when you arrive at work and the first thing that you meet is a horse. I wish that happened every day. I would love to have a little pony next to my desk and just have a conversation with him now and then. Give him a carrot or just braid his tail.

Today was UAE National day celebration. Well it’s actually tomorrow officially but that’s a day off. We all dressed up in National outfits and did everything except for working. Best day ever!

I had a hard time navigating myself with my abaya. I got stuck in doors, stepped on in, rolled my chair over it and couldn’t stand up, discovered why women take them off before going to the toilet. Learnt a lot today.. Tomorrow this young nation turns 46 years old. The stuff this country has gone through in just such a short time is unbelievable. Twenty years ago this was pretty much just sand. And today… it’s just wow! If you haven’t been to Dubai, come and visit. I promise to meet you with a horse. Or camel.

Give a thank

Today is apparently Thanksgiving in America so enjoy, dear americano amigos. I added a latino touch to that to emphasize. Not sure what exactly. Thanksgiving is nothing we celebrate in Sweden. We actually aren’t that big on turkey either, which means the holiday would be impossible, I assume. Here in Dubai I’m working with a lot of Americans and they made sure nobody misses the event. At work yesterday we discussed what we are grateful about. Since I’m not back home in Sweden and taking important things for granted, I’m obvious grateful for the full jar of lingonberries that I have in the fridge (the red stuff we eat with meatballs), that nobody got in to the elevator after that extremely, horrible fart that might have killed someone (am I allergic to tomatoes?) and that my husband still believes that “Pappa är bajs” means “daddy is your best friend” in Swedish (until he reads this). It means that he is poop but it makes for a fun conversation once my daughter starts talking.

I was also taught how to draw a turkey with my hand. Yes, it sounds like I work in a kindergarten.. this is actually my colleagues drawing. I can’t show you mine as it will be worth a lot of money in a few years.

Or maybe it’s in the trash.

What in the world are you talking about?

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. 

There is no cow on the ice

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.