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Tag Archives | expat life

Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend has never been a big deal for me. I do a mental “thank you” to the military and then go on with my business. I don’t like parades; I’ve never had a summer house that needs to be “opened” for the season; for most of my adult life I’ve never even had a backyard within which to barbecue, should the mood strike me.

So mostly, Memorial Day weekend has meant hoping that someone would invite me to one of those big fun summer parties you’re supposed to go to (but might exist only in magazines or the most froufrou echelons of The Hamptons), or sniffing around (oh so casually) for an invitation to someone’s summer house, or finding some Fun Family Activity, dammit, to fill that no-school Monday.

A  non-event, really, is what I’m saying.

Which is why you can imagine my surprise when I got all verklempt reading Anna’s blog post about various red,white, and blue recipes.  I mean, the little star-shaped pancakes are pretty cute, but they’re not worth getting all emotional about.

No, it wasn’t the pancakes (sorry Anna), but a sudden pang about missing the rhythms of home.

It’s comforting, knowing what’s coming, knowing how the year will unfold. Out here, where I’ve still not spent an entire year, everything is sort of a surprise – but nothing much seems to change. It’s more or less hot; it’s more or less sandy; it’s more or less windy.  I guess it’s summer here because it’s already so hot: so hot, in fact, that the boys’ school cancelled after-school swimming lessons because of the heat. Too hot for the instructors to be walking around on the pool deck, apparently.

How will the summer unfold here? I don’t know. I know when the boys’ school ends for the year; I know when we’re traveling back to New York; I know when we’re coming back here. But other than those punctuation marks, I’m not sure what the other markers are. Ramadan happens in there somewhere, as dictated by the lunar calendar, and the end of Ramadan is marked by the festival of Eid, which is determined by the first sighting of the crescent moon.  As near as I can tell, between now and early October, most of Abu Dhabi goes into the malls and hides until it’s not so steamy out – the opposite of what happens in the Northeast, where people climb out of their dark apartments, blinking like moles in the sunlight, and recklessly bare their wintery skin to the warmth.

Not knowing the rhythms of a place is one of the (many) unexpected things on my list of “stuff that’s weird about expat life.”  It’s like you’re always just the slightest bit off-kilter because you’re missing signposts and landmarks you didn’t even know mattered.  I mean really, missing Memorial Day? That’s weird.

It’s not the red-white-and-blue I miss, though (and yes, there’s probably a political metaphor in there somewhere, but we’ll leave it safely buried for now).  I miss that sense of belonging, I think: everyone knows it’s Memorial Day; everyone (mostly everyone) gets Monday off or gets to commiserate about not getting Monday off.

Here? Monday is just…Monday. And it’s gonna be hot. That much I know for sure.

I took this picture on my whirlwind trip a few weeks ago. I guess there is a reason they call New Jersey the Garden State. I may not miss the red-white-and-blue, but I miss green a whole hell of a lot.

Here’s something I try never to miss: the yeahwrite linkup. Every week we “small” bloggers (we may be small bloggers but we all have very tall personalities) link together under the curator-ship of the elegant Erica: click, read, come back and vote for your faves.
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Continue Reading · on May 26, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, Travel, urban nature

on a clear day…

I live up high. 37th floor, to be exact, in a building that goes up to 46. Unlike living in Manhattan, where my “view” from the 15th floor was straight into the windows of the building across the way, we don’t have high-rise neighbors, so we’ve got vistas, baby, in two directions: south and west. Makes for spectacular sunset viewing and for looking dreamily out over the Gulf wondering why, exactly, I’m not in a sailboat heading for the blue horizon.

Here’s the downside:

No, the downside is not that I don’t know how to focus my camera. The downside is the grime on the windows, a film of dirt, salt, and sand, that creates a kind of en croute wrapping for all the glassy towers in town.

Here’s the cure (a job I would never, ever want):

Floor by floor, window by window, these two guys make their way around the building. It’s dangerous (last year they got stuck for several hours about 36 stories up) and sort of Sisyphus-ian: as soon as they finish with one side of the building, the other side is already dirty again.

And here is the result:

Can you tell which side of the window has been washed and which has not?

I know, I know, dirty windows in my high-rise apartment can be classified as “first world problems.”  My dirty windows, though, raise a few questions: who ensures the safety of the thousands of workers in this country–those who work building all these silly skyscrapers and those who do all the other dirty jobs? (There are a few answers to this worker-safety question and none of them, unfortunately, is very reassuring).  Why keep building glass-wrapped towers if the very point of all that glass–big fancy views over the water–gets ruined pretty much immediately?

And now that my windows are clean, who is making me a drink so that I can watch the sunset in un-grimy glory?

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Continue Reading · on December 4, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, expat, UAE

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