If you have read my blog you will know I had no choice but to leave because of the situation around me. Oh I could have stayed in all honesty but being the fiercely independant and proud woman I am, no way was I going to go begging to my friends (who all would have helped) or allowed someone to "Keep" me financially and my daughter just because I knew my heart would break when I left.
Now sometimes I walk down to my local shops and can hardly believe how different my life is today to how it was then (prior to marrying the nightmare who is my daughters father). I walk to the shops, carry bags of shopping up the hill, work full time, do my own housework, worry about the bills, travel to work on the bus and get no preferential treatment. Rarely if ever go out in the evenings or weekends.
Back in the old days, I had use of the driver (until I passed my driving test and got given my first car (BMW 7 Series)), had a houseboy to do all my dirty work, I owned two businesses, was well know in the local community. Had a fabulous social life, out virtually every night and away every weekend. Got invited to fabulous local weddings, had an enviable social circle. Got to travel abroad a lot including 3 months in Munich where I got to travel in a UAE embassy limousine complete with flag on the front a few times when I accompanied "O" to some medical appointments. Hotel rooms were always massive suites not the tiny rooms I now stay in.
I got to meet amazing people outside of the locals I knew including celebrities from Bollywood, Indian and Pakistani politicians some of which became very good friends.
I got asked to do some exciting things such as help set up a celebrity kickboxing match after meeting the arab world champion and had to write to people like Mike Tyson and Mohammed Ali inviting them as guests.
I was also asked to arrange a large birthday party for one of the Sharjah Sheikha's children and I was also invited to attend as a guest which was my first local women only party and I remember being so nervous and feeling totally out of place until a group of women including the host made me feel totally at home and who were all facinated that I loved to wear the traditional Emirati womens dress. I got to live with a local family in an amazing huge house in the desert of Al Awir on the same dirt track as the farms of Shiekh Hasher and other Maktoum Sheikhs. I had my own guest house complete with indoor swimming pool (you came out of the bedroom door and the pool was right there) with noisy peacocks on the roof.
But I gave up that life when I decided to get married. I was only married a year and a bit and then I fled UAE.
That was my life then, an amazing life, a life that has given me the most amazing memories that will stay with me until I die.
Do I miss that life???? Yes, of course, but not all the bling and glitz and luxury (if you want to call it that), No I dont miss that, I miss my real life there, drives into the desert, my dear, dear friends, of hearing the Azan being called, of being able to wear those beautiful dresses and my abaya's. Of going shopping for my Bukhoor and Attar's. I miss sitting on the beach at night and catching Hammour with a cheap fishing line we used to buy from a small grocery. I miss weekends in Kalba and singing local songs and making BBQ, I miss camping in the desert and walking in the cool sand. I miss ramadan and driving down to "O's" house to get the huge plate of ramadan nibbles they always prepared for me and I miss evenings in a ramadan tent set up near the creak smoking sheisha and eating tons of houmus.
I miss passing by the Friday Market on the way back from Kalba and buying corn on the cob BBQ on a stick.
I miss the long drives on a friday evening from Kalba to Abu Dhabi as I drove "O's" elderly cousin "Eissa" home after a weekend at the farm. "Eissa" would send his driver home alone and then insist I drove him sometimes. He would settle in the passenger seat, put very old Khaleeji music on the tape deck and we would sing our way back to Abu Dhabi on that long 4 hour drive. Eissa would delight in calling all his elderly friends while we were driving to tell them he was seated next to a beautiful english girl called LouLou (beautiful being his opinion not mine LOL) and she was driving him home. When I dropped him home and then turned around to drive back to Dubai I would always find wads of dirhams shoved in my bag as a thankyou for driving him, singing with him and trying to teach him one or two words of english (in all those years he only ever managed Hello).
I miss "O" and I loading the Land Cruiser up with ice boxes and loads of cold water and juice and driving around all the building sites etc in summer and handing out cold drinks to those poor workers who suffered in the heat (we did this a lot when I first arrived). I miss evenings at Rashid's or Nabil's (Nabil has sadly passed away), playing darts all evening with our group and cooking up a big feast to eat later (local men love to cook given the chance). I miss waiting near the beach in Kalba for the fisherman to pull their nets full of sardines onto the beach and then running down to buy large bag fulls of them to take back to the farm to BBQ.
I miss funny times such as riding a jetski wearing a traditional emirati dress with my friends parrot on my shoulder on the beach in Dhaid. I miss fun time weekends at the farm with my best friend Fay, both of us in the swimming pool talking the night away as the men sit in the farm house and play cards, oud, drums and gossip about other locals. I miss living in Al Awir and the big dinner parties they had, where you always found me in the kitchen helping our two Nepalese chef's/kitchen hands, scrapping plates and doing the drying up because I felt sorry for them much to the horror of my friends. I miss handpicking dates and mango's from the trees in the farm and miss running down to the pen where all the sheep and goats were kept, giving them all names and petting their heads despite knowing any one of them could be on the dinner plate that evening.
I miss driving "O" around very late at night as he told me tales of the old UAE, the tribes, the way of life in his fathers and grandfathers time. Of showing me the land his family used to rule, the old houses that are now crumbled buildings that they ruled from, I miss him teaching me the correct etiquette and way to do things the Emirati way, I miss all my old friends some of whom, including "O" have sadly passed away.
Those are the things I miss, the important things, the things that made my life so wonderful.
It has taught me a lesson to hold on to every single memory that makes your life special. You never know when that life will end and a new one begins. Dont suck up the glitz and bling as it has no real meaning as its here today and gone tommorow. Savour the real special moments that you wont ever get back again if that life disapeared. Sadly in UAE most new people even if they marry a local will never get to experience the old UAE. It is now full of lights, shopping malls, bars, clubs and western claptrap. Its hard to do the simple things I and others who arrived long ago did. But even so, if you love UAE keep whatever you do deep in your memory bank because you never know when it might all end.
I always said I would never leave UAE unless it was in my coffin, but I had a baby daughter and a husband who was dangerously unstable who would have used my child as a tool against me. I left and I gave up 13 years of my life and returned to the UK which I had not seen for almost 10 years. I have been back twice since I left in 2004 as my current husbands family all live there but I did not enjoy what I saw, I felt like I had landed in another country completely because the changes were unbelievable.
If you plan to make UAE your home as I did for all those years, one tip I would give is try to learn about the culture, the heritage of how life used to be. Dont just accept the UAE of today full of malls and all that Jazz. Many of the old stuff might not be there anymore but you can still learn about how it used to be, about traditional emirati ways and values. Learn to love the simple things in life more than the material things. Memories are priceless and worth far more than a Vuitton Handbag.
- Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom
- ▼ August (6)
- ► 2010 (22)