Wednesday 29 January 2014

When you live life as an Expat, holidays take on a different meaning

‘come away from the lady, she’s reading her book and doesn’t want you bothering her’
I could carry on reading my book and ignore the other woman, or I could smile at her and tell her that her son isn’t really bothering me.
But before I can make a decision she is on her feet on her way over to fetch her son, so now I have to make eye contact and possibly smile.
What this woman doesn’t know is she’s just saved me from public humiliation, I’m not reading my book, I’m staring blankly at the pages, behind my sun glasses, trying not to cry.
Last night a colleagues of my hubby, after a full day of meetings said she envied me, sitting on the beach in Dubai, catching the sun, reading and switching my brain off, I just nodded, said ‘yes I was having a lovely time.
I’m sure people in hubbies company have been well briefed on what response they are likely to get if they ask me if I enjoy living in South Africa. If only they’d leave it like that and I’d reply ‘I love South Africa’ and we could all move on, but they’ve heard titbits and want more ‘did the move go smoothly? Would you do it again? Bet you’re enjoying the sun, not having to work, your freedom now the kids have gone.
It’s the same with family and friends, I smile through gritted teeth, they want the drama, to hear the truth, but they don’t want to deal with it, they can’t, they haven’t been there and they seem to think I’m attention seeking, it’s not THAT bad, how can it be compared to their lives of work, the cold and the hassles with kids, work.
For fear of adding ‘spoilt bitch’ to the list, I was sitting on the beach this morning, did I mention in Dubai? When my emotions took over. No it’s not the time of the month, no I’m not missing the kids where I feel ready to pack it all in and return to the UK (a common occurrence for expats) I just looked out to sea (past the 24/7 building sites that are everywhere) to Palm Island and wondered how the hell I got to be here.
Yes travel is lovely, I’ve certainly done a fair bit of it and probably a lot more than most people (expats excluded) I know, but I don’t really want to be here, it’s not what I had planned, it wasn’t future dream to sit all day in a *hotel, on my own, in an exotic location while my hubby goes to work. I’m supposed to still have one child at home instead of him being at boarding school in the UK, I’m supposed to be see the 3 older boys, 19, 21 and 24 randomly when they visit to drop off their washing, ask for money or pop in on their way to see their mates, but they can hardly do that when we live in different hemispheres. I’m supposed to be in a full time career, climbing the ladder and earning some serious dosh by now, but my visa doesn’t permit working in SA.
So when that woman came over and apologised for her son making a noise, I smiled, said not to worry, he was just being a boy, offered her the sun bed next to me and asked her about her life, she too is an expat, feeling isolated, lonely and out of her depth.

*I haven’t been isolated to the Hotel, I spent yesterday exploring Dubai on foot. I walked nearly 10kmms according to Google Maps and my feet are so blistered I could only manage the beach today.


  1. Lovely move telling the woman, her son was just being a kid.

    1. I always wish people had been more tolerant of my kids just beingkids

  2. I am SO fed up with commenting, and then the comment disappearing (could you check your spam folder?)

    I was saying, I hear you. This is tough. When life is 'meant' to be one thing, and looks it from the outside, but feels quite another on the inside.

    I bet you made that woman's day, chatting to her. Well done to you.

  3. I've removed the 'I'm a human' thingy now as too many people are saying the same as you, however I'm still moderating for the spam and link comments that appear all the time