I was at a function a few nights ago – a party to celebrate the Japanese Emperor Akihito’s birthday hosted by the consulate of Japan in the UAE. (If you’re a new reader, it may be worth a mention that my husband is Japanese that’s why we got this invitation.) It is a yearly event celebrated and hosted by the Japanese consulates all over the world. The Japanese community is not big here in Dubai so most of the people know each other. And like any other functions in a mostly expat community like Dubai/UAE, the most common question never fail to come up: “How long have you been living here?”
“It’s been a crazy six months.”
“Ten years in January!”
“Just over a year and loving it so much!”
“I just arrived last month.”
We arrived in Dubai one desert winter day in January 2007. In a month, it will be eight years for us. How has Dubai change in 8/10/35 years? Let’s see, things change in Dubai every 5 minutes (we’re sort of living in a big construction site) so you can imagine the different stories you’ll hear from people who’s been living here for the past 35 years. The kind of stories that make you want to stop whatever you’re doing and sit with them as they narrate experiences and the things they’ve seen, how there was only one building standing in Sheikh Zayed Road or when there were still camels roaming on the main roads.
Listening to these stories of old Dubai is like playing a movie in black and white film.
It is in these functions where I tell people about our Dubai story. As expats, we think we lead an fairly interesting life, and we do, we are like vagabonds scattered in different parts of the world, captured by the pulsating heart of our new ‘home‘. But when you gather a group of expats with with different stories to tell, you’d be looking at a potpourri of many lives – some came here for money, some to taste the curiosity of their sun-drenched romantic dreams while others were propelled by mere sense of adventure, to live a life without what-if’s (that would be us!).
I’m proud of how we’ve come so far – humbled by the challenges we faced and feel awesome for the things we’ve overcome.
Sometimes all the lavish, sinful food and alcohol (and socializing…I am an INFJ) make me hesitate to go to such functions but the chance to hear different stories from new acquaintances and strangers who could become possible friends – that is always a pleasure. It makes me smile when I think back of our time when we first started here and hopeful and excited of what’s yet to come.