Tag Archives: expat

Minutia

Shhh. The entire school is sitting in a big hall writing end of year exams. Trooper says it will be like Harry Potter, only our hall is open to the elements and has not a gothic balustrade in sight. When you turn to the right you see thick green foliage, to the left, a sullen yellow walk with fans.

In a few short hours I will have a thick wad of exam papers to mark, so beginning this week of hell. So this is a quick and short post to tide you over until I come out the other side, weary, perhaps shaken, calloused, but done. The countdown is ticking in earnest; reports and packing still to do but the shippers are booked as are two last minute nights away to gulp the Nile air one last time.

Even if I walk backwards on this conveyer belt, I will still end up in Bahrain on June 23rd, no matter what I do. No matter the tummy flutters and the last minute concerns or lists to tick, I will be there, suitcases in hand, probably with the expression of one who has passed through a rather sudden yet expected tornado.

Trooper celebrated her birthday in lovely adolescent Pizza style with friends from school. She glowed with happiness and shoved all thoughts of upcoming goodbyes to the nether regions of her glossy head. I left them all alone in a restaurant, thirteen 14 year olds, to behave as adults do and despite my concern over the other paying restaurant clients, it all went off with nary a hitch or broken glass. They know how to behave.  Imagine.

Princess was dropped off at a glorious estate, a 20 minute drive from downtown Kampala that felt worlds away to celebrate a birthday in the wild acres and heart shaped pool of a friend. I saw her bikini clad and prancing at 4 pm and didn’t see her again until lunchtime the next day.  My birds are flying the coop, but they still come home for hugs, sustenance and exam revision.

I have no funny stories to tell, no witty observations. Perhaps I should just hang up dear 3limes until this craziness is over and I can once again walk, write, breath and sleep without a ticker tape of things to do running widely through my head. The truth is, I am obsessed, as well I should be, considering the leap that I am about to make. But sadly this introspection is of no use to you, readers, and for that I apologize. Still, it is comforting to know that one or two of you are out there following this odd little story.

So what do I do to stay sane in these days of limbo? I watch movies (Hangover 2 was a welcome and hilarious distraction), I eat a lot of pineapple, and I drink coffee in the overtly green and lush garden of my good friend A. I look at a lot of green trees and burn their emerald stain into my mind for safe keeping. I work. I work some more. I sort out those little bottles in my bathroom that gather dust instead of being used.  I read short stories, disappearing into other worlds, briefly.

I will be back when reports and exams and other academic nonsense is attended to.  Until then, busy bees, I send you lovely Ugandan golden sunshine, flecked with red dusty kisses.

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Filed under Family Stuff, Miss Teacher

Countdown days and goodbye eyes

I hit Kampala with the ground running and it has been full steam ahead as term 3 is underway. Princess has created a countdown calendar, sadly not with colourful markers and giant paper but rather on the computer; in any case there is a calendar that she dutifully crosses off each day. It is entitled “Days Until We See Daddy” and we have 51 days to go.
There is huge relief all round that we went to Bahrain, saw it, explored it, ( it is tiny and doesn’t take too long to see nearly ALL if it), visited the school, saw our future house, imagined how often we could eat at Johnny Rockets without getting fat, things like that. There is some comfort in knowing what things look like and where we are going.
Of course this also means that I am very aware of what I am leaving. I have returned looking at Kampala with “goodbye eyes” and see the green so much sharper, the colour so much brighter. Our drive home from the airport seemed to be in Technicolor. Princess said “look at that lady with all the eggs on her head!” That is not a line we will ever hear in Bahrain.
So I resolve to love my last days here and soak up all the best of Kampala and brush off the frustrations. I now have one foot in the desert and one in the jungle; I am split in two. So in these last days I will eat as much sweet pineapple as possible, laugh with my friends, walk the dusty streets, see the eggs atop the heads, rise above the pot holes and boda jams. They will all too soon be a memory. I am imprinting these last images onto my mind for safekeeping.

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Filed under Uganda

Hello Bahrain

I am in Bahrain, land of turquoise seas, long smooth highways, giant posters of the King,, men in white dresses, women black as crows, shiny shops, large malls, soft beaches, high glitz, desert sands and fast cars. I am constantly amazed by my surreal life; I visit here for 10 days, a place that could not be more opposite than Kampala and then I must return to my former life for 55 days. I am here to chose a house, a school, to look, see and learn and yet I must still go back to the pot holed roads of Kampala and the African skies before I can really call Bahrain home. So I am living an in between existence this week and it feels most odd.

I wonder how I will feel when Africa is no longer mine, and I see no green nor hear no birds. Will I settle in quickly to this island that feels both modern and ancient all at once? I look out of the window as we speed along highways and bridges and imagine how it will be see wealth rather than poverty as my daily view.

Yesterday we went to a large shiny mall. It was the ultimate Great Shiny West experience and standing before 35 choices of red lipstick I froze. This was too much choice. I didn’t know what to do. The palace of cold marble, glossy metal and smooth escalators was overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong; I will be happy to live mere minutes from anything I could possibly need; it will just take some getting used to. I am sure one frustration will be passed onto another.

Everybody smiles and says they love living here. Men drink coffee or juice alone, women glide in their back robes with inches of sparkle peeping out, the make up is thick, the girth is often wide, the children splash and laugh and shout, the life of the carefree.

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West

My International Weekend where I met a Waterboy in Kampala

It started Friday with International Day at school, one of my favourite days. The entire school marched, Olympic Ceremony Style, country by country. We had our first bearers of the South Sudan Flag, a small but significant Albania Team and even a tiny tot from Nepal. It is a reminder of one of the best things about being involved with an international school, we have over 50 different nationalities here and they all play, work, learn, laugh and eat side by side every day. When do you ever get a chance to see the Israeli and Lebanese flags waving proudly side by side. In these fractious times, such a march gives hope.

Then Friday night I became just a little bit Irish as I headed down to a popular watering hole to listen to some Irish tunes. A live band flown all the way in from Ireland played for our delights and inspired some high leg kicks on the dance floor. The entire event took place under the pink glow of the super-moon, not the only moon I was thinking of, however. It turns out the fiddler in the band is a member of both the Waterboys and World Party. Since I am a huge fan I became star struck and did indeed see the whole of the moon. We should have been at the always lively Journee Francophonie, thereby adding a little French to my weekend, but other events transpired and the French day never happened for us.

However Sunday saw coffee with the Spanish and lunch with the Americans.

And all the while I was missing a piece of me in Bahrain.

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Filed under Miss Teacher, Photography

Trinidad, Je t’aime.

The Bloggie nomination has sent me spinning into cyber space to check out and discover new blogs. Blogging is a funny business isn’t it? Sort of like a club that all the people not in, don’t get. When I tell people that I have a blog, and surprisingly I don’t tell people that often, I get a funny look. One day a friend of mine explained the prejudice people who are not in the know feel towards blogs and bloggers. There is a feeling that we are a navel gazing, conceited arrogant lot who assume everyone is interested in us. Then once they start to have a read they begin to understand.

I started this blog back in 2008 in Trinidad. I was seeing and experiencing so much over there; I felt if I didn’t get it down, somewhere , I would burst. The result was that I loved and enjoyed Trinidad so much more knowing that I was now looking to write and collect stories, and Trinidad in turn inspired me more than ever. Blogging became an online travel diary of sorts, a place to try and capture what I was seeing with my eyes.

I strove to find a balance between the personal and the quietly observed. I was never going to be the writer that would reveal my whole life, warts, prickly bits, and all.  And I was careful to never use this as a forum for whining or examining my navel too much. Over time I found myself inserting teaching posts, post about my kids and the personal price of upheaving a family and moving across the world twice in 3 years. But the main subject has always been the country where I am living and rereading some of those Trini posts has made me think a lot about that special island.  It is a place of colour, character and culture and the people have Personality with a capital P. It is a shock to all of us how much we really miss Trinidad. I don’t imagine we thought it would get under our skin the way it did after only 2 years. Yet it has and with Carnival only 19 days away I can imagine the spirit and excitement all over Port of Spain. I can sense the frisson and shiver in the air around the Savannah as the stage is erected and all those girls getting ready to don sparkly bikinis and feathers jog past the coconut sellers, getting fit and in shape. I could wax lyrical and get soft and nostalgic, but, no whining allowed. Let me just say three simple words:

Maracas, Doubles, Mango Chow.

I could do with a little Trini spirt over here.

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Filed under Travel, Trinidad & Tobago

London calling. Day 1.

I grew up in big, noisy capital cities. My life reads like the window of a smart shop, Johannesburg, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Strasbourg, Montreal. Winnipeg sort of ruins the look of the window. Trinidad is too small and exotic to make the window and who knows what is next? I haven’t been to a big city since July and I fear I might feel a little like a country bumpkin as I tread the streets of London. Hopefully my “cured” but formally serious bout of materialism won’t come creeping back and hopefully I will ingest enough culture, good food and fabulous window shopping to last me another 6 months. I used to think it was not worth living any where if not the top of the world, the capital big smoke but I think I have changed my mind. Sometimes the noise of a big city drowns out the important noise inside my head. Having said that, put me in the country for more than 4 days and watch me go mad.

Expat life is a bit like living in a bubble. As I step out of the bubble for the next 10 days I am excited to see how I feel. Bumpkin or fabulous world wanderer coming home?

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Filed under observations, personal, Travel