We are homesick

I’m working on setting up proper blog access using my mobile phone. But since that requires a) sitting in one place for a period of time; b) presence of mind; and c) no interruptions from my two children, it might not happen until school starts in September.

I would love to post a million pictures of the little villa (not that it’s small, just that it’s small for a Dubai villa) and our surroundings. And again, once I manage with the mobile app, then surely. But for now, I will tell you what we have been doing (besides sweating and mopping the desert dust from the floors).

First, we adopted a pair of alley kittens. I really don’t care much for them and didn’t want them, and because they are cats and know things, they have decided my bed is the best to sleep in, especially with me in it. They also prefer skirts, but only when I am wearing them, and their favorite thing to lick is also me. I don’t know where they get their fool ideas.

We also fell into arranging for the local private feline welfare organization, Feline Friends, to come and do a trap-and-fix day in the compound. They invited themselves after I tipped them off on the number of strays in the compound (at least 13), did a recon, and then showed up with traps two days later. Same day, all the cats came back without their troublemaking equipment. The place is so much quieter without all those testes.

We’ve set up the house and begun our Arabic lessons, with a very kind teacher, a Lebanese woman with a quiet demeanor. I’m pleased to find I can still read and write–slowly and like a kindergartener, but it is something–and I have not lost the muscle strength in my throat required for the emphatic letters.

We’ve begun to meet the neighbors, and the children have started running back and forth into one another’s gardens with them. We play together at the pool, lots of Marco Polo and Pig in the Middle and some made-up weird things only the kids can understand. I’ve been invited to a lunch with other expat moms and am beginning to think that there is in fact a parallel society, an invisible one, that is open and accepting and at the same time truly trustworthy, kind and warm. Sadly, I am losing one terrific neighbor and her beautiful children this month as they pack up and move on to their next adventure, but I have at least, by meeting them, come to realize I can find some lovely people if I just keep my eyes (and heart) open.

M’barek is in the Saudi desert for work for the time being, and when he arrives home we will pack it up for two weeks in Morocco. We’ll come back to Dubai for the month of Ramadan before school begins. While we wait for his return, we also wait for high-speed internet to come to our house. It is a little odd to wait for technology in a place like this. This city is not “Third World,” as much as UAE is rather plunked in the middle of a region that maybe rather is. We have more traffic cameras than any red-blooded American could stomach. Every car on the road is outfitted with an electronic toll pass. Bank cards have that tap- or scan-technology for little speed purchases. My mobile phone wished me a nice visit to Oman when I got to the border. For goodness’ sake, I’m at a public library right now. But we happen to need our installation just as the one of two companies (and the one that services our neighborhood) is upgrading its cabling throughout the city. And no, I can’t opt for the old service until the new one comes in. That said, a couple of guys came and wired the garage this week, and I did make my daily nagging call to the phone company to “escalate my case” and let them know the fibreoptics are here.

Perhaps most surprising was an inquiry I received just yesterday from a newspaper in search of a columnist. I’m following up on the opportunity to see whether it is in fact something I’d like to do, and whether they’d like me to do it, but it was funny to get something like that quite out of the blue. I’ll let you know how it pans out.

And I should also note that I have been writing. You know that terrible first draft that has to happen before anything else can? I’m 12,000 words into it and short of breath trying to keep up with it. It’s rolling.

Next post will be all photos. I promise.

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