They can explain culture shock to you. But there is nothing like experiencing it. Because as nice as it is here (as warm as it is here, and palm-treed and impeccably sunny) as many Starbucks and The Gap and things like that I see around me that are familiar, I am not at home. Even more important, I'm not going home. Not anytime soon anyway.
This is home. That's the part that's hard to wrap my head around. Everyone told me I would feel like this for the first couple of weeks. It's just that this - no matter that I chose it, no matter that I wanted it, deep into my bones, and still do - is just so much more freakish and unsettling and weird and odd than I expected. I even found myself buying a copy of The Secret yesterday, if that is any indication as to the emotional roller coaster I find myself on at the moment. I mean, really. The Secret? In April, 2008?
Plus, there are cockroaches in my hotel room. Quite a lot of them, actually. It's beyond upsetting. But there are zero hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi at the moment, I am told, and the option is immediate fumigation. Not an option I feel is the best option, but the only one I am being presented with at the moment. I have to wonder if the people who came here before me to start this newspaper (read: higher ups) would have been placated by the word "fumigation," and I am inclined to think 'no, I suspect not.' Developing...
One more thing: I made it to a mall yesterday. Don't ask me to tell you the name, I can barely function here. It was smaller, by a lot, than say Bayshore in Ottawa or Masonville in London, yet it had four or five lingerie stores in it. So now, every time I see these women walking around covered head to toe in black, I can know not only are they listening to an iPod or chatting on their cell phone, they are rocking some serious fundie undies as well. There are always layers, aren't there?
Pictures and more upbeat posts to follow, I promise. Blogging, it turns out, feels grounding.
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