Examining the expat: 20 signs you've lived in the UAE a long time

...you only stop to take pictures of the funny things you see about one-third of the time now

...people eating with spoons and forks makes perfect sense

...when you finally understand something after a period of confusion, you nod and say "ahhh, okokokokok" 

...you've stopped gagging at the sound of a south Asian man somewhere nearby (for some reason, you can never see him) vigorously clearing his throat and sinuses in the morning

...the sound of someone saying 'hello, what is your location' on the other end of the phone makes you break out into a cold sweat

...when back in the west at a coffee shop, you find yourself asking the barista to 'make it hot'

...you effortlessly drop articles when speaking to those of other languages. 'Big big water, big, ok?'

...you know how to say thank you in at least 10 languages

...the sound of Arabic programmes blasting from your neighbours' television doesn't really bother you anymore

...you have met the worst expat in the world and declared them entirely representative of their country

...you have robustly attended lengthy brunch festivities and woken up to swear 'never again'

...you have done something strange and cultural that you never, ever would have done back home, and it was good

...you've searched out and found your favourite everything by now (coffee, sandwich, exercise class, cocktail, shop, supermarket, restaurant, tailor etc etc)

...you really, really miss the rain and are delighted when it's overcast

...you succumbed to your curiosity about and overcame your fear of the shaatof (also known affectionately as "the hose" and "the bum gun") and have become a convert, and miss it terribly when you travel and will definitely have one installed wherever you end up next

...Home? You can always go there, and for that you are luckier than many. But you are just not that sure what the word means anymore

...you think it's funny when people spell your name wrong, and have developed your own personal formula for spelling it

...you have encountered someone whose English pronunciation you simply cannot understand

...you have repeatedly pronounced something in Arabic to an Emirati, to blank stares

...you say inshallah for things that you hope will happen, but very likely may not, but you try not to too much, because Westerners who do that are truly annoying


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