Fish Out of Water


It’s been a week since I last blogged. I haven’t had much to say since the American teacher was murdered across the street. I’ve been wondering what could bring me back to this space.

Coming up in the elevator a few minutes ago, with ice cubes and pop tarts in my shopping bag, I met another American woman who inspired me to tap out some thoughts.

“This shopping for groceries every day is getting old,” she said in a deep-South accent and wearing cut off jeans and a Lynyrd Skynyrd black t-shirt. “My kingdom for a Sam’s club.”

“You might do better to go to LuLu’s Hyper Market and take a cab home, that way you can carry more bags,” I told her. “How long have you been here?”

“Twelve days,” she said, looking tired and frustrated and a bit freaked out. She must have arrived the day of the murder. And like me, she shops at the grocery store across from the scene of the crime where a shrine still exists for the victiUnknown-6m.

“It gets better,” I told her.

“I sure appreciate you saying that,” she answered.

“Where are you from?” I asked.


The elevator stopped at my floor, as I walked out I said, “I lived in Huntsville when I was a kid.”

“Bless your heart,” she said as the door closed.

Bless hers.

There is no fish more out of water than someone from Alabama in Abu Dhabi. Even the glorious Kyrgyzstan woman I met yesterday is better suited to life in the UAE than this little lady from Sweet Home Alabama.10676383_10152860665201223_4629848312472626441_n

I wish I had taken a picture with Ms. Kyrgyzstan, who is married to a Libyan man, because she has the most fantastic face I have ever seen. (And much to my surprise, she reads my blog!) But, alas, I was too busy swimming in a pool on top of a mountain during my Indian/British friend’s 11-year-old daughter’s birthday party.

We are all fish out of water here. Even when we’re in that pool on the top of the 10848022_10152860518361223_7685931134418993708_nmountain in the middle of the desert. But guess what? We like it that way. And together we form our own tribe of expat bedouins. We will come and go from this place, and others, at our own pace.

I sense that Sweet Home Alabama is going to have a rough time in the desert.  And I continue to lament the “drowning” of Ibolya Ryan across the street on Reem Island.

The whole world is adrift these days. The best you can do is to grab one of the 5 trillion pieces of plastic in our seas and hold on for dear life.



One Comment Add yours

  1. Allan says:

    I am happy to hear your thoughts on being out of water.
    It brings to me a number of thoughts.
    When I think about I have often used the “water” metaphor myself, and I have always used water to cleanse, relax, exercise, drink, to accompany my medicine, and sex (to name but a few).
    Water good!
    Fire bad!
    Being a fish out of water very bad!
    Yes, things are bad in the world, but it all goes away in the water (at least it does for me)…this morning as I rewrote my life (again) doing laps, I thought about so many things and tried to organise my day, I lost track of my count and just kept swimming until I felt I had done enough.
    Maybe that is the point…just keep swimming until you feel like you have had enough.
    With regard to the tragedy across the road…I cannot feel bad enough for her children, I also feel sick every time I shop for groceries and I see that homage they have set up for her, as I am reminded of it again.
    I wonder how it was explained to them.
    I wonder about their reaction to the news.
    I wonder if they hurt so bad they cannot feel it.
    I wonder if they will ever get over it..
    A senseless violent act committed by a “monster” (as the killer was referred to by Ms Ryan’s husband) who changed the whole landscape and broke the bubble we were living in, by performing this horrific crime as a Muslim in full Muslim dress fully hidden. This monster woman (and the idiots that pushed that video upon us) have changed the way I look at fully covered traditional dress (abaya, burka, shayla) here in the UAE…they have taken something from me, they have taken an admiration of a traditional dress that I found fascinating and beautiful and turned it into suspicion and maybe even fear.

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