My plans to leave Doha in the coming weeks and re-locate to Abu Dhabi would surely result in the weeks between being laden with lots of loose ends to tie up and finalities to be sorted and of course the long tearful goodbyes. So, whipping out my gilt edged appointment diary, (a consistent Christmas stocking filler from my husband and one that faced a decline in details year on year since 2009) I proudly began to draw up to-do lists for the big relocation, careful to list the acquaintances I had met in Doha, lest I would forget a farewell.
Remembering the dramatic goodbyes had with family and friends in Ireland almost two years ago, before we travelled across the globe to seek refuge. Long evenings spent by the home fires rocking to and fro with arms folded, discussing the whys and wherefores of emigration and loss, stoking the embers of a life in Ireland, with only ashes falling from the poker. Heart-warming but aeartHearrm-numbing, embraces at the airport and fond tussles to the children’s hair through misty eyes and hoarse words, was all part of the fanfare.
And so, I mustered the strength to say goodbye again and I prepared my monologue which I would deliver to my Doha links. It would go something like, “I have a bit of news, there’s been an offer in Abu Dhabi, what can we do, we need to go….”this, followed by a regretful shake of the head would set the scene, for my Irish farewell. It would have an obvious undertone of regret mixed with resignation with a very slight hint of optimism about our new lives in Abu Dhabi.
Choosing my former place of employment for the first delivery, I drove to the office to speak my former colleagues, my hangdog demeanor assumed, along with an evident remorseful tone I launched into my speech, and braced myself for yet another heart wrenching adieu as my news ricocheted around the open plan office. Like coyote, when he ignites the bomb to blow the roadrunner to bits but it doesn’t go off, I lit the dynamite but there was no explosion. Standing there with eyes and teeth clenched tightly shut and mouth mimicking a smile which deepened the furrow in my brow in an effort to stunt the blast, the silence was deafening. Ironing out my face and opening my eyes I scanned for room for reaction. “Nice to make a change, are you selling your car or taking it with you” punctured the silence and led the way for “If you have any plants, I’d like them” and, “Are you selling your sofa?” and above all others, “What are you doing with your maid?” topped the polls. Aghast at the insensitivity shown towards my departure and offended on behalf of my presumed however, non-existent maid, being treated like a utensil, I reiterated, in case it wasn’t clear, that I was leaving for good, never to return, hoping for the sake of human nature that it might tempt a tear or coax a croaky “so long”, but the resounding response was upbeat, well wishing and opportunistic . Taken aback at the candid reaction of the various nationalities to whom I had delivered the news of my departure I realised that there is something inherently self deprecating ingrained in us Irish, slow to congratulate ourselves on achievement and loathe to show excitement about new adventures, preferring instead to downplay events and highlight the negative aspects. Although aware of the transient nature of the expat society in the Middle East, I wasn’t quite prepared for the casual cheerio.
And so, one hour and as not as many tears later, I left the office, feeling bereft but hopeful that if the traffic wasn’t too heavy, I would make the Monday coffee morning of my Irish counterparts. Luck was on my side and twenty minutes later I was delivering the same speech to my fellow patriots and oh how the dulcet tones of the possibly insincere yet comforting words fell with great welcome on my ears. “that’s terrible, moving again so soon?”, and “Just when ye were getting settled”, compassion mixed with negativity, a little bit of home abroad