It’s only natural that the longer you live abroad the more distant you may become from your friends in Ireland. Apart from the physical distance creating a wedge in the friendship the difference in lifestyle can also too see old friends meeting up and having a little less in common than they did when they were living next door to each door in negative equity with poor earning potential. So when one of the friends hightails it off to the Middle East and comes back a couple of years later clad from head to toe in Louis Vuitton and sporting a pair of Bvlgari sunglasses on her head it’s only natural that they may not see eye to eye as before.
Although this particular issue has not arisen with myself, as I’m still trying to pay off my Louis Vuitton number from 2007 and after four years in the Middle East still haven’t succeeded, a fact that in itself brings me even closer to my equally broke friends here in Ireland, so until one of us is on the up, the friendships shall remain rock solid.
However this is not the case for everyone and when I received a call from an Abu Dhabi acquaintance asking me to meet for coffee, I said, “sure”, when she mentioned that her so-called friends from her native Kerry seemed to be ex-communicating her, I suggested we meet sooner rather than later, fearful that the isolation would cause irreparable damage.
We agreed to meet halfway, in Macroom, we could grab some lunch and the kids would get the chance to meet aswell. Entering the welcoming gastro-pub earlier than my friend, I reserved a section of seating for our group by placing the baby and buggy at the far outer corner and my rain-jacket across the seat inside. We waited patiently for our friends to arrive. Each time the door opened we glanced up. It wasn’t until maybe fifteen minutes later, that the door opened and before me a vision appeared, the sun shone strongly in the background making it impossible to see the faces but the silhouette said it all. Long loose flowing Farah Fawcett curls cascaded around her tanned shoulders, which were bare in the white starched cat-suit. A thick gold bracelet glinted in the light as she placed her sunglasses on her head the her other hand was at a 90 degree angle from her body as if it’s only purpose in life was to act as a hook for the large soft brown leather Mulberry bag. I immediately began to regret bringing the two “Tesco bags for life” which I intended to use for a bit of grocery shopping afterwards.
After we greeted, I hugged her, she air-kissed me, the door re-opened and this time a very different but familiar silhouette appeared. Not quite 5ft, wearing flip-flops and socks, simple clothes and struggling to carry a plump five year old while the two year old clung to her leg, I couldn’t believe it, it was Nurshami, she had brought her housemaid from Abu Dhabi to Kerry!
Bearing in mind that my sense of Catholic guilt and general abhorrence of airs and graces prevents me from having a maid in the Middle East , however if one wants to keep same guilty pleasure behind closed doors in Abu Dhabi, my equally strong sense of “what people don’t know won’t bother them” allows me to accept same. But to bring the maid to Ireland thus admitting to having help was a faux pas in my book.
With difficultly I tried to block out the elephant in the room (the petite 24 year old Sri Lankan girl) and proceeded to make general chit chat about being home, holidays etc. However when she asked Nurshami to “Please bring Isabelle’s training potty in from the Range Rover” I felt that I wanted the ground to open up in Macroom and swallow, me, the Range Rover and the Sri Lankan maid all in one go. I felt the whole pub turn and mutter, “what did her last one die of” and I felt guilty by association.
“People are so different since I’ve come back” she claimed in a puzzled manner after being fifteen minutes, sorry, months in the Middle East.