Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ma as-salaamah Abu Dhabi

I'm home now in the US - not at Port Zayed, overlooking the skyline of Abu Dhabi (as above).

So this is my last post. Ma as-salaamah everyone.

A friend asked me recently how it felt to be home. She'd heard that returning to one's own culture could be harder, even, than moving to a new culture. Without thinking I said I felt numb.

And that's about where I am. I feel apart from my day-to-day activities, as if I'm doing things but not experiencing them. When people ask if I'm happy to be home, I always say yes. I think I am, but I'm not entirely sure.
My time in Abu Dhabi softened me, allowed me to shed some earlier sadnesses. When I moved to Abu Dhabi I brought the one lesson I'd taken from losing loved ones - that life is short - and imbedded it in my mind and heart. I used it as a motivator to overcome my natural shyness and get as much out of my time in the UAE as possible.

But as I told this friend that I felt numb lately, I realized that I remain someone who shuts off sadness, who won't look at it or deal with it. But I do store it, way down in my heart. Whether I'll ever open it up and breath it in I don't know.

At the same time, I also feel great joy about my two years in Abu Dhabi. I had times there that made me incredibly happy, that reassured me about the world, about people, about the future. I found over and over again that regardless of our origins, people are much the same: we worry about our loved ones, about our health, about the future of our planet. We want peace, at least the vast majority of us do. And we want to feel connected.

What I take away most from Abu Dhabi are the friendships. Not only did I make great friends in Abu Dhabi, but M and our children did too.

I will also never forget the beauty of the place. The emirate of Abu Dhabi is magnificent. I never grew tired of the flowers along the wide boulevards, nor the palm trees along the Gulf. But the desert is what I'm really talking about here. The desert is ostensibly a brutal domain, with a harsh, unrelenting sun pouring down on a vast barrenness. And certainly this can be accurate. But the desert is also a place where one can feel incredibly free and peaceful. The seemingly endless rolling hills of sand, the dunes constantly being re-shaped by the wind, the powder-blue sky above the golden-tan landscape, and the surprising presence of animals, occasional flora and fauna, all made a deep impression on me. I felt both more serene and alive in the desert.

I didn't write much this summer, since returning home. Every time I started I felt my words were inadequate. But I set a deadline to end this blog.
So here it is, I say good-bye.

Thank you to anyone who bothered to linger on this blog. I wrote it for you. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for letting me share my affection for Abu Dhabi and the UAE with you. And thank you to everyone who wrote to me on the blog and on my email. I felt understood and heard when you wrote in. Once again, it was the gift of the human connection I so enjoy.

Will I ever return to Abu Dhabi? I don't know. I've just begun a master's degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. In addition, I am endeavoring to learn as much as I can about the Islamic/Arab/Asian world. For example, yesterday I took part in a two-day workshop on Afghanistan in Boston.

My imagination and my intellect were sparked by my time in Abu Dhabi. But most of all, Abu Dhabi, my temporary home, touched my heart.

P.S. My e-mail address is if anyone wants to get in touch. Now it's really ma as-salaamah, wallah!

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Pics of UAE

Here's a few additional photos, taken by M as usual, from our time in the UAE. Above is a roundabout in Fujairah.

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque, Abu Dhabi (above).

Outdoor Mass, Christmas 2007, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Abu Dhabi. It was a beautiful night, quiet and peaceful though thousands attended that Mass.
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Some More of Abu Dhabi

Khalifa Park on opening weekend last winter, with two of my sons.
A mosque, beautifully lit at night in Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque in Abu Dhabi.Posted by Picasa

Abu Dhabi - Pics I Like

Here's a view (above) I had every time I walked from my car to our catholic church, St. Joseph's. It is of a walkway into Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Mosque, which borders St. Joseph's Catholic Church.
This is the Eastern Corniche, near where we lived in Abu Dhabi. Above are two of my sons and a cousin fishing in January.
A view looking outside, (from inside) the Emirates Palace Hotel.
Khalifa Park, where I saw my favorite thing: flowers in the sand.Posted by Picasa

More Pics of Abu Dhabi

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Few Pics of Abu Dhabi

This month I will close this blog for good. I'm back in the US now; it's definitely time.
I haven't posted much lately because I'm not quite sure what I want to say.
Flowers in the Sand, Abu Dhabi has been a signifcant part of my life for the past 18-or-so months. It's not easy to say khalas. (For the umpteenth time, please forgive atrocious attempt at Arabic spelling.)
With the end in sight, I thought I'd post a few pictures of AD now and again. Unless noted, all were taken by M.
Above is a view of the east side of Abu Dhabi, from the Abu Dhabi Mall. The Beach Rotana pool is visible below the Gulf.
This was taken near the Cultural Foundation and Airport Road.

A side street in Abu Dhabi at night: lots of cars parked here, there, and everywhere.Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Before Leaving Abu Dhabi

Before we left Abu Dhabi, our eldest child graduated high school.
"What hotel is your graduation in?" a friend asked on the phone a few days before the big event.

"We're at the Intercon, how about yours?" I said.

It's a funny thing here (in Abu Dhabi), but all the high school graduations I know of took place in a swanky hotel. At home in the US, they are almost always held on the school grounds, either in the gymnasium or under a large tent erected for the day. After the ceremony, families go either home or to a restaurant. They have a large, "open house" family party for the new graduate. Even posh boarding schools follow this practice.

Our son's graduation ceremony was followed by a dinner dance at the same hotel. This was lovely, too, but had the feel of a wedding (an American wedding). It was also quite expensive and our younger children were not allowed to attend. (There was an age cut-off.) It was a nice evening, but I still vote for the American-style graduation.

*Our children attended an international school in Abu Dhabi. This post does not reflect local graduation customs.Posted by Picasa