Remember, the way we were

We find it so difficult to enjoy little pleasures, the fun things we used to do before we earned a bit of money and painted ourselves with a splash of so-called worldliness.

Is it just an expat thing or have we allowed technology and the finger-on-the-button lifestyle to take over our lives so completely that we haven’t got time to enjoy the simple, frothy, fun parts of life.

There was a time one went to a wedding in the family for two weeks. Now we fly in, rush to the venue and take the red-eye back. The older generation had cousins by the shoal. Today’s nuclear families don’t know their once removed. We gave quality time for simple things.

Suddenly, these common entertainments are embarrassing and we would rather be more esoteric in our pursuits. None of that spontaneous interest in everyday things. We don’t realise it but we even hurt those with whom we grew up. They become self-conscious because we are suddenly talking a different language, our enthusiasm is dulled by the banality of their everyday life.

Old friends irritate where once they were a pleasure. In our misplaced scheme of things we find we have outgrown them and we haven’t the inclination to return to that old level. Sometimes, even family members are nonplussed as we posture and preen and become quite obnoxious in the way we turn up our noses at everything that was once our turf.

We tend to see things in how much they cost or how splendid or necessary they are. The idea of going ‘slumming’ is dreary; let’s go to the coffee shoppe at the five-star instead. Even gifts do not excite us unless they are expensively tagged.

Remember the aunt who made those super pistachio biscuits? Her displays of affection are now uncomfortably overwhelming. The biscuits aren’t that hot either. Former colleagues drop in and you have that lofty, superior approach, you even feel sorry for their humdrum stuck-in-the-groove lifestyle and you don’t realise how offensive you are being. They shy away and you fool yourself thinking they are envious of you and that’s why they cannot swallow your financial ‘success’.

You would not be seen dead walking in the park or eating at a roadside stall. You drop brand names, knowing full well you cannot be contradicted. The movies the rest of the family enjoys bore you, and you give out a certain restlessness.

You want to talk about this model car and that model X HDTV and how the new skybox works and your trip to Rome, and this surrogate boasting (you’d think we invented the machines), then settle into a sort of endless critique of everything around us. The dirt, the smells, the phone that won’t work, the traffic jam, the queues, are all part of life at home, a life that not so many years ago was ours.

And now we cannot take the heat.

We moan about the absence of air-conditioning like we were spawned in it, and the children, ah the children are teed off by day three and few hours. They find other kids different and dull and not their type.

We even reduce our expressions of affection, unable to shed that self-conscious awareness that we have liquidity beyond what we once had. We occasionally stir ourselves to join old friends but their conversation is tiresome, their jokes absurd, good grief, were these really friends.

We shop only at the best places, find the family car’s huffing and puffing comical, and try and impress relatives and friends with our highly traveled image. What we actually end up doing is making perfect asses of ourselves because we are masquerading at something we are not.

Why this embarrassment with our roots? In fact, the only ones who are more tiresome that Gulf expats on home leave are those from Britain and the USA, with their foreign passports status and their phony accents and their shrill indignation because things don’t work. You see them at the airport, being thoroughly insufferable and you say to yourself, where does this lot get off behaving like this.

The irony is that somebody else is saying the same about us.

But the pretence aside, which, in many ways is just a camouflage for being out of synch with the place, we are the real losers.

We have changed, Home hasn’t.

I hear you say, what’s he talking about, we are not like that, we look forward to it.


If you say so.

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