Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

A Place Called Home

If you're looking for a quiet Sunday evening documentary to watch, may I suggest A Place Called Home (runtime 52 minutes)? It follows five expats in the UAE, exploring where they came from and why they're here. My nostalgia meter is extra sensitive right now, which might explain why I watched the whole thing with tears in my eyes.

Mostly these tears were for positive reasons - these people, they work so hard and for the best, most honorable reasons there are. Their stories are the stories of our housekeeper, or our neighborhood gardener, or yesterday's taxi driver, or the nanny at the playground, or any number of people in our church congregation. They're our own story as well, to some extent, though we have the luxury (along with the tailor featured - whose daughter goes to the same school as mine, by the way!) of being here together as a family.

Living alongside people like the ones in this documentary has been one of my favorite things about being in the UAE. There is no shortage of truly amazing, hard-working people here, all with diverse life stories and from most any country you could think of.

However, another reason I watched with tears in my eyes is that not every expat's story of working in the UAE is so camera-ready. And that's been one of the (emotionally) hardest things about living here. When we first arrived, I assumed that everyone was here because they wanted to be - that life here was better than wherever they came from, that the money was better, at least. And for the most part, I think that's true.

But over the years I've realized that there are many expats here who are stuck in awful employment situations. Maybe they work and work and are not paid. Or they are household helpers in homes where they are abused or treated poorly. Some come and stake everything on making it in this or that business, and then fail. It's hard to be out and about and see the people who build, take care of, and maintain this country and not know if they are happy here, or miserable.

This documentary explains what living in the UAE is like so well, even if it does focus only on the brighter side. I am honored and blessed and humbled to have shared a country with the people in this documentary and the millions of others like them. It's been one of my favorite things about living here.

Ramadan around town

June 19th, outsourced