Comparisons

Tomorrow marks week two of our repatriation. Since we had just made a 6 week visit over the summer and are still not settled in what will be our permanent housing, it feels a lot like summer vacation.  Even though we’ve bought a car, are about to buy another, have been house hunting and started the kids in school, somehow it still feels temporary and I often find myself instinctively dreading the flight “back home” until I remember we bought a one way ticket to IAH.

Ever since we’ve come back, I can’t stop myself from making comparisons between Houston and Dubai. Surely this must be tiring for friends and family. I feel like an unjust parent constantly comparing the strengths and weaknesses of my children, making other people cringe.

Sometimes I miss Dubai, like when I went school supply shopping. I didn’t have to buy supplies in Dubai.  I breezed into school the first day with only lunch and uniforms to worry about. How spoiled! I should have remembered my sister’s tales of time-consuming shopping experiences; instead, I waited until 9 pm the night before the kids started school. I thought, “It’ll just be a quick run to the store to grab some construction paper. I’ll be back in an hour.” It wasn’t until I was standing in the greatly disheveled school supply aisle that had been moved to a small corner to make room for mountains of Halloween gear that I took out the list only to find things like this:

Zaner-Bloser Grade 3 Spiral Composition Book w/ Whale Cover

HUH?

Mead/Hytone Grade 1-2-3 Handwriting Tablet 1/2″ Ruled, 1/4″ Dotted Midline, Red Base Line, 40 ct 11×8.5 Horizontal

WHAT THE…?! What happened to just picking up some crayons and a box of Kleenex to contribute to the classroom stash?

I didn’t get to bed until 1 am that night after trying to complete my grade 1 and 2 scavenger hunt at three different stores.  I didn’t even get to go home with the satisfaction that I had crossed everything off the list. I admit I got mildly sidetracked by the Halloween items. When I wasn’t living here, the Dubai holiday goodies seemed disappointing because they were always more expensive and in shorter supply. Not to mention the price of pumpkins….  that was enough to make anyone weep.

Dubai pumpkin

Behold the $45 USD pumpkin in Dubai. I now pay $4.

But now that I’m back to living in Houston, the explosion of Halloween items makes my head swim in the sheer volume of unnecessary gluttony. I was in pursuit of some Fiskars 5″ blunt-tipped scissors when I happened to come across this never-ending aisle of candy. I stood and stared in disbelief for a bit. “Monstrously big” is right!

halloween candy 2

Imagine my surprise when I went to the very next aisle and saw this!

halloween candy 4

Then this!

halloween candy 5

Then this, this and this!

This is only the candy. Imagine the costumes, the decorations, the party supplies.  Ugh. This is too much. It made me miss the few little Halloween items in Dubai and simplicity of my old grocery store.

But then I drove to school the next morning and couldn’t be happier to be back in Houston. At the moment I’m driving from the suburbs to downtown, a drive that would make most people squirm with dread, but I was loving every minute. I never used my horn. Everyone stayed in their lane. I wasn’t clutching my wheel with white-knuckled tension. I didn’t blurt out any curse words. I parked across the street from the school instead of blocks away.  A cross-guard smiled and stopped traffic to let me and my children cross the street. I didn’t melt into a puddle of sweat while doing so. Sand didn’t blow in my face. I didn’t have to dash across the street with heart-pounding adrenaline hoping me and my children could outrun the speeding, red-light-running cars.  In the hallways there were lots of moms like me struggling with younger siblings. (At the Dubai school, this was rare because so many people left their babies at home with their nanny.) I left the campus immediately instead of inching away through bumper-to-bumper traffic. I didn’t drive home annoyed and lost in contemplation about the sense of entitlement people must have to think their time is more important than mine, not to mention the safety of children, when they cut in line, block intersections, tailgate and speed on campus.

Deep breath… it feels good to be home.

For an entertaining, well-written (and oh-so-true!) take on driving on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, the road I took to and from school every day, read this post: The Little Things I Miss about Dubai, part 1 on Love Language Love Literature and thanks to Joan Frankham for re-blogging it so that I could discover it.

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About Lynda

Longhorns and Camels is a blog about exploring Dubai from the perspective of an expat from Texas. It features stories about living in Dubai including descriptions of local culture and popular activities in the region. It also includes photography of the UAE and other countries abroad. It has been recommended by several well-known guides for expatriates: InterNations, ExpatWoman and Expat Focus.
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22 Responses to Comparisons

  1. aBs says:

    We’re preparing for repatriation in the next few weeks, and Ill admit, I was relieved to see that everyone kind of goes through the same (or at least similar!) experiences going back to the states after Dubai…happy Halloween, eh? 😉 Welcome back to Tejas

  2. spicyessence says:

    Sad to hear about your move, but Good luck to you guys as you get back to life in Houston! We’ll be coming to Dallas for Christmas time and will be spending a few days in Houston! Sadly, my favorite place to go is HEB for their sweet potato pancake mix hahaha! Anyhow hope y’all are doing ok adjusting! But so exciting to see pictures of a grocery store!

    • Lynda says:

      Thanks so much! That’s so great you are coming for Christmas! Trust me, I totally know what you mean about getting excited about HEB. Bring an extra suitcase for your grocery purchases:)

  3. So glad you are doing well…it is getting cooler, and less humid! I even see the horizon on the sea from my window today. I know that when I spent 8 weeks in New Hampshire this summer there was a lot of comparisons going on…must say I rather like it here! Enjoy Texas!

    • Lynda says:

      One really great thing about extreme, harsh weather is the way it makes you appreciate nice weather. There are few things more lovely about Dubai (in my opinion) than those first few hints of relief from the summer heat. The haze clearing up is definitely one of them! I’m so happy to hear that you are happy in Dubai! 🙂

  4. joanfrankham says:

    Thanks for the mention, and I really enjoyed that post also…good luck with choosing your goodies for Halloween from the never ending aisles!

    • Lynda says:

      Thanks! Despite the overflow of Halloween “stuff” – it’s really fun to be back in a country that celebrates Halloween to the max! 🙂

  5. Diana says:

    Lyn!!! All those candy aisles! funny! Probably the candy aisles alone make up the entire size of our small grocery stores over here……anyway……$4.00 is much better than $45.00 for a pumpkin. 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      Ha! I know… I knew you would appreciate how overwhelming it was to see those looooong aisles. I don’t think that first picture even captures how long it actually was. Or maybe I was just deliriously tired and felt like Alice in Wonderland for a minute. Yes, I am just thrilled at the $4 pumpkins. It’s tempting to buy lots!

  6. safia says:

    Wow – those sweetie aisles made me feel queasy! Great post, Lynda – still mini-puddles of sweat here and yes, some sand blowing about a bit today. I sniggered joyfully at your description of the school parking ‘arrangements’ in Dubai – RAK is maybe even worse. One lovely father parks across the car park exit every afternoon, so it’s a mad dash to get in and out before he rolls up. I took a short cut over waste ground today as I didn’t beat him to it (but only because I was in hubby’s pick-up). Lovely to hear about Houston – hope you all get settled in your new, permanent home soon.

    • Lynda says:

      Oh gosh – your comment made me laugh! The phrase “short cut over waste ground” is soooo funny, especially when describing a school run. I think only someone who has lived in the UAE can truly appreciate that comment. We actually used to have a “short cut” also – a sand lot behind the school that required curb-jumping and a sense of humor to enter – it was absolutely ridiculous and in all seriousness – so dangerous! Everyone driving this way and that in the sand, with children dashing through it all, sometimes unaccompanied! Just crazy! Well, they closed that which left the school with only one way in/out of a walled-in campus. So now it’s a zoo for blocks around the school because everyone wants to avoid getting stuck in the cesspool of heat, traffic and road rage within the walls. I can’t say I miss it. 🙂 Hope you guys are enjoying some cooler temps. Amazing weather is right around the corner!

  7. Mitzie Mee says:

    Interesting:) When I’m in Denmark after a long stay in Dubai, I usually just stand in the grocery store, waiting for people to pack my stuff, but they don’t. Though, they also don’t ask me for 1Dh:)

    • Lynda says:

      Ha! So funny about the 1 dh – that’s true – what’s up with that? I know what you mean about those “service” differences. I got gas the other day and for a split second was looking around for someone to pump it for me. ha! Back to reality. 😐

  8. Isn’t it always like this; when you move from one country you see the contradictions and the difference more clearly? And of course the abundance of all things in the States is quite overwhelming for anyone who isn’t used to it.

  9. Haha reverse culture shock – I can totally identify (just moved back from Muscat to London myself). Loved the post!

  10. Pingback: Halloween in Perth | Abby's Roads

  11. Pingback: The one where it was Halloween in Perth • Abby's Roads

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