what it is to be other and not who we think we are

Growing up as an army ‘brat’ we lived in many places and it wasn’t until I lived here that I had been in any one country for more than 2 maybe 3 years. I have now lived in UAE for more years than I have ever lived anywhere in my entire life. I am currently in my second Emirate and living in the second of the homes I have spent the most of my life in…. UAE since 1995 and how much change and development have we both grown through.
Having just read Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche AMERICANAH and been carried along in a very unexpected way I had to write something to myself and anyone else who might be interested.
I always knew I was white in the various countries I grew up but had never had that experience; she so well describes of finding out I was white! [Often called www as in ‘wicked witch of the west’ and ‘white western woman’] usually tongue in cheek. But as we know many a truth is said in jest. In her case arriving in America and then when Dike visits Nigeria and Lagos for the first time as a young man. The idea of African American and American African was quite remarkable to me but makes immense sense. I have watched Morgan Freeman interviewed on this topic and his response makes sense to me. He is an American and no he does not want is history celebrated in one month he wants it to be celebrated and he is correct. In the same way that Arabs would appreciate having their history and contributions recognised rather than obliterated by the great white
People of USA more than anywhere I have ever experiences are apparently obsessed with ethnicity. More so than my own country which alarms me.
Here in UAE I began to have some limited idea about being marginalised for race, gender an more recently age.

There is a whole different range and variation on the Arabs and whether you are GCC or MENA, from the Levant and indeed many Syrians do not consider theme selves Arabs at all
A saying here is you can take ”the Arab out of the country but you can not take the Arab out of the man”

Reflecting back on Occupational Therapy training and then working in the health service also social services I am now struck by how many people were living this life in the shadows as described by Obinze and how various friends, relatives ahve fared. Young men in particular who came from backgrounds that’Vincent’ would consider soft and privileged. Obinze describes when being deported the unnecessary humiliation and degradation he was subjected to because he wanted a choice for education. So many are now forced to make choices for their lives let alone to experience education and God forbid families, social stability and security.
Here in UAE their are also many and not just from Africa but all nationals of this world living between residency and visitor status. Desperate to stay and live this life of a country that invests in it’s people and expatriates wanting to make their lives here unlike that described by Ifemelu and her first experiences of jobs and ID cards!
And now TRUMPS USA! Boris and MAY’S UK….
Imagine having a choice and USA would be the better choice than your own country – to leave and be forever treated as other is too momentous and indeed monstrous to consider.

This book has been quite a journey for me and remarkable and in some instances revelationery in how connected I feel although I am not from Nigeria and have not traveled [or will ever travel] to USA.

Thank you for the journey and partial arrival

NB. These opinions and thoughts are entirely my own

children are not an insurance policy at any time in your life

I came across this item in today’s BBC World

And was intrigued by it
My elderly aunt never married and never had children that anyone knows about she lives in the North and is now 98
No one of her peer group is still alive and there were never any family where she chose to live and work.
She has retired to her room in residential care and no longer goes to the dining or recreation room. As she does not want to experience the humiliation of incontinence herself or witness another bearing the humiliation.
She reads, watches her favourite programs and that’s the sum of her day.
Occasionally she will pick up the phone when you call but her hearing is not good and she hates the hearing aid
Last time my youngest sister and I took our mother, her sister in law to visit they sat and traded health issues!
Until we said please is this a competition or can we talk about something else?
I cried inside whilst there and then cried unashamedly later.
It was heart breaking but then whom am I to say she is content enough. Chats to the carer’s and knows the teams they favour and the results!
It is not what I have in mind for myself

Children or niece’s and nephews are not an insurance policy

”I didn’t want to go to a pub and have unprotected sex with someone who’d had no STD checks
She had wanted children since she turned 30 and was envious of friends who were starting families. She was also shaken by a visit to her aunt in hospital. Her aunt didn’t have children, and Jessica believed she had been ignored by doctors as there had been no-one to insist on better care.
“I thought there was a risk of me ending up in a similar situation if I had no kids of my own. They can act as insurance for when you get older.””

Mother is now in her 91st year and has resided in a fab mini copy of her home with Daddy [Daddy departed in December 2013]for these past two years
There is a 24 hour alarm and carer’s come in daily
This doesn’t mean that she is ‘safe’ but she has her own home with her furniture and things of importance around her.
Again children are not an insurance policy

I have two children and relationships are difficult with more than 8 hours flight time between us all and it is me that is outside UK.Believe me they are definitely not an Insurance Policy

As Khalil Jibran says and I quote the opening stanza with which i agree

”They are not your children
They are the sons’ and daughters of life’s longing itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you they belong not to you”

Your children are not yours they are theirs and will live their lives not yours.

How do you see yourself ? & how do others describe or see you?

It is the first day of a new year 2018 to be exact
And I was thinking over this past year
My late father always called December 31st OLD YEAR’S Night and i have tended to follow this tradition whimsical as it may appear. I have always thought of News Year Eve being tonight the first night of the new year!

I had a weird experience when calling to greet friends for Christmas in a different time zone and unfortunately hear myself being described as ”Peculiar and very difficult….” I was somewhat hurt

Then I reflected and remembered being described as eccentric late last year as in 2016! And at the time being indignant as I had only heard the word used in a negative context.
So I looked it up and found ‘yes’ indeed I am ‘eccentric’ ALHAMDIL’ALLAH and happy to be this way.
I live out near the mountains, I am unconventional, I travel to places such as Kabul Afghanistan or Erbil Kurdistan to try and make a small difference. Despite safety and security issues.
Life is for living and not a rehearsal and this has been brought home in many ways with extreme health and also early death for people I know well or friends of mine. Big reality check to value what we have.
‘Wanting what we have not wanting what we haven’t and desiring unreachable, unnecessary items’

Some ways of describing ‘eccentric’ are below for your enlightenment

(of a person or their behaviour) unconventional and slightly strange.
“he noted her eccentric appearance”
synonyms: unconventional, uncommon, abnormal, irregular, aberrant, anomalous, odd, queer, strange, peculiar, weird, bizarre, off-centre, outlandish, freakish, extraordinary; idiosyncratic, quirky, singular, nonconformist, capricious, whimsical; outré, avant garde; informalway out, far out, offbeat, dotty, nutty, screwy, freaky, oddball, wacky, cranky, off the wall, madcap, zany; informalrum; informalkooky, wacko, bizarro, in left field
“they were worried by his eccentric behaviour”
not placed centrally or not having its axis or other part placed centrally.
“a servo driving an eccentric cam”
a person of unconventional and slightly strange views or behaviour.
“he’s seen as a local eccentric”
synonyms: oddity, odd fellow, unorthodox person, character, individualist, individual, free spirit, misfit; More
a disc or wheel mounted eccentrically on a revolving shaft in order to transform rotation into backward-and-forward motion, e.g. a cam in an internal combustion engine.

We don’t always know what other people think of us and does it in fact matter

What ever we do we need to be real and true as this is our legacy.
I often say that I may compromise my integrity but I will never compromise my morals

Wishing everyone a safe secure and healthy 2018
Live as if it is your last day