Saturday, February 6, 2010

Last days in Al Ain

Two months ago when we came to Al Ain, we had three months to see if the jobs that brought us here were going to work for us. Somewhere inside of that we realized they were not, so we started the process of exiting and planning, sadly, our re-entry to the states, focusing on enjoying our time here while it lasted.

Last night, in typical New York and UAE style, we walked out to the largest main road and waited for a taxi to careen by to take us out for drinks on the town. Before the cab, an Emerati stopped and offered us a ride in his direction. In broken English, he said 'there are no cabs out here', here being our sprawling, walled off district. He was probably right. We jumped into his Land Rover and in what English he knew, he conveyed that his son is in EMT school in Vancouver, British Columbia, and that Etisalat is better than Du for cellular carriers. It amused me what could be conveyed with 20 words in common, and it made me wish I had more time here to crack the Emerati/Western divide. He dropped us off in the city centre, stunned that a national initiated communication with us, much less offered us a ride. Thirty seconds later, we were in a taxi to the Hilton Al Ain.

Drinks were of the going-away variety, with my now former manager. A couple of Stellas loosened up the conversation between an unlikely group of people; a whip-smart and worldly ex-military guy, Nick, and me. Over chatter about locals, travel, marriage advice and Avatar's cutting-edge graphics, I managed to not be sad about leaving my idea of becoming a global citizen behind on Sunday. One of the attractions to international work is living within the idea that from this location, wherever this may be, you can be anywhere in the world in 12 hours. Going back to Los Angeles in that context now seems the least interesting thing to do.

It was some of the best marriage advice we've received: keep communicating, and forgive each other for the things that annoy us about the other. Would the world practiced that, the jobs we came here for would not exist.

Methodical and wily Mother Nature greeted us with rain the day we came to Al Ain, and it is raining today, the weekend I leave. When I get back to Los Angeles, I will make my three-month checkup with my doctor, who will tell me again that I am cancer free. In some ways, I didn't skip a beat of life in Los Angeles, but was a world away between the rhythm. I read about meter in college. There can be structure to seeming chaos, if you majored in English Literature or smoked too much of something.

By the way, the current Sultan of Oman is a childless divorcee. He overthrew his own father forty years ago to bring social equality and justice to the people. If that ain't a reason to visit or join the Sultan of Oman Facebook fan page or send a letter saying "You Go, Oman", I can't think of what else might be.

I set up this blog to be a travel journal, and I am daunted by the idea of continuing this concept stateside in environs I am well familiar with. As with everything, let's just see how that works itself out.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Stay positive!