So, the royal wedding was beamed live into our living room today. I watched it from start to finish although not so much because I wanted to see it, but more akin to doing homework. We go back to the UK next week and I was terrified if I didn’t see it I would be so out of the loop that I might as well pack up and come back to Dubai!
Staying relevant is hard work when you are away from home for so long. Every time I go back there are more ‘celebrities’ I’ve never heard of made famous by more reality shows I’ve never seen on channels I didn’t even know existed. I have barely a sense of who anyone is in politics anymore and no idea whatsoever of how to operate an oyster card, the TV, or even how to put the rubbish out depending on which London borough I am in. A few summers ago I was reprimanded for ordering a bottle of water to the table whilst out to dinner. Apparently it wasn’t the done thing anymore, when perfectly good tap water would suffice. Well how was I to know?! Last time I dined out in London we drank horrifically expensive water from Fiji and no-one said a word except how much they liked the bottles.
I’ve lost track of whether I should be shopping organic, GM free (is that the same thing?), or just as cheaply as possible given the current economic climate. Although I’m not sure what the current economic climate actually is. I attempted to follow the General Election but failed dismally due to my complete lack of interest on the subject. I don’t know who won Wimbledon last year, I didn’t see Strictly Come Dancing, I don’t know who Catherine Tate is and I’ve missed the Take That ‘Circus’ tour, surely the biggest crime of all.
In short, I am completely in the dark when it comes to a lot of social and cultural references that my friends and family take for granted. It makes me feel pretty alienated when I visit, unless I work really hard to find a few things out before I arrive. The one area of knowledge where I can excel is, bizarrely, fashion. Fashion is something I didn’t even know about before I came to Dubai but it’s fair to say I’ve developed a deep love of shopping since we arrived. Who wouldn’t? Fashion, and designer fashion in particular, is all around me, all the time. Being well-groomed, wearing good clothes and accessorising is an art form here and people aren’t afraid to dress up. Bugger the current economic climate, it’s all about the shoes, darling!
So historically, staying relevant in Dubai has been a little less complicated than maybe elsewhere in the world. For starters, few women in the Trailing Spouse/Trophy Wife/New mother sectors of society talk about anything except themselves, their children, or other people in Dubai – the typical expat bubble syndrome prevails – and the tendency is to simply tune out to what’s going on in the rest of the world. But the recent regional political unrest has begun to reawaken my interest in current affairs. The protests in Egypt, Syria, Libya and beyond has affected large portions of the arab population including many who live and work in Dubai. I have found staying relevant is suddenly more relevant and in order to do so have actually begun reading a newspaper from time to time. A British one of course – which means that suddenly, staying relevant generally has become a little easier.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so lazy and complacent in the first place and picked up a paper before now. Plenty of people I’m sure manage this small feat everyday while they live away from home. I admit, it’s simply not been relevant to me and so I haven’t bothered. However, I realise this is a rather shallow way of viewing things and that’s why I’m slowly changing my habits and re-educating myself on the bigger picture. Today is, for me, a part of this process. And ok, it might not be the most important event happening on the global stage right now, but Kate did look very lovely and it really was a very nice wedding, and I believe it is relevant to say so.