Middle East meets West: Straddling life between the United Arab Emirates and Northern California.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
My First (real) Christmas Eve
Despite studying in the US for four years, I am actually celebrating my first Christmas eve with friends over here in the UAE. The reason for missing out on any Christmas related festivities in the US was my parents insistence that I return home for Christmas break (they missed me too much, I guess). I was most eager to return for Christmas break during my freshman year, when my homesickness was common. My aunt joked that it'll take a few months for me to lobby AGAINST coming back for Christmas breaks and summer vacation. I didn't believe her...until the end of sophomore year. haha.
Anyhow, back to my Christmas Eve celebration. I'm excited. I get to put my wrapped presents under a Christmas tree (a fake one, since real ones are costly here since they have to be imported). I was originally given the day off from work, but volunteered to work the day shift so I could give someone else in the office the chance to celebrate Christmas (I'm Muslim, while most of my colleagues aren't).
For those of you who are celebrating the season, a very Merry Christmas to you.
(Random note: I was looking for a picture I took of the large Christmas tree in Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi last year and realized that the palm tree and Christmas tree are almost the same height. See pic before the post to understand what I mean. This year, however, the Christmas tree at Marina Mall seems to have shrunk a couple of inches, so the two trees no longer align. Weird.)
I am from two countries.
Neither is really mine.
My body resides in a prosperous city with familiar voices,
but my heart resides in a country that now speaks a language foreign to my ears.
The less poetic version:
Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates. Next nine months in a small town: South Hadley, MA. The three after that in Palo Alto, California. I left my heart in San Francisco, because Israeli security would never let me leave it in Palestine.
And now I am back in Abu Dhabi, the sunny (and humid) capital of the UAE. God knows where I will be next.