Becoming an ex-expat

The transition from expat to ex-expat is not easy. This is supposed to be a moderately civilized country I’ve moved to but it’s seemed far from it in my first week back.

Getting off the plane I looked high and low for someone I could pay a pittance to pick up my bags, but no one was to be found. I had to push the trolley myself, huffing and puffing with indignity.

Once through customs I tried calling my driver. His phone wasn’t working. After several more futile attempts I was about to call the head of logistics to complain when I realised I no longer had a driver and he was several thousand miles away anyway. Instead, I was forced to rough it with the mob and get the bus.

Back home, I dumped my dirty clothes in a corner. Two days later and they were still there! I couldn’t for the life of me think what the cleaner was playing at, but she seemed to have disappeared.

I shipped a few things home. In Kabul I’d given them to the logistics chap and got him to sort it out. He never told me I’d have to wait at home for them to be delivered. The first day the package was due I assumed the guard would take care of it. Seems he’s run off with the cleaner. I only found out when a friend spent half an hour knocking on the door. I finally went to see what was going on, and was told (by my strangely annoyed friend) I no longer had a guard. This has proved continually troublesome as I obviously can’t be expected to take my door keys with me everywhere I go.

Letters from the bank have been piling up. I emailed the finance department asking if they could spare a few hours to go through them all and got a most curt reply. They had the insolence to suggest I do it myself! When I did go down to the bank and the manager treated me like some poor beggar I was simply incandescent with rage.

Taking the dog for a walk one afternoon and I was getting a little parched. There was a farm house down the track so I thought I’d just drop by but was given a most unfriendly welcome. Downright hostile in fact. When I told them that if they weren’t even going to slaughter a sheep for me the least they could do would be to make me a cup of tea the farmer pulled out a shotgun. I was aghast and told them in no uncertain terms (while running away) that I thought their behaviour deeply at odds with the culture of hospitality I had come to expect of their kinsmen.

I had to console myself after that with a glass or two in the village inn. Naturally I didn’t have any of the local currency with me, but I really didn’t expect them to make such a fuss about it. I admit things got slightly out of hand but there was no need to call the police. I tried explaining to the officer that everything was perfectly all right as I wasn’t a Muslim and so of course I was allowed to have a drink, but the law was simply insufferable.

Dragged off to the police station I finally got to make a phone call, but all the bloody embassy did to get me out of my plight was to laugh at me.

By the time I extricated myself from that little mess I felt rather washed up, so I’m now planning my next R and R. Somewhere with servants and corrupt police, I think.

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9 Responses to “Becoming an ex-expat”

  1. Roberta Says:

    Has it been mentioned that you have a book in you?

    And you forgot the episode of the charger. Why couldn’t the runner go back and get it for you?

  2. Alanna Says:

    I left my dirty dishes in the sink last night, and when I got up – they were still there.

  3. Vasco Pyjama Says:

    Took me a while to remember to carry house keys with me, but leave my passport behind. Also feels weird to only have a mobile phone, and not a VHF and Thuraya too. Enjoy.

  4. Michael Kleinman Says:

    Suddenly, getting drunk on a Wednesday night is no longer socially acceptable

  5. Marianne Says:

    I still miss Payman who seemed to actually be happy about making me a soy latte at 6 am every morning so that I could ‘meditate’ without falling asleep. Boyfriends are a bit of a come-down after living with a cook.

  6. harryrud Says:

    I feel a lesser man for lack of my Thuraya. What can I prop up on the bar now to prove my status? Thankfully, where I now live it is not only socially acceptable to get drunk on a Wednesday night, but actively encouraged, so I’m able to hide my lack of telecomunication equipment behind a battalion of bottles of ale.

    Marianne, that last line is a gem.

  7. Glenna Says:

    Getting drunk on a Wednesday is ALWAYS socially acceptable. Or maybe I’ve been abroad too long??

  8. Steve Says:

    When I go ‘home’ I get very confused. It’s like you know when you go to someone’s house and the sofa doesn’t just look like nobody sits on it, it looks like nobody’s suppose to sit on it. The shops are designed to get you out as quick as possible, the roads to get off them as fast as possible and everyone is already in that next place doing that thing they are suppose to be doing. There are subversives hanging about doing nothing about their career or fiscal standing and blatantly not worshipping ol’ ‘OneBigLie’. However you have to know people pretty well for them to let you see them in that awful state!

    In Pakistan I don’t have a driver an all that (probably coz I don’t work for a government ‘organisation’ or a non-government ‘organization’), and I enjoy wringing out me smalls in a bucket. What I like though is all the burnt up, deformed, twisted forgotten remains of humanity on display that remind me what being human on Earth 2009 really means.

    PS if I had an NGO I’d call it ‘UO’ pronounced you owe, and our pledge to transparency carried forth with the message ‘We promise to take huge amounts of well meaning donations and tax right off money, give it to people who don’t need it to organize organiizers who will organize it so that nothing gets to those who actually need it, thereby not upsetting the apple cart which is exactly where it’s supposed to be and already where it will be.’

  9. currybadger Says:

    LOL, no driver!!! NOOOOO

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