There comes a time in every blogger’s life when someone posts a mean comment. Somebody’s having a bad day, or is just frustrated (or pathetic) for whatever reason and takes it out on a harmless blogger. In our little corner of the internet, that day was last week, and that blogger was *us*. And while one of us is too busy sheltering from the rain and the leprechauns while drinking tea and gin (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it) to be too bothered by any type of snarkiness, the other one of us – currently holidaying in the land of perfect smiles and eternal optimism – well… Not so much…
In the absence of any texts of note between us (unless: “Hi! Are you sober?” “No. You?” “It’s 7am.” “Oh. Bummer.” counts) we’ve compiled a list of the top ways you know you’re an expat on holidays in your home country. (This is particularly relevant if (a) you’re expatting in Singapore and (b) your home country is in Northern Europe, the United States, or anywhere else where your hair doesn’t frizz up and you don’t start sweating within four minutes of leaving the (air-conditioned) house).
15 Ways You Know You’re an Expat on Summer Holidays “Back Home”…
- You sit in your car at the gas station waiting for an uncle to come and fill up your tank. (And you sit. And sit. And sit.)
- When your kids are kicking off their shoes to go play in the garden, you immediately think of snakes.
- Speaking of shoes: People wear them inside their homes – and nobody says a thing! (WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Get those filthy things outside, and into a large pile by the front door, where they belong…)
- You have literally no warm clothes. None. So you spend the first few days wearing several t-shirts and your father’s gardening cardigan, before succumbing and heading to Primark / Target.
- Primark / Target makes you WEEP WITH JOY.
- Grocery shopping takes HOURS because you keep sighing and fondling the produce.
- And while we’re on fondling – you hair (YOUR HAIR!!) is a thing of wondrous beauty.
- You are shocked – SHOCKED – at how truly bad Chinese, Indian and Thai food can be when you’re far from China, India and Thailand. You bore your friends and family by repeatedly pointing this out – but you just can’t help yourself.
- You arrive “home” with two suitcases and leave with fifteen.
- Into those two suitcases you actually packed school books for your children.
- Your children get freaked out by common wildlife. Such as pigeons. And worms.
- You can’t quite figure out how to negotiate being in a place where there is – horror – *CRIME*. You’ve just let your toddler use the public toilet alone, and you routinely leave your car doors unlocked, and yet you’re wearing a wallet-belt 24/7. (Well at least your MRT card is safe, PHEW.)
- You cannot understand how your children make such a mess. Where has all this laundry come from? Why are there toys and shoes and bits of food all over the place? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
- You suddenly realise why it’s happening, and make a mental note to build a shrine to your helper when you get back.
- Despite loving being home with every fibre of your being – your family and friends and your gorgeous hair and the incredible produce and the fresh air and all the millions of things you miss every day in Expat-Land – you (whisper it) miss your (whisper it again) *other* home.
By now, eagle-eyed readers will have spotted something of a theme in our recent posts. Yes, they’re all repeat episodes. SORRY. But: (a) we’re thousands of miles away – from Singapore, each other and, most significantly, our helpers*, which means that we just Do. Not. Have. Time. To. Text; and (b) truly, these texts from last year sum up EVERYTHING happening in our lives right now. (Although if pushed to sum our summer holidays up in a few words, we’d choose some variation of “glorious”, “hair”, “domestic” and “drudgery”.) We’ll post something original soon – promise. Just as soon as we’ve stopped checking out our hair in the mirror and folding the laundry. (Often at the same time.)
(*It has dawned on us that all the free time afforded to us in Singapore by having helpers is basically used to text each other. We’re slightly ashamed of that. But only slightly.)
It’s summer holidays, which can only mean one thing: we are in our respective home countries, weeping with the effort of domesticity, salivating over incredible supermarket produce, and unable to find the time to either text, or post said non-existent texts. In times such as these, we do what all great artists do: reproduce earlier work…. This post is from this time last year, but is no less pertinent now than it was then.
This summer, as last, the island essentially empties of expat spouses and children, and becomes a forlorn expat wasteland, populated only by lone expat men roaming in packs, looking for comfort in their time of temporary familial abandonment. Some of these men, we are told, occasionally find themselves, late of an evening, in the environs of a large office/retail complex called Orchard Towers, the first four floors of which comprise bars favoured by prostitutes. This has earned the building the
misogynistic and offensive nickname “The Four Floors of Wh*res”. However you might describe it, it’s generally accepted that if you’re a man in that building after hours, you’re there for one reason only – and it’s not to eat dinner. (No matter *what* you might tell your wife…)
Occasionally, when we need a bit of a pick me up, a snigger or a cheap thrill, we head to Japanese bargain store Daiso – where for just $2, you can get whatever you’re after…
Yesterday was World Cucumber Day. (What- you didn’t celebrate??) Here on the Little Red Dot various bars hit on the fabulous idea of receiving cucumbers as legal tender for gin cocktails. And whereas on such occasions we would usually be found dragging suitcase full of cucumbers from bar to bar, alas yesterday the gods of good health were against us. Instead, we celebrated by eating crackers, sipping water, and sending our helpers to Watsons for… convenience items…
It’s nearly summer in Singapore which means one thing: The Annual Mass Exodus of Expats. Usually TAMEE is temporary: expats heading ‘home’ for a few weeks or maybe a few months (who’ll return refreshed and rejuvenated and weepily reunited with their helpers, vowing never to leave again). But some – thousands- are leaving forever. And while this breaks our hearts, like most crappy situations there are some upsides. (Especially if you collect random plugs and tent poles.)
Two things happen in Singapore’s Expatland every May: The Classifieds are awash with people selling all their belongings before they leave for good; and those of us who aren’t leaving begin to feel a bit…. Angsty? Mopey? Meloncholy? Luckily for all of us (although mainly for our husbands), this passes quickly, as soon as the summer suitcases come out and the next wave of adrenaline hits. But in the meantime, we mope…