New Hampshire is in the midst of another political season...which is the season that occurs right after Pot Hole season. Yes, that really is a season, here. It is marked by cars falling into house-sized craters and amazing road crew members, like Bill Goss, Bill Dumais, and Ernie Butler filling those holes back in with something called "Hot Mix" which is different from what you play on your I-Pod. Yet, I digress. New Hampshire's political season is marked with what are known as "Grass Roots" campaigns; the attempt by several aspiring intelligent (or not) people coming into our state to throw their hat into the ring.
I am launching my own "Grass Roots" campaign...that of going overseas to Abu Dhabi, to teach Emirati students to speak and write English well enough to get into a good college and compete for amazing jobs. I would like to call my journey a Grass Skirt campaign, because I've never been to Hawaii and always wanted to wear a grass skirt and dance the Hula at a luau...yet I digress...It's true, I can't refer to this as my Grass Skirt campaign because doing so would violate the morality laws of the Arabic culture I plan to join. Abu Dhabi is an amazing place, which you would know if it were as popular a destination as Hawaii. Most people ask two questions of me when I tell them where I am going..."Is it safe?" and "Where will you live?" Thank goodness I have good answers ready for them: Yes, it's very safe, and I have no idea where I will live, that is part of the mystery and adventure. But I do get a generous housing allowance as part of my salary and I will be able to find an amazing apartment or villa in the city.
The culture is lenient toward Westerners (Me) because Abu Dhabi relies on a large influx of ex-pats to work in the country--doing everything from building construction, teaching, healing, cleaning to working at the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Race track and at Ferrari World (Who says this can't be a "destination retreat?) However, there are some rules about what Westerners and other ex-pats can and can't do. Walking around in a bathing suit or other scanty clothing is forbidden; they actually prefer that your collarbone and your elbows are covered. Skirts should go below the knee. Although I don't have to wear a burqa, as I am not a Muslim, or a Hijab (head covering) there are certain articles of clothing I will purchase or bring with me to wear. As a fairly modest woman, I don't think I will have problems with this particular rule. I am also packing my bathing suits and shorts, as I know there will be opportunities to wear those around my own home. Due to the strict rulings about clothing, I will not have to look at any more sagging, bagging pants on young men, in fact most young men will wear a long, white garment known as a dishdasha or kurta over cotton pants and shirt. Because this is a country that prides itself on modesty, the smart ex-pat will be respectful of these rules. The other important rule to remember is that of separate spaces for men and women. Women do not visit men in their apartments or homes, and vice versa. All visiting is done in public places with other folks present. Since I will be part of a teaching community of other ex-pats, I am sure they already participate in group activities and events and am looking forward to joining them.
Westerners do go out, and there are wonderful restaurants, theater, concerts and other events to attend. That's another thing I am looking forward to. Living in NH, one is isolated from the large city performances. Although I go frequently to the theater in Concord, NH and the New London Players, it has been a long time since I have seen a big-name concert.Those are just some of the random thoughts I have this morning as I pack up my house, and think about the new life ahead. I began by thinking about how this journey is a bit of a Grass Roots experience for me...I'm leaving my own grass roots and moving to a location that will bring new experiences, new knowledge and new friends. I will not be forgetting my own roots, though, we will keep in touch. We will just be going down a different Grass Route.