Monday, 11 January 2010

An honest answer to a stupid question

Ever since we moved to the UK, I have been thinking how great it would be to move abroad.

Unlike some of my Bakuvian girlfriends, also married to foreigners, I have never experienced what that might be like- to be an expat. I met my future husband back in Baku and, for a brief moment, he was an expat. However, as soon as he proposed to me, he whisked me away.

And chucked me straight into the real world. I did not get to experience lazy afternoons near a pool, over a game of Bridge, sipping Piña Coladas, while discussing part-time volunteering work with poor children. Nope. Not me.

I did not even get to use any of my background or language skills in London. I got thrown into a big, fast city full of people who did not care if I spoke any Russian; and whose English was a lot better than mine. So I had to get a normal job, just like the locals.

But why am I talking about this now? Oh, yes. Husband got offered a little consultancy work abroad.

Not a proper expatriate package, not a long term contract. Just a quick trip for a week. Somewhere rich and hot. A kind of place where locals are not too keen on infidels.

So I got excited, because- who knows? It might lead to more opportunities, open more doors...What if he met someone who liked him so much they would ask us to relocate? Bridge games, Piña Coladas and volunteer work could, after all, be my thing.

Yet, part of me suddenly felt uneasy. Because, I know what expat life is like. I know how different things can seem in locations far away, where the air is hot and humid and girls are tanned and cheap.

-You are not going to be blyadying, are you?- I asked him, using the Russian word for a "whore"-something we just do between ourselves.

But really, what is the point of asking that question? It is just like those silly USA entry clearance forms:

- Have you ever been involved in a terrorist activity?
- Oh, now that you mention it, yes I have indeed! My name is Bin Laden. Shall I spell it for you, officer? B for Burka....

So yes, a pretty pointless question. What do I expect him to say?

Yes, I will jump off that plane and land right on top of some local girl’?
Or: 'No, of course not, darling'?

And before you start giving me lectures on trusting my man...come o-on! We say in Russian: “Trust, but check. “ Let me translate: Trust, but don’t be an idiot. Things can happen.

But mainly, it just got me thinking. He is only going for a week, and I am not entirely comfortable with the thought. I know there will be heavy drinking. I know there will be all expenses paid. I know there will be young girls and men who think it is OK, as long as far enough from their real world.

Would I really want us to relocate somewhere like that for a while? Probably not, to be honest. I complain about my boring suburban life in the UK. About ridiculous mortgages and lack of exciting social life. But in a way, boring is OK. I am used to this boring now, and boring feels like home.


  1. I also find very silly those US entry clearance forms: do the really expect someone to answer: YES?

  2. People usually rise to the level of our expectations. So it pays to raise our expectations HIGH.

  3. @Nata: Does this really work? what about politicians? :) Oops, I promised to never go there again.

    What the hell, nobody leaves me any comments anymore. I quite liked this posting, myself. You never know, do you. :)

    And I got trashed on womens' forum. as always, by someone with no full name. Said I dont speak azeri so I am not an expert. Expert in what? Have I ever said I was? :((

  4. Do you always get so anxious when your husband leaves for a few days? I mean, there are prostitutes everywhere, not just "abroad".

    Relocating to some third world country - even for a few months - doesn't sound very exciting once you get comfortable with your life in the western world. Infectious diseases, bad schools, electrical blackouts... And nowadays, in many places it is simply dangerous to be American or British.

  5. Ah, finally some more comments. I thought nobody loves me anymore.

    "Anxious" is a very strong word. :) I was just expanding on a thought. And yes, there are prostitutes everywhere. But it is not about prostitutes. it is about that weird life expats often lead. Again we are of course, generalizing here, aren't we.

  6. Politicians are professional liars, so they don’t count :)
    It does however, work with real people, it’s management/parenting/relationship one-o-one. Trust is a fragile, funny thing & it goes both ways. I think most married and even single men will not jump right into trouble as soon as they leave their home country. Other men, and women for that matter, will always find trouble even around the corner from their homes. Once you become an expat yourself, you realize that those drunken oilmen you saw behaving badly in Baku, behave badly everywhere they go. It just gets worse in the third world since they can get away with more.

  7. Dude, how can you say you “got trashed”? I just went a looked; there are 7 comments there (not counting yours) and all glowing reviews, just one person saying something somewhat negative. By Internet standards, this is beyond positive reception. The math on the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. If I were you, I’d be mad at Bill for his “admire her determination to write in English” comment. Haha, he is hilarious :)

  8. Interestingly, in Australia a game of Bridge is something that elderly people enjoy. Poker is more popular with the young. Scary, you need a more adventurous life:)And your stories will become even more interesting (so far it is your writing that makes them so readable). I am sure you should relocate to a bit more exciting country:)

  9. The thing with clearance forms and stupid questions is that they turn priceless once you lied about them and got caught. Remember how during the whole Clinton's impeachment process it seems like cheating didn't seem such big of a deal than lying about it.


    p.s. I've been trying to leave a comment twice before, let's hope it works this time.

  10. There are people who take the expat lifestyle too seriously and completely lose their sense of reality. Daily games of bridge, gossip and bitching about cooks and drivers are not very stimulating for the brain. I think it's important to occupy the mind, which will in turn help take boyfriends and hubbies out of the center of our universe.

  11. How many times in my life I been told that cheating with prostitutes doesn't count compare with having mistress.Lot of wives pretend to avoid this subject or to be blind.What do you think,is it clever an idea?

  12. There is the expat life as demonstrated by the large oil companies, and there is the expat life of individuals who go to countries to gain new experiences, learn more about the world, build their businesses etc. The women you are talking about tend to live in a bubble, they could be anywhere. Would you want to be an appendage? Anyway, I remember you from Baku all those years ago and you are nobody's appendage!!

  13. Heeeeeeyyyyyy....this is more like it!

    Otherwise, I feel like I am talking to a brick wall. Keep thinking OK, but traffic is OK, so people are coming...and going...and coming back...but have nothing to say to me? :)

    Nessuna? That is a pretty name where is it from? I have never heard it before? You know, it does happen with the Blogger. It really annoys me, thinking that people do try to say something and I never get to know. Oh, well it worked this time, thank you.

    Nata: Thanks, you are so right. To be honest, when I just started this blog, I thought oh, some (serious and sensitive) Azeries will just eat me alive. But it has not been too bad, to be honest. surprisingly!? not too bad. So I guess, I should be grateful, you are right- as usual. :)))

  14. @ Anonymous: You remember me from Baku? I want to know who you are! Can you send me an email? :)

  15. Agree with Natalia 100%.

    Scary, your talk about volunteering for poor children sounded kinda snobby. Or maybe it just looked that way to me.

  16. Marianna...

    I think Natalia basically summarized what I tried to bring up in that article I wrote for womens' forum- about a pretty tray. So yes, I agree. :)

    I am confused about your choice of word "snobby"?

    I would get it if you said too cynical.

    There is nothing against poor children in my comment. Or the real volunteers. It was a dig at people who pretend they care... whereas, in reality, they just follow the fashionable trend.

  17. Nessuna means nobody in Italian, and virtually everything sounds pretty in that language. :)

    BTW I first heard about your blog from a friend who told me she spent a night awake reading you.


  18. @Nessuna: Guess what, I already know it. :)

    This virtual world only seems big, but I quickly find out who my new friends are!

    Especially! when they say such increadibly nice things!!! (made my face stretch in a Cheshire Cat's like smile, glad it was 7:20 and it is just me in the office) Thanks for this.

  19. Hmm... You've definitely given us all some food for thought...

    As much as I do see your point and where you are coming from... being the adventurous type, I could not survive and settle with boring. I need new things, new experiences, hot & humid weather to feel alive! But that's just me.... and life would be pretty boring if we all felt and thought the same way.

    Different points of view is what makes life exciting, as we can all discuss and share our thoughts, and hopefully learn something from each other as a result. =)

    P.S. I am slowly getting addicted to your blog & your writing ;)

  20. It's a legal thing, those US forms - if you say you are not a terrorist and you turn out to be one, they have the paperwork to prosecute you for lying!

    I've never fancied the expat life; I love living in England, whatever its foibles.

  21. What a moving story, and so sad to think there are many others like that couple.

  22. @WM- Yes, but would they not prosecute you for "terroristing" about anyhow? :)))I am not a legal expert but should you not get more time for being a terrorist than for lying?

  23. @Leyla
    Thank you!

    Well, yes sometimes I feel that way too. To be honest,if tomorrow we get some amazingly tempting deal, I will sing a different song altogether, as we say, eh. :) It would be a hard decision though. I live in a really nice part of the country, and I have some really lovely people around these days....But I do get bored easily. So, a change would be great.