I recently mentioned to someone that one really must filter through all the boring, weird and crazy people to find friends amongst the expats.
The woman was outraged. 'What do you mean!? I have never met anyone crazy or boring?!'
What makes someone boring or crazy, she wanted to know, in case she was one of the above, and never realized.
Well, maybe she was. Because, one thing i am slowly realizing here, is that the world of expats is absolutely full of boring and/or weird people, from all sorts of countries.
And, between you and me, it is quite a sad thing for me to admit and accept. I used to think people in suburbia of London were pretty dull. And they were. It took me years to find some normal people there. Years! So, I was secretly hoping that, somewhere like this, in an exotic and wild place, i would find a lot of interesting, fascinating people, original and creative. Why, they are people who left their ordinary lives, with their lawns, commuter trains and office cubicles to live somewhere different. To experience something cool, you know? I was thinking there would be certain glamour about expats here. But, in reality, there is a very small percentage of expats I met who are, indeed, interesting and different. The rest are, sadly, what we call in Russian otbrosi or the refuse of the society.
'Oh, I despair' I said to husband the other night, after having read a bunch of absolutely ridiculous comments on a local expat forum. Why are there so many stupid women here? What the hell is the matter with them all??
Well, husband laughed. Think about it. There probably are smart men in this world who marry stupid women-it must happen more often, to be realistic, than the other way around. Smart women would not marry stupid men, right? And let's face it. A lot of expats are here because they could not make it back home- for various reasons, but it would be safe to assume that a few of them are quite stupid. And therefore, their wives must be stupid, too.
Ok, i thought. Sadly, that makes sense. In a world of expats, you probably would not get the best of the best from each country.
I am curious whether it is an expat thing all over the world, or do certain countries attract better samples of expatriates? Since Qatar is my first proper expat destination, i am yet to find out.
I was trying to think back to the years in Baku where i had a lot of expat friends and colleagues. Were they more exciting, or was it me who was different back then? Was it me who had lower expectations; who viewed expats in general as a superior breed back then? Is it me who is more experienced and more demanding of people these days?
An Irish friend of mine and i went to a coffee in a nice hotel the other day. We sat on pretty sofas sipping our skinny lattes when a very tall and very odd-looking woman appeared next to us, staring at my friend and her little girl.
We stopped talking and smiled politely. Sorry, the woman explained. 'My son thought your baby was someone we now'. That would have been an okay explanation, except that the boy was really not that interested.
'She followed me here from the bathroom!' my friend whispered.
As we got up to leave, the woman, who by then had explained to us that she was German, and lived in Doha for many years, proceeded to follow my friend around the coffee shop. She reached over her shoulder to grab a jar of honey we were looking at. She wanted to know where my friend was from.
Do you like honey? Do Irish people like honey?
'I have experience with Scottish people...', she continued as my friend paused to choose a loaf of fancy bread. Do Irish people prefer brown bread? Because, Scottish people, i think, they prefer soft white bread...'
'Excuse me', i almost asked. 'Maybe you could tell us... What bread do weird people prefer?'
So yes. This is what the glamorous expat world is like, in reality. But hey, I have not given up yet. I am sure there are some truly cool people here. Somewhere.
Hmm...I wonder what type of bread they prefer?