Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Thousand and One Coffee Mornings

You can say a lot about the English, their taste in food, their socio-political system, and the English weather, but one thing that the English are good at – really good at, is socializing.  Have you been to a good ol’ English pub or belonged to one of the Hash clubs all over the world, or met someone for afternoon tea?  - it is all about the socializing.  The same with coffee mornings.  There are coffee mornings which girl friends arrange at their houses, or in coffee shops, there are coffee mornings arranged by groups in order to help people make new friends and there are coffee mornings arranged for charity.  You meet at the allocated time and place and usually coffee and eats will be provided.  You then sit down and join in one of the conversations that happen around you. 

The first time in the UAE, around 2 BC (Before Children,) coffee mornings were the worst things on my agenda, I accepted the invitations because in those days the ex-pats were a close knit community and everyone knew I had nothing else to do.  I viewed the coffee mornings as time spent with ambitionless wives-of-someone wearing pearls and cashmere with high heeled shoes, vicariously living through their children, grand-children or husbands.  Talk was quiet and centered mostly around other people, TV programs or cleaning products, and then of course the, when-I-gave-birth horror stories. 

It took me a long time to join the ex-pat women coffee morning arranged on Monday mornings in Mirdif City Centre.  I arrived fully expecting to see the pearl and cashmere clan, whispering quietly together with cups tinkling delicately on saucers.  Instead I saw a group of women, some in jeans and Ts, with coffee in mugs, eating muffins with their fingers and you know what, I still don’t know who their husbands are, how many kids they have or what they use to get stains out of their dishcloths.  I did, however, get to know this great Italian broad who used to farm in the outback before she came to Dubai, a funky Lebanese interior decorator who doesn’t want kids and want to learn to tango, an ex-teacher who teaches aerobics to guys, a British quiz master who plays golf and a stunning French girl who struggles to speak English but who will be great at charades.

Is it the general make-up of the ex-pat community that changed or is it just me that landed among a great group of girls?  As I grow older I find that my attention deficit … o look at the pretty butterfly .. disorder becomes more pronounced.  I can’t stand being bored, I might have mentioned before that I consider being boring to be particularly rude.  I refuse to spend time with people or things that bore me.    Sometimes I find myself terribly boring.  It is then that I look up interesting people or places, or just loose myself in a good book.  I think someone famous once said “I’d rather be quite alone than in bad company,” well, it looks as if I don’t have to be quite alone, there are so many interesting people around. 

There is, however, a small small part of me that thinks maybe it is not the community that changed, but me.  Maybe I can now, fifteen years down the line, discover the adventurer inside the nifty fifty year old next to me, because even though I am also a wife-of, (thankfully without the cashmere and high heels - if you ever see me wearing pearls and cashmere smack me) like most other women, just a person with dreams and ideals, and I can now see those dreams and ideals in others.  In the end we are all, much more, the same and it’s nice to know.  Let’s drink a coffee to that.  

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