Jillian R.

I did not come from an overly friendly nor courteous place. If you fell down on the street along with your bags, crushing you, some lady might just walk by and not even help you up. She might even feel a little irritated as now she has to walk around you. Darn you, couldn't you fall a bit off to the side? And queue cutting is kind of the norm. However with camera phones and social media these days, Malaysians are less bold.

When we moved to the UAE, it was a whole new level of indifference and rudeness. I was on line at Ikea one day and a mother; a local, nonchalantly sent her four kids ranging from 10 and below to cut the queue (there were maybe two or three people ahead of me), and with her head buried in her phone, walked away. Nobody said anything, maybe because they were kids. I wanted to say something but fortunately before I did, the cashier ignored them and continued serving people on line. The kids all yelled in unison "Ice-cream, ice-cream!!" And waved money at the cashier with their sticky, chubby hands - but ignored!

Just a few weeks ago, I was at the restroom in the mall, it was a small one near the exit so it only had one stall. I was second in line. The woman in front of me was a maid. I know because she was wearing a maid's uniform (I won't get into this degrading practice just yet). Suddenly, a woman comes in with her two kids and they sauntered past us straight to the stall. Because it was such a confident move, I thought they were coming to join a sibling or family member who was already in there. When the door opened, the person who came out was a stranger and they just walked in, I was appalled! The maid knew she couldn't say anything. And I wasn't going to yell at them through the bathroom door!

And here's the thing, we're not allowed to take pictures of people without their permission, no naming and shaming, not that I would waste my time doing so, but my point in, these rude, inconsiderate people are protected by law! And thus, have no qualms about taking up two disabled parking spots.

Moving out of the UAE and its culture will take time. We are still adjusting. Yesterday someone waved us in front of them instead of trying to mow us down with their shopping cart. I was touched by this simple, but completely normal act.

Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad in the UAE - if you have a baby/small child with you, all bets are off! I was on line at the supermarket once and a local woman insisted that I didn't bag my groceries myself and she loudly called over a bagger to help me, although I kept protesting! I always bagged my groceries myself, for a reason, but that's another story.

Jillian R.

In just a blink of an eye, we've lived in Abu Dhabi, UAE for 6 years! The laws in the country are strict and even more so for expats. Social media law especially, but often times gray. For example, anyone can feel "offended" over something on social media and report could lodge a police report against the person who posted it. The most bizarre one that I was aware of just happened a few days ago, I read it as I was waiting to board our flight at the airport. A woman asked on a Q&A group where/who should she lodge a report against Google (yes, you read right, GOOGLE!) for spitting out racist/sexist search results against South Indian Women - along with screenshots. I grabbed my imaginary popcorn and read all the comments of course, what else?!

Another woman was fined and deported for posting a picture on her Facebook of a badly parked car, taking up TWO DISABLED parking spots. She blurred out the number plate but obviously some people (or the owner of the said car her/himself) felt offended and reported her to the police. She was promptly arrested. You can read about it here.

One could also get arrested by using the middle finger emoji on Whatsapp and/or other social media platforms. The list goes on, hence I decided to take a hiatus from blogging since there's only so much vocabulary I know to write something and not offend anybody. Plus where's the fun in only writing about nice, pleasant things all the time. For that, I'd just read the local newspapers or listen to innocent banter about what songs people sing while taking a shower on the radio - in British accent.

Now that I am safely out of the country and have landed in sweet, sweet America, and although I'm Malaysian and proud to be one, have felt completely at home from the first time I stepped on American soil. I have so much to share, my experiences living in the UAE, both as an Asian woman and as an expat mother. Stay tuned for more! The blog YOU care about is back!!!

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