Today was the first day back at school; “la rentree” as the French call it (with an accent which I cannot find here). In France it is akin to Christmas in importance. It is something you prepare for weeks in advance. I remember once a French friend of mine was thinking about getting a job in June. “But of course now it will have to wait until after la rentree,” she told me.
I have taken on this French custom and been planning today for weeks. For example I bought all their school kit in France to save me struggling to find it here, especially as all the shops are shut during daylight hours for Ramadan.
As we drove them to school Rupert and I remembered the rentree last year. We arrived at school in a taxi sweating and fretting, we had nowhere to live, no friends here, the children were not happy and we all felt totally unsettled, poor and miserable. I was ready to turn around and move back to France. It is amazing how much has changed. Sad as I was to leave France yesterday, I am really happy to be home. The children were perky and excited this morning despite the fact that I woke them up at what was 5am European time. Here they are ready to go.
We have a lovely home, our jobs are great, we have two cars and tonight we are invited to a big party with friends. We won’t dwell on Rupert’s mid-life-crisis-vehicle (Ford Mustang if you must know, with red leather seats) but the point is, if you had told me a year ago where we would be today I would not have believed you. I hope that doesn’t sound smug and of course our lives are not perfect. But it is nice to look back and feel you have moved upwards instead of downwards.
The major difference (apart from Rupes’s car) being how happy the children are to be back and how well they have taken the rentree this year.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009
I don’t think it sounds smug at all – so you should bask in the loveliness of life after getting through the tough times. I often find that even if you think something isn’t working it usually leads on to something else – life is a journey and I would rather have a bumpy ride with interesting scenery along the way. I only hope that I will be posting a similar blog a year from now …
I’m delighted things are working out for you. Enjoy it!
I remember last year how difficult it was- I had just started following your blog then.
Life throws good and bad at us, and if we enjoy the good, then maybe we can better cope with the difficult.
I’ve left a little something over at my place for you- call in and collect it when you can.
I have very fond memories of a Ford Mustang convertible with red leather seats in college in 1968. Can’t imagine paying for the gas or car insurance today. Back then everything was on my Daddy’s ticket. Good times!
Congratulations, all your sucesses are so well deserved. Don’t the children look fantastic, so grown now and looking a credit to you both. Continued good fortune, and keep the news coming. Thank you.
Ah, yes, la rentree! After 9 years in Brussels, the only good thing I could find about living in Bahrain was the lack of preparation required for the start of term. No more endless labelling of pencils and rubbers, no more battles with sticky backed-plastic to cover the numerous exercise books. Joy of joys – the school provided everything required!
Like you, it took me a while to settle into the ME, but we are now at home in Manama. This expat living does make you realise home is where the heart is!
Are all the shops shut in Abu Dhabi during daylight hours in Ramadan? I know things are stricter down there than in Dubai but this surprises me.
Life in the Gulf can take some getting used to and it’s always harder for families arriving in August at what is absolutely the worst time of the year. But it does get progressively easier to the point where it can later be very difficult to leave.
Hi most of the shops are shut yes. The big ones like ikea have ramadan hours but even their foodshop is shut until 7pm. Good news is there is no traffic and it is easy to park!
Kate hello – just wondering, I am researching an article about Michael Jackson’s time in Bahrain, do you know anyone who met him please or have any insight into what he got up to? I will try emailing you as well.
What a difference a 100 and whatever it is kilometres makes. Shops here open all day (and later at night) and although the Malls are quietish, supermarkets in particular busier than ever in the afternoon with people food shopping pre-Iftar. I’m sure you’ll get to an Iftar party, Helena.
Oooh, an idea for an article, the pressure on Muslim women during Ramadan to provide mouth watering feasts each and every evening for 29/30 days. From what one lady was telling me, it sounds as though they have the strain a hostess in the West has on Christmas Day every day for a month!!!! And it’s competitive too with every hostess trying to put on a fancier, bigger spread than the other.
Hi Cate good idea – poor them what a nightmare. I went to supermarket this morning (they open until 1) and it was packed full of stressed looking ladies, I can see why now.Happily we have totally given up eating dinner at all so I just have to impress three small children! Hx
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