Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Trials and Tribulations of Repatriation.

As I was sat having my hair blow dried and my nails manicured in the salon at the weekend, my mind drifted back to days gone by and my ‘former life’ in Bahrain

To a time when someone else coiffured my hair 3 times a week, as a girl hung off every limb whilst my hands and feet were delicately massaged and my fingers and toes neatly manicured and pedicured.

Five years on and how things have changed…

First note to self (and others looking to repatriate): Hair straighteners in the UK are electronic ironing devices that are too hot to massage your scalp with - not those wonderful ladies from Thailand.

It was a cold and damp November morning in 2007 as I anxiously waited for the doorbell to ring with my ‘door to door’ shipment from the Middle East. A whole container and a half filled with my worldly possessions of the last 13 years - apart from my 3 darling dogs that were due to arrive the following week.

The doorbell never rang….

By early evening, I gave up and opened the front door to go out...

There, all neatly wrapped in (now sodden) cardboard were my treasured possessions piled up outside my house. Thousands of pounds worth of antiques and Persian rugs had been standing there since morning.

Second note to self (and others looking to repatriate): ‘Door to Door’ literally means to the door – not inside the door!! You need to recruit a local removal company to actually take your shipment inside the house.

Anyway, not used to walking anywhere, the next thing I needed was a car! I went out and bought myself a ‘practical' 4x4, seeing as my new home was in rural Shropshire.

Third note to self (and others looking to repatriate):  Being used to driving in a country where bottled water is more expensive than petrol, you may not find a ‘4x4’ quite so practical as you now have to budget (yes actually budget!) for petrol. (Having said that, this is a perfect excuse, like me, to ‘downsize’ to a Porsche)!!

I did, however, have lots of fun discovering my new neighbourhood back in those early days and managed to get lost on many occasions. Coming from an archipelago of islands to Shropshire made taking directions from the ‘locals’ somewhat confusing!

Fourth note to self (and others looking to repatriate):  People in the Midlands have a habit of calling roundabouts, ‘Islands’ do not spend your time looking for bridges!

One day in particular springs to mind, when my mum and I ended up driving in a muddy field so I decided to take my car to the local petrol station to get cleaned. I paid the £8 fee for the ‘gold package’ and drove into the jet wash.

My mum and I sat and waited for the ‘little man’ to arrive to clean the car.

We waited…

And waited….

I climbed out and went inside to enquire as to his whereabouts.

There was no ‘little man’… One had to clean it oneself!!!! 

Fifth note to self (and others looking to repatriate):  The ‘gold package’ at a jet wash does not include any men.

Sixth note to self (and others looking to repatriate):  Do not wear Jimmy Choo shoes to a jet wash.

On the subject of transportation, I move on to airports and air travel.

For me, I think perhaps the biggest personal loss post-repatriation were my gold and platinum airline cards and my first class travel around the globe.

Business travel these days means I have to seek approval for a train ticket over £50 and personal travel is normally on a ‘no frills’ budget airline commuting back and fourth to my place in Italy.

Seventh note to self (and others looking to repatriate):  To avoid Britain’s tattoo-clad great unwashed, purchase advance lounge access and priority boarding passes and refrain from asking for that second glass of champagne onboard – you now have to pay for it!!!

Without those long r and r days and additional Islamic holidays, personal travel is now, sadly, few and far between and much more time is spent at work for a salary that goes mainly to the tax man, the local council (for bin collection once every two weeks!) and National Insurance (as I have only been to the doctors once in 5 years do you think I could ask for a refund??), free time is obviously important, therefore:

Eighth note to self (and others looking to repatriate): Find yourself a ‘lady that does’ as soon as you possibly can so you don’t spend hours wondering what the exact purpose is of skirting boards as you spend your weekends cleaning them.

Ninth note to self (and others looking to repatriate): If single, marry a dentist prior to repatriation! National Insurance does not cover your dentistry bills and I have yet to meet a poor one!

Tenth note to self (and others looking to repatriate): Invest in ear plugs for supermarket shopping – it will drown out the tutting and jeering from the queue of people behind you at the checkout as you re-educate yourself on how to pack your shopping bags!

By the way…. What are skirting boards for anyway??????

1 comment:

  1. Though I read this now, it is quite true that all the expats from Middle East go thru' this( a lesson!!!)

    Srikanth - Bahrain