- John Dewey.
My father was asked to run a bank in Kuwait, of all places, about a year or so after my parents got divorced and he took the post, with the intention of staying a couple years.
Kuwait in the eighties is like Dubai today, before the war in the Middle East... a metropolis of luxury, extravagance and materialism.
We went to visit him on two occasions, each time flew with a chaperone as we were both under ten.
It was absolutely nowhere I had ever been, dreamed or imagined before… The lifestyle was incredibly opulent and the compound where Dad lived was white marble grand.
His lifestyle was very ex-pat…lots of ambassador parties, yacht clubs, desert safaris to bedouin camps and visits to the souk to buy jewelry...It was exciting and thrilling and glamorous.
But I do remember feeling very out of place, and with all the security we had, feeling afraid… The men seemed intimidating in their dish dashes and the women, who were separated from the men, were completely covered from head to toe in black, which to me felt very confusing.
Daddy clearly had made an incredible life for himself but the white desert heat was harsh and there was a feeling of loneliness among the ex pats: where did they fit in?
All the parties couldn’t make up for the fact that they were living in a country that did not belong to them. There were so many people coming and going… the transient existence felt just that.. as fun and exhilarating as their lives were - clearly this was not a place to put down roots.
The closest we got to local Kuwaitis were the lovely people who worked for my father, and they were very lovely.
I remain very grateful for the two incredible adventures we had but I do remember, even at that age, feeling uncomfortable by the insular expat society and the clear segregation between us and them.