Rumour Has It


G was approached by a friend recently who casually gave him some news.

“Just so you know, there’s a rumour going around the office that you’re leaving”.

“Fantastic! Did they say where I’m going?” G was hoping it was somewhere tropical.

It appeared those details were yet to be released, but his friend assured him that according to the rumor it was a done deal, G had resigned last week. Everyone was just waiting for the formal announcement.

We’re not leaving. G hasn’t resigned. We’ve just signed the kids up for another school year, and the IKEA truck arrived yesterday with new bedroom furniture for the teen.

Even though G and I are both fully aware of this, we too jumped on the rumour and began to entertain the idea. Which country, what type of housing and schooling? How would the dogs cope with the travel? Rumours are like that, they lead you down a path to an alternate scenario, your mind spearing off in as many different directions as you care to take it. Meanwhile the comfort of reality sits quietly by your side, waiting for you to return from the adventure.

Expat life is full of rumours. The end result of a group of people getting together who can merely speculate. No-one really knows. We are all visitors and guests, sticking our pieces of information together messily with bits of tape, we attempt put the matching sentences side by side to form a story.

In Jakarta the serious stuff was bomb threats and riots, they somehow fused in with the daily worries. Someone had heard something about a possible new law, something was shutting down, something else was opening up. Someone else was sure that if there was a new change of government they’d be no work permits for Australians, or was it Americans? Someone else had heard a school would shut down. None of us really knew, but someone knew someone who worked for someone who sat on a plane next to someone who said it was a sure thing.

In Malaysia I was constantly confused. “What’s that demonstration about?” I’d ask not being able to completely decipher the signs. Three or four separate answers would be given, none of them matching the former.

In Libya we lived off the rumors of Ghaddafi and his sons. The stories bigger and better as time went on, he became an enigma. Where was he? “They say he’s set up a camp someone near Benghazi. He’s going to keep living there” someone would tell you excitedly, only for you to see he was in New York the very next day. It went from the ridiculous “Ghaddafi took all of the shawarma machines from Ghargaresh road because he’s having a huge party tonight” to the alarming “he definitely has WMD’s and he’s teamed up with *insert fellow dictator here*, they met last week for sure, someone who knows someone sat next to someone on a plane who said they saw them”.

My life in Qatar is full or rumours. Discussion points where people have heard that possibly, maybe, perhaps and probably something will happen, soon. In my first year of living in Qatar it became apparent that our previous Emir had an almost rock star following amongst expats. People loved to talk about his health. According to gossip and speculation he seemed to be constantly on a plane flying to various countries to be treated for an exhausting list of ailments. I was assured that he was in San Francisco receiving an organ transplant on the same day he was photographed in Doha shaking the hand of a dignitary. If people are not discussing the alcohol disappearing, or the pork that was never meant to arrive, it’s the possible closure of something we couldn’t live without.

I’ve watched on like the majority of expats in Qatar, trying to decipher what the current discussions between Saudi, UAE and Bahrain really mean. Will they really close the border? A quick wander through the supermarket allows any of us to see that if it was to be the case we’d be struggling for fresh milk, eggs, chicken, and vegetables. There’s also the big stuff, friends in the business tell me construction would come to a screaming halt, they’d be no sand (oh the irony), no asphalt, no concrete. We’d be low on water, and fuel. I remain as confused as I was before I started asking, because the truth is I just don’t know and neither do most people around me.  If I were home I would speak to my local politician, ask friends who are journalists, others who work for the police department or hold senior positions in local government. I have a girlfriend here, a Qatari whose husband works in concrete, didn’t she say they had a plant? Isn’t there a petrol refinery here? I really do not know. And maybe I should be embarrassed about it, but the truth is that this stuff is really hard to find out.

The beauty of rumours is they lead you down a path to an alternate scenario, your mind spearing off in as many different directions as you care to take it. I keep returning to the comfort of my current reality, a refrigerator full of eggs, milk and vegetables. Children who are happy in a routine and a family holiday on the horizon. Change is inevitable and I will roll with it when it happens. In the meantime I’ll continue to bask in the warmth of not having to pack a box, cull a bedroom, or fill out a new school application.

For now. 😉

Sign up for the best bits here

Your favourite posts from the group as well as the gems from the podcast. We'll send it straight to your inbox to save you searching

Powered by ConvertKit