So I have survived my first week in Kuwait without offending the locals, getting run over by maniac drivers (pavements are only for the posh areas) or getting alcohol withdrawal.
When my UK friends found out I was moving to the Middle East their first question was always “how will you survive without booze?”. Now it’s well documented that I love a drink. In fact a quick browse through my Facebook albums shows 90% of photos feature alcohol. There’s the happy hour cocktails in London, the prosecco Saturdays, the should-know-better-jaegers and the pints of lager at rugby games. But, to hear my friends, you’d think my life revolved around it. In their eyes I have gone completely crazy to opt for a life in which alcohol is forbidden.
My Expat friends in similar countries were just as supportive, but their comments were more “there are ways, don’t worry”, as if they were reassuring me that I will drink again and not to panic. Who’s panicking?
It had got to the point in the UK where alcohol was turning in to too good a friend. That glass of wine with dinner on a Friday would turn in to a bottle. Five minutes before happy hour ended a massive round would be ordered. Saturday night would involve drinking too much at home and then even more in a club. My wages may as well have been paid to me in drinks vouchers and my poor liver was screaming at me. Sundays were wasted under a cloud of nausea, a weakened body and I’d had enough.
Coming out to Kuwait knowing no one has forced me to be the most sociable version of me possible, and without that booster of a cheeky vino to oil the wheels of conversation. I have been for coffee with colleagues, out to lunch or just lazed around a pool with near strangers. Take away the alcohol and you take away the bull shit. Gone are the good-time friends you meet in bars. The sober clarity means meeting people as they truly are. And of course as everyone I have met so far works for the same company as I do, the lack of alcohol means their first impression of me isn’t that of a tipsy chatterbox with a tendency to fall over and make a tit of herself. They, like me, are getting to know the real person I am.
Saying that though, I really wish the restaurants over here didn’t insist on serving water in a wine glass. Yesterday, as a group of us were sat overlooking the Gulf coast having lunch, we all would have given anything to raise our glasses and find a chilled Chardonnay meet our lips and not mineral water. But we’re all in the same boat, which makes it easier. It’s not there, so you get over it.
This new-found healthy lifestyle might just be a result of the alcohol from my many leaving do’s exiting my system. I have a birthday in three months and Dubai is a 90-minute flight away, is it wrong I have already looked up flights?
And, if things do get really desperate, all I need is a teaspoon, baking yeast, a straw and a massive bottle of apple juice. Emergency cider recipe anyone?