At this time of year, conversations with friends inevitably turn to holiday plans and, for the expatriates among us, trips back to cooler climes to see family.
When the question is posed to me, however, I'm more than a little perplexed as how to answer. For with my family having lived in the region for well over a decade, I feel I'm home already to a great degree, and I've never felt happier living anywhere else. Naturally, I feel a healthy dose of Irish guilt for saying this. Although my freckly skin and auburn (not ginger) hair remind me daily of the long line of Celts I come from, I can't imagine relocating to Ireland or the UK.
The same niggling identity problems arise when I do indeed venture back to the motherland and people ask me where I'm from. Does that mean where I was born, where I live or where I consider to be home? More confusing still, does where you were born determine where you are "from"? If I'd been born on Mars, would that make me a Martian? All very puzzling indeed.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't harbour deep affection for the countries of my childhood. When I do find myself back in Ireland, especially, I am loath to leave it. All the clichés ring true for me: the friendly people, the craic, the culture and of course the finest seafood and spuds known to man. Then, two weeks into a visit, the romantic notion fades a little, thanks to relentless driving rain and gale-force winds - even in June. But, all things considered, I'm sure I'll retire there when I'm past caring about the cold and of an age when I'm content to spend most of my time indoors.
Speaking of the weather, I'm sure the toasty temperatures of the Middle East are one of the primary reasons I'm committed to staying here long-term. Suffering from what I'm sure must be a medical condition called Dracula-itus, I'm perpetually cold and rarely flick the switch of my air-conditioning unit at home. Not even at this time of year. I simply don't feel the heat, be it through poor circulation or thanks to impressive mind-over-matter capabilities.
Another upside to Dubai's year-round sunshine is, of course, the fact that it drives great hoards of my family and friends to my door, saving me a constant commute back to see them.
After all, as you've probably figured out by now - for me, home is where the heat is.
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