After nearly 5 months away from the US, I’m finally going back. I’m not real sure how I feel about it either. I’m living a life that I would have never imagined. My life isn’t one continuous vacation as some would think. Yet, the quality of life here in Doha has been beyond my expectations. I think about what I’d go back to career-wise and I really can’t envision it right now. I truly work 8 hours a day (haven’t done that…ever!), I have 39 days off per year (and I don’t have to use my vacation time to cover holidays), I will work 5 hours per day during Ramadan, my salary isn’t taxed by Qatar, I can travel just about anywhere, and I can go to the spa for 4 hours at a time! It’s amazing. Of course there are things about the country that many don’t understand. However, it doesn’t affect me in a way that would result in a negative impact on my life. I really enjoy living here and so many people don’t understand it. I am truly happy with where I am in life.
Yes, many of you have endured my recent reflections. It’s been refreshing to actually have an opportunity to stop and reflect; something that I rarely had an opportunity to do in the states either because I was too busy or because reflecting was too painful. I’m now in a place where reflection is healing. Reflection is affirming. Reflection is necessary.
So I will go home for 17 days. I will spend as much time with Jaden as I can. We will celebrate his 13th birthday and then, I’ll return to Qatar. I’m a little concerned about how things will be when I leave. I’m sure it’ll be a little more difficult for both Jaden and me this time. However, I’m going back in June and hopefully he will come to Qatar with me in June. I’m excited that he will have an opportunity to come here. I know he will enjoy it.
Winter in Doha
It’s been a nice winter here in Doha. With high temperatures in the 70s, it’s been amazing how cold 55 degrees feels at night. I would never wear a jacket in Vancouver/Portland when it’s 55 degrees. Here, it’s necessary. With the changes in the weather, there is also a change in wardrobe. Most notably, the Muslim men change from their white thawbs (or thobes) to their tan or dark gray thawbs. One of my colleagues describes the well-dressed Muslim men having Arabic Swag. This is when the men don their thawbs with diamond studded cuff links, expensive watches, sunglasses, and shoes. I definitely think it is swag and a site to see…I digress. Back to winter. I still chuckle when I go to the malls and see fur lined coats. It’s chilly but I’m not sure it gets cold enough for a fur lined anything here. I do wish I would have brought some of my lined dress pants or wool pants. I think I could justify it during the winter months. Oh, how I will miss this weather when it starts to warm up. I was here on days when it reached 110 degrees but I’ve been warned that I missed the hottest part of the year. Yikes!
Motown Night at the Jazz Club
Some of you may have read about my graceful fall at Jazz at Lincoln Center recently. I must say it was the best thing that could have happened to me that night. I sent an email to some colleagues inviting them to the Jazz club for one of the Motown nights. To my surprise, we ended up with 24 people at the club that night. For those of you who really know me, you know I don’t do big crowds and don’t like to feel like I’m hosting anything. In reality I wasn’t hosting I only sent the invite. The day of the event, I had great anxiety because now, everything needed to be perfect: was everyone going to show, did the new people have proper ID, would the music be good, what about the crowd…I know, it’s crazy! Anyway, just when everyone arrived, I went and greeted them, turned and fell off the step. I milked it for all it was worth! But while I was on the floor I just laughed. All the built up anxiety was instantly gone and then I enjoyed the rest of the night. And it was a great night of good music and lots of fun. I will have to say, only one colleague got up to help me…I won’t let them live that one down.
Events in Doha
This country has a lot going on when it comes to events and activities. Not only did I have a chance to see some of the top male tennis players, the women will come in February. Venus will be here but Serena’s not playing this time around. Qatar is also hosting the world handball championship (I didn’t know what handball was before this). It’s been a huge deal. After the handball games, Pharrell Williams had a full concert one night and Gwen Stefani had a full concert a couple of nights later (ticket were about $11 US). Qatar also hosted the Qatar Master’s golf tournament with some of the top golfers in the world. All this has happened within the last 3 weeks! So much goes on for such a small place. It’s been pretty incredible.
Signs I’m adjusting to Doha:
I was thinking about how easily I’ve adjusted to my new home. Below I’ve compiled a list of things that let me know that I’m adjusting to life in Doha.
- I look for Kleenex when I eat instead of a napkin or a paper towel
- When the taxi driver tells someone to get out of their taxi and the person refuses and I think it’s hilarious (learning to push the limits)
- I know how to get to my destination even though there are no addresses and the street names make no sense
- When the waiter brings me a glass of red wine and a cigar ash tray without me asking
- I know how to properly order water: large still water, room temperature
- I say proper (instead of correct or right)
- I expect a proper greeting from everyone and am a bit offended if it’s not proper: kiss on both cheeks, kiss 3 times alternating sides from the Dutch, kiss 3 times on the same cheek (only certain men when they greet each other and it’s not weird to me)
- I know what a lift is and actually call it a lift even though it doesn’t feel right saying lift (elevator to my north American friends)
- I understand what “Are you alright?” means and actually respond appropriately (it’s what people form the UK say instead of how are you doing)
- I get confused when a driver drops me off on the street instead of driving another 100 feet to drop me at the door
- I know expensive prayer beads from non-expensive prayer beads
- I’m offended by people who aren’t dressed modestly in public places
- I no longer chuckle when people refer to boys or men as lads or chaps
So that’s my list! I’m loving life in Doha!
Until next time…