Finally, I am getting the hang of living in Doha. Actually, Doha is kind of fun, a very expensive kind of fun. At last, I figured out that the government building in West Bay, close to Adagio and Intercontinental was not really called “Office of Public Prostitution” instead of “Office of Public Prosecution.” Since June of 2016, when I came to visit and looked up at this building, I squinted in the sunlight and grossly misread the words. It was too embarrassing to ask anyone, lest someone thought I was too silly and old-fashioned. When I misunderstood the words, I was just spectacularly floored at how advanced, and modern Doha was. Now that I have that mystery figured out, it hardly took me any time to figure out that “Court of Cassation” was exactly that and nothing else, so glad I didn’t make a mistake on that one. Also, now I don’t incredulously ask the coffee baristas to repeat twice the price of a small latte or a chocolate brownie, (I am still fond of lattes, but have laid off brownies because I don’t want them to end up where they became harder to get rid of than super glue on your skin).
My maid woes have also been taken care of. After the greatly temperamental and famous Fauzia of Amoudia Village, I have been blessed with a low key and decidedly kinder helper from the Philipines. When I hear her call me madam in a soft baritone, I just about pass out with barely restrained pleasure. I clearly remember the day when a friend came to visit in Jeddah. As soon as I told her that our house didn’t have much work, a very loud snort followed by witchy cackling came from the direction of the kitchen where our erstwhile helper was working. Then this came from the direction of the kitchen, “hah this house doesn’t have work?”, followed by more laughter. Needless to say I was publically shamed. Yes, Fauzia cooked and cleaned like a dream, but having her was akin to a very expensive car. You know you love those pricey wheels, but they are rather delicate and high maintenance. My current helper doesn’t possess good culinary skills, but her attitude and work ethic is nothing short of dazzling. Her cleaning is immaculate, and her manners are exquisite. I don’t reconnect with one-year-old orange slices, bread pieces, candy wrappers and other unidentifiable food particles upon moving sofas to retrieve shoes or some other item. All the areas underneath the sofas, beds, tables and other pieces of furniture are as clean as the floors in our house.
The Uber drivers are a bit tricky though. There are all kinds of Uber drivers out there. The chatty ones who don’t let you talk even though you are the customer, and you need to unload because you paid for the privilege. Then there are also the rude ones who never get out to help with anything, and grunt out their responses, well no five stars for these ones or a healthy tip.
Just a couple of days ago, I sat in a car with a fresh-faced young man who repeatedly kept asking my five-year-old not to make his car dirty. It was all I could do not to snap at him that if a child was stressing him out, then maybe Uber driving wasn’t meant for him. I saved the best ones for last because they make a person very happy, and always get five stars from me and a nice tip. They are unfailingly polite, help out with your stuff, and smile at your child. Good news is that the good ones are the norm, and the not so polite ones are an anomaly.
I have also learned to navigate grocery shopping without getting thoroughly stressed out. It does not cause a minor panic attack to pay exorbitant prices for produce and other household items. Milk, that elusive headache, has become readily available and at much reasonable prices than before.
Things have become normalized, or maybe we have become acclimated. I have finally realized that in Doha traffic, getting from point A to point B can easily take 30-40 minutes even in short distances. It’s very fulfilling and incredibly gratifying to be able to do small things for people in the service industry here, such as offering higher tips to the grocery bagger, restaurant servers, asking how they are faring here and about their families back in their land. Finally, I am learning that Doha is an interesting place to live with much to offer if a person will open their heart and mind to newer experiences.