MORE DOHA IN A GOOD WAY

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.

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DOHA AND MY TWO KHAADI SHIRTS

I’d like to say hello to people kind enough to read this, this is my first blog post. Please bear with me, this will get interesting with practice.

Originally I wanted to share something a bit more staid, but for the first post I thought something on the lighter side might be better. Well, when we moved to Doha in August things got off to a rocky start. We thought we would end up in a house, but ended up in hotel ( a really nice one my husband kept reminding us, but still a hotel  was my retort). We would try desperately try to find  things that reminded us of Pakistan, (we moved here from Jeddah which is essentially like a mini Pakistan anyway, you can hardly move  a few feet without finding Pakistani items or people, even the dirt on the roads is similar to Pakistan and in ample supply along with the bugs that could just as easily have been directly imported from Pakistan such as the beige colored lizards or the huge cock roaches that seem to bring out the screams in teenage girls or the endless supply of ants). Milk shortage drove me nuts, and literally day and night I missed the 2 litre bottles of Al-Marai that I would ask my driver to buy and at that point in time seemed very minute.  However, when I had to contend with Iranian milk, Turkish milk, British milk at prices that could have purchased gold in cheaper times, I was not pleased. Plus I am extremely particular about the taste of my tea and the long life milk wasn’t cutting it. Actually, at that time not much was cutting it for me in Doha. I missed Aslam, our driver of four years who practically did all the outside work for us, I missed my apartment, my friends, Mecca and Medina, I missed my life. The one time I just about screamed in excitement  was when I spotted a soon-to-open Khaadi sign in Doha Festival City. For those of you who are not Pakistani,  Khaadi is a nice, upscale clothing brand based in Pakistan. But just like a first born that goes over its due date, that Khaadi shop wasn’t opening and anticipation was excruciating . I would go again and again and no Khaadi. One day, it opened, finally.

Well, I went there last week and  purchased two short shirts after much pondering because even though short shirts have been in fashion since last year, I was hesitant due to some extra pounds that I haven’t managed to shake off after I stopped breastfeeding, (even though I stopped feeding the baby I couldn’t stop eating  as if I was still on a feeding routine. Although its impossible and bone draining, I have wished on occasion that breastfeeding could be done indefinitely). Well anyway, one shirt is straight, red and looks cute-ish (as my 15 year old daughter would put it) but the neck line is something else. It’s the other one that is my undoing, its A-line and goes up to my knees and fully closed on the sides. It is as if a giant sponge is carrying a television on its head, it squashes my height, makes me appear about twenty pounds heavier than I am, and it makes my waste line appear as wide as a sumo wrestler’s.   I am never wearing this shirt in public, only in the privacy of my room by myself will I put on this hideous monument to my own stupidity. Furthermore,  I have decided that this was the last time I saluted the latest fashion trend, never again. I was made for long shirts and no short shirts ever again. I think time will dull the psychological trauma of  the frock shirt.