Saturday, January 28, 2012

Resident Driver

Process complete (in sha’allah)!  Bob is now a Doha resident with a driver’s license (good for 5 years), insurance card (unclear what that’s for?) and Qatari ID:

He no longer needs to carry his passport around, can apply for a liquor license, has permission to exit the country, and when he returns doesn’t have to stand in the long line with the rest of us.  J

Congrats, Bob!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Doha Gets Cold

Bob wrote:  "It was 16.5 degrees C in the apartment this morning…The car indicated it was 11 degrees C on the way to work." That’s Celsius, of course – according to The National Weather Service in Buffalo New York, a place that knows a thing or two about weather (, 16.5 degrees Celsius equals 61.7 degrees Fahrenheit; 11C is the same as 51.8F.

Not too intimidating from a Kansas City standpoint – where we’re waking up to single Fahrenheit digits and whipping, whining, biting wind (9F is -12.8C).  But if you’re accustomed to hot, muggy temps that hover over 100F (37.8C) late into the evening, you might think 50F (10C) was cold too.  And you might wear a hat, gloves and parka to stay warm, reject pools and beaches and huddle in your car instead of walking.

Still, I’m told it’s only “cold” in Doha for a couple of months, December-February(ish). And no one’s (really) complaining, because…well, once the hot begins, it stakes ground, digs in, spreads its arms wide and doesn’t let up until late fall.  We’re not talking California beach hot, either, where you can’t wait to soak up sun, cool off in the salty, refreshing waves, then sun, surf and soak some more until your skin glows Inlow Brown (a phrase that refers to the healthy, sexy-hott tan my west coast cousins boast year round).
good looking bunch

No, we’re talking the kind of hot (I’m told) that explains why imported palm trees must be harvested.
palms along the Corniche
The hot is why ice is hard to come by (ie, water is a premium commodity).  And it’s why locals don’t swim!  You see, this hot burns even the water, so (I'm told) there’s no relief in a Persian Gulf dip. The aggressive hot is why Bob’s gorgeous outdoor pools are so effectively sheltered that only a puddle of light eeks over the 6 foot privacy wall and filters through the umbrella like cover to find tile.
shaded sunbathing
This itsy circle of warm (not pictured) is where Katie, Kimber and I spent all our pool time last month – until we discovered the little beach where the sun shines over all the sand all the time.
This special brand of hot is why locals sleep (or whatever) during the day and spill into town at night - assuring the roads are always and forever traffic laden. It’s why music pours from the Pearl’s walkway restaurants at all hours of the dark and covered women and dishdasha garbed men stroll late into the evening.  It's why the Chocolate Cafe and Qatar Airways office stay open to 10pm - long after Bob’s finished his salad (he eats lunch out every day) and fallen asleep watching an NCIS video.

Perhaps 16.5C is more of a vacation than a temperature?  I’ll let you know.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Moving In, Flying Out

Home.  It's where we grow up, graduate school, buy underwear, move furniture, stock the pantry, clean and eat "in."  It's where our beds are - pillows molded to our bodies over time and use. It's where we can read all the street signs and speak the language. But more than anything else, home is where our people are - those we're allowed to get mad at, who pick us up at the airport, raid the pantry, borrow stuff without asking, stink up the house.  The ones we don't have to talk to on a quiet Sunday morning when we just wanna read the paper and sip coffee in peace.
Home is where the people are who love us even when we're jerks.  Who forgive us, without expectation, retribution or second thought for committing the terrible sin of
For me, home is here, with Bob.  And it's also there, with you.
While in Doha, Katie, Kimber and I bargained at the souk, lounged at the beach, ate all kinds of food, drove roundabouts and dunes.  We bought groceries, lamps, towels and soap.  We did laundry, mopped floors, washed dishes, cooked dinner, claimed closets and drawers, reset clocks, moved furniture, jogged the streets.  We bought a vacuum cleaner!
We played...and we moved in.
Today: a quiet morning to drink coffee, clean up, pack.  Then we'll hit the road out of town to experience the camel races.  We'll pause for dinner - until finally, lastly...we'll head to the airport.  A little after midnight we'll leave dad, husband - home - to head...home.
How weird.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jogging the Corniche...

joggers and walkers along Doha's Corniche
Arabic men in long pants and shirts, European(ish) men in shorts, a few women like us in leggings, sweats and modest shirts with hair uncovered...and lots and lots and lots of covered women.  Most wore black abayas and hijab (sheyla) with faces visible, while others wore niqab, with either a leather-like mask or a scarf that shielded everything but the eyes.  At least one woman was completely hidden, black scarf over her face, black gloves over hands, classic black abaya - and red Nikes.  She held an ipod in her gloved hand, cord snaking under her scarf.
A few of these women in black were in groups of twos, but most were, like us, out for their morning constitutional, focused on the task at hand and seemingly content to go it alone.  (As far as we noticed) no one stared at us.  There were no "ya habibis," tongue clicks or finger pointing.
No conversation or hello nods either, though:  we did our thing and they did theirs.
We worked our way past the Amiri Diwan (presidential palace - offices), the Heart of Doha project (1A) towering in the background:
Heart of Doha Project from the Corniche
to Ramallah Park with its huge, climbable reminders to Believe, Achieve, Realize:
Katie and Kimber achieve
Past the curious goat statue that advertised (past) Arab Games and (also curious) mouse shaped structure that encouraged excitement about the (also past) Asian Games. 
Through the forever and everywhere (and our reason for being here) construction and on toward the West Bay - where we met Katie on her jog back.
(Truth:  Katie jogged. Kimber walked beside me as I focused on working both ankles equally - ie, not limping - in a more or less rapid we trekked the semicircle brick pathway that outlines the Gulf inlet between Doha's beautiful West Bay and downtown.  It was a double awwal - first jog since I fell off the front porch September 2011, bone contusion, months off my feet, missed half marathon, no work, much frustration...and - first "jog" in Doha.)
We've driven everywhere (this is truly not a walking city), learned some Khaleeji (dialect) Arabic, hit the malls, shopped the souq in the quiet daytime hours and much busier evening (Katie may have gotten engaged last night), bargained, lounged at the beach (a lot), dune jumped (Bob really got into it), collected shells at the Inland Sea, enjoyed pita bread with a variety of interesting dips, eaten at Arab, Moroccan, Lebanese, Italian - and, yes, American - restaurants.
Our visit has gone by so fast.  Hard to believe it's almost time to go home!