Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Expat Wife Life

What do I do as an expat wife?  When I'm not cooking, cleaning or shopping?
In the fountain at the Islamic Museum (Bob was not pleased)
After all, Bob works 12hours/6 days/week and is unavailable to entertain me.  Our babies are grown, so there are no kids to manage, carpools to drive, recitals to attend.  No Great Job I Loved at Barnes & Noble (sigh).  We live in a resort, with laundry services, restaurants and adorable uniformed guys who clean our apartment each week.  There are yachts docked outside our window, along a boardwalk where fancy shops display 4000QR ($1000USD) dresses for sale.  Taxis are easy to find, but there's also a guy available to haul the little woman about. The official line is: spouses should not expect to find work.
What does one do when one doesn't have to do…anything? And...WHY?
Sure, there's shopping - a Doha sport.  There are souqs, outlets and malls aplenty.  An entire city block features stores selling only computer goods. Bright windows are stuffed with lights, lamps and bulbs for sale.  A three-story fabric souq offers tailor services on each floor. Ultra-modern malls feature H&M and Virgin with Baskin Robbins, KFC and McDonalds a heartbeat away.
Lagoona Mall near The Pearl
Grocery shopping must be done frequently - as in every couple of days - since bananas brown overnight and even refrigerated food spoils (ie, no preservatives).
There's sight-seeing: singing dunes, inland sea, beach, Islamic Museum, camel races, Ramallah Park.  The gym, running the Corniche, pool, meeting-Bob-and-the-guys-for-lunch.  And driving, which gets a category of its own, since there is no such thing in Doha as running-to-the-store-real-quick.  A 6-mile long errand can take an entire morning given the horrendous, unpredictable, crazy-making traffic.
Some expat wives keep busy with the American Women's Club, Doha Mums, the Tuesday Group, Girls' Lunch, daytime tv (it's easy to transport your home country's cable services across the miles with slingbox) and fabulous meal-making.  Others, like me, take Arabic classes, attend the monthly Ladies' Coffee cultural information sessions, seek opportunities to interact with locals and ramble into the desert searching for camels.
Plus, I work. (It's not completely true that there are no jobs for American expat wives.)  I read.  And I write (ie, my true job).
But the real reason I'm here (adventure) and the most important thing I do (write) is…TAKE CARE OF BOB.  While he's taking care of me.
Maybe it's not a "modern" concept, this quitting-your-job-to-fold-your-husband's-underwear-in-the-desert thing.  In fact, for every bright, interesting, hardworking (American) Doha expat wife, there are three bright interesting, hardworking (American) women (and men) who do not make the trip…for solid financial, family, job and personal reasons.

I understand this. I choose to see the light in the cloud - but there IS a cloud: dust; missing kids and grandkids; that little spray thing instead of toilet paper; empty shelves at the Carrefour where there should be crunchy Cheetos or Folgers classic medium blend coffee; whole days lost in traffic; July and August.
Who needs "modern."  Isn't he cute?
Bob's Birthday brownie
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