New to Doha? Here’s a random sprinkling of things I learned the hard way – so you don’t have to…
I’m no Richard Branson, but I’m pretty sure there’s a viable business model to be had from setting up an orientation / acclimatisation business for new expats in Qatar (and if there is one its marketing is terrible.)
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been contacted by readers of this blog, former colleagues, colleagues-twice-removed, as well as a number of commercial organisations, all of whom had similar queries for me about daily life in Qatar.
Just another day at Doha International…
Which is all very flattering, but naturally, my first thought was: why are you asking someone who doesn’t even know what day the Immigration Office is open?
Yes, without me really noticing, I have become a semi-grizzled Doha veteran. Squint a bit and Mrs LC’s almost halfway through her contract. And with the turnover of expats as high as it is here, I am increasingly finding myself talking to people who have been here less time than us. Yikes.
Roll up, roll up for the Little City sweepstakes: how many toast-based meals will I feed my kids while my wife is away?
Next week I’ll be solo parenting again as Mrs LC is away on business travel.
For her it will bring respite from domestic chaos, the unwelcome return of something called autumn and another bucketful of QMiles she’ll never be able to find an eligible flight for.
Small blond boy asks for more, and other things that won’t be happening next week
For the kids, however, it means I’ll be in charge of catering. They’ll be begging for mercy before her taxi’s left our compound.
Just so we’re clear: I already am on cooking duty for a good proportion of the evening meals, but with a safety net – namely, by the time she gets home from work, there’s usually still enough time for Mrs LC’s prodigious culinary skills to rescue whatever creation I’ve managed to rustle up.
So as I chat about my day (“and then hot yoga started ten minutes late, which threw my whole morning…”) she will casually ask questions like “Have you seasoned this?” or “…and what veg are we going to have with it?” in a subtle but successful attempt to ensure that something edible will be served before bedtime. Continue reading →
Q: How long does it take an expat to fully acclimatise to a new country? A: A year is plenty, if my daughter’s recent histrionics are anything to go by…
Like all the best discoveries, the one I made last week was by accident.
My turn to panic now as Kid A gets up close and personal with $15m worth of Warhol last week
I sat the kids down to give them advance warning that I might, possibly, perhaps be doing some travelling in the coming weeks and months, and that’s when Kid A started catastrophising again.
[I have no idea if that’s even a real word or not, but when a friend used it recently to describe her son’s overreaction to certain situations, my first thought was: great word, I’ll have that.]
Kid A has a maddening habit of panicking at the drop of a hat. Pop out to a neighbour’s and she’ll follow you outside, just in case you’ve decided to drive off to the airport without telling her. Tears explode from nowhere; talking to her is like playing tennis with water balloons.
Couples fight about it, most people don’t get enough of it, kids guarantee you’ll get less of it than ever and everyone’s got a suggestion for how you can get more of it. Let’s talk about sleep, baby…
Trying to get to sleep in Doha is a nightmare.
Again? Already? Ugh…
The hyper early mornings (oh the joys of a 5.30am alarm, to be on time for the start of school/work at 7) mean that the first step to getting enough sleep is to try and hit the sack in good time the night before.
Rock n’ roll, it is not.
And that’s assuming you can get an uninterrupted night’s sleep in the first place.
I’m not telling you anything new by pointing out that nothing does for a peaceful night like becoming a parent.
Yes, yes, the joys of new human life, the blank canvas of possibility, the unending horizons of opportunity, a bond like no other you’ll ever experience, totally our choice, I get all that… but man alive, is it too much to ask for some peace and quiet every once in a while?
Bucket. Wish. Shopping. To do. Short. Watch. Hit. Set…there’s a list for everything
Lists dominate our lives.
Magazines put them on their cover (the 10 best swim-up bars in the Maldives!)
Websites use them as click bait (Seven scary things that rash could be!)
Basically, if in doubt, run a list (37 surprising uses for cous cous!)
Lists are bad enough if you’re an employee; worse for parents and a triple threat for expats.
Amnesiac waits to find out if his mum and sister are in the stranded Land Cruiser
There’ll be lists for moving and packing and recycling and selling and donating and storing; of things to buy when you reach your destination; of questions to ask; of recommendations to get; of people, places and phone numbers, of official-sounding Things To Do.
Then there’s lists of things to ask visitors to bring, stuff to buy when you go home, things to see and do while you’re here…
But sometimes, you just need to start crossing things off your lists – like we did when we went to the desert last week.