Shawarma Police

For my 100th post – and the last from the Qatar chapter of our expat story – it seems only appropriate to use as inspiration words from the band I love so much I nicknamed my kids after two of their albums.

Shawarma

Doha’s best shawarma. Read on to find out who makes it

Every departing blogger will offer up their own variation on Things I’ve Thought About Qatar Whilst Queuing At Sports Roundabout (which can be up to 17% of any given day).

But who else is going to do it via the medium of Radiohead lyrics? (“Thankfully very few” – Mrs LC.)

Continue reading

Maid to Last

Of all the things we’ve done as part of our slow motion exit from Qatar, the one I’m happiest about was finding a new family for our maid T to work for. It provided a fitting end to a part of expat life here which I had been pretty sceptical about to begin with.

Sunset on Al Waab

The sun sets on Al Waab Street

Helping T find a new job wasn’t something we had to do, but she played a critical part in keeping things ticking over for family Little City during our time in Qatar.

She provided support in so many different ways, filling in the gaps in services that exist here – after school clubs, emergency pick ups / drop offs, babysitting, cleaning and so on – that we either paid for, or relied on the help of family to provide, back in the UK.

So having T on hand to support with all that made a lot of sense; the main difference here being T’s formal sponsorship by Mrs LC as her employer, and us providing her with accommodation.

I was initially sceptical about taking on a live-in maid, but after a string of disappointing trials with ‘dailies’ – and their traffic-related inability to turn up at an agreed hour – we felt it was the best option for us. (Spoiler alert: it was.) Continue reading

Box Frenzy

I have used blogging as a form of budget therapy ever since I opened the gates to Little City back in 2012. But the past few weeks have proved a step too far, even for me and my ongoing need to order my thoughts into sarcastic little sentences.

My blogging mojo has been hit hard, despite the fact that trying to leave Qatar provides an endless stream of material.

Moving in

Yay, help is at hand

I’ve stood in queues for official stamps and stickers. I’ve downloaded forms, signed papers, and scanned documents. I‘ve patiently explained myself time and again; and even remembered to ask “And then what?”

The end result might be lots of ticked boxes, but it didn’t leave me in the right state of mind to write anything.

But, like the punchline to the old joke says: I can see Deidre now Lorraine has gone.

Because yesterday the immovable object of my wife’s administrative efforts involved with obtaining clearance from her job and, with it, Qatar, met the irresistible force of logistics in the shape of our removal company.

Our house is awash with boxes and bubble wrap – and there’s no turning back now. Continue reading

Safe and Sound

It’s milestones all round as our kids leave Qatar for good – and fly on their own for the first time. No prizes for guessing who was more nervous

HIA farewell

….and they’re off. Kid A and Amnesiac leaving Qatar this week

“I’m excited because we’re flying Unaccompanied Minor (UM) for the first time,” Kid A told Mrs LC earlier this week. “But I’m also nervous in case the plane crashes.”

Welcome to 11-year-old logic, and the mindset we’ve been dealing with all week.

Yes, we have reached a proper milestone as the kids’ first experience of living abroad comes to an end in the most expat of ways: flying sans parents back to Europe. Continue reading

And Then What?

Planning to leave Qatar is like the boss level at the end of a video game, one where your previous battles with red tape and bureaucracy seem like a picnic compared to what lies ahead. Hopefully you’ve learned everything you need to know to prepare you for it.

Bowser

Unlucky, Bowser: my preferred kind of boss level

Take, for example, one of the most useful lessons I’ve learned (repeatedly, the hard way) during my time here: Always remember to ask ‘…and then what?’

In general, administrators here – and those with what you might charitably call a limited scope of responsibility – have little interest in your next steps in a process. Usually, their only concern is their specific area of responsibility, and nothing else.

So if you have to get a stamp from a particular department, they can help you with that; but what generally doesn’t follow is any further information of the “…and then you need to go to X to do Y, but they only open between 4 and 5pm on Tuesday afternoon” variety.

You have to prize this information out like a pearl from its shell; every time, from every interaction. Hence “…and then what?” Continue reading