Red Light District

In which we run a 5K, and a red light. One cost QR140; the other was slightly more expensive…

Color Run shirt

Get amongst it

If this were Sesame Street, this post would be brought to you by the colour red and the number 6,000. In the red corner: traffic lights, t-shirts and embarrassed faces. As for the six thousand, you’ll see.

This week, we were visited by that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you realise you have done something avoidably stupid.

Like arriving to give a presentation at work, only to realise your laptop is back at home, where you left it by the front door so you wouldn’t forget it. Or that the taxi which just brought you to the airport is now driving off with your passport still on the back seat.

Or like accidentally driving through a red light in Doha, thus instantly incurring a monstro fine of QR6,000 (GBP1,100 / US$1,700)…welcome to our week. Continue reading

One Three Five

One centimetre. Ten measly little millimetres. It’s not even the width of a finger – but it means the world to a little boy who can’t wait to be bigger

Expat life hurtles you from comforting familiarity to the puzzlingly strange and back again, often in the space of the same situation.

135

So near, yet so far…

Take Amnesiac, for example. Nearly eight, precisely 134cm tall (this is important, as we shall see) and seemingly unable to concentrate on anything for any significant length of time, unless it’s playing Minecraft.

He is an ordinary little boy, all bruised shins and mucky face, his head filled with Lego, football, Star Wars, cycling and more Minecraft.

And right now, all he wants is to be bigger.

Not Tom-Hanks-Big. Not impress a girl by showing her your bravery on a rollercoaster big – although that will no doubt come in time – but I’m not a baby, get me out of this booster seat big.

And he can – when he’s grown precisely one extra centimetre. Continue reading

So There I Was…

Meeting newbie bloggers at an event this week, I got asked what tips / secrets I could pass on. Which got me thinking: in all the time I’ve been blogging, what have I learned?

One of the first audiences to have my witterings inflicted upon them was the handful of readers of my University’s newspaper, for whom I wrote – several hundred years ago now – a column called So There I Was…

BloggingME

Hungry Birds, Dream Days and Follow Your Sunshine (aka Doaa, Rosalyn and Polly) at the inaugural BloggingME event

Each week I would pen (yes, by hand!) some deliberately provocative opinion piece designed to stir the apathetic student body into minor fits of outrage.

(We Humanities students needed something to keep ourselves busy. This was before the internet, you understand.)

If I could go back to younger-me and tell him that one day, thanks to my continued ramblings, I’d be invited to beachside sundowners at a five-star hotel in the desert, he would probably have called me a capitalist sellout.

But 41-year-old me is more of a pragmatist, and would wash away his embarrassment with another glass of the Four Seasons’ sparkling frivolity. Continue reading

Do It Again

My parents are Doha-bound again next week so I’m busy planning things to do while they’re back in town

Having been here for a two-week extravaganza first time around, they might be forgiven for thinking they’ve ‘done Doha’ already. But despite still being a little city, a lot’s changed here in two years.

Aspire Park panorama

Everyone loves Aspire Park in the spring

You can tell it’s the perfect time of year to visit Qatar from the hammering your own social life takes – “A barbecue sounds great, but we have visitors until April; can we meet up then?” – but whether or not you’re hip deep in visitor season, there’s so much on here at the moment, I thought I’d share a few suggestions.

(And don’t forget to let me know what I’ve missed, or add your favourites, in the comments.)

Continue reading

House of Sand and Fog

Droughts, fog and sandstorms – this week has had something for everyone

It’s been a strange week here in Doha which started with a drought – of the poultry kind, to be precise.

Fog in Doha

Cor blimey guv’nor, it’s a right old pea souper, and no mistake

Quick bit of context: the vast majority of food on sale here in Qatar is imported. Estimates vary slightly but no one would argue with a minimum of 90%.

That leaves the country exposed to any number of factors when it comes to determining what’s on your supermarket shelf each week. It’s certainly part of the fun of living here.

Continue reading