If waving goodbye to the UK and moving to Doha was the start of a new chapter for family Little City, last week brought a job-shaped plot twist.
The life I have known for the past year or so – where I’ve been primary carer to Kid A and Amnesiac – has been put on hold for at least the next six months. Because after an autumn of proposals, interviews and false starts, I have finally found a job.
And it’s all come about so quickly there are going to be people I haven’t yet told who will be learning about it as they read this post. (Hi, sorry; it’s been a bit manic this week.)
It all came together in the quintessential Doha style, aka hurry up and wait, the Saturday before last, after we got back from a weekend away in Dubai.
The trip was ostensibly another visa run, to hit reset on my tourist credentials, but one cunningly timed to coincide with the Rugby 7s. Not to mention the chance to stock up on Christmas treats at the only Waitrose outside the UK (it’s in the Dubai Mall, Stollen fans).
The weekend itself passed in a surreal blur. The venue for the rugby was 30kms out of the city, which appears to mean ‘out of sight, out of mind’ as far as the authorities were concerned.
The venue was teeming: tens of thousands of fancy dress-wearing, pie-eating, song-singing fans, many of whom were partaking of some light refreshment. With tons of activities for the kids and even the odd match to watch if you were so inclined, it was a surreal place, like Disneyland with a bit of rugby thrown in.
Returning home late on Saturday, my tourist visa successfully renewed, I had nothing more taxing lined up for my Sunday morning than the school run. Or so I thought…
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a number of meetings, interviews and discussions about a potential role. I was hoping that it would be resolved shortly, one way or the other. I just wasn’t expecting to come home to an email saying that there was now an offer which I was not only happy to accept, but which would have been churlish to refuse – and we look forward to seeing you on Sunday morning.
You mean like in less than 10 hours Sunday morning? Oh.
Deal or no deal
On offer was a six-month contract and, despite my best efforts to include some flexi / remote working, the deal we eventually struck was as straightforward as it gets: full-time, five days a week, Sunday-Thursday (and no, that still doesn’t sound any less strange to me, even after a year here).
As Mrs LC digested the implications and worked on the short-term logistics of school runs, she asked me what would ‘happen’ to Little City?
Well, it’s not going anywhere; I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it for the past year and a bit and have no plans to shelve it just because I’ve actually something useful to do with my time now. (You know you’ve been blogging for a while when even your sister signs off her emails with ‘…love to Kid A and Amnesiac’.)
Besides, it’s not like I’m going to be short of material.
Since then there’s been a full week of actual work and all the joys and terrors of a new role in a new organisation, not least of which is learning hundreds of people’s names. There was yet another visa run – this time to secure my Business Visa – which featured administrative snafus which kept me in Dubai for an unplanned 36-hour stopover.
Add to that I’ve just started another week of solo parenting. (Mrs LC’s punishment for leaving me in the lurch in the second week of my new job is to spend this week in a city where it Really Is Winter.) And then there’s the frightening milestone in a few days of being 10 Years A Parent, as Kid A hits double figures. Where did that go?
(My top parenting tip from the past decade: ignore everyone else’s parenting tips, including this one. They’re your kids, you have to live with them – and then hope they look after you one day – so raise ‘em however you want.)
Then there’s our second Doha Christmas, not to mention the strong likelihood that I’ll be working my first New Year’s Day (which isn’t a holiday here) since I worked after graduation at a local pub, merely 19 years ago…
The new, new normal
So yes, our sunny little snowglobe has been well and truly shaken this week, but it will settle down soon enough into another new normal – which for the kids means that even the novelty of twice daily school runs in a taxi will soon wear off. It’s what many of their mates do, after all.
For me, it means shaving every day. It means wearing a suit. It means shirts with fiddly buttons. (Frankly, the opportunity is so good that I’d happily wear a kilt and a sporran if they wanted me to and no, I’m not Scottish).
It also means commuting. (Clearly I don’t want Little City to descend into yet another expat-rants-about-the-traffic-blog, so I will try to limit my mentions of the gridlock on Highway 1 – aka Al Shamal Road – to no more than a dozen per post).
All of which is probably no bad thing. As my mum put it: “It’s good that you’ll be getting out of the house.”
I have already met some lovely new colleagues and have been both humbled and embarrassed by their seamless ability to switch a four-way conversation from Arabic to English purely to include me.
So I’ve already identified 2014’s new year’s resolution – to try and improve my conversational Arabic. The CDs have been ripped and are ready to keep me company as I crawl up and down the aforementioned Al Shamal Road.
Who knows what’ll happen at the end of the six months? The kids and I may find ourselves right back where we were up until last week weekend – we just don’t know. But whatever happens, I’ve loved the experience and the time it has given us together. I hope they have, too.
But right now it’s time to turn the page. A new chapter awaits…