An early summer heatwave shouldn’t have to mean waving goodbye to our sense of humour for three months as well
Living somewhere like Doha – a place that not many people have visited – means you’ll frequently get asked what it’s like here.
Many adjectives come to mind – I’m sure all residents reading this will have some suggestions – but you’ll probably hear a variation on ‘dusty’ or ‘beige’. But at the moment, as we stand on the brink of summer, it’s mainly ‘scorching’.
Despite my best efforts at acclimatisation, this past week has been hard. Summer came early and with a vengeance, affecting everything. Every obligation or invitation is weighed up through a solar filter.
You may think I’m exaggerating because I’m from a country where talking about the weather is a national sport. You may think I have nothing to complain about because I chose to move to the desert, which isn’t exactly famous for its igloos and snowstorms, but blimey Charlie it’s been hot this week; Robin Williams-quoting hot; record-breakingly hot to be precise, and conditions like that rob you of all but the most basic functionality.
The knock-on effects are everywhere. Add the sapping heat to the looming end of the school year and you get knackered, grumpy kids.
For expat adults, the imminent holiday signals the start of the spirit-draining, summer-trip-home-logistic-planning hell or, as we like to call it, “Letting Everyone Down Because You Won’t See Them As Often Or For As Long As They Would Like, And By Everyone, I Mean Everyone” season.
The summer heat makes life in a city that already throws up plenty of challenges just that little bit tougher. The sandblasted wind strips the paint from buildings like car dealers strip indicator lights from their vehicles (at least, that’s why I assume no one uses them here). Walking around in the summer is like repeatedly opening an oven door while wrapped in tin foil.
All that aside, I’m really looking forward to the World Cup here in Qatar. Not the one in 2022 (well, yes that one too, but – as we all know – there are various discussions happening on that front currently so who knows when or indeed if it will actually happen).
No, I mean the one that started this week. Specifically, I’m looking forward to watching it here in Qatar, as it will give me a cast iron excuse to stay indoors for a month in air conditioned luxury while the heat rages outside.
Putting it mildly, no one feels at their perkiest in weather like this. So in an attempt at some public service broadcasting, I thought I’d share few recent reminders that life here can still raise a smile.
Whether it’s falcons in first class or cheetahs in Land Cruisers, animals are always funny; especially camels, as this guy knows.
I mean, what’s not to like about a city where a cinema will stop the movie for you to go to the bathroom if you’re the only person watching the film?
Yes, this actually happened to a friend of mine the other week; she was watching the camel-tastic Tracks at the Gulf Cinema and needed to make an epic trek of her own. On the way out the usher asked her if she wanted them to pause proceedings while she was gone, an offer she gleefully accepted.
Not funny is getting your first speeding ticket in over a year…until you realise you incurred it on the way home from, er, renewing your driving licence.
Funny is a city where, despite it being 47C outside, you go armed everywhere with a jumper because you know the air conditioning in wherever you’re going will be turned so low you half expect a woolly mammoth to appear at any moment.
Funny is a management company which last year wanted no money and a small deposit for booking our compound’s “clubhouse” for Amnesiac’s birthday (it sounds fancy, and in most other compounds it would be, but in our compound it’s a mostly empty room with just a few tables and chairs.)
Fast forward to this year and now they want to charge us a 3,000 QR security deposit and a 2,000 QR fee (that’s about £340 / $500) for the same empty room. Hysterical. (Plot twist: we gambled that our junior guests would cause less damage than that, crossed our fingers and hosted them all at our place. Total damage: zilch, zip, nada. In your face, comedians!)
Funny is a city where walking is so contrary to the norm that if you walk anywhere, you’ll be beeped by dozens of passing cars – and not just in a mild outbreak of sexual harassment. No, every pedestrian is a potential taxi passenger to any passing vehicle. So they’ll beep you in the hope of waking you from the spell you must be under to be walking around outside, like some motorised Prince Charming.
Funny is a city where, after years of delay, the new Hamad International Airport finally opened to much hoopla and fanfare a couple of weeks ago.
Amongst other treats like actual parking spaces, it promised an end to the days of shuttle buses transporting you halfway round the city perimeter from the plane to the terminal and vice versa.
If so, then what’s this Amnesiac fell asleep on when we returned from our fabulous, screenless break in Sri Lanka the other week?
Yes, funny is a city where you take off from the old airport and arrive back a week later at the new one (which we did) and then try to convince your kids that they built it while you were away…
(And before you laugh too hard, know this: he picked the Netherlands over Spain, and you didn’t.)
So what else have you seen recently that brought out the funny side of life here?
** credit for the title for this post goes to the Dohaha Tumblr. Thanks, you anonymous music recommenderer, you