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.
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.
A question of sort
As it’s provided by Mrs LC’s employer, our villa needs to be empty so it can be inspected in order to get the box marked ‘Housing’ ticked off her innocuous-sounding Clearance Certificate.
The knock-on effect of this is that we have to move out of our home weeks before Mrs LC actually finishes work. Like many departing expats at this time of year, generous friends have let us stay in their house while they are away on holiday. In our case, they get their plants watered, I get to play with Netflix for the first time – it’s a win-win.
But the process of getting that ‘Housing’ box ticked (itself just one of more than a dozen signatures she needs to collect, like the world’s least-fun sticker album) started at least a month ago, before the kids flew back to the UK, with every item in the house having its future questioned, from desk fans to armchairs, shoe racks to plant pots.
(Pro tip: if you’re a family relocating abroad, and there is even the slightest chance pre-move of dispatching your kids to a friend / family member / animal sanctuary, even if only for a weekend, do it.
The space it gives you to think and plan and make decisions and remember half-formed thoughts that got buried under a pile of He said, She said… is revitalising.
If anyone’s struggling to take the bait, playing the emotional blackmail card and reminding said relative how long it will be till they see the children again is totally fine.)
Fun for none of the family
Rather than keep all the fun to myself, here’s how to play the fun Moving Abroad game in the comforting chaos of your own home!
> Choose an object (but be quick, there’s hundreds waiting…) Do we still want / need / use this: Y/N?
If N, can we recycle / donate / pass on / give it away: Y/N?
(Result: six bags of story books donated to the school library before the end of term. Toys, games, puzzles and DVDs gifted to neighbours. Bags of kids’ clothes passed on to friends with littler littlies, multiple sacks of clothing donated to charity bins across town…)
Otherwise, off to the municipal skip on the corner of the neighbouring block it goes. (So it’s been adios to a steady stream of chipped crockery, busted electricals and furniture that has succumbed to the onslaught of family life…)
Thne simply repeat for every single object you own, right down to the eggcups.
For everything that’s left, will we need it in our final weeks in Qatar / in Europe over the summer / in the first weeks & months in Abu Dhabi before we are reunited with our container, which could be as late as the end of October: Y/N?
If Y: remove from the house by any means necessary before the removal people come and accidentally pack it. Like, for example, the document wallet containing all your certificates, without which you can’t verify your academic credentials – something employers all over the GCC are really keen on.
If N: leave anywhere in the house and watch in awe as it gets bubble wrapped into a bespoke cardboard container and stacked by Tetris Grandmasters, before being loaded onto a container. Congratulations!
Wrapped in plastic
As the removal company started packing us up yesterday, I could feel the tension that had built up over the past few weeks almost perceptibly easing. Help had arrived.
By the end of the week, the sum total of our stuff here in Qatar will be counted in suitcases. Yes, there are still plenty of signatures needed – see you soon Utilities! HR! Finance! – before Mrs LC’s certificate is full, but knowing our stuff is securely wrapped and neatly packed away in a warehouse will make our final couple of weeks here a lot more manageable.
We still have logistical problems to solve before our actual departure, like dividing our remaining possessions between our respective baggage allowances, as we will be flying to different destinations when we finally leave – me back to the UK for a few days, and Mrs LC to her folks in the south of France via Paris (because if you have the option of Paris, you should always take it…) but we’ve turned a corner on the long, slow road to departure.