Having successfully moved countries once again, and having had three weeks to sort of settle in, it is about time we filled in our friends with how things are going here in
Make no mistake about it; even at the end of summer,
There is a rumour that Quinn saw a cloud one day two weeks ago, although the rest of us have our doubts. If you are looking for somewhere where it doesn't rain a lot,
Even though there is very little change in the weather we still arise each morning (although the time for that rising has occasionally drifted more toward the afternoon) and check out the window to see what the day will bring. It shows that the habits of a lifetime are hard to break. Air conditioning is obviously very important in this climate and we are fortunate that everywhere we want to go has so far been air conditioned. It is an amazing thing to drive past a large tent in the middle of a patch of desert and see the line of air conditioning units outside.
One of the things we have really appreciated about
Getting a Qatari drivers licence has been one of the tasks we have set ourselves since we arrived so that we will not have to continue to rely on others. This has meant making visits to an optometrist to do an eye test, getting our fingerprints recorded, and going to the Motor Registry and having our paperwork processed. Consequently,
Getting the licence isn't the only scary thing about driving in
The most significant impact that living in an Islamic culture has had on our lives so far has been because our arrival coincided with the month of Ramadan. As part of this holy month Muslim peoples do not eat between the hours of sunrise and sunset and our doing so would be likely to cause great offence to our hosts. This meant that shops were only open for an hour or so early in the day, then reopened after dark. It also meant that we could not carry drinks with us if we were out during the day and were restricted to consuming food and drink only in places where we would not be likely to be seen.
At the end of Ramadan was the festival known as Eid al Fitr which is one of the few occasions during the year when everyone gets a holiday. Even the builders who are working on the multi story building which is being constructed next to us had a day or two off and (apart from Friday mornings) they seem to work most of the rest of the time. We got used to wishing people (and receiving from others) Happy Eid, although this was usually in the form of 'Eid Mubarak', and this would even come from complete strangers as we walked through shopping centres.
After initially being struck by the sheer number of people wearing traditional Muslim garb we have since become accustomed to the sight. While the white kandura or thobe (long sleeved robes that go down to the ankle, but not below it), gutrah (head scarf) and iqal (doubled black cord used to keep the gutrah in place) are fairly standard for men, there is much more variation in the clothing that the women wear. While the abayas (long sleeved outer garment from neck to feet) are almost always black there is lots of beading and intricate trims that form part of the clothing for most of the Muslim women in
When Brock and Quinn heard that Meg would have to wear not only the hijab but also an abaya when we go into
Like any country, trying to live and work in
One of the most amazing experiences any of us have had was the day we all went to have the medical tests which were required for our visas. Everyone was bussed down to the medical centre which conducts these tests and the men were separated from the women. Each group then had to pass through various queues; paying fees (a gentleman from Qatar Foundation handed each of us 100 Riyal from a huge pile he had for this purpose), taking the paperwork to another desk where we were given a test tube, having blood taken, joining another queue with our paperwork newly stamped, and having our chests x-rayed for tuberculosis. If we had been here to do physical labouring jobs we would also have had to endure a complete physical on top of this. In the end the women were finished much faster than the men, possibly because there were fewer of them, but they saw much more panic among the people around them, as it is against Islamic law for women to be uncovered in public (which they needed to do for their chest x ray).
While getting our chest xrays my experience was somewhat different to the wonderful men in my life, my first adrenaline rush came when they separated me from them and escorted myself and 20 other ladies from QA into a room full of women, we were taken to a
Particularly unusual about this day was that only two days later we had to go off for another blood test. While we thought that it might have been possible to take a small amount of what had been siphoned out to find out what blood type we were, instead we went elsewhere and had our fingers pricked for this purpose. Many of our colleagues had already provided evidence of their blood type from their home countries (as had we) but nonetheless had to go for the blood test. For the Americans it also turned out that rather than having their driver's licence recognised (as it was for the Australian's, Canadian's, New Zealander's, Spanish and British who make up most of the remainder of the new staff) because of a dispute between the two governments they would have to sit driving tests. This was despite the fact that they at least were driving on the side of the road to which they were accustomed, unlike many of the rest of us.
I have found people here in
As those of you who have seen the promotional video would have already noticed (if you haven't it is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmx9V_kb1js) this is a very professional operation. They have been wonderful at making us feel welcome, appreciated and part of the organisation. Even though our house is not in the compounds with the other staff at the moment, we are on the priority list to be there. Social outings to see more of
Shopping is a hobby close to my heart and before coming to
I love the smells and that atmosphere of the malls here and could spend hours people watching just to see what they buy how they interact with each other and how adorable the children are here.
I miss being able to buy vanilla essence without having to go to four grocery stores, to buy and English magazine without having to sell a body part to afford it . I love the new foods we are seeing and tasting getting used to a new way of life and watching Brock and Quinn find their niche here.
I could complain or be sad for all of the things I will miss or not be able to have or I can buy a sewing machine and make it, adapt it or even invent it .. which is exactly what I have done.