Saturday, 29 May 2010

Qatar, January 2010

One grey, over cast, freezing and wet day in mid November I had a moment. Moments, seriously, they excite me! Usually because they involve a moment of me inventing some crazy far out last minute idea, that nearly always turns out to be incredible fun. This moment was no different, I can tell you the exact spot actually, at the bus junction opposite the main entrance to university, rain lashing against the window, really wishing I didn’t have to get off the bus in a few moments I decided there and then that I needed out of this country and that waiting until May/June to leave really was asking too much of myself, especially when those six months would involve a hell of a lot of work, both university and Debenhams related. So a couple of texts later I was formulating a mad plan that really wasn’t in my budget but sometimes needs are more important than financial goals!!

I text mum to see if it would be ok to descend upon Doha in January and then, before waiting for the reply because I was certain it would be fine I text work to ask the question that petrifies me, can I have another week of work to go somewhere please? This time I decided, as the week I had available from uni would fall in the middle of January sales and god knows what other hyped up, intense week of sales Debenhams might have created for themselves I would create a long winded, suck up text to my manager... the “I know it’s a long shot...” and “...I’ll fold as many pairs of jeans as you want from now until I leave” these lines worked, “I’ll see what I can do” came back, it wasn’t a flat no, excitement! Sure enough, within two days I had gone from the moment to flights booked, insurance purchased and excitement setting in, I was going to Doha, Qatar :-D

The week before my departure I think it would be fair to say there were weather issues, that whole post dedicated to snow i mentioned back in January... that was the issue, snow and a lot of. Thankfully, seriously thankfully I managed to get out, my flight fell on the couple of days that Heathrow flights were leaving and I got out of England and arrived, 8 hours later in the Middle East. Immigration was amazing, I was positively over excited at the sight of all men in thobes (long white floating outfits with head dresses) they looked amazing and I felt I had landed into somewhere different. Different was, indeed the word. Mum was at work so I got a taxi to her apartment where I had another wave of over excitement at quite how amazing Mum’s life appeared to be, I mean come on, I had just come from my country, a recreation of the inside of a packet of frozen peas and arrived to her world, a world of sun, sea, sand and amazing outfits for everyone. Her apartment was incredible, I had enough time to run around and take a million pictures of just about everything before I followed her set of instructions of how I was to entertain myself for the afternoon until she finished work. My entertainment was the beach club at the Marriott hotel, paradise. Hummus, pittah, fresh orange juice, brought to you while you lie in the warm, no, wait, rewording needed, hot hot sun. I couldn’t quite believe it that this is how you hang out for the afternoon in Qatar, far cry from England, hmm let me try and imagine. In fact I still haven’t figured out what the average Brit is meant to do for an afternoon’s entertainment... maybe this is why I find it hard to fit in, but whatever it is I am pretty certain Doha’s beach clubs would triumph over all options available.

Mum arrived late afternoon and we began our week’s adventures. We did everything, we went to the souk, rode beautiful Arab horses, went horse and camel racing, ate the most amazing food (I love food) and hummus, met some awesome people, hung out at the most incredible beaches, you need to see them to believe them and flew to Dubai for the weekend for a little more exploring. I loved it, everything was different, nothing was simple and really you need to experience the country before you can understand quite how wacky it is – but I loved the wackiness, it was awesome. Apart from anything it was just a really nice treat to spend an unexpected week with Mum and see where she lived; thank goodness I had an understanding boss!! What I really loved was the serious lack of tourists, I can see why Mum says it is not a place for the average British tourist and I’m glad it’s not, looking at Dubai it would be a tragedy to see Qatar westernised for the masses of tourists, it’s fine just how it is. The call to prayer five times a day, starting at 5am (seriously this religion has invested in some impressive speaker systems – both in Jerusalem, Israel and here in Qatar!) you do cover up, otherwise expect the police to send you home to change. I like the fact they have an identity and they stand by it.

My week in Qatar was awesome fun and over far too fast but it meant I escaped not only the snow of England but also a week of Debenhams and its January sales and that in itself was a treat!!

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