Chinese, happiness

Life: This is Doha

So I've been in Doha five days. We had a hotel the first few days, and then I had to postpone my flight to Muscat; so I will be in Doha two weeks and Muscat a week (inshallah).

The accommodation is in Lavendar (sic) Village, which is a compound of some 240 villas and 40 apartments. The cookie cutter houses are all the same light yellow, three storeys high with a tiny balcony to one side. I begin to suspect that the furniture inside is all the same too judging from the stack of chairs near the entrance.

There is precious little to do here. It is too hot to go outside, and very dusty. This weather, of 40+ C days, is expected to stay till the 17th. I was told by a nice Qatari man that I should come after November, when it is cooler. "You can sit outside," he assured me.

There is nothing much to do socially when you don't know anyone. It's not like people sit on their doorsteps and wave hi. I Googled and the only lady who blogged about Lavender Village had moved out, saying she had pretty bad memories of the place and would not be back in a hurry.

As houses go there is little to complain about. The floors are polished marble, the furniture in the usual opulent Arabic style, all browns and golds in keeping with the walls. There are air conditioning units (LG) in all rooms, including the kitchen. There is integrated storage.

I have satellite TV with the BBC on tap; most of the other channels are in Arabic, or require payment. I have ADSL-backed Wi-Fi which offers intermittent connectivity up to the second floor, but no higher. There is a tiny pool for women and children. There is a mosque by the entrance, but no adhans so I suspect it is merely a shell. The purported kindergarten is deserted, the supermarket has been closed for months to years depending on who you ask, and I doubt the sign to the basketball court points to any such thing. I am told there is an air conditioned gym too, where Sh's housemate goes jogging.

This is a country where everyone drives. We don't have a car, maybe when the residence permit, usually just called the RP, comes through. I have been without a car in Muscat but at least there was always something to walk to. Not here.

Every expat wife I have spoken to assures me that life in Doha is lovely. I haven't quite seen this bit yet. In Muscat I had the good fortune to get to know a lot of really nice people who made life wonderful. I really don't know what to expect here if I choose to stay.
I will need to drive myself around at the very least. I'm honestly not sure I can without help - I practised hours and hours before I could do it by myself in Muscat.

In the meantime, the hours from 7am to 6pm are mine to fill. There is Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and email. There is lunch and washing up after; there is the laundry. Yesterday I spent half an hour taking pictures of the mosque and looking for the swimming pool. Today I have decided to mop our bedroom, and I tidied the fridge, too. Keeping the ubiquitous dust at bay always takes some time. Tonight the thrice weekly shuttle will bring us to a supermarket; it was Landmark/Carrefour on Friday, it will be Lulu tonight and then Carrefour again, but at City Centre.

At Landmark there was time to sit down at the Noodle House for dinner, leaving half an hour for a mad dash to grab groceries before pickup time. There is to be more time to shop at Lulu because there is nowhere to have dinner - so we will buy takeaways. I already have a list of small things to buy, if we have time.

A nail clipper. Scissors. Slippers my size. Lotion, thismplace is dryer than I thought. We are nearly out of lemons and 3-in-1 coffee. Maybe another bowl. Wastebins for sure. Paper, maybe. I'll grab what I can.

The evening will be spent unpacking and storing the spoils, dinner, shower and bed. Maybe some TV. It's a life; I'm just not sure if I can mould it into the life I want.

Click on the picture to view a larger version or to get to the folder of pictures of life in Doha.