Archive for June, 2011

A Thanksgiving

June 30, 2011

I’ve been a bit bleak of late – in order to snap out of it – I have at least another 4 months here – I decided to change tack in my thinking and here are some musings I had throughout the week.  I’ve come out the otherside a lot more positive than where I sat  this time last week.

I guess being here is making me appreciative of all the life experience I have had so far.  Driving to work listening to Pulp very loud (I have an obsession with Jarvis at the moment), thinking that these folk will never know the experience of dancing in a field, loved up and hedonistic twisting to random tunes as the sun rises.  Whilst I am a million miles from this is age and place – I’ve done it, lived it.

It's Not All Beige

I’m very nostalgic and thankful for the diverse range of experiences I have had thus far.  Some of my life choices would be distasteful to many here and at home.  I fully appreciate that I am judging by my own set of values – I have not grown up indoctrinated in an orthodox religion – and for this I am truly thankful.

I think to back to Bellingen and my green wooden house on stilts – from the back verandah I could see nothing but green – 10 mins from the Never Never Creek in the Promised Land where I’d pitch my hammock in the shade and you could skinny dip with no-one batting an eyelid.  Here I need to cover my shoulders and knees to swim at the local beach.

My Green Wooden House

12 Years in Sydney – living the party life – clubs and dance parties – good mates.  Living in Bondi – Saturday brunches and afternoons on the beach – Vanessa’s Drag Races – hilarious afternoons in the sun.  Bad Dog parties – dirty grimy disco trash.  Mmmm mmm mmm.

The Nephews Visit Me in Bondi

Growing up in Perth, riding push bikes, weekends at the beach, Sunday drives with Grandad in the car.  Post adolescent days of the Red Parrot and The Underground – goth picnics in the hills – getting pissed on cheap white wine and walking through abandoned train tunnels.

Goth Picnic, John Forrest National Park, 1988 (?)

London – Europe at my doorstep.  The best job ever – creative freedom for a TV channel with a purpose in the heart of Soho.  Living North, East and South; cycling my way through the city in the dead of night, just me and the foxes.  Kat on her Penny as I flank her through Critical Mass rallies.  Nude bike rides, Pride marches and anti-Pope rallies – the freedom to congregate on mass to celebrate, protest and express opinion without fear of reprisals.

Pete and Penny (and Kat)

Learning crafts from an amazing myriad of women eager to share their knowledge and talents on everything textile.  Being taught how to spin wool literally from the sheep’s back at the farm every weekend.

Beauville Nightmarket

European summers with Karen and Rich in Beauville – melon and floc and petanque.  Visiting mates in Switzerland, snow and spas – Easters in Italy – missing flights due to traffic jams in Florence.

Sienna

So as I sulk in the desert backwater that is Qatar I am mindful of the fortunes I have had and that I am lucky – lucky to have the freedom to live such a diverse range of experiences and to have such an amazing family and group of mates flung far and wide.

I must look at this time, this sabbatical from western culture, for the unique experience that it is.

Knowing that the day will come when I’m sitting in my garden, mates visiting, bbq on, beer in hand and I will relay tales of my time in Qatar with mirth and fondness – and perhaps a little relief – along with a gratitude for the tax free income and the cultural experience.

Home

This isn’t forever.  The future is bright with rain forests, deserted beaches and churning oceans, old mates and new friends.  I possess one of the greatest gifts this life can afford – an Australian passport.

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I’d Rather Be At Glastonbury

June 25, 2011

Lunar Eclipse

I want to be at Glastonbury!  Or is it that I am craving the opportunity to even contemplate being in the company of so many like minded souls.  The very idea that I could have so many options of cool bands, dance tents and environments seems so alien from downtown Doha, Qatar.

The Dairy Queen and The Ramada - last nights venue

Instead last night I went out for a friend’s birthday and ended up in a very bad piano bar full of men and filipino prostitutes.  The entertainment was akin to being on a bad cruise with the obligatory renditions of Celine Dion and Whitney – my ears were bleeding!
Meanwhile Radiohead are playing the Park Stage – grrrrrr

There is frustration in not being able to stream images of the festival through my shit internet connection and am ‘making do’ with the wonderful 6music coverage – could have lived without hearing Primal Scream do Loaded and Come Together though!  Beggars can’t be chooses and my ears are fully satiated from the amazing tunage coming through the radio.

I knew summer would be difficult here – and it’s starting to rub as the town clears out and mates are enjoying the European summer and all the liberties that this affords.  But I am saving money and keeping my mental health in check – there is much humour amongst ex-pats and the ridiculous situations and hypocrisies we encounter.

There are many hilarious (and many non hilarious) things I have seen that I don’t feel I can write about as it would paint a negative on my host culture, I’ve been brought up to always be polite to your host – so I say nothing.

Migrant Workers 46deg.

I am aware that my perspective is narrowing here – the more I see and observe, the less integrated I feel as I pull back from cultural diversity and fail to understand many customs and traditions.  I thought I would be more open-minded, but this lefty feminist is failing to accept certain levels of conservatism and patriarchy – I don’t think this is a bad thing – I just have to watch my big mouth and keep criticisms to myself and/or safe environments.  I am very watchful, making observations and keeping a journal of sorts – aware of things that can not be discussed in a public forum.

I feel that this is making my little blog a tad samey and negative in tone. which was not my original intention.

The weeks have settled into a rhythm – there is enough to keep me occupied and I am doing lots of spinning and crafty stuff.  I’m swimming and cooking and having a balance of social nights out a few times a week – there always something on.  There was another “pork party” – things you find to do here!

Porky Pig Party V2 - our host

I don’t hate it here, I don’t love it either – i’m in a weird limbo  – earning money to sustain a totally different type of lifestyle to this once I return home to Oz – here’s hoping ‘the end justifies the means’.

I have completely stuffed up the status quo of my apartment by introducing cat number three to the feline world.  Top dog cat Carla has been hissing and growling for four days – not a happy kitty – all in not well at ‘Yakkers Holiday Camp for Cats’.   Kitten ‘Peanut’ is completely oblivious to the trouble she’s caused.

Peanut

I am officially a crazy cat lady as I now have three cats in the flat, I’m feeding four cats at work and am now feeding some strays downstairs at the compound – Doha had no cats until the 70’s – there was a rat/mice problem so they brought in 5000 cats and released them into the streets – hence the number of ferals and a genuine problem.  I went on a visit to the government vet to see  how the system of ‘capture, neuter, return’ works and now drive with two traps in the back of the car – as I said – ‘crazy cat lady’  I’m sure my colleagues at work think I’m nuts as I don my sun hat and grab the cat biscuits every morning to do my rounds.

In closing I guess my mud phobia would have made this years’ Glastonbury a tad unbearable – but a weekend of watching the merry makers from the comfort of my couch would have been great – guess I’m ‘not in Kansas anymore’ and await a time when Splendor in The Grass becomes a diary marker.

Off Piste

June 14, 2011

I am feeling a little of piste.  After an initial month of positive thoughts and focus I am increasingly wondering how the f*** I ended up here.  Instead of focusing on the silver linings, thoughts of discontent and alienation are seeping in.  Trying to keep my eye firmly on the prize whilst contemplating how and why the Fates sent me here.

Old Fort

The hardest thing is having to ‘cover up’ it’s been over 45 for weeks and I want to wear as little as possible – a singlet top – but this is ‘inappropriate’ and is starting to p**s me off.  I was no so subtly reminder of the dress policy last week as I undid a top button on a shirt – revealing the top of a singlet top and exposing a small amount of cleavage.  I was previously told that a skirt coming in a 2cm under my knee was also too short.  All conversations have been friendly and instigated by my female colleagues.

I also had an urge to change my ring tone to something inappropriate – Closer by the Nine Inch Nails came to mind – I feel decidedly subversive at the moment.  Of course this will not happen – I don’t want to be arrested – but I did have an afternoon at work listening to lots of rude, dark heavy tunage to purge myself – Grinderman and Peaches helped.

Museum of Islamic Art

I’ve been keeping busy – Qatar is very social as ex-pats tend to stick together and everyone is hospitable and friendly.  Sometimes evenings out are not exactly my cup of tea, but it’s a bit like when I was living in the country – you make do with what’s on offer and keep an open mind – I don’t really expect any alternative discos or sublime art exhibitions.  In saying that there was a Dutch Masters exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art which was rather good – always love a Vermeer – and the building was great.  My only criticism is that it needed to be dressed a little better in the foyer – you could tell straight blokes had a handle on the interiors!

There have been a few house parties and nights out in lovely hotel bars – all posh cocktails  and top end service.  Had an hilarious camp night out with trolly dollies, glitter and a truck load of pork – very random.

A Touch of Desert Camp

Looks like cat number 3 may stay with me over the summer – the place is about to empty as all the schools and uni’s break for summer and people take leave to escape the heat. For example out of 12 women in my knitting group only three of us are around over the summer.  I’m already working on my Ramadan plan – a good craft project and a list of others in town to share hospitality whilst everything is shut during daylight hours.  All hotel bars will close and no restaurants open during the day – not sure what the deal is with work – I think they give us a tent out the back where smokers and eaters must co-exist.  Can’t say I’m looking forward to it – but my plan is to expect the worse and then it can only get better (a bit like flying Ryan Air).

Cat 2 of 2 - Carla

Have made excursions to the beach a couple of times – even found a cute fishing village overlooking some mangroves – the nicest ‘view’ thus far.

Fishing Village

Mangroves - nicest view thus far

Some of the dust storms have been quite severe – there was a day I didn’t dare leave the flat.

Dust Storm

Overall I am preferring the heat to an English winter – but must say I do miss clouds (of the white variety) and a day of rain could be rather pleasant.