Archive for September, 2011


September 17, 2011

Mosque domes

I’ve been thinking a lot about ageing lately and what the next move will be.  If I’ve got 15-20 years of working life left what and where do I want that to be?

I think what spurred this was recent pictures of Madonna – not normally one for gossip mags and celebrity privacy invasion I was shocked by how old she looked at the Venice Film Festival – she is still beautiful, but she looked like an older woman.
If she’s that old, and looks that old – what does that mean for me!

And then suddenly I caught recent pics of Robert Smith, Morrisey and Annie Lennox – all looking wrinkled and post middle aged.   Doing the math on seminal albums – Ziggy is 39, The Smiths, ‘The Smiths’ is 27, The Stone Roses self titled album is 22 and Madonna’s Holiday is 28!   I’m starting to feel my 44 years.

Mosque Tower

I’ve had a hard couple of weeks stressing about what next. The promise of a full-time contract seems illusive and I certainly can’t bank on it so Pete’s having a big think.  What next?  The options are broad – to stay or go, to teach or not to teach.  No decision has to made yet and for the first time I have the luxury of having the time to carefully consider the next move – so I’m sending out feelers, making lists, meditating and reminding myself that I have many many skills that are not currently being utilised.  I will have a contract until mid Jan and three weeks in Perth in November – plenty of time to ponder.  One option is winning as I sift through the possibilities but the jury is not out.

Fluffy Clouds

Here is okay – the weather has turned and it’s getting cooler – days of 40, nights of high 20’s.  The other day I actually saw fluffy clouds!  I spent last night sitting outside by the water and it was lovely – there is talk of camping trips and swimming is even starting to be refreshing – my skin prickled with cold for the first time in months when I got out of the water yesterday.  As I left the house last night to go for a drink I felt like I was missing something – then I realised that I didn’t have to take a cardigan, or coat, or hats, scarves and gloves – this I like.  I am listening to UK broadcasts of autumn chills and being slightly smug – but then you have world class culture – I have sunshine and sand so it’s possible a fair exchange.

Bling - Gold Souk

Had a great morning in the souks – bartering for gold and knick knacks for the trip home – I can spend hours there, I especially like it of a late morning as it’s almost empty and the stalls gradually close for midday leaving you wandering the labyrinth of lanes on your own in the lovely coolness.

Souk Barrow - Detail

Doha is full again and the roads are pandemonium with impatient Arabs and new expats – I have seen carnage each time I have been on the roads for the past week – I had a small prang when a tosser in a Land Cruiser decided to tailgate at a stupid speed – I’m onto my third hire car in four months (I was fine, it was a tiny dent and a broken brake light).  I’m very nervous about driving at night – see I am middle aged – but it is very dangerous out there – many people don’t indicate (I don’t think all cars have them – it’s an optional extra) and they will cut across three lanes or weave in and out of traffic like they are in a play station game – it’s scary shit!


Lovely Carla has been up to tricks.  A young Qatari woman came to look at her, wanting a cuddly cat, and Carla – being self assured put up with four or five timid pats before sinking her teeth in – the girl screamed and then wouldn’t go near her – I found out later that she was the Emir’s grand-daughter – oops!  Carla bit the princess!

Butter Wouldn't Melt


Short Haired Girl

September 3, 2011

Clockman - outside the fabric souk

I just remembered I was a short haired girl after months of grappling with the desalinated water and trying every conditioning treatment I could find.  It finally occurred to me that the answer was simple – cut it off!  So having sourced a decent hairdresser (it is seriously difficult in this town – in fact it’s easier to find a hooker) I did a ‘Roman Holiday’ and had all my tendrils severed and the result is such a relief – cool and easy and so much more ‘me’.

Poolside - fluffy head but you get the gist

Then I looked around and realised that 90% of the women I saw (who were not covered) had long hair.  The 10% were pretty much western ex-pats and I pondered that this is yet another freedom that I have – I can cut my hair – I don’t need to ask permission, I don’t have to worry about social stigma, I am in control of this and all aspects of my appearance – which I am not sure is the norm in this part of the globe.  It is, of course, mere speculation but as a feminist I like to look at what I see and what it means in practical terms for the lives of women around me.

Beach Club

The need for a coiffure solution had become more apparent as I have finally found an aquatic solution to my presence here.  I live on a peninsula surrounded by sea with months of 40+.  I had been finding it frustrating that:
a. I didn’t have a swimming pool at my compound,
b. At the local public beaches you were not allowed to show shoulders or upper thighs (i.e.: the dreaded burquini),
c. The hotel beaches charged a small fortune and
d. The closest beach I was confident in accessing in a standard car was an hours drive away.


Hello ‘Oasis Beach Club’!  All I need – a small beach, a large pool, a kiosk and umbrella for QR60 (AU$15, UK£10) – I am addicted.  My little Piscean self has come out of hiding and I have spent the best part of my week off basking, swimming, reading and lolling on a banana lounge.  A 10 min drive away, easy parking, friendly staff and apart from an unfortunate incident of a man wanking in the pool all is good.  As I wear contact lenses I swim with goggles and happened to spy said man’s rapid wrist action under water – from above he had the face of an angel!  I gave him a death stare and subtly told the other ladies in the water what I had glimpsed – I hope he was suitably embarrassed and I gave it three days before I returned in the hope that the chlorine had done it’s job.  Filthy bugger!

Other highlights of my week off included a firework display for Eid, I’m a tad ‘bah humbug’ about fire works – I’m not convinced they are good for either the environment or world debt and to be honest – once you’ve seen Sydney Harbour New Years Eve all else is a disappointment.  They were ok as far as pyrotechnics go and it was nice company but it was hot and as I said ‘bah humbug’.  It did give me an opportunity to take in the Cultural Village though – an impressive seaside architectural project that includes a huge amphitheatre, opera house, booze free restaurants and a large public beach (burquinis only).

From pink clockwise: Sumac, Jacaranda, Onion & Garlic, Madder, Red Onion, Chai, Mouldy Onion Skins, Ousef

I have also spent a lot of Ramadan and the last week dyeing and spinning silk caps.  The results have been very pleasing – especially the red onion skins – I felt like I was spinning gold – where’s my Rumplestiltskin?  As I publish this I have turmeric root and hibiscus flowers on the boil!

Spinning Gold

I’m back at work on Sunday – Ramadan is finished and everyone is heading back into town – I have survived the holy month and the worst of summer and it really wasn’t too difficult.  I have two months left of my contract – there is talk of another two months and a ‘then see’ – so we’ll see, not keeping all my eggs in the one basket though.  At any rate I should have a trip to see Ma and Pa in early November and I am crossing off the days – three years is far too long to have not seen them.

Perth WA - where my family live