Archive for the 'Qatar' Category

No News is No News

October 6, 2011

I have nothing to say…

Desert Sunrise

Or rather nothing I can say after weeks of debacle negotiating a new contract – culminating in the random sacking of our CEO and his wife – throwing all previous negotiation to the quagmire and unable to start afresh as no-one is authorized to sign or negotiate.
My contract is up in three weeks.
There are scenerios A, B, C, D and possibly E – none of which can be discussed on a public forum and I am tired.  Tired of thinking, tired of planning, tired of asking.

Doha by Night from The Pearl

At the very least my visa expires on Oct 29th and they are legally obliged to send me to my country of naturalization – so home in three weeks – then let’s see.
Suzanne – Leonard Cohen just came into my headphones – honey for my aching soul.

The expat community I have embedded myself in has been wonderful in a sea of indecision and planning – thanks to Angela, Rachel, Jackie and the knitting girls (especially the Kirsty’s) for listening and helping me in the decision making process and their assistance in the execution of plans A, B, C & D.

Campsite

It hasn’t all been a head f*ck though – had a lovely evening camping in the desert – an amazing star fix and evening swims in the sea.   Been keeping up my tan at the beach club and have almost finished another knitting/spinning project.

Our camping spot by day

Hopefully I’ll have more to say soon …

Next?

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!

Shisha

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.

Vista

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

Ramadanadingdong

August 19, 2011

Cute signage at Modern Art Museum

Well I’m over half way through the Holy Month of Ramadan and to be fair I’m loving it.  I approached the season with a sense of dread; fed by established ex-pats with tales of extremes – “everything is shut, it’s unbearable hot, the laws are even stricter with regards to clothing”.  Whilst all of the above is true I have played the game with regards to costume – long sleeved cotton shirts have become my uniform, I’m keeping the volume of music down in my car, I am not a ‘shopper’ and I am always in air-con.

Once I got my head around the no eating or drinking in public during sunshine hours I settled into a nice rhythm.

The ease of the month, to be honest, has largely come from the fact that my work hours have been drastically reduced, 8am-5pm has given way to 9am-2pm – I have always wanted to work part time – and I have been happily pottering; dyeing, spinning fleece and silk, baking bread, boiling jams and swimming laps.  I finally finished the Zwarbtle project that I started many months ago and in my search for buttons wandered off to the oddly named Taliban Store (photo’s below).

Finished! (handcarded, spun and knitted - over a year in the making)

My one small gripe is that the only place they have given us to eat and drink at work is shared with the smokers – a prefab hut in the corner of the carpark.  My colleagues in my office have given me permission to drink water at my desk as long as I am discreet.

Taliban Store - Exterior

One interesting skew is that the playing of music or dancing in public is prohibited.  I have found some cheap salsa lessons during the month and we have to be careful to keep the blinds down as to not offend.  The salsa dancing is fun – I haven’t had a formal dance lesson since I was 14!  I have to wear something cut a tad higher though – one Filipino boy I was partnered with could not take his eyes off my cleavage – I was amused rather than offended – he look so wide eyed and almost in shock – poor love!

Taliban Store - Interior

Some practical things are difficult  – like getting to a bank – they are open from 9.30-2.00pm (I am at work) and then open from 8pm to midnight – I can assure you that going to the bank at 9pm is the last think I would think of, but it is a night culture here at the moment.  The traffic at 10.30pm is like the normal AM peak hour.  I have been told by many people to keep off the roads between 6 and 7pm to avoid crazy drivers who are hungry and dehydrated on their way to prayers and Iftah (breaking of the fast) – too be honest I have seen none of this.  Some of my colleagues were a bit green around the gills on day one, but for the most part those that I have observed fasting have a serenity and seriousness about them.

Krusty Beach Club

Today I went to a beach club that I was told about at a party last night.  It’s far cheaper than anything else I have heard off and consisted of a large deep pool, a beach looking across the bay, umbrellas, banana lounges and a kiosk serving food and drink – almost unheard off during the holy month.  It was an excellent find and one I plan to keep tight lipped about.  So much of that kind of stuff here is over the top posh – this was a tad ‘old raj’ – run down and nothing fancy – just my cup of tea.  Four hours of sun, swims, a good book and a club sandwich once a week is all I’ve been wanting.  I have the week after next off for Eid – so I know where I’ll be!

View From My Banana Lounge

I leave you with a pic I took of kitty Carla – her yawning meets my flash was the method – the result something a tad more sinister!

Psycho Kitty

I Love Dubai

July 31, 2011

I love Dubai.

Dubai Skyline

I was incredibly fortunate this weekend in that in order to renew my business visa I had to undertake a ‘visa run’.  This involved leaving Qatar for three business days whilst they processed the visa – twice before this has fallen through and to be honest it is a much needed break – that I would love it so completely has suprised me – I am very very taken with its’ charms.

Dubai Creek

There is a real sense of urbanity, people on the street, a melting pot of cultures – it doesn’t feel so dominated by religion here – it is present but not the be all and end all, I’ve barely noticed the call to prayer.  There are footpaths and street life and no restrictions on what you can wear on the street or on the beach.  It’s a grown up functioning city with a really nice pulse.  It simply seems more civilised here.

Jumeira Beach

The traffic is not so chaotic either.  There is not the urgency to keep moving at any cost, to be the first one there (wherever ‘there’ may be – often a red light or another car). In Dubai it’s the normal ebb and flow of city traffic, congested yes, but orderly and patient.

Interestingly I always ask the taxi drivers where they are from and if they like it here (in Doha or Dubai).  Every taxi driver in Dubai said yes they like it here, when asking the same question in Doha I have yet to hear a positive response.

Abra's on Dubai Creek

Admittedly I largely stayed away from the glitz – I’ve never been a five star girl – but catching abras across the creek and wandering through the souks, bartering with merchants is so my cup of tea.  At the spice souk I found indigo – the joy this gave me beats manolo blahnik shoes any day.

Indigo, Alum and other Delights

I was limited in what I could do by the heat.  It really was very very hot – I braved the metro and saw what was feasible, but ventures like wandering along the coast, exploring the CBD and back streets were not for this trip.

I’m not much of a mall girl either, much preferring markets and second hand rummages,  but Dubai Mall was impressive.  Aquariums in the atrium, Bloomingdales, Galleries LaFayette, 50 foot waterfalls.  Me, being me, was satiated by a Neal’s Yard for shampoo, a health food shop for flax and polenta and Waitrose for a salad.

Dubai Mall

Outside of the Mall was the dancing fountain – seriously one of the campest things I’ve ever seen (and we know I’ve seen a lot of camp!).  This was in the shadow of the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa – why was is necessary to build something that tall? Well there are the phallic theories – I had no desire to enter.  It was seriously tall – I wasn’t about to test my vertigo!

Burj Khalifa and Fountain

On day two I took advantage of the free beach shuttle that was run by the hotel.  The driver dropped me at a lovely park, Al Mamzar, in the north. Five dirum to enter (a pound) and the same for a brolly.  The park reminded me of Nielsen Park in Sydney – lovely shady trees giving way to two pristine beaches, people in ‘normal’ bathing attire.  I had sunscreen on, which I re applied, and I kept under the brolly when not in the water – the water was not exactly cold but not quite a bath – still refreshing as the temp was in the mid forties.  The bus dropped me at 10 and picked me up at three.

Al Mamzar Beach

It has been years since I’ve spent a day at the beach – and those who know me well know what a beach baby I am – I was pig in shit!   However the colour of me as soon as I had showered was frightening – the fact that it has given way to a tan is sheer good luck.   I thought I had given myself first degree burn – a lesson learnt!  The sun must have got through the umbrella, I even had panda eyes!

Souk Madinet

Spent my last night having a bit of a bender with my old mate from tele in Sydney, Rose.  It was great to hang out with an Aussie chick and reminisce about Sydney and mutual friends and cathartic to vent honestly and safely about how we find life in the Middle East.

Burj Al Arab from Souk Madinat

We started sipping Sauvignon Blanc at Souk Mandinat, then onto rose on a roof top bar 24-floors up at The Jumiera Beach Resort before one too many caipirinhas at the Buddha Bar – being evicted when the house lights came on at 2 am – I haven’t had a bender in a very very long time – it was fun; I say as I sit typing in the airport terminal nursing my hangover.

24th Floor View

Tomorrow is Ramadan – drinking water in public is forbidden, the work hours shorter and I need to cover even more of my sassy flesh, all restaurants are shut during the day and you can not buy alcohol anywhere until after Eid.  Night time will be fireworks and feasting.

Fever

July 22, 2011

Desert Sunset

It’s 45 deg outside and I think I have a fever – and it’s the weekend – my joy knows no bounds!   I’m not sure if it is a fever or that I’m just hot from the heat – all I know is that I keep sweating from a spot just under my neck above my cleavage – it’s like I’ve developed some kind of reptilian gland.  The air con is on – which is giving me a kind of chill and I feel like I am in a catch 22 lose lose loop for the day (please let it be only a day).  But it gives me a chance to write and I have finally started watching The Sopranos from scratch – so I have plenty to keep me happily bed ridden when not bathed in sweat.

It’s a quiet house at the moment, Peanut is asleep next to me and the other girls are sound asleep in another room.   Peanut has been adopted and will leave me tomorrow so it will be back to me and the two older girls, hopefully the hissing will cease and i’ll have an harmonious feline home.

Mosque Tower

I have been feeling much better the last week or so – I think in naming my Culture Shock I have turned a corner in starting to accept the lifestyle here.  There are many thinks that I will never get use too – horrendous driving practices, subjugation of women, covering up in 48deg heat, migrant workers toiling away on construction sites in said heat.  But my anger about it is subsiding – I’m slipping into an acceptance which is a much safer place for my mental health.

On talking about my job on the phone with Dad I verbalised something which I find interesting to note.  This is the first job I’ve ever had in my career where I feel like a ‘worker’  (we’ll exclude the Myer/ Grace Bros years from this statement and focus on tele and teaching jobs).  In all my other jobs I have felt like my input mattered, that I could add something to a discussion, that my view was heard – perhaps dismissed – but at least heard.  It’s a cultural difference but here I know that my job is ‘x’ – I am to do as directed with no discourse.  I am kept below the parapet, my lack of Arabic aids this post, and it is a position I am more than happy to undertake – which surprises me.

Nan and I at Work

I’ve always been interested in class – coming from Oz where we are reputedly one big ‘middle class’ to Great Briton where people are proudly ‘working class’ (not a statement I had ever heard in Australia) and they don’t vote for their Upper House – it is given over to ‘Lords’ (????- what the!).  To Qatar where the stratification of where is one’s place is ramped to another level.  As a ‘western’ expat I sit below Qatari’s and alongside Arab expats and above the sub continent migrant workers.  There is little flow between the strata – I work largely with expat Arabs, but other friends here only have western colleagues and have very little interaction with Arabic culture – it is very much stick to ‘your kind’, which I guess is the life of the ex-pat in many regions of the world.

More of the Souk

Fingers crossed I have a visa run to Dubai next weekend – but this is the third time I’ve been ready to go and they have stamped my passport here so I won’t hold my breathe – but I really do need to visit a Neal’s Yard!  Not to mention that a change of scene from the dust of Doha would do me the world of good – dust of Dubai anyone.

I’ve been keeping a low profile, as I have indicated Doha has cleaned out; many friends are away and the heat has stepped up quite a few notches.  I’m taking the opportunity to save money and huddle indoors with the air-con on and doing lots of crafty bits.  I have been spinning and dyeing silk and have decided it is time to teach myself to knit socks (thanks for that kit Karen) – it really is akin to surviving an English winter and I smile to myself as I remember my banter about the universe owing me a summer after my double winter when I arrived in the UK – oh the irony!  I guess I’ve claimed it back!  Ramadan starts sometime in the next 2 weeks so work hours will shorten – I have a bag of raw fleece and silk caps on order from the UK so lots of yarn making ahead of me.

Silk Dyed with Sumac

Just as I type this Peanut has woken and wants to play fetch…

Fetch

Culture Shock

July 12, 2011

Souk

Culture shock  [mass noun]
the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.
(Oxford Dictionary)

I believe I am experience classic phases of culture shock.  Where I would have hoped that I was open minded to the dominant culture here, I am (as I’m sure many have picked up on) struggling to come with terms with the logic of many things that I see and hear.  I’ve been raised in a secular country and I’m finding the religious aspects and the implications of this on daily life here harder to accept than I thought I would.

Negotiation phase
… Excitement may eventually give way to unpleasant feelings of frustration and anger as one continues to experience unfavorable events that may be perceived as strange and offensive to one’s cultural attitude.
                                                (Wikipedia)

I am trying very hard not to judge by my own western standards, and reminding myself that my culture is different, not superior, and it’s hard – it is all I have to bring to the table.

Souk Porter Poses for a Pic.

The difference in cultural references amuses me – you realise how much of who you are is steeped in media references – I’m meeting people who don’t know To Kill a Mocking Bird or The Wizard of Oz!   I have a colleague who is the spitting image of Victor Kiriakis from Days of Our Lives and I can not share this with anyone!  I don’t intend for this to sound patronizing – I don’t have knowledge of Arabic popular culture – but it does bring a smile to my face I try to explain what ‘page 3’ means.

Hardware Shops in the Souk

I seriously thought I was going loopy earlier this week when I keep having flashbacks to more hedonistic times and events.  I was at work and literally laughing out loud as I remembered bizarre and inappropriate vignettes of a former life.  For those of you that get the references they included being in The Dome, Girlesque at The Imperial, Mardi Grass in  Nimbin, jumping around to The Stone Roses (tracks – not live) in underground basement bars in Kings Cross – all during a work day.

I do remember going through a similar phase in the UK – but being English speaking you assimilate quicker and slip into the dominant culture with greater ease.  After six years of the Beeb (I have yet to drop 6Music for JJJ) – here I am forced to go seeking news and entertainment and I am rediscovering my Australianess – tuning into the ABC and catching up on TV, music and current affairs.  I somehow feel more Australian here than I ever did in the UK and it’s very nice.   It reinforces what I miss, appreciate and love about home and our national psyche.  If absence makes the heart grow fonder then I am very smitten.

Women in the Souk

So, if the research is correct and I am going through text book ‘culture shock’ then this phase will pass, I will adjust and land on the other side a more rounded individual with a better understanding and acceptance of Islam and the Gulf States.

If not then I just come home.

Home - Bellinger River

Time to talk of the weather   There had been two days to recall that were seriously vile – sandstorms, humidity and intense heat (akin to being in a scratchy 40deg London fog) but overall the heat had not bothered me.  I would have said – it’s hot,  but as yet I am yet to feel overwhelmed by it. However this week the humidity kicked in – there was a noticeable difference in the quality of air and not ever having suffered from asthma I found that my breathing was impaired.  The next two months will the worse weather wise – and it hasn’t dropped below 45deg since my return in May.

Setting Sun - view from bedroom

In saying this I am permanently in air con – from the house, to the car, to work.  I am wearing a hat when in the sun and not sunbaking or spending too long out there – I much prefer this to an English winter – when I think to last December – brrrrrrr – but let’s check that notion mid September shall we.

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.

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.

I’m back. It’s conservative. It’s hot.

May 10, 2011

I don’t have much to say really.  I’m back.  It’s conservative. It’s hot.

The road ahead

I think what I miss the most is any semblance of subversion.  Perhaps an odd thing to miss, but I’m in a place where everyone plays by a set of rules which leads to an almost bland homogeny, and i’ve always liked to hover in the subcultural alternative fringe.  It’s not that I want to do anything illegal – more that the uniformity and conservatism makes life a tad benign.

But I knew what I was coming back too – this is just an observation really.  My eye is firmly on the prize.

It’s hot.  Very hot.  It’s already Perth summer heat and it’s only spring.  I’ve worked out how to make the best of the air-cons so that I am not under the constant barrage of cold air.  I drove to the beach – an hour to get there – after an hour I knew the sun was too hot – I may be tanorexic but I’m not stupid – I want brown not blisters.

Fuwairit Beach

Driving is making the world of difference.  Having my stuff is making it home (for now) and my two new cats, Jess and Carla, are keeping me on my toes and giving me some company.

1 of 2 - Jessica Cat

London was great – weather was unseasonably warm.  Though I have to say it was a different country than the one I left in January – recession and spending cuts on everyone’s lips and an sense of economic bleakness for the immediate future that wasn’t there before.

On the eve of the big day

Malta was amazing – a mix of histories – neolithic to roman to renaissance.  Quirky bus rides, blue seas, great food and good mates.  So nice to spend a week with Joe and let him play guide and revel in his Malteseness – there was a boat ride around the island and a day trip to Sicily thrown in too – simply sensational.

Valetta and our boat

Maltese Bus

Back to London for packing and a royal hoo ha.  Trafalgar Square for the wedding made for a fine last day with Joe in London town.  I was quite teary as I left – a sense of leaving and the finality of a significant life phase, but in order to have an interesting life every so often you need to pack up and move on – and I want home with choices.  Here is fine for now.  Hot and fine.

Farewell Blighty