Day 22- Do I miss my expat life?

I know for a fact that most of my readers here, are a residuum from my old life. One of them, who is also a friend got in touch with me today. Among other things, she enquired if I missed Qatar, and my life there. Hmm.

I have never really given it much thought, to be honest.  There are elements of that life that I miss. The Corniche, the clean parks, OR 12, the Villagio, endless running tracks, my ex- nanny. Mostly, the fancy cars 🙂

I’m joking of course!

Na, I’m serious. Not.

I do not miss it, miss it. I do not wish to be back. It was an epoch of my life that I look back upon fondly. I met some wonderful people, had incredible, new life experiences. Most importantly, it is where I had my children. So, I did leave a bit of myself there. But, the repatriation was entirely voluntary and wholehearted.

So the short answer is no. I do not miss it. I do not miss not having a support system. I do not miss the subconscious feeling of alienation. I do not miss the tiresome travel. I do not miss being away from family and friends.

But I do miss ‘the bubble”. A very intimate space of life, occupied by only the nearest. Far, far away, distant from prying eyes and perky ears. Love pours forth in hurried phone calls from immediate family. Yet, no one can interfere in your matters (only south Asians will understand what that means!). You are missed dearly. You are exotic, needed; but far away. Sigh! You can start anew, build new reputations, start afresh. Unburdened by those around you who have witnessed you stumbling into adulthood. At work, they see a polished you, not knowing the early bumbling you. The more I think, the more perks I unravel.

Yet, no. I do not miss it. I might do it again for the adventure and novelty, not because I miss it.

When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.

-Clifton Fadiman

Till next time,

J

Weekends.

Couple dynamics in contemporary families is a complex, almost incomprehensible affair. Our roles should not be defined by gender we promulgate, yet within the confines of our individual homes, away from prying eyes of family, friends and society;  we are often left wondering what it means to be The Wife or The Husband. We battle stereotypes and prejudicious beliefs that are deeply entrenched within our conscience and despite our elaborate education, extensive travel and exposure to varied cultures and experiences, we are left confused and conflicted.

Stay-at-home- dads and “helpful” husbands are sometimes demeaned. Women and mothers who work are often arraigned.

The only smart way to deal with all the internal conflict is to often just let things slide, and treat each day on it’s own merit. To not assign strict domestic roles and treat each task and chore as a separate entity. Easier said than done, I know. And what works for us, may not work for you and your family.

Weekends are ironically, the hardest days. A day(s) that should ideally be spent with emphasis on rest and recuperation, more often than not ends up being one of chaos and haste. The woman goes to sleep on the eve of the day in question, her mind full of plans and an almost a minute by minute blueprint for the next day. Of course, it is an entirely different matter how much of it actually transpires in reality. The man, despite his earnest intentions to help is mostly looking forward to a quiet day of eating and seating. Eating delicious (preferably home cooked) meals and ‘seating’ in front of the television, on the couch with his best friend aka ‘portal to the internet’ (not his wife in this case) on his lap.

At the end of the day, you are left harried and irritated, both of you; thanks to your different approaches and agendas. And instead of looking forward to or being prepared for another hectic work week ahead, you start the week jaded and fatigued. The cycle if not interrupted, rolls on viciously until it all reaches tipping point one day.

Therefore, for the sake of healthy experimentation and change, I have decided to not have even an iota of a plan this weekend. I have no clue when I might put the laundry in or if and when I might prep some meals for the week. Would I study for a bit? Would I actually check my blog or reply to my emails? Will I take Lil Z to the park or the beach? Will there be time to pick up some new toys and books for The Little One? Can I finally get to completing my weekly log?

Who the hell knows! All I know is that it’s almost time for lunch, and the sum total of what I have managed to do this morning is lounge on the couch and flick the laptop open, type random rubbish to you folks as I watch Morgan Freeman give the performance of a lifetime as Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding while Mr H and Lil Z snore the morning away.

Have a good one folks.

Till next time..

Dr J.

P.S. By the time I hit the “publish” key it’s past sunset (1730 hours). I sit at Corniche, sipping some tepid tea, alongside the weekend crowd; with the oddly shaped pyramidal Sheraton on my left, the quiet sea in front of me and the maddening Doha traffic to my right. So if anyone is around here, pop in and say hello. Or marhaba!

Shit happens!

Boy or boy, has it been a crazy couple of weeks or what!

It is like the sky broke upon us just as the ground split open. And we were sucked into a vortex of ill health, work, childcare conundrums, bureaucratic limbo, silly rules and all round chaos.

We have survived folks!

We have, but barely.

Mr H, Lil Z and Dr J are breathing and living.

We now have new perspective on living miles away from family and support, in an alien land with nothing (except money perhaps) or no one to fall back on, in case of emergencies.

We still aren’t out of the woods yet, and will probably be in the woods for quite a while longer.

And “busiest” just got busier.

Meh!

Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Right?

True eh?

Till next time.

Dr J.

*The routine posting schedule will change drastically from now on, hopefully you folks will still stick around 🙂

Ma Wednesday- Off she goes!

There is a sense of foreboding as the day approaches. I try to appear nonchalant and in control. I portray an air of preparedness, and try to prove to The Grammys/ Grampys and The Mister that I can keep my sh&* together.

The research has been done, the footwork performed and the ground laid. The endless trips to potential “places” are over, the questions answered.

The registrations have been made, and the fees paid. The welcome letters have been read and the information packets devoured. The guidelines memorized.

The paraphernalia has been purchased and special trips to the supermarket have been planned. The menus are posted on the refrigerator and penciled into the Filofaxes.

All set we suppose?

Like hell!

She’s so tiny. She doesn’t eat. Nobody else gets her cues. What about nap times?

There is this buzzing in my head that I cannot get rid of. I dread the day.I look forward to it too (so that it can finally be over with!).

I worry, though every rational part of me says it will be perfectly alright. I go around hypothetical scenarios in my head like a secret service agent on a no-holds barred international mission of life or death. I am a blubbering, emotional worrywart and the old, non-mum me would have found the current me to be utterly uncool and laughably daft.

I cannot help myself. I guess this is what happens when your very essence walks around, unprotected outside of your body!

Hundreds, and thousands have been here before. And yet, that fact provides no solace, instills no confidence.

The Tiny One is off to nursery folks.

And I feel like I am about to face the guillotine on LSD!

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Till next time.

Dr J.

Expat pangs.

Being away from home has it downsides, no doubt. But on most days, life keeps us engrossed in it’s mundane throes and we fail to process and feel the underlying void within that is constant and unrelenting.

Don’t get me wrong folks, we have it good here; but there are times when it hits you. The sudden pangs of saudade; the inexplicable stab of yearning and possibly regret. Regret for missing a dear friend’s wedding, or not being at your parent’s or grandparent’s bedside when they have a small niggle or an insignificant procedure.

The searing heat makes things worse. I miss the rain, though I seem to have glossed over (in my head) the horrid rain-traffic woes of my home city.

I miss my morning run in the nearby 250 acre park. I long for outdoor coffee dates and the general air of casualness and simplicity.

Home. With it’s broken medians and aged Gulmohar trees. With earsplitting honks and mind numbing traffic. With food that I love and people that I now realize I care for.

But what I miss most this hot and humid Friday afternoon is my Mum’s post-prayers ghee rice and mutton roast/ chicken biriyani. To just gorge on the food and then lay comatose in bed till evening. No dishes or laundry to worry about, no cares in the world.

And then to wear tattered tracks and an over-sized top in the evening and leave the house without the phone, the car keys and your ID, your licence and lord knows what else, and just run. Free. On your own land. On your own terms.

Looks like some places will never be ‘home’.

Or maybe I’m disoriented by the heat, some retail therapy might mend my thinking 😉

Till next time..

Dr J.

Another adventure?

I have a confession to make- I still don’t drive in Qatar.

Mainly because I couldn’t be bothered with taking a test (my home country licence doesn’t cut it here), and also because The Mister never had to take one :-/.

Irrational I know!

He has been to all sorts and kinds of countries (South Korea anyone?) and therefore holds several international licences (jealous me). The one that helped him most in Qatar though, was the UAE one, which is still valid, hence all he had to do to receive a Qatar driving licence was to turn up at the traffic department and show his licence to the “Captain” and pay a nominal fee (sad me). That simple.

Another reason? Well, we have been based here for about seven years now, but I was working elsewhere; so I was usually here for “holiday” and I preferred to be driven around!

Honestly though, if one decides to stay in Doha for long enough, it is incredibly hard to survive without driving or having your own means of transportation. The public transport here is unreliable at best and horrendous at worst. Add to that the searing heat (hence ‘walking down’ is rarely an option), even the simplest of errands and appointments assume gargantuan proportions. Considering all the cities we have lived in, Doha by far has the worst public transport system. Therefore, not driving means feeling stuck and helpless.

The process has began, and for the sake of information and experience (so I’d have an experience that is blog post worthy) I have enrolled at a nearby driving school for driving lessons (‘full- course’). I hope to take you folks along for the ride- literally!

The Mister thinks if I drove like how I am used to in Bangalore, I might need around three attempts to pass. Maybe four, he says.

I keep mum for now. Let’s see, shall we. 🙂

That's me?  Source- www.pinstopin.com
That’s me?
Source- http://www.pinstopin.com

Till next time.

Dr J.