I came across a posting by an anonymous member of this Doha Mums organization I have joined. (Quite useful for all sorts of things in the expat world of doha.)
She wrote that she could not make any friends and found it depressing that people did not seem to like her. Made me think of all the times I felt people were not interested. But then also, it made me think how sometimes it just takes that little bit of initial effort to get to know someone, and realise that the other person might just be shy, or unsure how to start a conversation.
The compound we live in is not as aggressively friendly as we thought it might be. Husband, describing a potential compound friendliness to me, suggested (in a cheerleader's sort of voice) that the day we landed here, there would be a knock on the door- "Hi!!! Do you want to come to my church!!???"
But guess what? Nobody knocked.
Days passed, and i met no neighbours. Every time i took a stroll with a pushchair around the compound, the only people i saw were the Phillipino maids and maintenance workers. (Also Phillipino). They all glanced at me questioningly, as their maaam did not hang outside with a baby. Their Maam was busy doing some things that maams do. Not that i would know as, in an absence of a maid, i walk my baby, and take husband's shirts to the laundrette. (which is one of these great little luxuries in Doha. It cost us-wait for it!- 70 pence per shirt to have i cleaned and pressed. We figured it would be sinful to wash and iron them ourselves) So, every day, wearing a friendly expression on my face, i kept looking around hoping to see another mother. And then, finally, i noticed one woman with children of similar age to mine, walking down the road. I said hi and she sort of nodded curtly. And walked past.
Hmm, i thought. Okay.
After a few more days i suddenly ran into her again, this time at the little playground.
A scandinavian-looking child, which I assumed belonged to her since there were no more people there, was having a great time with my daughter on the trampoline. And yet again, she barely looked at me. I parked the pram and stood there, watching our kids play, talking to my child in this voice you put on when you have an audience. You know, an approachable kind of voice. I thought she would ask if we were new...or if it was my daughter playing with hers...you now? There are so many things she cold have asked. But she did not.
And so i walked over. Hi, i said. I am such and such, we have just moved here. And she smiled, and she looked...nice. We chatted, and i asked questions, and she promised to get me details of something i wanted to find out about...And now, in a matter of two weeks, this woman:
A) took me to a wholesale plants market in her huge car while i was without any transport.
B) brought me two bottles of wine one evening, while i was without any liquor license. Nice ones, too!
C) appeared outside my door yesterday with two steaming fresh blueberry cupcakes she had just baked and wanted me to try. Delicious!
What i am trying to say is...she is one of the nicest people i have met in Doha so far. And if I had not approached her that day, i would have never known that.
Also, last week I decided to have a coffee afternoon at my place. Got tired of waiting for someone else to invite me. Following the instruction from my daughter, I just knocked on some doors and invited a few mums she said were "very nice". In the end, seven of us sat around the table. It was like an international summit with representatives from: Sweden, Belgium, UK, Azerbaijan, Palestine, Germany and Finland.
Make effort, I wrote back to the depressed anonymous member of Doha mums. Find someone you think you might like and stalk them. Like I stalked a few of my English friends back in the UK. They might have thought i was weird at first, but then you get to show them you are okay, really. (Or, in my case, they probably still think i am pretty weird but have given in, and accepted me anyway)
And they might bring you cupcakes. Or even a bottle of wine (if you are really cool, of course)