Been busy and tired from endless socialising and getting involved in pointless discussions about God on Facebook. Normally, i would not get involved. But, this particular discussion amused me when an old uni friend made a comment that he suffers, living in Prague, where, according to the recent poll, 90% are atheists. 'I am so sorry!' This girl replied. 'It must be awfully difficult for you to live in a society so immoral and empty of any values!' That, of course, was a kind of comment that I just could not walk past in silence.
I honestly don't care that a few of my intelligent, lovely friends have religion. I sigh deep inside, and wish i could understand them. But it does not bother me that i can't. I hope it does not bother them, either. We also get told, endlessly, that we have to respect the religious beliefs of the others. But what about the lack of beliefs? How come some people think it is appropriate to insult the non-beliefs of others?
I tried to explain to this girl that, out of hundreds of people i have net in my life, my grandmother, an atheist all her life, was one of the purest, kindest, most generous types. Somehow, the discussion went from ignorant to moronic when one other girl commented that the very fact we even discuss God proves he exists.
No further comment.
But, if you happen to still be reading this, and not thinking to yourself "oh, for crying out loud, not the god discussion again!"...this is not what i wanted to talk about tonight.
I wanted to share an interesting local experience with you.
Recently, I have noticed that i am slowly loosing this uncomfortable feeling i used to get whenever i saw a woman completely covered up. I guess, i used to think that i could not make any contact with her. To me, not being able to see her face meant that i could not really tell what she is thinking. Is she smiling? Is she smirking? Is she thinking my jeans are way too tight? It is difficult to talk to someone whose facial expression is not participating in the conversation. But, having lived in a country where a lot of women do cover up for -holy crap!- almost a year now; i think I am a lot more at ease with it all.
So, about two weeks ago, during a visit to a local heart hospital (where i have decided to take my visiting mother to check out some irregular heartbeat problem), i noticed that one of the receptionists had the most unbelievable eyes.
Now, it is still quite difficult for me to tell whether an Arabic woman i am looking at is a Qatari or from some other county nearby. 'Just watch', one more experienced friend told me. 'The Qatari women, they walk differently. They float so gracefully, even on those heels, that there is no mistake.' They also seem to do something with their hair that stands really high up in some sort of a bun at the back of the head, which lifts the abaya and looks a lot more feminine, somehow.
The woman with stunning eyes had all the attributes applicable for a local lady. Her hair was raised in a big bun high up. Her heels when she got up to get some papers from anther desk were incredibly high and her body language exuded confidence. She was clearly also in charge, it was in the way she held up her mobile phone and in the way she gave brisk orders to the other two young Arabic receptionists. I was not talking to her, but kept glancing at her face, completely mesmerised by her eyes. Perhaps it was the shock of seeing such light, almost the shade of the Gulf sea water, colour, or the size if them, or the heavy eye make up around them that caught my attention. I was wondering to myself if the rest of her was this pretty, or just her eyes. Finally, unable to help myself, i spoke to her.
Not knowing whether she would think I was rude, or accept the unexpected compliment, and not being able to judge from her facial expression, I had to just trust my instinct and go for it anyway.
'Excuse me', I said to her, 'I just have to tell you...You have amazing eyes! They are just too pretty!'
And as I spoke to her about her stunning eyes, they wrinkled. She was laughing along with me, embarrassed, but clearly pleased. Those pretty eyes, the only part of her body that I could see, were happy and they were smiling. 'Thank you' she said. the girls on each side of her also giggled and we parted at that.
We needed to go back for one test in a few days, and also to try and book a stress test. 'You should try and get an early appointment' ( my mother's visa, already extended once, was running out soon) the doctor told us, 'but, to be honest, the waiting lists are way too long. You probably won't get it in time before your flight.'
As we approached the reception desk, my mother spoke to the girls again. Please, she said, any chance I could get a stress test before I have to leave the country? No, they said. Nothing. Not until mid-December. 'Oh, well...' my mother sighed. 'That's okay. Thanks so much for trying anyway'.
And then, as she started to walk away, she heard the one with the beautiful eyes shout out 'Wait a second! Come back here!'
She picked up the phone and spoke urgently into it. Then she made a few quick notes in the computer.
'Here', she said, her eyes smiling again, and she added my mother into the queue for the next morning.
Now, there is a good lesson to learn for someone like me. Firstly, compliments- when genuine!- work miracles. Secondly, human factor and personal contact like this work in Doha. This sort of thing would never happen in either of my other homes- the UK or Azerbaijan. In the UK, complimenting a receptionist about her eyes would get me nowhere. The rules remain the rules, whatever you say. In Azerbaijan, only bribes would help to go around the rules. But here, everything is possible if someone simply liked you.