Sunday, 27 January 2013

An expat bitch.

I am so bad at blogging these days, aren't I? I have no excuse, really.

I expected to feel more creative when I move to Qatar, but, in reality, I barely have anything to say. Partially, because anything I could say I would possibly get deported for. Also, of course, my life here is basically just the same as it was back in the UK, less recycling, less rain, less walk.

I also expected to feel a lot less tired here. My imagination drew a very relaxed life. I was feeling fed up with my English existence: Rainy days with nothing to do except for eating or shopping...everything being too expensive...paperwork piling up to the ceiling and recycling nightmares every Wednesday (in the rain).

In reality, rainy days have been replaced with the days that are either too windy and therefore, dusty; or way too hot to do anything but eating and shopping. Everything is too expensive (except for petrol) and no recycling, but other, equally irritating, challenges that are very specific to Doha

And what i am getting to realise is that i never expected to feel so...i am not sure what it is. Angry? Stressed? Anxious? Probably a little bit of all three. Sitting in my big car, on the way to a coffee morning, with someone cleaning my house while i am out...what do I have to be stressed or angry about?

I am getting a feeling recently, that I am, slowly but inevitably, turning into this typical western expat wife. It has been a whole year since we unpacked our suitcases in Doha. At first, I smiled at everybody and was polite on the roads. I was in a nice mood from the endless sunshine; and thought all the maintenance guys were incredibly helpful. But, as I settle further into my routine here, as little funny silly things become daily sources of irritation, I am turning into a mean bitch.

On my way out of a hypermarket today, I sat patiently waiting, allowing three, four, five vehicles to enter through the exit of the car park, since the entrance- for some reason only known to the management of the market-was barricaded by two shopping trolleys and barriers; It was my right of way, of course, but I tried to be kind and patient- something that always backfires on the roads of Doha.
Finally, after the 5th car, I decided it was probably my turn to move, only to see a small underpowered white car continue moving directly at me, not wanting to wait. And so it was over, that slight, short-lived glimpse of patience and niceness in me. I pushed my car forward, forcing the man to back down on the road. Driving in Doha makes you nasty. It teaches you that stereotypes do work. And that you can predict just how dangerous or stupid, or most probably both, the driving will be by what car is being driven, and by what nationality driver. 

And then there are other things.

At the Qatar Masters event last weekend, we sat in a glorious sunshine, drinking white wine, which was being sold at a stall directly opposite. Behind us, in a large tent, our kids were having fun with all the lovely, thoughtfully planned things for the children-what a perfect afternoon to spend with a few friends in a nice setting, right? Right??

And then it happens. It almost always does. A very polite but clearly annoyed with us supervisor of some description leaned down to ask us to move from the family section. You should not be drinking here, she said. 'Really? That's funny', I said, lifting the almost empty bottle out of the bucket. 'You are about 40 minutes late. We are finished with this anyway'.

She started clearing the rubbish off our table in the very annoyed fashion. It was obvious that the point was not that we had a plastic cups with a tiny bit of wine left in our hands. The point was- she wanted us to leave, as she needed that table. But we had 7 children between us and our friends. I stood up and walked five steps away, where other expats stood on the grass, drinking alcohol which, may I remind you, was sold at the event. Technically, I was no longer drinking at the 'Family' table.

So I am confused what that little angry woman was still angry about as we got ready to leave.
She looked very unhappy. I however, felt very happy, thank you very much. The sun was shining, my baby was not whining, the wine was cold and pleasant..... What was her problem I wanted to know.

'Look,' I said to the angry little woman. 'We are leaving now! Be happy! Relax! '

'I just think it is very disrespectful', she said under her nose. 'This is a family section, for children. You should not be drinking here!'

I pointed to my baby eating snacks with her baby friend. 'What do you think these are then? We are a family. We have children?'

I tried to explain to her that as soon as she'd asked us, we got rid of the bottle, got up and left the table. But she was still very unhappy. So, smiling my most generous, sincere smile, I hugged her sturdy shoulders- Listen, I said, Really, there is no need, is there? No need to be such a..... And then I might have used a not-so-nice word.

Did not really want to say that. It just came right out. See? I am an expat bitch.

Oh, Qatar! You do remind me of my dearly beloved motherland, my wonderful Azerbaijan, in so many ways! What is allowed, and what is not allowed, and what is allowed to some, but not the others...
What works and what only looks like it works, but you all know very well it probably does not...

And yet...The sun is shining. And I am allowed this glass of wine in my house. Life is good.


  1. You'll find annoying people everywhere. People who think traffic lights are Christmas ornaments displayed all year long. People who think exits and entrances are the same. People who won't respect anything at all but their own wishes.
    PD: a year already! Time really flies.

  2. Maybe you need to switch to gin?

    1. there is no switching to this one, my dear. :-) I am a big fan!

  3. The same feeling here.. being an expat wife in Baku =) Wine is expensive but hey, there's always vodka!

    1. Can you get decent wine in Baku these days? It used to be a problem. Here we only have one shop but at least the choice is good and the quality is excellent.

  4. Yeah.. a lot. Imported wines are pricey but sometimes you just need a bottle of good wine. Georgian wines are cheaper! And some are nice too. There's a new Azeri wine.. Caspian Coast. I like the red one.