When the Newness of your Host Country Wears off…

It feels like this school year should be further along than what it actually is.  Between all the packing and unpacking and repacking and re-unpacking and moving to a new school building and shifting classrooms and constant changes this school year feels infinite.  Thank God, winter break is just two weeks away.  But outside of work, it seems the flashy newness of my host country is wearing off and after two and a half years I’ve settled in.  So now what… Well I’ve started checking things off of my ‘Things to Do Before I leave Qatar’ list.  This doesn’t mean that I’m leaving tomorrow, because I have signed on for another year, but next year may be my last for several reasons unless there is a major change in my position, because a change is overdue. 

For our anniversary this year, Darryl and I stayed at the famous Torch hotel and had dinner at Restaurant 360.  It rotates so you get a full view of Doha.  The hotel is very nice.  The rooms are all powered through the Ipad and you can set the mood in the room by changing the color of the lights.  The food at the restaurant was delicious but the service was slow.  However the view was great.  

For his birthday, I took him to Nobu- a well recognized Japanese restaurant.  Although the lightening of the interior is a bit darker than my taste, the food is amazing.  I could not resist the Black Cod Yuzu Miso dish, so my fake veganism re-appeared. 

Last week we went to see Creed II in the Seven Star Novo Theatre in Souq Wakif.  It is very similar to a First Class Flight on Qatar Airways with reclining leather seats and partner pods.  You even get a blanket and satin covered pillow.  We received a welcome non alcoholic drink upon arrival and ordered some food that was bought to our seats.  Had I known, this movie theatre was so luxurious, I would have dressed better. Oh the movie wasn’t half bad either.  

A few days ago, my girlfriends and I made a visit to the beach that is literally down the street from my house.  We had a small picnic and some girl talk.  It was the first time I actually sat on this beach and I’ve been in my flat for 6months.  There was a nice amount of people there enjoying the cool weather and I decided that I’d frequent Al Wakra beach more often.  Besides, I always wanted to live near the beach. 

Over the weekend, Darryl and I along with another couple (Britney and Quahn) went Kayaking in the Mangroves of Al Khor.  I didn’t know kayaking was so much work.  But it was nice to be out on the water, and for a little while, I felt like I was on vacation. 

I don’t know how much longer I will be in Qatar; I’m thinking 1-2 additional years Max depending on the situation.  But before I leave there are still a few more things on my list that I plan to do before I go because once I leave here, I don’t plan on returning.  In the meantime, I’m off to see another part of the world.  Nine Days in Sri Lanka, coming right up.  Stay Tuned…

Arabic 101: Lesson 2

Ahlan Wa Sahlan- Welcome, Hello

If you ever want to know what it’s like to be an esl student, become one. ≈Me

I’ve never been a very empathetic person but this class is causing a change in me when it comes to my class of first graders.  Even though they understand a lot of English, they are still learning English as a second language and many of them are spoken to in Arabic at home.  I have to repeat directions several times in class and I’ve become more mindful of how fast I speak.  I’ve been told by multiple people that I speak rather fast.

Darryl and I have had 4 Arabic classes now and my confidence level has gone wayyy down.  This class is intense.  I am having a lot of difficulty with reading the letters and remembering what they mean.  However, I am catching on to bits of conversation pieces when the Arabic teachers at my school talk.  I assume it is a lot like this with some of my students.

Anyway this week we learned the Arabic numbers 0-10. Ten is just a combo of 1 and 0.

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Here is my favorite phrase that I’ve learned:  La Atif– it means I don’t know.  I use it quite often.

Other Phrases:

Ayna taskunu- Where you live?

Ana Askonu fi Bin Omran- I live in Bin Omran

Ahamaloo fi- I work in___

Come (not the right spelling but same sound)- how many, Becum- how much

A few Adjectives: Kabir- big; Jadil- new; Jamil- beautiful;

A few nouns: Baab- door; kitaab- book; cowlim- pen, wajib- homework, Bayt- house/home

Possessive- Kitaab- book, kitaaboka- your book for a boy, kitaaboki- your book for a girl, kitaabohu- his book, kitaaboha- her book, kitaabi- my book

Until next time- Iilaa aliiqaa [Ela licka]- See you

 

Has America Lost it’s Sense of Humor?

What stuck with me the most was, what one comedian said, America has lost it’s sense of humor.  Everything is so serious and it is, but if Qatar can do it, so can America. 

Imagine living in a foreign country in the middle of a diplomatic crisis, during a time when your country recently elected a very controversial President, while sitting through a comedy show.  Wait, that’s not all.  Now imagine that foreign country is in the Middle East, a level of censorship is maintained and speaking of certain things is considered taboo.  Confused, well this is the position I put myself in 4 days ago.  Was it the best idea I’ve had here in Qatar?  I’m still not sure, but hey, I’m here for the experience right.  I didn’t think of all of this prior to paying for the tickets but in the midst of so much chaos in the world, humor is always a good idea.

So as I sat through the Doha Comedy Festival at the QNCC and laughed along with hundreds of people, natives and expats, there were times when I felt very uncomfortable.  Maybe it was the comedian from India, who made mention of hand jobs and women being able to wear whatever they want.  Or perhaps it was the stage set up of buildings with smoke coming from behind them as one comedian mentioned, with Arabic comedians.  There was jokes of marijuana, cross-dressing, terrorism and racism. But most of the jokes centered around the blockade and President Donald Trump.

Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be that funny because of where I live.  My husband and I had a conversation before we went about our doubts that it would be funny.  We even planned our code phrase for a reason to leave early.  We thought because the country is Islamic, that there would be no profanity, or inappropriate jokes. Aren’t those the things that make comedy in the first place?  There was profanity and inappropriate jokes, totally unexpected and we laughed through the entire 4+ hour show.

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All of the comedians were funny and America, my native country, was the biggest blunt of jokes.  The sad part about it was, the jokes were true.  In the face of this blockade, Qatar held a comedy show, where many Qataris showed up and even the host/comedian was Qatari.  They laughed at the headlines that circulated in the media about the false reports of Qatar during the blockade.  What stuck with me the most was, what one comedian said, America has lost it’s sense of humor. Everything is so serious and it is, but if Qatar can do it, so can America.

With all of our differences, the audience all laughed together because…

“Laughter has no foreign accent.” — Paul Lowney