Saturday, November 12, 2016

How Did I Wind Up Here?

By Plane, Obviously

I need:
Gladware/food storage
A cutting board
A kitchen knife
Dried meat
Maybe a potato or two?

But that's too much to carry in one trip to-and-from my hotel to the mall grocery store.  Plus, I need to stop to withdraw some rials.

What?  Oh, I didn't see you there, reading my blog . . . that I am presently writing.  How's that for starting in media res?

The Why(s) of Ty

No one actually calls me "Ty," except my brother.  But, I guess I need to launch into a couple explanations.

I am writing this blog because it was suggested to me that I should keep a blog and I am also looking to keep my spending down.  Blog-writing costs me naught, but my dignity.

The other "why" is "why I am in Qatar when all the things dear to me are in the U.S.?"  Well, the short answer is money and employment.  The longer answer is that I make bad decisions, have always wanted to travel, and somewhere out of the mess that I have made of my work life came an excellent opportunity with the steep caveat that I leave my beloved (I'm jealous of people who speak romance languages and get to call one another adorable things like "mi Amor" or "ma pĂȘche," but I don't speak those languages and I don't think she's going to go for "mein Schatz."  Screw it, I'm rolling with it, hereinafter, she is "MEIN SCHATZ" because I know how much she loves German and I feel like all-caps and bolding really help the German-effect), my three cats, and the house we just bought last year behind, to stay in Doha for a minimum of six months.

I always thought it would be super-cool to travel for work when I was younger, more foolish, and possibly, dare I say it, more naive.  When I was 25, I didn't have a mortgage keeping me in one place or someone back home on whom I have been relying for daily emotional support for 10 years.  This may wind up being considerably more trying than I anticipated.


Like I said, I need to keep my expenses down, but it's pretty clear at this point that this escapade will be the exception, rather than the rule, of my career.  I'll probably never see Doha again after this job, so I don't want to miss out on it.  There's a lot that I want to see:  the Islamic Art Museum, an actual sand desert (not the fake, baked clay kind. Arizona, I'm looking at you), the pearl beaches, at least a little bit of the nightlife, although I am less interested in that.  But while the nightlife is close by, here in West Bay, anything else probably requires renting a taxi and going out into the dunes requires a whole trip.  I've been told to consider buying a bike, as it will save me money in just a couple of months, but there isn't really a biking culture here.  Traffic is fast and fairly dense (I'm told it will be very dense, but I haven't seen that outside of parking lots) and I don't exactly see a lot of bike racks.  I can get a folding bike that I can take up to my room and into work, but I sort of doubt they want me wandering around a museum with one.  And I have to buy one - where is Capital Bike Share when you need it?

First Impressions

Everything is expensive.  Actually, that's not true.  Living expenses doesn't seem to be too bad, lack of public transit notwithstanding, although I might feel differently if the company weren't providing the hotel (I'm living in a hotel for six months, I feel like a movie star.  Albeit one who went to buy pots and pans to cook their own food and has a less-than-full pantry because it's about a half hour walk back from grocery store, which is, as I said, in a mall, and it is not chilly outside so I can only carry so much).  But everything looks expensive.  I'm afraid to touch anything outside my room for fear of breaking it and having to wash all of the dishes, forever.  I was outside 10 minutes and saw three Ferraris and dozens of Land Rovers.
The traffic does move quickly, with little regard to traffic laws.  Although, I like the U-Turn lanes and signals, those are a nice touch.  Anna and her husband seem to navigate it just fine, even if the former did express some reservations.
Because so much of the city is "new," it is just gorgeous at night.  At least where I am; I'm sure there are less gorgeous parts, but driving in was amazing.  Of all the views possible from the hotel, my view is probably among the worst, but I can see the Gulf from here, so, yeah, it's lovely around these parts.

As expected, there are a lot of economic migrants here and English is extremely common. I feel bad traveling to a country where I don't speak a lick of the language, but then I did go to France, Italy, and Armenia, too.  And it's not like the Swiss can understand my German anyway.  The Qataris, I think, are very conscious off all the non-natives wandering about; I don't know how they feel about us, having little-to-no interaction with native Qataris so far, but anywhere I go, there are customer service people (economic migrants, as well) and they're not bored.  Well, they might be anyway, but they're busy because everyone stops to ask them questions.  In a U.S. mall, where there might be a map, instead there are a couple uniformed customer service people taking queries and giving directions.
The first night at one of the souks was cool.  I'm to understand that it has been rebuilt, but rebuilt to look like an old fashioned souk.  Architecturally, it probably does, but it really reminded me the shopping districts in Zurich, with the pedestrian roads, boutiquey shops on all sides punctuated by the more dimly lit restaurants with their patron-noise spilling out into the crowds.  Well, that and no one was in jeans and a t-shirt except me.  No, that's not true, but the people who were in jeans and a t-shirt were wearing $500 skinny jeans and $100 faux-faded Gucci t-shirts.
Speaking of, I don't have enough dress shirts.  If I go out, I really need to look better than I normally do and that means dress shirts right now.  I'm okay with wearing a suit jacket over a t-shirt later, but it is too warm for that right now.
But I digress, near the souk were some stables with the Qatari Royal Family's Arabian horses, which the public can just wander through.  I mean, I'm sure the prize winners and competitive ones are kept elsewhere, but even retired Arabians can't be cheap, can they?  So, that was actually really cool, if you like horses, which I don't, because they're mean and crazy.

Anyway, those are my first impressions, although do not get me started on the irony of not having Bein Sport in my Qatari hotel room, since I couldn't get the USA - Mexico game on the Fox Sports 2 Go app because the app realized I was outside of the country.  Oh well, they lost anyway.

Final Thoughts?

None really.  There's more to say; we'll see if I keep this up or not.


No?  That's not cool?  Okay, fine.  Later, then.