Thursday, October 06, 2011

Little Changes

The "seasons" are a-changing out here in Doha. The last couple of days both Jeff and I have noticed. There has been a lot of wind. Wind is my most favourite form of weather. I love the playfulness I feel in it, and watching the changes it brings. Here it mostly brings sand into your eyes, as evidenced by Kaiya shielding her eyes and running into our driver's car as quick as she can when I pick her up from daycare. But the temperatures are definitely cooling. Our recreation newsletter at work is full of outdoor activities for October, including a boot camp I'm thinking of joining. And when I step outside, I enjoy the warm breeze, instead of feeling like I'm on the wrong end of a blasting air conditioner. And two nights ago, we slept with our bedroom a/c unit off for the first time. It was amazing (and a little weird) to sleep in the absolute peace and quiet. I'm sure the temps are still well above 30, but I don't really know. Why check the weather, when it's always hot and sunny? But I'm sure we're out of the 40s.

I have updates for you... lots of little updates. First and foremost, Jeff got his residence permit!!! We feel almost dizzy with the possibilities. What do we do first?? Call QTel for better internet? Get to Nissan to seal the deal on the vehicle they're holding for us? Boot over to QDC (Qatar Distribution Company) to buy the red wine that helps take the edge off a bad teaching day? The possibilities are endless! Of course, nothing is quite that simple. Most of these transactions first involve us getting a number of "no objection" letters from our employers. It all takes time. But the various balls are definitely rolling! QTel has been contacted, and within 10 days we'll be able to Skype and actually download videos again. And Jeff made an appointment with Nissan tonight to get in and get going. That's right... in about another week we should finally be tasting the freedom! (while cursing the roundabouts)

Our water pump: About one week ago, our water pump was fixed. When we first moved in here, we had zero water pressure. It turns out it was because our pump was broken. New pump was installed, but voila... along with our cherished water pressure came an unwelcome addition to the noise levels of our home. Imagine, if you will, an old, beaten up, obnoxiously loud pool pump that happens to have a broken propeller. This pump is located directly above your bedroom. Every time it turns on (in our case, with every toilet flush, use of the bath/sink/shower/dishwasher....) you hear a loud, brain numbing noise, for the duration of the water flow, and about half a minute longer. And then, imagine that you have mystery water leaks. You can't find them anywhere, but suddenly, in the middle of the night, the pump will go off, at completely random intervals. This went on for a month, until one night I blew a gasket and said I couldn't take it anymore. I either kept waking to the sound of the pump, or to the expectation of the sound of the pump. So, we called Kamal, who by now is quite sick of us (we feel the same, mind you). He brought out his goons, and we didn't expect much. The day it was fixed, Jeff was home before me, and as I was being driven home, I wrote him a text, more as an afterthought, saying, "So is the water pump fixed?" And he said, "YES. You can't even tell when it's on." I let out an audible cheer, mildly startling my driver. I couldn't believe it. But it was true. I came home, went up to the bathroom, flushed the toilet, and listened. I heard nothing. As I wrote to Larissa later that night, "You. Have. No. Idea." This single change has caused a massive improvement to our quality of life. Massive! Mind you, both Jeff and I still heard the sound in our heads for the next few days. Every time I flushed the toilet I would yell out, "BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!" (I still have the tone down pat). 

My students. I still don't love them, but I'm slowly figuring out what makes them tick and how to connect with them. Last week it was camels. At the end of one class, after retrieving their mobiles out of the cardboard box I carry around for this purpose (I kid you not), some of them gathered around, eager to show me pictures of their... camels. One student proudly showed me pictures of his uncle's camel, a racing camel which he said is worth 4 million riyal (that's about a million bucks). The students also showed me pictures of pails and pails of their camels' milk. And they bragged about how much milk their camels produce. I was kind of ... speechless. You could say that I'm still getting used to this culture (severe understatement) I finally asked one student, "Do you all have camels?" "Yes, teacher, of course!" "And what do you do with your camels?" "Milk." And then, after a pause, I feebly stated, "In Canada people have cats... And dogs."

Kaiya. We've had a rough patch with her. This adjustment has been tough. But I think, after week #3 of solid routine, we are finally starting to see the glimmer at the end of the tunnel. She's laughing a lot more, picking fights less. And with the help of an encouraging email from a friend (thanks, Robyn), I've been able to re-focus, see the bigger picture, and love her harder, even when she's pulling her stunts and pushing me away. And thank God for crafts. I'm going to buy out this country's supply of glitter glue. Glitter glue, scissors, tape, stickers, and paper... and we get a content Kaiya, happy to sit on the floor and just be. Those are our best moments these days.

Overall, I think we're starting to settle in. Jeff's RP, and the prospect of freedom has really really helped to shift our thinking. We're looking forward to booting around this country, exploring all its corners, and taking tons of great pictures along the way. We've also talked about driving through Saudi and maybe into Oman. We hear there's great hiking and camping there. And there's nothing we Epps like better than a road trip.

This weekend's plans include my first night out with a girlfriend (YAY! I am so desperately in need of some coffee and deep talk time, and as wonderful as Jeff is, it will be amazing to go out without him... sorry, hon ;) ) Then, sadly, Jeff will be at a conference all weekend. But Kaiya and I have our own plans. A birthday party for a daycare friend (whose parents work at the college), and the Doha Mums Halloween party! Let's hope this is our last weekend car-less. :)


Tracie said...

Hurray for RP's! And for driver's licenses...and for the liquor souk...and...and yes it all takes a little more time. We're learning patience right kid?

I realized when the RP's came through that I didn't actually think it was going to happen. It was a big shock. haha.

Kind of like my shipping. Mentally, I've gone to a place now where I'm ok that it's never, ever actually going to arrive. I'll be shocked when it does!

Enjoy the breezes!

Suzanne said...

So many great stories indeed. I can't wait for you to get all the wonderful tastes of freedom and to be able to really explore. Fantastic! The camel story is hilarious! Do they drink the camel milk? That's bizarre. Glitter glue. Though I'm very happy that she is so content with this product, you can keep it in Qatar ;) And enjoy your coffee date! How much fun. I love you Kathy and can't wait to be able to Skype and have great conversations via the INTERNET!!! Love you.

Robyn said...

Hey you! This was also a good post.
A new car, and exciting trips of exploration, and quiet water usage! I'm glad things are looking up! I look forward to photo's of the car, and your house as you start to find things you want to bring back in your new car! And the photo's of the places you end up!

Fatima said...

Well, I just got caught up with your blog and I have to say that I am very thankful for you writing. Since you have been away I find myself using your blog as my time away from reality. Things have been really hard here and some how reading your stories lets me escape from everyday life to a far away land. It's almost healing. It's great to see that you are experiencing the culture you spoke about before heading to Qatar. And, I have to say seeing the closeness between you and Kaiya definitely brings a tear to the eye. It is wonderful that amongst all the changes and uncertainty you have managed to spend so much quality time together. We miss you guys and can't wait to read more. Take care and keep doing what you do best live life to it's fullest and enjoy every minute.