Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm a total sap.

I admit it. I admit it. I can already see my sister rolling her eyes at this song, this video. But in the spirit of Turning Points, and vulnerability, and a whole lotta other things I'm feeling, I share this song. I really love it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Turning Points

We are experiencing our very first sandstorm today, and what am I doing? Lying around in pyjamas, sick. By the way, my computer wants me to spell that word "pajamas," but I just won't do it. I'm badass that way.

I love storms. Windy days back in Canada always had me running outside to feel the wind toss and whip my hair around. I love the drama and energy of storms. No mere dribble of rain... a downpour. Not just a smattering of snow... whiteout conditions. They have me running out the door when I would probably be best just staying inside. So I'm kind of bummed that I am just staying inside. Though truth be told, looking out my window, I can see that I wouldn't be seeing much, other than flapping palm trees and homeless plastic and a general brown ... haze ... You could say visibility is low today. And sand has a tendency to well, get in your eyes. So we'll leave it at that.

Apart from today, with its coolish temperatures, things have been heating up in Doha. Friday saw our first, if brief, use of the dreaded a/c as temperatures soared to 35 degrees. And being the creature of the sun that I am, I've been loving it. Our villa with its tinted windows is far too dark, so most mornings, late afternoons, and weekends, we inhabit the kitchen, the brightest room in the house. I open up the window and we open the back door and welcome in the sun (and sand). We bring breakfasts and colouring books outside, and long after Jeff and Kaiya have retreated back into our den, I can be found sipping tea and soaking up the sun.

It looks a little like this (mostly dead plant included):

I happen to be wearing the exact same faded pyjama pants right now.

I am settling into life here. My angst is subsiding. The grip of homesickness that followed me from Kaiya's birthday in January all through February is easing. In terms of circumstances, not much has changed. It's not like we suddenly have a big social circle surrounding us, or sidewalks (or roads even... sheesh!) to walk on that lead to downtown shops. No, we have not gained any of the things we lost when we left Canada. It's more that I'm starting to look around and see what we do have. Hesitant, new, budding friendships. Much sandy beach and rocky coastline to explore. Beautiful cultural events and museums. Fantastic jobs. The promise of travel to new lands. Did I mention endless SUN?

But most of all, the space and quiet to listen and to open up again and to let myself be seen, the beautiful multi-dimensional creation that I am.

Leaving Canada was not easy for me this time. Of us three, I was the one digging in my heels, feeling ripped away from the life I had grown to love. I knew, deep down, that it was time for a change. I knew I had shelved certain dreams and plans, all while hanging desperately on to others that just weren't opening up for me. And so I kept saying... we'll do this. For Jeff and the change and positive job experience he needs... for Kaiya, and the amazing opportunities and growth this will bring her... And although I knew I was walking into what would probably be my best job experience ever, I mostly left it at that. Because I was clinging so badly that I didn't even want the job.

But I knew I'd come around. And here I am.

I'd like to introduce you to Kathy, to me. You've known me all along, but you haven't seen all of me for a while. I love my family and friends. Quietly, intensely. I'm well-meaning, even if it doesn't always come across that way. I'm often shy and somewhat introverted. I pour my life into my spunky daughter, whose fierce stubbornness and independence is often more a mirror-image of me than I'd like to admit. I also pour my life into my husband and I love spending time with him. Restaurant dates are my favourite, where we can talk over the minutiae of our days, our lives. I also love my Niagara community. I love checking in with the neighbours, strolling downtown streets, going to events at Montebello park, sipping wine at my sister's, poolside. I would love, more than anything, to have another baby.

But there's more.

I love travel. I was bitten by the bug back in (when was that trip, Karen?) 1994? When I spent 5 weeks touring Europe with my best friend. A year later we did 5 weeks in Australia. And a year after that I found myself teaching English in Japan, a year that changed my life course, leading me to become an ESL instructor. And we all know about the 2 years Jeff and I spent in Japan, leading to the birth of this lovely blog. I love the thrill of discovering new places. I love the journey. I think there is nothing better than getting in that car, putting on them tunes, and just driving, driving, driving, exploring the lay of the land. Adventuring. Never a dull moment. I also love discovering new cultures, trying the foods, learning the language. And always, always, trying to understand the people. I'm always searching, always questioning, and never quite finding. Never being sure of the answers. And I've started being okay with that. A little more than okay.

There you have it. Two sides that haven't always known how to co-exist, how to honour one another. My hope as I grow older is that they will.

(And for the record, I had to go out later today in that sand storm. And it was awesome. Crazy winds, super cool temps, and crap visibility. Sand everywhere... in my hair, in my eyes. I can taste it, smell it. Yep, still love storms.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Museum of Islamic Art

In preparation for our first visitor (YAY Sue!!), we've been checking out a couple more sites that we  had not gotten around to yet. One of these sites was:

I'm surprised we hadn't yet been there. We'd passed by it countless times, a stunning building that catches your eye as you drive along the Corniche. And we'd already been to the new park beside it many times. And... entrance is free of charge! It was definitely time to check it out.

Kaiya and I went on our own on a Friday afternoon, and as we walked around the building, all I could imagine was the photos Jeff would take of the beautiful geometric architecture. The building has amazing lines. So we brought him back with us the next day. We only took a peak at the actual exhibits: every single piece is encased in highly polished glass which the security guards watch like a hawk, asking you not to touch. Not a winning combination for a 4-year old. But the building itself is gorgeous with fantastic views of the water. And hey... the fountains are fun to play in.

I was right. Jeff had a blast taking shots of the museum. I hope you enjoy his artistry.

The palm-tree-lined walkway leading up to the museum.

The entrance to the museum. Unfortunately, the fountains were not going. They were being cleaned. Impressive nonetheless.
The view of the city from the museum. We love the building on the left.

A bridge into a part of the museum we were not allowed to enter. I love all the shapes and angles.

Inside. Looking up at the top floor.
The cafe and the many walkways leading across the different floors.

Another view of the cafe. Doesn't it feel like you're on a big ship?

Jeff loved how you could look up and see feet when you stood under the walkways.

Looking up, up, up in the middle of the museum. The repetitive octagon is the most common design found in Islamic art and architecture.

Love the arches. To the left are more fountains.

Taking pictures of friends taking pictures.

I.M. Pei, a famous Chinese-American architect, was coaxed out of retirement in his 90s to design the museum. He spent 6 months touring the region in order to learn about Islamic art and architecture before creating his design.

As I already mentioned, the museum is free of charge. And the hours (at least for now) are:
Sunday: 10:30 - 17:30
Monday: 10:30 - 17:30
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: 10:30 - 17:30
Thursday: 12:00 - 20:00
Friday: 14:00 - 20:00
Saturday: 12:00 - 20:00

Friday, March 09, 2012

Doha Moment #135-a

I often swap stories with a friend at work about our "Doha Moments..." Those days and experiences that somehow typify the ... persistence? sense of humour? energy? perseverance? that are required for life in this desert land.

This week, my moment won.

I went to Villagio during my couple of days off, to try to get some clothes shopping done. At lunch, I went to "Spasso Cafe" (perhaps the name says it all?) After carefully perusing the menu, I let the waiter know I wished to order a mushroom omelette.

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but omelettes are not available today."

"Um, okay. Is everything else available?"

"Also no sandwiches."

"Right. Are your breakfasts available?"


(Some time passed as I mulled over the breakfast options.)

"Okay, then I'll have this."

"Yes, ma'am."

About fifteen minutes later, the waiter brought me my order... a wrap stuffed with rather omelette-esque fried eggs and mushrooms.

No omelettes, no sandwiches.

Right. And that about sums it up.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

I think we got it right this time.

I wrote this last Friday. But I got sidetracked. By the rest of the weekend, beautiful fall weather, and a head cold. You know how it goes...


It's been one of those weeks. Where some days had me loving this life, and others had me hating it. Monday and Tuesday were real low points. Just a bad mix of circumstances and emotions, and I was done. Thankfully, the rest of the week looked up after that. Dinner with friends, a Japanese taiko performance (you just can't go wrong with one of those), better classes, venting sessions with colleagues, and a sweet, gracious hubby.

Thank you.

And today was an icing on the cake kind of a day. It was so simple, really. We went clam digging with a colleague's family in Fuwayrit. And as soon as my eyes saw the beautiful scene before me... sandy beach, greeny-blue water... I thought, "Yes! We got it right this time!"

Cha-ching... another location to add to the winner list.

We weren't even really that good at the clam digging. I persevered for a while, but Jeff mostly just wanted to take pictures of crabs while Kaiya just wanted to toss around dirt. By the end of the day, our lips were cracking from the sea air, our hair was wind-blown and coated with sand, and everything tasted like salt. It was wonderful.

Thank you to Dean and family for a fantastic idea. We'll have to do this again.

Jeff worked real hard to avoid butt crack shots. :)

Cool camp set up along the beach.

Kaiya and Coral, looking for treasures.

As per usual, I got anti-social for a bit and went exploring. Always so very worth it.
So glad to have found this sweet beach. Camping/rocky area off in the distance. Loads of people and dune buggies behind us.

Jeff was more interested in all the other sea life. He found so much amazing LIFE, he started to feel guilty for just walking around... "With every step I'm killing something!!"

More sea life

Some of our beautiful bounty

At one point, another "college family" happened to stop by our exact location. Later in the week, I found out that their rad had gone on them on the drive back, only 10 minutes from home. Within 30 seconds, a Qatari man had stopped to help them. He filled their rad with water and then they tried to continue home. Realizing it wasn't going to work, they stopped again. The Qatari man, who had been following them, stopped once again. Some of his family, who were in a second vehicle, stopped too. The man handed over his keys (to his 4x4 Lexus) and said, "Please, drive your family home in my car." When the dad protested, the Qatari man said, "You must get your family home. Go." He put the keys in his hand, and Jimmy and his family got into the Lexus and drove home, with the Qatari man and his family following them.

I have heard many stories of the kindness and generosity of the Qatari people. I love each and every one of them.


At the end of the day Jeff got his fix too, with some rocky off-roading. We booted around this hilly area for a while, rescuing another white guy who had gotten stuck, checking out cool camping spots, and generally saying, "let's come back here... often."

Oh yaaaaaa.... this was FUN!

I had a thought hit me tonight on the drive home from a friend's house. As Kaiya once again fell asleep on the short ride home, I suddenly realized that many of her early childhood memories will be of life here, in Qatar. Just as we all as children loved the comfort of falling asleep in the car, of sensing from the lights and the familiar streets that we were close to home, of being sweetly carried up to bed... in the same way, Kaiya will have all these memories. But they won't be of St. Catharines, of Canada. They'll be of bumping along the rubble, seeing the familiar compound sign, the swaying of the palm trees, the smell of the dust and sand. How wonderful.

Our desert girl


I know I say this a lot, but keep in touch, okay? Email, text, call. It's amazing how just a line or two from home can warm our hearts for the day.

Much LOVE!