Friday, September 07, 2012

First Impressions, Second Time Around

It's been almost two weeks since we've been back. Two surprisingly relaxed, tranquil weeks in a land so foreign to our Canadian selves that we can't help but be surprised by all the differences, all over again.

We're back in a country where...
-people place special covers over their cars while they're away for the summer to protect them from the unrelenting sand and dust

-we have to pull Kaiya out of the bathwater-temps pools because her cheeks are turning bright red (instead of Canada, where we pull her out because her lips are turning blue!)
-in the summers, the water heater's turned off and we switch the tap to "cold" for hot water and "hot" for warm
-we are welcomed back home by our nanny with a note that states: "Welcome back Sir Jeff, Ma'am Kathy and Kaiya"
-my glasses steam up every time I step outside in the heat of the summer
-men in red jumpsuits offer to wash my car in the parking lot while I do my grocery shopping
-much time is spent picking through limp, well-worn produce, longing for the fruit and veggie stands of Niagara
-mosquitos and most flies are gloriously absent, but the ants come with a painful bite
-one lone English pop station plays the strangest variety of music and programs I've ever heard
-fiery orange sunsets drop, night after night, into the dusty, sandy Doha haze
-we struggle to find ways to make 14-foot high ceilings "cozy"
-windows are sadly tinted to keep out the hot, hot sun
-left hand turns are rare and roundabouts make you dizzy
-vehicles are very, very big
-neighbourhood friends come from around the world, and new acquaintances always swap stories of "so how long've you been in the Gulf?"
-children are loved and spoiled, far beyond my own comfort levels

To show you what I mean by the last point, here's a text Jeff sent me in our first week back:
"So we were stopped at a light and Kaiya was being very cute, waving and smiling at a Qatari couple next to us. We both rolled down windows. Next thing I knew he had tossed a small pack of candy into the car!"

Not that strange of an occurrence here, believe it or not.

Back in our other home in Canada this summer, I struggled to put to words the experience of our first year. I found Qatar just didn't fit as neatly into little sub-categories like Japan did. Our first year left us more or less with general impressions that weren't always easily described. And so, as I often do, I remained silent. Not always helpful, especially when you're wanting family and friends to connect and understand what life is like in your current chapter.

Towards the end of the summer, I read this post from an Australian blogger who was also getting ready to head back after the holidays. And it just hit me... it really is another world here, another planet. So different from our daily Canadian existence that it's hard for me to even explain, at least not without making it sound like a caricature of itself. And somehow, that settled it for me. I live and operate in two completely opposite worlds. The differences are so great... the daily struggles, the social issues, the lifestyle, etc. etc. that they are hard to explain. But that's okay. I don't really need everyone in my Canadian circles to understand my Qatari circles... (although I love it when they try!) I can just live with these differences and enjoy each of my homes for what they are ... to me.

It's funny, because even after just a week, all these differences have started to blend together again, and now we're just home. Home in another place. Far, far away.


Suzanne said...

Soo different. The cheesy Phil Collins song, "Two Worlds, One Family" came to mind when reading this. You do live in two completely different worlds, but through it all, you're the same family that all of us love. Thanks for sharing another snapshot into your unbelievable home. Love you.

Erika said...

great thoughts and comments. fourteen foot ceilings? bring them down with paint. kind of like a chair rail but higher up at about ten feet and then paint the ceiling down the extra four feet. get it? just one idea. can't wait for you to post some pictures. we are all in crazy building/decorating/renovating mode. enjoy the weekend; love to you all!