Friday, 8 October 2010

A new start: Doha

Sunset downtown Doha.
Three weeks ago I arrived in Qatar, so here is my overdue post on life so far. The delay has been due to tiredness. I get up for work at 5.15am to be collected at 6 and return around 3pm. After a late lunch and maybe a nap, by 5.30pm it is then dark. It is still a bit hot and currently dusty to wander about in the evenings, so it's easier to turn on the tv and computer and relax. I'm not the only one who is tired, my trainees frequently sleep in class as you can see in the picture.
Hopefully not because of the lesson.

Over these last few weeks, I have had one class of 8 students, nice lads except one, Mohammed who is disruptive and I'm sure is only there to spend time with his friends. They are low level trainees aged between 20-28 waiting to get into Qatar Petroleum once they pass the training. On Sunday I am going to work in a new site, with actual employees, so hopefully they will be more motivated. My colleagues all seem nice and I have spent a few evenings with some of them, although due to the schedule going out on a work night rarely happens.
My apartment building in evening light.
There are about 28 of us working in different sites and nearly all of us live in the same apartment block. The apartment is one bedroom with a reasonable lounge. There is free internet, which is both a blessing and a curse, also a basic tv satellite package. I’m on top floor to the left without a balcony. The left seems the best side to be on as there is construction all around, but is muffled most of the time by the adjacent building. It is in a good area with a supermarket 2 minutes away, also a small mall with a cinema. La Cigali Hotel is a block away and the Ramada Hotel 2 or 3 (a 5 minute drive), whilst near the Ramada are lots of restaurants..
Nearest supermarket.

I have been very, very tired what with new job, new climate, and silly time to get up, but have been out a couple of times. On the first Thursday and again last night, I went down the corridor and joined some colleagues for a chilli, which was nice. On the 27th, I was picked up by Susi, who I know through an online social networking group, and with a friend of hers we went to the Qatar Professional Women’s Network for their monthly event. I met some lovely women and look forward to meeting them again. There was a woman in abaya & scarf alone, so I thought it was my chance to meet a Qatari woman – she’s from northern England, works here and was very interesting to talk to. Can you spot me in the picture below? After the event, the 3 of us drove to an Egyptian restaurant to meet with the social group we belong to. Again, a great group, I think there were about 35 of us there, and we had a huge feast of mezzeh: fresh bread, hummous, falafel etc. We left before 10, so it wasn’t too difficult to get up the next morning. Having said it's rare to go out on a work night, I did again the following night.
A face in the crowd. QPWN September event at Bistro 61.
You cannot go in bars here without your original of your passport or a resident’s card. My passport is currently with my company as they process my residency etc., however, I was fortunate enough to get it back for the 28th. Then, clutching it tightly, I found a taxi and went to the Ramada. I could have walked quicker as the traffic was appalling. Once there I met with the Canadians in Qatar group, I’d got an invite through the internet even though I'm not Canadian, and again met some more lovely people. I was also invited to attend next month’s meeting. Ironically, on their facebook page, there are only 6 photos of the group, of which I'm in one.
Being a tourist.
I thought I ought to do some sightseeing, so last weekend, about 8.30 on a hazy, dusty Friday morning, I caught a taxi down to Doha's Corniche. I was dropped near the fishing wharf as it has a magnificent collection of dhows moored along it. I got the obligatory tourist photo above and soon discovered that not only was it hazy, spoiling photos, but the humidity was very high. [The Weather Channel stated humidity between 58-80% with temperatures 32c at 8am] I walked around the wharf and then crossed the road to Souq Waqif, searching for an open coffee shop and the chance to get into air conditioning. Although most of the souq (market) was closed as it was Friday morning, I did find the Corner CafĂ© open. Inside over a cup of tea and a large bottle of water I rehydrated, cooled down, and sketched the counter.  The souq has been reconstruction with lots of restaurants, coffee shops, and of course a market.  Later that night, I went back to the souq with a colleague M, his boyfriend T, and 2 of T’s colleagues/friends.  We sat outside, which was cool enough with the fans blowing, watching the world go by, and eating good Lebanese food.
Souq Waqif.
There are lots of things planned for the month ahead, such as more networking events, a dhow trip, and a WTA tennis tournament. What a busy place Doha seems to be.