Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm Still Alive

I need to get better about updating. I've kind of jumped in with both feet here. That, coupled with blowing up my computer (sad but true) the first time I plugged it in has limited my personal time online. Never believe someone when they say, "Computers can switch back and forth between the voltages. You don't have to do anything except find an adapter that fits the outlet. Just plug it in."

I not only fried my desktop's power source, but flipped the breaker and took out the refrigerator and microwave as well. It sounded like a gunshot. Luckily, all it took was another flip of a breaker to turn both back on. Would that the computer was as easy a fix. Luckily the guys at work are going to help me out. They're putting in a good word for me with the local Dell rep.

Aside from that minor glitch, life here in Qatar is going really well. The people at Georgetown are so kind and welcoming. There's a ready-made community here that isn't at all difficult to be given entry to. So far I've been to a BBQ, a brunch, a movie, multiple trips to the mall, and dinner at the souk. When the weather turns a little milder, I'm going to take golf lessons with one coworker and go horseback riding with another. There's a fair amount to do here. You just need to know where to find it.

Work is keeping me busy (though I'm still learning the lay of the land). The new GU building at Education City is really stunning. It's a pleasure to go to work in such an environment. What I'm doing is interesting too. For example, I'm going to Dubai the day after tomorrow (just for the day) to meet with recruitment firms. There's so much to learn.

I'll be leasing a car starting next week. I've been traveling via the kindness of others and by sharing a driver with my friend and coworker, Charmagne. It's been good these last few weeks to be able to get familiar with the roads here. But I'd be lying if I told you I knew my way around.

I'm someone who is very comfortable with written instructions, a map or even landmarks. Here, none of that works. It's nearly impossible for someone to give you detailed written instructions because many, if not most, roads are unnamed. Add to that roundabouts with multiple roads converging, roads shut down without notice for repairs or expansion, and you can imagine how tough it might be for someone to tell you exactly how to get somewhere.

Maps exist, but they're tough too. Again, you see lines indicating roads, but they're not labeled and with all the growth, maps aren't always current.

Destinations don't have addresses. My address is Al Samrya Gardens, near Decoration Roundabout. That seems to be enough for people to find me. But that's so foreign (no pun intended) to my way of thinking, that I don't know I could find me if I didn't know where I was.

You know what I mean.

Landmarks also only work in places. To be honest, away from downtown, a lot of Doha can look much the same. Just the other morning, I was talking to Charmagne about the drive to work (since I've been taking care to memorize the route) and found myself saying, "Okay, so I want to take a left at the second roundabout with the vacant lots on the corners, not the first roundabout with the vacant lots on the corners."

Should be interesting next week. If I were you, I'd stay off the Doha roads till I get acclimated behind the wheel.

Things that are different here from the U.S.:

-Egg yolks are pumpkin colored rather than golden.
-When you go to the movie, you choose your seat and ushers walk you to it.
-It gets light here about 4:30am and dark around 6:30pm.
-Some banks have one ATM for deposits and one for withdrawals.
-At Carrefour, you buy butter in the frozen food section.
-Movies on satellite are uncut, but movies in theatres can be missing entire scenes (Hangover II, I'm looking at you).
-Phone numbers have eight digits, not seven.
-You can't buy vanilla extract (at Carrefour, anyway), but instead vanilla flavoring. I'm guessing it's because vanilla extract has alcohol in it.
-You can drive pretty much over anything here. As long as you don't mind your car bumping over some awfully uneven ground, you can call almost anything a shortcut and go.
-Looking in my kitchen cupboards, my flour is from Kuwait, my grapefruit soda (which I'm addicted to) is from Lebanon, my aluminum foil is from Saudi Arabia, my butter is from Denmark, my frozen pizza is from France, and crackers are from South Korea, my cinnamon is from India, and my chocolate is from England.

For some, multiculturalism starts in the supermarket.


  1. Welcome to Qatar.

    Is visited by Saudi Arabia

    Bb: 2863b0ad

  2. This would have been a helpful post for me to read before searching for butter last night. Finally found the frozen food section. :)