Revisiting the Suite Life

The end of this month will mark our one year anniversary in Doha. When I think back to packing up our house at this time last year, I have very mixed feelings. For 10 years we avoided going to the US with G’s company, eventually we couldn’t hide anymore and G was asked to work on a particular project that HAD to be run out of the States. When we arrived with our heels dragging (me having left a job I really enjoyed) we quickly discovered that America had received a really bad rap. Instead of loathing it, we were shocked, we loved it.

We lived in one of those pretty American suburbs you see in the movies with swings hanging from big leafy trees and basketball rings in the driveway. Our house was light and bright with sunshine coming in  from all angles and a sparkling pool in the backyard. The beagle walked me daily on the biking/running track alongside a bayou that ran behind our house. It all came at half the price we would have paid in Australia, but yes, it wasn’t Australia.

It was an incredibly easy lifestyle. It took me 5 minutes to drive the little travelers to school, 2 minutes to get to the supermarket and gym but most importantly it was walking distance to an el cheapo Mexican restaurant serving the most spectacular margaritas I’ve ever had.

Throw in the fact that we had old friends that we love living 30 minutes away and new friends to bbq and do dinners with, it was all pretty perfect, there was just one problem.

G HATED his job.

He was done. After 12 years of traveling and living for a company that we will just call “the big blue” he was beginning to become jaded and cynical. At the end of each day he’d walk through the door with a larger grey cloud over his head. It was no surprise that when the head hunters came knocking his interest was sparked. When they came back again and then again each time with a sweeter deal, we couldn’t resist. Our life was about to change. Again.

I had a look back today at one of the first blogs I wrote. It has more of a “group email” feel than a blog. I think it was a day after our arrival. To arrive from the States in to the Arab world was visually striking. The little travelers had so many questions about what they were seeing. It was so exciting to be here but at the same time there was that flutter in your stomach that comes with the unknown.  We were in those early stages of learning how to make things happen and get things done. Here we are nearly a year ago:

Living the “Suite” life.

After an evening of jet-lagged musical beds we awoke to our first morning in Doha. 
Our hotel suite would normally be enormous but with 4 children and 20 suitcases
(the beagle is at the kennel) it has the feel of luxury camping. The hotel has very
kindly upgraded us to a suite so we have a dining table that seats 8, a lounge 
area that has been converted to a dorm room for the children, a tiny kitchen, and
in the adjoining room G and I have a king size room with a bed the size of
Texas…..I KNOW!!! It’s lovely and they will be dragging me out of here next month.

The children have quickly become experts at living the “Suite Life” and are living
in a dream world of buffet’s, butlers and bidets. I mention the bidet as it has
become a place of fascination for the 4th little traveler. “What does it do?
“”How does it work?” “Can we use it?”

My head was in the bottom of a suitcase when I heard number 3 yell out
“Mummy come quick, he’s doing a wee in the butt washer”. Squeals of 
delight from the girls who then raced to get prime positions to watch.

After the bidet action we were collected by Mr Talib, who works with G’s 
company. We knew we were going to get “something” done towards our 
residents permits but we were a little hazy on the details. Mr Talib was 
dressed in the traditional dishdasha and was more than happy to answer
any questions the children had. He explained the different ways the head
wear (Keffiyeh) is worn, that Qatari men wear theirs differently to both the 
Omani and Saudi men. Mr Talib could not have done more for the children and
made a point of telling me several times that the difference between Qatar 
and other surrounding countries is Qatar is a family country and “we love families”. 
Gauging from the overwhelming attention we’re getting at the hotel I believe him.

We arrived at a photography store and are ushered to the back of the building 
for passport photos. After lining up one by one with our cheesy grins Mr Talib 
insisted the children have a group photo taken. Suddenly the backdrop changed 
and the children were in front of a mystical Arabian scene, I’m not 
sure why but the other option was an English palace? While we waited for
the shots to be developed the children and I went for a walk down the 
dusty Doha street. It was about 5 in the afternoon and the sun was just 
beginning to set, the sky was a beautiful mix of orange and blue and the
call to prayer from the mosque began, it was beautiful. The street was busy 
and you could feel the excitement of Eid al Adah on it’s way. As people of all
colours, shapes, sizes and religions walked by us there was one common 
reaction. A smile at the children.

Next stop was blood samples. As you can imagine the children were really 
impressed with a surprise blood sample thrown in to the afternoon.Little 
traveler 2 had quite a bit to say about the process but she’s moved on now. 
I don’t think the people at the blood clinic will forget her in a hurry.

As I put the children to bed I asked how everyone is feeling about the move. 
The first little traveler said “people here are super friendly”, the second “I like the 
buffet and the pool but I don’t like blood tests”, the third “it’s cool, I’m gunna 
buy a cherry red Ferrari” number 4 “Can I try the bidet”.

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