Losing your dignity in Doha

It was a day of performances. The first performance involved G and I sitting in the front row of the elementary school music room. With grins from ear to ear, we watched the second little traveler play Grandma in Little Red Riding Hood. She was fantastic. She was particularly fantastic because she suffers from incredible stage fright.

G and I had both raised an eyebrow weeks ago when she mentioned signing up. In the weeks leading up to the event there had been many “I’m not sure” conversations. As she stood in front of us I could see her shaking. As the narrator introduced the characters she looked up and smiled, we all smiled back. She stood front and centre, she belted out her lines with feeling. I was in awe.

The second performance involved me, also looking like Grandma. In a room full of hip and cool young Doha tweeters, there was I, sitting on a chair, my foot wrapped in an ice pack, my leg elevated and a borrowed pashmina over my knees. All I needed was my knitting and a warm cup of cocoa and I would have pulled it off perfectly.

I’d been making jokes all day about my age. I was really excited about speaking at the Doha Tweetups event, but I was aware that I might be, ahem, a few years older than the average young tweeter.  I mean, I’m not that old, it’s not like I’m Helen Mirren or Dame Judy Dench old, but I’m afraid when you’re 20 you become Helena Christensen or Kylie Minogue old.

The venue was gorgeous, a mix of old and new, a Middle Eastern feel with people smoking Sheesha while tapping away on ipads.  I looked around the room, at the diversity in the crowd, it had everything I love about living in Qatar, a feeling of optimism.

I began to recognize a few faces, avatars were falling in to place. People smiled, a few people waved. “This is cool” I said to G “It’s going to be a good night”. After a quick chat with one of the organizers (who thankfully doubles as a Doctor in her spare time), we organized what time I’d go on, “the microphone will be here, you’ll stand there”. I smiled, I wasn’t feeling old, I was nervous but hey, I was a little bit cool, a little bit hip, I was happening.

I was flying.

No, really, I was flying. Through the air. Upon reentering the room I’d lost my footing. Did I elegantly stumble to the ground? Nope. I made a noise, a really weird noise, a kind of primal noise that someone would make if they’d just been pushed off a cliff. Actually, there were a few noises in those few seconds, my primal scream, the sound of bones in my foot crunching and then finally the sound of me face planting on the cold hard dusty tiles. I landed in the form of one those yellow outlines you see on crime shows, legs spread, arms out, face down. I wasn’t so cool anymore.

“Oh my God” I heard someone shriek. I imagined security speaking in to their  Walkie Talkies “code red, code red, Grandma had a fall”. People looked at me in horror. Maybe the expat wife had a few to many gins before she left home? If only I could use that as an excuse. I looked up at G, he looked confused, he’d been walking ahead of me. When I asked him later at the hospital what he thought had happened, he said (as only a man could) “I thought you must have dropped something, that you were down on the ground looking for it”.

Yes, that would be my dignity, I was face down on the tiles searching desperately for my dignity.

The next hour is a bit of a blur, I was helped on to a chair, my foot was wrapped in ice, people looked at me with puppy dog eyes, poor old lady. My foot got bigger and bigger, great, its not only my thighs I have to worry about now. I quickly covered the chipped red nail polish on my toes.

My foot began to throb, it was getting worse by the minute. “I need to get this speech done and find a way to the car” I said to G, he very cleverly took it as an instruction rather than an observation and started making plans.

The speech wasn’t my finest hour, I lost my way, I got confused, at one stage I said I had 20 kids, 4 blogs and a suitcase, can you imagine…..only one suitcase?

After making my way through the crowd, shoeless and hopping with dust on my bum, G somehow lifted me on to the back of a golf buggy and off we went to the hospital. I giggled as G made rude jokes about getting my ankles elevated and how he’d have to give me sponge baths. I thought about the Little Travelers and how much excitement the cast and the crutches would bring. I thought about the other Grandma, my second Little Traveler, did I mention she was fantastic? Next time I’ll be as good as her.

*The MC of Doha tweet ups last night was a fantastic comedian called Bilal Randeree. I thought you might like to see a quick clip of Bilal and some of Qatars other comedians and tweeters (particularly our first Qatari female comedian)…

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