A New World

It was pointed out as a possible slip of the tongue. I hadn’t realized I was doing it. Talking about the “real” world. We were in the car on the way to dinner. Our guest in the back seat was in Doha for a fly in visit including a third interview and a day spent with real estate agents. He was making a decision on whether he’d accept the new job, weighing up his options while looking a little shell shocked. He wanted comparisons; schools in Doha versus schools in North America, the price of a weekly shop, the cost of housing.  “You know in the “real” world we wouldn’t be contemplating…” he stopped me, pointed it out, where was this real world I kept referring to.

I’d compartmentalized my two worlds.

The real world was a world with self serve petrol stations and supermarkets loaded with local produce. The world where electricians arrived with a tool box rather than a roll of duct tape and a smile. The world where Grannies take children to the park, friends talk about old school days, and police pull people over for driving offences like talking on phones or texting while driving with a small child on your lap.

I took part in a conference call last night, an hour to talk about relocating and the issues that come with it. On the other end of line was a couple who sounded more than a little apprehensive. For them it wasn’t so much about the food, transportation of pets, or where to worship, it was all about schools. Would there be a place for their son? What if there wasn’t? Why couldn’t they get a firm answer? Do we really just jump on a plane without a clear yes or no? Do people really do that? Just take the chance?

I thought back to our arrival to Doha, the school tours that ended with the same conversation. Register with us, pay us a deposit, but we can’t make any promises. One child found a spot, then another, but number three remained at home with me. Each morning as I wandered by the admissions desk I’d smile and wave, treading a fine line between eager new parent and overtly pushy pain the arse Australian woman. As the days rolled by my desperation began to show.

“Any news? Any chance? Can we not just pop him somewhere in the back of the class? Perhaps we could BYO our own chair and desk?”

I was not cut out for home schooling, as the days rolled by the third little traveller had perfected his morning order at Starbucks and was still in two minds over which vacuum cleaner we should buy. We both sat wide eyed at the roundabout trying to decipher the new language of Doha traffic. We were constantly lost, each day providing a new adventure. Today we’re going to try and find the vet, a job that would possibly take all day depending on just how lost we became. Tomorrow we’re going to see if we can find the sports uniform shop.

I’d conveniently shelved how scary those first few weeks were. Friendless and unsettled. I’d forgotten how much I pined for the “real” world we’d left behind, the world where you made a quick stop at Target or Costco and chose between a Dyson and a Miele. The world with familiar supermarkets, marinated meats, fresh salads and alfresco cafes. A world where you could pick up a loaf of bread, a newspaper and bunch of flowers while filling your car with petrol.

I could hear the frustration in their tone. “I just don’t understand why they don’t know, there’s either a place or there isn’t?”

“It’s a very different community” I try and explain. People move constantly. It’s very rare for someone to begin Kindergarten and still be there for Grade Four. I’ve had two friends who’ve announced that they’re leaving while we’ve been home for the summer. Until we get back to Doha in late August we won’t know who’s still there and who’s not. It’s not like a normal community – it’s transient, things change in an instant.

You may just have to make that step into the unknown and hope for the best.

It’s a new world.

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