Ahh, can ye believe it, like? This is our third year in Qatar and we’re currently completing our third Ramadan here, alhamdullilah!
Reading old blog posts is a bit like finding photos from the past. Not digital photos but tangible ones taken on a camera film and sent off to be developed while you wait in agony, hoping the photographer didn’t block the flash with their attention-hogging thumb.
Winter is here
In older posts, I always thanked my lucky stars that Middle Eastern winters are practically non-existent. Little did I know…
This winter has been the coldest I’ve ever experienced in Qatar and the fact that I was ill the whole time didn’t help. One of the factors contributing to the piercing cold is that we’ve moved home and now live closer to the Persian Gulf. The proximity of water makes the whole area a little cooler and a lot windier than our last neighborhood. So yeah, winter was tough. And I didn’t get to travel so I was stuck in bed for the whole break. I may have jinxed myself by going on and on about how avoiding UK winters makes me oh-so-happy.
When we first came to Qatar, we were super excited about having access to halal food everywhere. Then we realised that even though the food was halal, we disliked eating out and couldn’t enjoy anything apart from a handful of restaurants. This year we’ve come full circle: our taste buds appreciate the wide range of cuisine available and we’ve bashed out every restaurant or eatery at least 10 times over until we want to gag at the thought of eating out. We still have our banter-filled cooking sessions: I’m one of those lucky wives whose husband happens to be an amazing cook (he learnt from the best), yet I’m also unfortunate because I never hear the end of it – don’t you know I’M the culprit behind his weight gain?
I’m fasting while writing this so I have to admit, I may have gotten a teeny tiny bit carried away with the food pictures below. A few of our favourite food joints are:
- Breakfast: iHop, Shakespeare’s, Soghaat
- Burgers: Shake Shack, KFC, Burgeri
- Desi food: Spice and Sizzle (only every now and again as a change from home cooked desi food)
- Other: Applebees, Mongolian Grill, PF Changs
- Desert: Sugar and Spice, Magnolia Bakery (still the best cupcakes in the world!)
I previously wrote about how I loved the whole Corniche area but now that we live here, it’s lost its appeal. You tend not to value a place as much when you live right next to it.
One of my new faves is Al Biddah park. This is where the infamous tennis matches go down and hubby learns what defeat feels like. Also, if you look carefully you might see the bush he fell into during our bike race. Al Biddah park is humongous but I love bike riding down the edge closest to the main road (near the Corniche) with the magical skyline towering overhead and lighting up the whole park. There are outdoor barbecue stations but we haven’t used them yet.
Another new favourite is Al Wakrah beach. It is a bit of a drive out but it’s so worth it. On the weekends or especially after a tiresome workday, it’s the best place to unwind at. For the first time in 3 years, I actually have a tan! A true visual treat, the cerulean water and sky combined with the pale stone Souq and sand are perfect for photos. What’s more, this Souq is not busy like Souq Waqif; dining at one of the restaurants overlooking the beach is another soothing luxury.
Wakrah beach stretches into sand dunes: a 20 minute drive south and you end up at Sealine where you can go quad biking and paragliding. We’ve had to put an end to that though because, in an attempt to be the next Akshay Kumar, hubby got into a bit of a situation with a quad bike.
In terms of malls (because there’s loads and going to the mall is one of the things you just ‘do’ in GCC countries), I still love Villagio but Festival City is my new favourite place to shop. There are over 400 stores (eat your heart out Trafford Centre!) and arguably, the best cinema in Qatar. They have recently unveiled a one of a kind Angry Bird World Theme Park for kids and adults:
Remember when I wrote about how I was going to learn Arabic now that I’m living out here? Ha ha, what a good joke that was. I used to work in a majority-Arab school and I still didn’t pick anything up unless “on the A.C” and “Wallahi Miss, my English good sah?” count. Khair, there’s still time in sha Allah.
Speaking of learning new skills, I’ve overcome my fear of driving in this country. I could already drive but to be able to do so on the roads of Doha and without getting into an accident (so far so good alhamdullilah) is a whole new talent. I worry a bit about clocking a few speeding tickets when I return to the UK – Doha road rage has infected me!
Anyway, like all of my fellow expat teachers, around this time of the year I begin to get a bit restless. The academic year is coming to an end, it’s Ramadan, and the heat continues to increase. I want nothing more than to go back to the UK to enjoy a ‘proper’ British ice cream from a melodious ice cream van and feel real grass beneath my feet.
I miss theme parks and being able to read books that don’t need accompanying schemes of work and powerpoints. I miss the smell of rain and sipping afternoon tea with ‘proper’ English biscuits. *Sigh*
Unlike the previous two years, we’ve barely travelled this year (just the one trip to Kashmir in April) and instead we hosted family – both of these helped alleviate some homesickness.
I’m surprised to admit my concept of ‘home’ has evolved drastically in the last three years but this quote from a character in Ressuration: Ertugrul sums it up nicely:
All the way from the Caspian sea to here, every homeland took a piece of me.