Affordable service is one of the most attractive attributes of living in Doha. Qatar offers every conceivable service at the affordable prices and many straight to your door. A hand at the supermarket checkout to fill the bags, help out to the car with the trolley and they’ll even throw it in the boot for you.
Far from the days of standing in the local supermarket looking for a hand out to the boot of the car with the briquettes or a bag of spuds only to be told, “I’ll try and call Declan, he was here a minute ago but I can’t find him now”, meanwhile, Declan is out the back having a fag, happy in the knowledge that he’s getting € 7.65 an hour, regardless of whether he lifts a finger or not. He also can’t be fired too easily because it would cost them to much what with unfair dismissals and everything. Anyway he has a bad back and was told he shouldn’t be lifting. All of which adds up to “are you sure you can manage them?” my mental response being, “no I’m not sure, what do you want me to do, drag them along the road to the car or kick them one by one in front of me while I balance the rest of the bags” and my verbal response being, “it’s fine, I’ll manage, thanks a million”.
So when I stumbled across Sarif in “Outba Landrys” who irons a shirt for the equivalent of 30c, I felt I had arrived. Maybe not arrived, but had definitely reached a plateau in the tedious uphill struggle of household chores. We hit it off straight away, me piling up more and more crinkled clothes in front of him and he handing them back all crisp draped underneath the plastic. A match made in heaven. Sarif was never out the back having a sneaky smoke when the ironing was to be carried to the car, always at the ready. Being the only white western woman frequenting his premises had elevated me to important client status, so I was treated to tea also. Things couldn’t be better. No more long hours spent standing at the ironing board, watching while my sense of worth, accomplishment and value vanished into the steam of the iron and formed the starch that stiffened the armor for the rest of the family to prepare them for education and employment. In other words no more ironing shirts and uniforms, hurray! and all for 30c an item. I sipped my tea under the galvanized roof during the unusual wait for my ironing. I had so much more time on my hands, mind you Sarif seemed busy, I watched as he tripped trying to work quickly, but maybe it was his broken sandal. Having been a supporter of Reward and Recognition in my corporate days, I decided to give Sarif a tip and a kind word, so I say thank you, and told him that I appreciated everything he did, he smiled opportunistically and replied, “there is now something you can do for me madam, you are western, I would like to have more western women come to me, I would very much like if you can give me mouth to mouth”. My eyes grew wide and fixed on Sarif’s broken caramel coloured teeth, my mouth opened but words didn’t come. Rooted to the spot and aware that Sarif was staring at me waiting for the response, I weighed up my options. I thought back on the baskets of creased and over-dry clothes that used to taunt me and taint every cup of coffee I tried to enjoy until I finally tackled them and looking straight into Sarif’s brown bloodshot eyes, mentally puckering up, I replied, “Where would it happen?” After all, I was never a galvanized roof sort of girl. A very happy Sarif replied, “Everywhere, you tell everyone, all your friends everyone you meet”. Aha, the penny dropped, I said, “do you mean word of mouth?” Sarif replied, “yes yes, word by mouth, mouth to mouth, same”. Relieved, I agreed to share the word, mouth to mouth.