Three and a half thousand miles from home one does get a hankering for some Irish company. Living in the Middle East where the diversity of expat nationality is wide and the chances of bumping into an Irish person is slim, one can feel isolated from their culture. So being the quintessential modern-day Irish woman, fair, freckled and fired, wasn’t I the happy lass when I got an email, inviting myself and my brood to have brunch at a high end hotel with other Irish folks.
Excited and delighted, I replied immediately. “Yes, Yes, Yes” is what I replied. The brunch was booked for 45 people, children were included in that number, I knew 5 of them, children are included in that number. The brunch meeting would take place in the stylish Oryx Rotana Hotel near Doha Airport, extremely chic. The price included alcoholic drinks. All you can drink, it was all you can eat aswell, but all you can drink, somehow resonates more.
It couldn’t come soon enough. I set out the clothes for the whole family, we were set to make a great impression. We would arrive and people would appreciate that we were truly Irish. They would look with obvious admiration and comment to each other, “Fair play to them, they haven’t lost it, no airs and graces there”. Coming from a town in Ireland that boasts never having turned anyone else who had notions of themselves, I could clarify with certainty that I would never have notions, no big ideas, not one.
Black dress, spanx & sling backs, kids hair pulled tight into slightly old fashioned but ever practical plaits, the baby dressed up with matching socks and hubby warned not to spill on anyone or himself, we entered the hotel restaurant and looked for our party.
“Brunch” in Qatar is a popular way to spend a Friday. Several hotels offer the all-you-can-eat high end selection of delicate deities, along with alcohol from noon to three each Friday. The array of food is a treat for the eyes as well as the gut, Ice sculpted sushi stands, Three tiered chocolate fountain, lobster, shellfish, Chinese, European, Italian, Indian all nationalities enjoy the bounties. An enjoyable way to spend your precious family Friday as the children can indulge in the chocolate foundation and the adults on the ever flowing Prosecco and all for the cost of a dodgy pub lunch in Ireland.
The hotel was busy and my party didn’t stand out immediately. Taking the opportunity to touch up my lipgloss before making the entrance, I took a trip to the marble clad bathroom. Pouting at my reflection, I took a glimpse of a buxom African lady in the background. She was tending to her children, I looked on sympathically and felt glad that mine were on their Friday sabbatical with Dad. Ever polite and eager to be friendly to every nationality, I nodded a friendly nod to the lady and said, “your boy very nice” I also pointed to my face in case she didn’t understand English. “Oh thank you”, she replied “are you in a group”, “Yes, yes I am, we’re Irish you see, a group of us meeting here today”, I replied. Her smile broadening she said “That’s right we’re all sitting up at the back, I’m Osiko, the organizer, it was a bit of a rush job, I’ve just arrived back with the kids, we’re based in Kenmare, what about you?”. Me? When I lifted my jaw off the floor I said, what only an Irish girl would say to an African girl who says she’s from Kenmare, “but where are you from originally?”.
Showing me to the area where all the Irish were seated, Osiko from Ghana introduced me to the other girls, Anais from Thailand, Annette from Galway, Rhona from Manchester and Julia from Germany. A flavoursome lunch and too many Cavas later, I left the hotel, pie eyed and wide eyed I looked at the doe eyed Osiko I asked her to keep me on the Irish mailing list for future get-togethers. I left the hotel and thought maybe I’m not the quintessential Irish girl anymore.