I had braced myself for any news, our respite in Ireland couldn’t last forever, and I knew we would soon have to embark on another journey, an adventure, to some far flung foreign destination.
Luckily for me our first expatriation, Doha, had cracked the seal on the cocoon of living in Ireland and our last expatriation to Jakarta, saw the cocoon shatter to a million pieces so I was wide open, bring it on. I could do Hong Kong or Singapore, a breeze. I could Kuala Lumpur or Brunei. I’d take the plunge in China. I’d even brace myself for India. Five years of being a reluctant emigrant, I’ve decided that it’s all one big adventure, an opportunity to re-invent oneself. So this time when my other half sent those all too familiar special few words by text, ‘we’re on the move….again’, I was ready.
‘Where to this time?’ I asked, mentally picturing myself in a hijab in Saudi or a sari in Mumbai. I was adjusted to this life on the fly, I would need to organise vaccinations, Sudocreme supplies for the coming year, schools, suitable clothing, entry visas and flight paths, all in about ten days. Husband, hereafter referred to as ‘he’ then broke the news. ‘its great’, he said. ‘You’ll be delighted, so will the kids’, he said. ‘Actually’, he said, ‘it’s a close to home as we’ll get’. My mind immediately started thinking about life in Windsor or gay Paris. Chic headscarves and bilingual kids, I could live with that.
‘We’re going to back to Doha’, he said. A feather could have knocked me. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 pounds, rang in my head. I no longer had the monopoly on foreign lands, I had been thrown all the curveballs and deal deftly with same. This was a nice cushy lob, right into my hands, and I didn’t know what to do.
So much for my plans for re-invention, so much for the chic headscarf, may as well just root out the old crusty Birkenstocks now and accept that life in Doha is what it is, the very reason I was pleased to leave three years ago. Life in Doha, the capital of Qatar, the peninsula off Saudi Arabia, offers no dynamic. Surrounded by water but not a decent beach to visit is just one of the many frustrations that life in Doha affords its expats. A 50/50 chance of a head-on collision, at any time during day or night is another offering and enough red tape required to get into a bar that you resign yourself to life indoors.
‘You’ll be delighted he said, so will the kids’, he said. Doha, once voted the hottest place on earth, and it wasn’t sex appeal it was being ranked on, the temperature in Doha really is showstopper particularly during summer months. Now I had my own take on that statistic, I’m sure there were hotter places, but people had the good sense not to inhabit them, let alone emigrate and plan to set up home there, ergo, there was no-one there to report back on the temperature reading. Either way, a very hot place on earth is hardly appealing when you’ve just invested in a pair of skin tight Salsa jeans.
Worst of all, I have one week left and I have nothing to prepare, the health system is good, there are no vaccinations required and there’s loads of Sudocreme to be got in Doha. Entry visa is available on arrival, the flight path is simple, two flights, stop in UK or stop in UAE, take your pick. Our old school welcomes us back with open arms and accommodation is provided. Just where is the drama in this for me? How was I going to get Martyrdom status with a move like this?!.
The only thing I had to cling on to was that people move on all the time and my friends would surely have moved on, to less dusty and better things. No sooner said, than an email arrived from an old friend from Doha, the very friend that gave me a ham on the very first Christmas I spent away from home. How felicitous, both the ham at the time and the email now.
So next week, I’m moving back to Doha and strangely, ’he’ was right, it feels a little, only a little, like moving home.