It’s now four and half years since I first immigrated to Doha to seek refuge from devastating economic crisis. The intent was, two years away see the worst of it over, and he we are facing into our fifth year with not a mention of home.
The good news is that over the past four years having skipped around the usual expat hang outs, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Jakarta, I’ve become a seasoned traveller, an organised expat, so second time round going to Doha I know exactly what I need….
Barry’s Tea. An essential for any Irish expat abroad. Even if you’re not a tea lover, being Irish you feel compelled to make some sort of statement about the tea you drink. Shame on those who forget Barry’s and Lyons and switch to Liptons on arrival.
A sense of self. Before you begin to lead your life as an expat, a sharpened sense of self awareness of necessary otherwise you’ll find yourself taking part in soap carving, scrapbooking and the like just because you didn’t like to refuse. So stay strong, say no to card making.
Rashers and Sausages. Rumour has it that Doha has moved on. Apparently the QDC (Qatar Distribution Company) that stocks liquor (available if you have a licence) is now stocking bacon. However the pessimist in me will believe it when I see it and the realist in me tells me that there’s no way the sausages will be as good as Galtee sausages.
Calpol. It’s not available in Qatar. Adol is available, a different consistency, the exact same effect and a tenth of the price but when you’re on an 8 hour flight to a 9 month sentence there’s nothing like the familiar sight of an overflowing spoon of gloopy Calpol to bring instant satisfaction and it helps the baby too.
An aggressive driving manner. Doha is without question the most dangerous place I have ever driven. Erratic drivers, powerful cars, Arab ego and an Irishwoman being cut off at a roundabout is certainly a recipe for road rage. Bumper to bumper traffic is the norm in Doha and the only way to catch a break is muster up every little bit of aggression and arrogance you have and dish it out at every roundabout and traffic light.
Wartner & Sinutab. Even with no history of warts or sinus complaints in the house, by virtue of the fact that neither is available in Qatar the need to cart supplies of same to the Middle East is justified.
Cheese & Onion Taytos. Forget the course Ardennes pate, stuffed olives or stifling blue cheeses, Tayto are the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine or a toasted sandwich. An indigenous delicacy to be enjoyed alone, strictly no sharing.
Anything from Penneys. It’s takes a period of time meandering around high end shopping malls before the awe drops and is replaced by the longing for Penneys. Racks and racks of low cost, high fashion. The most desirable disposable clothes available in the world, surely.
Hard copy & Soft Copy of your Passport, Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, passport and hard copies of Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees etc. If Qatar is not the home of red tape, then it should be. The need for documentation is endless. It is not uncommon to be requested to have a passport on a blue or white or red background, in varying sizes. Nor is it uncommon to be asked to email or post original copies of birth certificate so a few extra original copies are handy to have in the case.
A Ross O’Carroll Kelly Book. Because during every expatriation there are times when you just need a good focking laugh, roysh. Doha offers only a very limited supply of world authors but the chances of finding of goy like Ross on the shelf is like totally unlikely.
So I had it all, including Clarkes shoes in the next size (9G) and a Super Valu calendar for 2015, as the mother, wife and chief transition facilitator of the household I was happy that all needs were met, until a little voice piped up from the back of the car on the way to the airport. ‘Mom, we never have snowballs in our new home’. I could only agree and say, no and there certainly won’t be any in Doha.