For some the idea of being holed up at the Intercontinental Hotel on Westbay in Doha for a month might sound ideal, but for a mother of three, wife to one and daughter of the land, so to speak, it’s nothing short of sheer torture.
Apartment living may be the modus operandi for millions of people around the world but not for an Irish Mammy. All the wall to wall windows, minimalist furniture and room service in the world, couldn’t make up for the lack of a utility room and the inconvenience of having to haul 40 bags of grocery shopping, four at a time, out of the car, through the car-park, into reception, up the lift, down the corridor, in the door, repeat 9 times and hey presto you’ve brought the shopping in.
The convenience of this inconvenience however, doesn’t last long and no sooner have your fingers gone crinkly from any of the swimming pools or the man-made beach directly at the back of the hotel overlooking The Pearl, than the company ring to say that the temporary accommodation is up and you’ve to find your own accommodation.
So, I find a few sites, qatarliving.com, dubizzleqatar.com and propertyfinder.qa. all offering accommodation around Doha, it’s just a matter of refining your search. I realised after that all may not be what it seems from these website, for example; the house pictured may not be exact house and the house may be in a different area to the one stated. But not to worry, the ads do say they are guidelines, lures, hooks to get you on the agent’s books.
By early afternoon I had three appointments set up, Kumar, Tahir and Khalid, all separate agents, all going to show me property near the school in the Abu Hamour area, living close to the school being of paramount importance to maintaining a strand of ones sanity when living in Doha.
It’s not unheard of in Doha to spend over an hour in traffic just bringing the kids to school, so the house itself is not the issue, it’s definitely location, location, location.
Not being overly au fait with the Abu Hamour area I arranged for each of the agents to meet me behind the petrol station where I would follow them to the available house. This seemingly clandestine meet working extremely well, altogether three meets in three hours was hectic, it was what I had to do in order to set up home for my family. These meets were something I was surprisingly comfortable with and the arrangement worked out well with Tahir and Khalid, but Kumar was a little spitfire. ‘Follow me’ he said as he stood with one foot inside his Nissan Tiida, his shirt clung to his back and beads of sweat bubbling on his forehead. Ok I succumbed, I needed a house and was not in a position to argue.
Kumar sped off, dodging in and out of traffic, across lanes and at traffic lights he was an amber gambler, I followed. Going around the Al Nasr roundabout I spotted a female passenger in the car beside Kumar. At the traffic signal on the Salwa Road I noticed three small children bobbling around in the back, he really was moving fast!
I continued on his tail, right, left, left, right, U-turn, right, right…. RIGHT!! Until at last he turned into the most uninspiring little cul-de-sac imaginable, but this was house-hunting in Doha, no place to be fussy.
I followed Kumar to the door, his lady friend and children followed me. The property had a lived-in feel I thought as I nearly tripped on the faded tricycle and detachable roller skates outside the door. Kumar walked inside, I followed and what a welcome, granny, granddad, granny’s sister and another few children all sat around in patterned sofas, staring at me.
Upon further clarification, I would appear that this was not Kumar, this was Sanjay, an accountant from Mumbai, not Kumar, the agent from Doha Property. How was I to know that every second Indian man drives a silver Nissan Tiida in Doha?
Like the old Indian proverb, ‘want the right house, follow the right Tiida’.