Since arriving to Doha the first month has passed in a haze, so frantic and frenzied is the search for a house, school, car and the container that left Indonesia months ago, that I have been consumed with setting up home.
Finding the right school is the lynchpin to it all. Second time around we were wise enough to confirm the school admissions before accepting the post because home-schooling kids, when there’s pool outside is just not advisable. (Drowning is highly likely). So school secured, the search for the house became paramount, particularly as our temporary accommodation was due to run out.
I viewed them all, from Bel Air to Beverly Hills until finally settling for one reason or another on Amzy Villas, a more uninspiring, affordable and excellently located house there never was. Bear in mind that this could be no split decision, signing up to a house in Doha, means a two year signed contract, not the kind you sign in Ireland where the tenant calls Threshold the second the washing machine fails to spin and gets to renege on the rent for weeks without consequence. This was a real contract which has to accompany 24 post-dated cheques, the last one dated 20th October, 2016. I told the agent I’d take it and asked what the next step was. He clarified that he was just the agent and I would need to meet with the owner of the property, in his offices.
Immediately I conjured up an image of sitting across a boardroom table from an affluent Arabic property mogul, clad head to toe in pristine white attire. The agent had set the meeting for Thursday, the very day we were leaving our hotel and that morning, having all the family worldly possessions packed tightly into the X-trail, I drove to his offices expecting a marble foyer and a well turned out secretary.
When the directions came from the email address ‘Animal Kingdom’ I was dubious and when I pulled up outside ‘Creature Oasis’ just off the C’ ring road I rang the office to confirm that I was indeed in the right place, the home of the Arabic property mogul. Turns out I was, his offices were on the third floor of a three storey pet shop, the only type of shop in which I’m uncomfortable.
Suffice to say I was more than a little uneasy, I was about to commit for two years in no. 2 Amzy Villas with no parole with what appeared to be a guy that ‘had a couple of houses to let’ and not the polished property mogul I expected.
The entrance to the office was the home for the feathered variety, budgies, parrots and cockatoos, squawking, tutting and tweeting at me as I grasped the metal rail of the spiral staircase. Floor two was mice, hamsters, rats and gerbils, I grasped the handrail even tighter and headed for floor three. Reptiles, just what you want to see when you’re about to cornered by a devious Arab and a watertight contract on a mediocre house. Wearing slighting yellowed attired, he sat in his makeshift office in the corner of the third floor of the pet-shop surrounded by his files. ‘Rat’, ‘Mis’ ‘Tennents’ to name a few all in lever arch folders at his back.
I produced the salary statement from the company, passport copies, no less than twenty four posted dated cheques, the shirt off my back and a security deposit cheque, undated. all as he was breathing nose air through his thick moustache.
‘Now the conthract’, he said. As he pushed the three page document across the table. I just stared and pushed it back. ‘It’s in Arabic’ I said, ‘I don’t read Arabic’. ‘You want the house?’ he said. Animal kingdom for sure, survival of the fittest. I looked below to the car full of suitcases, I looked around at the ‘office’, the pet shop and the 500 Bangladeshi’s he has working within and feeling trapped, I said ‘yes I want’. I was just about to ask about a few bits and pieces that needed seeing to when he cut across me with ‘AS IS’. I wrote some of my conditions along the side (not worth the ink, but anyway) and signed the Arabic contract and for all that I left with one key to no. 2 Amzy Villas. Home Sweet Home until 11.59 a.m. on the 19th November, 2016