Holidays in Doha

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy the time it comes to the last week of school term, a morning without an argument about how many spoons of Rice Krispies qualifies as a breakfast, seems like heaven. The kids are tired, the monotony of school lunches is like Chinese torture, for you making them, and for the kids having to eat them and if you weren’t living in Doha, the land of reckless driving, you’d be able to do the school run blindfolded.

The uniforms are washed, ironed and shoved to the back of the wardrobe. Lunch boxes and water bottles are put away and you enter holiday mode, two blissful weeks without clock watching, all is well in the world until you turn to find four pairs of eyes staring right at you, with that burning question, ‘what are we going to do in Doha for two weeks?’.

Like several other mothers I know, I ended up spending the first week of the holidays being sick. It’s the same every year, right around this time, the temperatures go up, the dust is thick in the air, the A/C units go on, the A/C units that haven’t been serviced all winter; and guess what, within a few days, the whole family is suffering from chronic chest conditions, pretty much a given among families of school going children living in Doha. Having a houseful of sick kids is time consuming in any country however it has to be special kind of hell when living in Doha.  The temperatures are too warm to leave the AC off. The in-need-of-servicing AC units hum menacingly in the background as your cough and choke you’re way through the first week of the holidays. By the time everyone has visited the doctor you’ve a medicine cupboard like Boots because doctors here like nothing better than to prescribe,prescribe,prescribe. Steroids, Antibiotics, Cough Medicine, Decongestant, nasal spray, Ventolin, Saline Nebulisation, Paracetamol, Eye Ointment, Betadine Antiseptic Throat Spray, after just one visit to a General Practitioner in Qatar you’ll have it all, when all you wanted was Clonamox. Of course no matter what they give, you still resort to the bottle of Calpol you brought from home.

After a week of feeling sorry for myself, I spoke to a friend from home, and guess what, she was in exactly the same boat, but not because of AC and dusty weather, it was owing to stuffy central heating and cold weather. We spoke about spiking temperatures, wheezing and crouping coughs, seems Doha or Dunmanway, there’s no difference when it comes to childrearing.

Then we moved on to speak about our plans for the remaining week of the school holidays. She was hoping for a fine day so they might visit the park. Or they were looking at afternoons in indoor play and mornings spent round at Granny’s. They were planning a trip to Kerry and visit the Aqua dome, and if they got a midweek deal they would stay in Killarney, but with the weather so wet and cold, she didn’t know if it was worth it.

I was hoping that the weather would stay below 32 so our picnic wouldn’t melt. We were due to spend long days by the pool, the kids frolicking until their fingertips were wrinkled, and myself dipping in now and again, whenever the heat got a little too much. Evenings would be spent having BBQ’s with friends in the balmy outdoors or perhaps family walks along the corniche, which is lit sufficiently by the neon from the high rise in the background. For a mid-week offer of twenty euro I was planning on taking the kids to one of the beaches, private beaches, say like, the Intercontinental, St. Regis, Sheraton, Marriott, something like that.   Failing that, we could go to the water park. Such a pain though having to constantly rub sun cream on the kids.

The other option is a staycation here in Doha, lots of expats here take advantage of the glorious weather at this time of year and travel about 10klms to stay at one of five star hotels complete with pool bar menu and private beach. So maybe the Easter are a bit different in Doha to Doneraile, but either way – all you need is money.

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