Life might take the same general course but when you immigrate to a country like Qatar nothing stays exactly the same as it was as home. Life is different, things run at a different pace and while some things bear resemblance, nothing is the same. So it’s nice when despite living in two different countries, you find yourself on the same page as your old buddy in Cork. Doesn’t happen much these days with her too busy networking with professionals taking about lean management and good manufacturing practice and me too busy trying to clean banana from the seat of the buggy. But ‘dry January’ has re-aligned us. We are on the same page. Emigration can’t touch this. Dry January stretches past all boundaries and time-zones and uniting people across the world. World Poverty, Peace and Dry January, the three things that everyone agrees on.
To clarify the basis of the challenge, we both agreed a loose list of agreements. Number one, alcohol could not be consumed for the full month of January, 31st incl, unless the 31st fell on a Friday or Saturday night, in which case, the agreement may have to be revisited. (For the sake of complete transparency, products containing alcohol may not be consumed in sufficient quantities to achieve a kick, i.e. eleven Tiramisu’s or 103 Bailey’s truffles.). We also agreed that exercise should feature largely in the month. We did mention that if the month were to see us losing weight, this would deem the month’s efforts as a success. Money matters were also brought up and we agreed to spend, as little as possible.
So off we went, she in Carrigaline, me in Doha. First days went great, I spent every morning walking along the Aspire, the beautifully maintained 10klm park with hard and soft and sand running tracks. Early mornings were chilly, sometimes as low as 19 degrees, but by noon it was always a glorious 28 or so. Being perfect weather for salads and light eating, the weight whilst it wasn’t falling off just yet, was beginning to stop climbing. Our alcohol stocks were tragically low since Christmas, and the remaining two bottles of Riesling and half bottle of Indian scotch which always lurk under the stairs long after the Cabernet Sauvignon and Bombay Sapphire is gone, are no temptation. My liquor license was expired and I would need my husband’s signature to get another one and as he was away on the seventh trip of a planned eleven this month, unless I met him on runway, his signature would evade me. Most others in Doha were on the same page, all doing Dry or at least a dry-ish January. Nobody would plan a brunch in January. So all in all, it wasn’t going too bad in the Doha corner.
Meanwhile in Carrigaline things were a little different. Where walking early morning is not always possible due to weather conditions. Where it is possible, there is no need for suncream instead a steaming hot shower is necessary after a spell outside in order to defrost the digits. Feta and pumpkin salad on spinach, doesn’t go down half as well when it’s 3 degrees outside and steaming cup of coffee to accompany your lightly toasted hot buttered bread is the only salve. There is no need for alcohol stocks in Ireland, as not only wine of the day, wine of the week and wine of the month, not advertised and on special offer every time you go to buy a loaf, leaflets come through the letterbox of alcoholic promotions available at your local Centra, Spar, Supervalu, Dunnes, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Petrol Station, Butchers, Chemists, GP Surgery.
By day 13 of dry January in Carrigaline, and she had already declined, women’s little Christmas and a golden wedding anniversary party. There was a GAA event, a fundraiser fashion show and a fiftieth birthday party still to come. The plans to be stringent were also coming under pressure, as the monotony of sitting in front of the fire would have to be broken and the new year’s resolution to ‘make more time for each other and have a weekly date night’ will see many couple across Ireland enjoyed their annual visit to the cinema, which will cost the same price as a Ryanair flight to Oslo.
It has to be said, for all the reasons that make Christmas at home magical, dry January is a nightmare in Ireland and a walk in the park in Doha.