Today marks my fourth week in Qatar - a moment of passage for sure. I still find my location here to be a bit surreal. Sometimes I've very aware I'm away from the U.S.A. and other times it seems like life as usual. Last weekend was a combination of comfort experiences and others that reflected the new world in which I live.
On Friday night, a new colleague (Kevin) invited me to a random party. He said that the person hosting it was pretty interesting and that I just had to prepare myself for it. First, before the party, we went to a great Indian restaurant where a full scale meal totaled to 50QR (about $13 USD) with Dave, Karen, Curt, and Belle (all working colleagues). The party was a hoot. The hostess, Tammy, greeted us at the gates to her ville and immediately grabbed my arm, ripping me away from the security of my new colleagues. She introduced me to a tall, young guy from Australia. We engaged in conversation for probably 10-15 minutes and then suddenly Tammy appeared again, "OK, it's time to go," she said. She grabbed me by the arm and took me off to meet my next pairing - this time a Brit woman in her 30s who teaches at Qatar Academy and knew Darbi from playing rugby. This succession of disrupted conversations and starting new ones occurred no less than 10-12 times during the evening, each time with Tammy grabbing my arm and informing all that it was time to move on. I can honestly say that I've never had the opportunity to network so quickly and it was quite fun. People from all around the world were at the party but it was in a very natural environment that felt much like a backyard in the U.S.A., except that it was almost December and it was warm and comfortable outside. The process of "OK, it's time to go" seemed at first intrusive but it connected everyone in a very helpful way - a technique I'll have to try someday if I have the guts.
The next "little bit of the U.S.A. is pictured to the right. This is an inside picture of Rik's where I had breakfast with some other colleagues early Saturday morning. Rik's is the ex-pat gathering place in Doha. Upon entry, patrons immediately notice the flags of Texas, Kansas, and many other U.S.A. states. There are American film posters all over the place and the menu is distinctly American - and greasy and bad for you. But, oh, it tasted so good. We sat around drinking coffee and reflecting on the experience of Qatar and on the shopping trip we were about to launch - looking for Persian rugs to warm up my ville. Oh, and BTW, Rik's is owned and fully staffed by a family from the Phillipines.
All in all, it was a great weekend that reminded me of home but then jogged me to understand that I'm not really home. Maybe that's evidence that a "global citizen" perspective is beginning to settle in. Perhaps home will never quite be the same again, but in other ways, it's just exactly as it always has been, only bigger...