Total Pageviews

Friday, 25 November 2011

The One Where Erika Came to Visit!

The week finally arrived that we had all been waiting for!

The week that we promised ourselves would happen.

But the week we thought probably wouldn't!

I had been counting down in true 'Ellie style' for weeks. And the day was finally upon us. We were going to collect Erika from the airport. But on that journey there was a strange feeling in the car. Had we all anticipated this too much. Had we built it up to be something it wasn't. Would things and people have changed too much for this to work in the 'real' world. Because let's face it our friendship developed in such a artificial world for us. So there was a real worry that this wouldn't transfer in the way we had imagined.

Trust me - there was no need to worry!

Arriving at the airport, uncharacteristically on time for the Lloyd family, armed with a welcome banner made by the kids in my class, the kids and I popped to the bathroom, thinking do it now so we don't miss her!

OOPS! Erika had arrived - uncharacteristically early!

So the picture, I am sure, we had all had in our heads of how we would meet again ended up being rather different to the reality. Momentarily distracted by the surprise of her actually already being here, we all instantly hugged kissed and made a heck of a lot of noise!

A short time later, Erika was once again sat in our car, having a smoke, and instantly I think we all knew it was just like old times. It was just perfect!

That night we got Erika's bed ready with her room mate - Grace - ate takeaway and drank some REAL wine! And talked - sooooooo much! In fact all week we talked so much!

So what did we do the rest of the week? Well it was a week of firsts for us all.


We went to the Movenpick for brunch. 265 QAR for 3 1/2 hours of complete indulgence. All the food and wine you could consume. And a fantastic kid's room with food and entertainment galore to keep them entertained allowing the grown up's to appreciate their indulgence!

Jason enjoyed freaking me out by eating an oyster and I watched Erika and her camera with a smile!


No trip to Doha would be complete without going to the mall! So without a doubt - we HAD to take Erika to Villagio! Where we enjoyed the obligatory McDonald's - believe it or a not, for us, was a little taste of Saudi! We wondered round and a dreamed of Porches and Tiffany's! Although it was a bit of a shopping fail, after several fitting rooms, we left with nothing to show!


Ahhh - the beach! We hadn't really had the chance to explore the beaches before Erika had arrived so this would be an adventure for us all! We headed towards Furawait and found a perfect beach. All expats so swimwear was fine! We set up our day camp - as always! The kids LOVED the sea as always, Jason hated the BBQ as always and me and Erika enjoyed the sun - as always! It was a lovely beach - watching all these people from all over in their own little groups doing their own thing, having so much fun and just enjoying spending time with each other - doing just as we were! A really lovely day - until the wind got up - then it was time to go home!


Well that morning we woke up to rain! A place where it rarely rains, it rained when Erika was here! Ah well, we were sure there was something to do! So off we went to the Souq Waqif. We had been once before and knew that Erika would love it - the stalls, the architecture, the animals. And she did! A far cry from the souq in Saudi! The rain was about to get us again so what else to do but get into a cafe for some food and a shisha of course! No better way to spend a rainy day!


Erika just had to go to Costa! So we took her to Landmark mall where we finally had shopping success at H&M! We all enjoyed a Costa and I then did a rather fast shop at Carrefour for us to enjoy the Lloyd's homemade pizza for dinner! An Ellie Supreme it is then!


Salon day - Erika had her hair cut and coloured and required a stiff drink to get over the shock! Let's just say they weren't the most confident of people! Thankfully I only had a pedicure and my eyebrows threaded - I don't think I could have coped with the hair! But she did look fab afterward! I cooked a full on roast dinner whilst Jason took Erika to the Pearl - another must if visiting Qatar!


And then we were at the end! The day Erika was to fly back! So not to waste the day we got the car packed with her cases and drove to the Corniche. We had a lovely, windy, walk looking at the dhow's and then spontaneously took a trip out on one. A perfect, peaceful end to the week! A quick McDonald's later and we were at the airport! I am pleased to say not as emotional as the last goodbye!

So that was our week! Lots of food, lots of wine, lots of talking, lots of laughs and lots of tears!

It was perfect.

It was everything it should have been.

It was everything we wanted it to be.

It was everything a true friendship is.

It was proof that no matter who you are, where you are and what you are doing - if you have made that bond with another human being that is called friendship it will last, it will withstand distance and no matter what path you take in life you will always meet again.

The One Where I Was Alone

It has been a while since I wrote on here, for many reasons, I had so much to say, but not enough words. Maybe writing this will help give me clarity.

We have been in Qatar now for three months and already it feels like a lifetime. The adjustment here has been far more dramatic than that of Saudi. You would think that going from the desert, abayas and world set 20 years ago to something so cosmopolitan in comparison that the move would be an easy one.

How wrong one could be!

Yes we can get a real glass of wine, salted butter and even pork now! Yes women can drive, we have all the shops we could find in any UK mall and every corner you turn there is another westerner.

And yet that still wasn't enough to ease the transition!

The cliche of a city being a lonely place is no longer a cliche for me.

Everything here is so big and busy. EVERYTHING! This city just keeps on moving, with or without you. The roads are busy, buildings are being built at an unbelievable rate and everyone is rushing to go somewhere. And you can stand still in the middle of all of this and get dizzy from all the chaos.

I have stood still but my mind kept racing and that is where I am writing from now.

Like I say I have struggled here. It is far more difficult to make the bonds that you can make in a place like Saudi. Where we were before we all needed friends, the friendships we made were lifelines. They were (here comes another cliche!) the glue that held everything together. We all missed things - people, food, familiarity. It was mutual and open and that is what held people from such different walks of life, ages and backgrounds so close. When we moved here I think I expected the same. Because even though we were obviously somewhere more comfortable, we were all still in the same situation. Missing home, missing people, missing continuity. And all of us are traveling to some extent. But having the comforts that we have here blinds people. All of us. It gives us a false sense of security that we are in fact no different to living back in our home countries. That everything is the same, we just have sunshine. But it isn't the case at all. We are all vulnerable. And whereas before in Saudi, we all came to terms with our vulnerabilities, opening the door for friendships, here we don't. Not even me. This is not in reference to people I know this is an observation of what I see around me - people are in groups, there isn't so much of a mix of people. We are all so separated here, in our own little cliques. Now I know this is not true of every single person who lives here, but I truly believe it holds true for most people, but maybe even to a certain degree for everyone. Everyone just keeps on moving, keeps on rushing and keeps on going regardless of those around them. This isn't a bad thing on their part. It is survival. That is why a city can be such a lonely place.

For me things have felt very much out of control since arriving. There has been very little time for my mind to rest. Some people can cope with that, I for one cannot. I become affected. For many reasons. And I then try to gain control. For many reasons. And I cannot. And that is why I become so affected.

Right now my head is spinning and I need to slow down in this busy metropolis. There is some peace here somewhere and I have to find it. I know where it is, it is in my heart and I know God will guide me eventually, but for whatever reason we are taking the long way round. Maybe I will get used to city life, maybe I won't. But what I will have to learn is the ability to be happy. This place has highlighted my weaknesses and made me crumble, what I now need to do is use this place to find my strength and allow myself to grow again. Because Qatar isn't a bad place. I don't have a bad life. It is me and only I am in control of what I am feeling.

I need to embrace this city.

I need to embrace life.