I have been wrapping things up and am just a few more days away from the end of the Qatar adventure. I am proud to say I am the proud owner of an Abaya! I have talking about getting one for months. In the end, It’s not exactly what I wanted, but as a believer in Divine Providence I think it’s the Abaya that WAS CHOSEN for me.
And I love her! It kind of looks like West African clothing…lol.
The girls of the program were really sweet and threw a surprise soiree for me tonight. I guess I should have expected it, but I really didn’t. I had just come back from an adventure of sorts —- (Going out alone, at night, into the Center of Doha) It really wasn’t scary or potentially life threatening at all, but we are too sheltered in this housing situation. At any rate, some of the messages on the card were enough to bring someone with a more emotional constitution to tears. (Yeah, Gazelle isn’t the emotional kind…lol). But it feels good to have had a positive impact on someone’s life and to have been liked.
I am still thinking about the wider implications of being here, just on a subconcious level…lol.
Unfortunately the main Qatar person I have had contact with has been compromised (that’s an entire journal entry right there). So I will need to make a list of things of things I like and dislike about “Qatari society.”
hmmmm my program was featured on Al-Jazeera a few weeks ago, and one of the guys in the program said that he forgot his color while being here. For the first time it did not matter… I was like, really?…lol… Of course we are totally different people, and he’s got a different set of friends so that could be it… we are also from two different countries. Oh well.
It’s also interesting how my interactions with people here have really sort of colored my hopes for future travels or lack thereof… well really, I didn’t dislike most of the people here, even the ones I did/do, I don’t feel that way all the time. So I guess there is no country on my no-fly-zone list…lol…Then what is it? I guess Country X will equal person Y because that’s all the reference I have.
Then there is the issue of Doha’s poor, I need to post about this, but unfortunately as much as its wildly present here It’s also sort of the unsaid story. How many unhappy maids have I seen? or rather, Can I even recall seeing one smiling even, once? How many times have I been in an air-conditioned bus or car and seen south Asian men trudging at some construction site? How many times have I seen people talking to their servants or service workers as if they are less than human or not worthy of respect? It’s like this in many cities, but the difference between these guest worker neighborhoods and the villas I see Qataris living is disgusting.
Exhibit A: a few blocks away from Souq Waqif, a major touristy center:
I kind of don’t even want to know that the inside looks like… sigh. And these aren’t even the purportedly worst—- I don’t know how the construction workers are housed.
Going back to my adventures in the City I am thinking about self-censorship in terms of dress. When I go out with Friends I wear what I want within reason. But, if I am going out alone, then I am breaking out one of my long dresses and wearing tights/pants underneath. If am going out alone at night, even it’s just to the mall nearby, then I am passing as a hijabi as I wear a head-wrap+ the long dress. plus a jacket if the dress is not long-sleeves. Why is that?
I don’t wanna hear people’s crap! It’s hard, but it’s the reality. Is this right? Is it fair that my friends who dress appropriately but never Qatari-esque or hijabi-esque clothing get it in the streets (granted they are also white)? Should they really be expected to conform? Am I signing away some of my rights and freedoms by changing myself? hmmm. I suppose coming from a different cultural milieu is part of it. I come from a place, where I can certainly wear an abaya and get compliments on my “dress” while in comparison they will stares. Wearing a head scarf (unless its wrapped in the “signature” hijabi way) is just ‘ady (normal) part of life and cultural expression not so for them. The negotiations that women in general make when leaving home are interesting and complicated, Qatar is no exception and neither are Qatari women. I have seen scarves and abayas worn so many ways and sometimes by the same woman depending on where she is, that I don’t even know where to begin.
I’m thinking about the meaning of friendship. What makes a friend? what makes two people just click? What makes a person overlook your faults and just go beyond that? What makes a friendship worth saving?
hmmm what else can I say? This is a random post, but I am feeling grateful right now. Time to write thank you notes. To America and beyond!