I’m spending a week in the Middle East. Qatar to be precise, visiting friends. Chasing some elusive vitamin D that I missed out on through spending the Summer (Winter) in New Zealand (woe is me, I know. I’m scraping through) while everyone in the UK was melting.
Being here is odd in its lack of oddness. I lived here two years, I’ve been gone two years. It’s all a bit same same but different. I don’t feel nostalgic or weird. I literally feel like I haven’t really been away. There are just a couple of things so far that have made me think. But only in a, ‘Oh yeah, how did I forget that,’ kind of way. Firstly, the amount of men everywhere. And the staring. Not lechy staring, to be fair, but still. Staring. Like there’s six of us to every one of you and my face has to look somewhere, and yours isn’t covered so it’s mildly more interesting. That kind of stare.
Secondly, the traffic. I came to quite enjoy driving here once I’d got used to it. It was terrifying, and frustrating but there was also a weird unpredictable rhythm to it. Now, I’m a teeny tad nervous and I don’t immediately want to jump in the driving seat. I’m remembering how often people switch lanes, launch themselves onto roundabouts and generally use the road like a toddler with a grand prix play mat.
What have I done so far? Been for the traditional takeaway Starbucks and a pedicure. Had enchilada soup at Chili’s (lush). Had hummus, fattoush, shish tawook and arabic bread (double lush). Burnt my face on Lotus sauce.
Actually, that whole day was sponsored by ice really. There was the cookie dough shenanigans, where the waitress put down the skillet (very hot madam) and I didn’t realise the sauce covering the ice cream and cookie dough was HOTTER THAN THE SUN. So, when my friend said, ‘just shove it in your mouth,’ as I daintily tried to angle in to the overflowing side, I did. And scalded my face. Much to everyone’s amusement. Although, while dying laughing my other friend did fish ice out of her drink with a fork for me. Then, the waitress came back over with a little bowl of ice, like it was a condiment check (Ketchup? Mayo? Bowl of ice for the LAVA I just served you?)
That interlude done with I turned my attention the hives driving me slowly and inexorably insane. Hives is bad. Are bad? Hives when you’re in a mall in Qatar and trying to surreptitiously stick an ice cube under your cardigan because you need to be covered to the elbows but your arm is on fire – vexing. Additional worry of not being able to bear wearing a bra, while in said mall, applying ice to body parts – peak awkwardness achieved. Did I mention the starey men?
I then got back to my friend’s apartment and basically bathed in ice while we talked about plays and school and life and antihistmines. Pretty good day really.