Our five year adventure in Doha, Qatar ended June 1, 2012, but the memories will always remain. It's back to Texas where I have decided...Qatar isn't cornering the market on "quirky", as I once believed. Thanks for opening my eyes to the world, Doha!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Got Milk?

David & I should be in D.C. about the time most of you are rising this morning...6:47am EST. Here's a blog that I "prescheduled" for today so that you wouldn't miss a beat. Now, that doesn't mean there won't be any skipped beats this summer!

Do you see what my grocery shopping experience has been reduced to? A pint of milk and six eggs. I remember the days when I would get a couple of gallons of milk at a time. Those days are long gone. Now, to be honest, I only got six eggs because we are leaving the country. Only in Doha can you walk into the store and buy by the egg. I usually get a crate of thirty at a time. Yes, that is a cracked egg in the bag. That's the price you pay for buying them individually. My little man at the grocery was tripping out over the fact that I only asked for six. He must of repeated five times during the course of the visit and then even after placing them in my car....."only six, madame?". Yes, only six, I repeated for the last time. I tried to explain that I was going on vacation, but it was lost in translation somewhere. As you can see, Sykes is happy to watch over the goods for me while I snap the picture. He's just like one of the kids. I remember the saying I heard quite often while raising the kids, "you have to choose your battles". Well, as you've figured out, I'm tired of choosing between battles. Sykes is the clear winner.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Countdown to America

I've made my list and checked it twice and them some. Not that I've packed anything, but I've done all the running around that I needed to to get ready for our much anticipated trip to America (tonight!). Sykes is stocked up with cat food and litter, with Kumar in the wings ready to take over. I wish him luck because Sykes has definitely been living up to his name lately. I'm not so sure that Kumar will be able to contain Sykes in the outdoor entry maid's quarters we have designated for him. In the last couple of days, he's chewed off the corner of one Qatar photo album, knocked over my "unbirthday" present (again), and is ever messing with my mosaic coffee set that I picked up in Abu Dhabi. If I ever thought about the possibilities of letting him run the villa while we are gone, they are history. I've got David stocked up with essentials for his six week stint of life in Doha, while I'm still vacationing in the states. Diet 7-up, water, toilet paper and take away menus at the ready. What else could the man need? The last load of laundry is in the micro washer, while I sip my morning coffee and tune in to Hannity and Colmes. Okay, I'm back. You would not believe what I've been going through over a $5 tank top I picked up yesterday. I discovered that it still had the "sensor tag" on it. OMG, have you ever tried to remove one of those things? As the pictures clearly indicate, they are indestructible. I've practically ruined the shirt trying to get it off and it still isn't off. I was scared to pack it thinking it might set off an alarm at the airport, just a bit paranoid, eh? Well, at least the sensor strip is out of it. So don't panic if you see a piece of plastic hanging off the back neck of my shirt when you see me in town. Well, I better get. That took a chunk out of my morning and David will be home soon. The taxi is picking is up at 5:45pm this evening. Our first stop is Kuwait, then on to D.C., then Austin where hopefully, Dustin will be waiting on us with bells on his toes. See y'all soon!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shea Update

I asked Shea awhile back to send me some pics and info on what's going on with him and this is what I got. I didn't get much of the info part from him, so I guess these pics are his life in a nutshell. That's him with JoJo and Granddaddy at his Special Warfare Training Graduation at Fort Bragg in December. I'm speculating that the tall gentleman standing with Shea is one of his superiors. The other two pics are from his "mum's the word" Vegas trip. He met a bunch of his old Austin buddies there for Memorial Day weekend. As his computer away message said, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". And that it did. The only thing I got out of him regarding his trip was that he didn't lose more than he planned on, so consider it a success. His language lessons must be going well. When I talk to him via instant messenger, every other response is in French. His graduation from language school on July 19th should complete his formal PsyOp (Psychological Operations) training. After that who knows, most likely Afghanistan or Iraq is the word on the street. Depending on his deployment date, he would like to visit us here in Doha. Hopefully that will be the only trip he makes to the Middle East. Time will tell. So in the mean time, Shea, I'll continue to say a little prayer for you and all your military cohorts around the world.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

The Burning Question

To blog or not to blog: That is the question: whether 'tis nobler to give it up for the summer or to continue on into my American adventures. This question has been plaguing me the last few weeks. Friends and family are asking, "Are you going to blog in Texas?". I'm not sure where they are going with that question. Do y'all need a vacation, yourselves? You know how I live in the moment. If I say I won't be blogging, I might be blogging everyday. If I say I will, then that's just too much pressure. So, what better time is there for a self serving poll. So don't be shy, vote how you REALLY feel.....this is America, you know (well, sort of). Don't sweat it too much though, cuz you know I'll do what I want anyway.
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

No Ringy Dingy Here

For the FIRST time...(pause for effect)... In my ADULT life...(pause for effect)...I am PROUD...(pause for effect)...to inform you that I am a free woman. You were really wondering where I was going with that one, huh? Well, some of you, anyway. Half of you were lost (hi, mom) and the other half were on top of it (hi, Joan). And then there's the half (does that work?) that I just ticked off. You'll survive. Kristi's only been gone a day, so of course the full impact hasn't hit yet. I'm hoping it won't since we'll be leaving ourselves in a couple of days making for a good transition. I haven't touched her messy room yet, so that makes it feel like she's just having an overnighter at a friend's house. I was going to barrel through it this morning, but then realized I have all fall when I get back from the states. Any excuse is a good excuse. What did make me realize that she wasn't around was yesterday when we went to the gym and then later to Bennigan's, it didn't matter if we grabbed the cell phone or not. Who would be calling us? Ring, ring..."Mom, can you...?, "Will you...", "Where are you?", nope, it wasn't going to happen. The Doha lifeline was no longer needed. That's a good thing, I guess. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

s in Doha.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Another one Bites the Dust

Kristi's outta here. She spent all day yesterday pilfering through the mountains of clothes and trinkets collected while here for her one year stint. She had to prioritize her Qatari life possessions and pack them into two suitcases for her journey home. It's amazing what that girl can get into a suitcase. She has a closet set aside for her air shipment, which Chevron will send a rep to pack up and ship out for her at the end of July. Then, of course, there's a closet full of stuff for mamma to decide what to do with. Finally she announced at 9:00pm last night that she was ready. Her "last supper" choice...Chili's. Any time you ask Kristi where she wants to eat here, her answer is always "anything American". Well, she's gonna be in heaven when she arrives in Austin,(via London and Dallas) and she can have all the American food her heart desires. Although we didn't lack it here, it will just be easier access there. We had our last meal, and grabbed her a coffee at Eli France for the road and it was off to the airport for our final farewells. It wasn't a sad scene as I had feared. It was a happy one knowing how excited Kristi was to be heading back to begin college and looking forward to her orientation this week at St. Edwards. I talked to her via instant messenger until they came and got her in the business lounge for boarding. She should be arriving in London anytime now. Dustin on the other hand arrived in Dallas a little while ago only to miss his flight to Austin. He has been put up at the Westin Hotel with a few food vouchers to hold him over until he catches a different flight out tomorrow morning. If that's the biggest mishap we encounter through all these flights, bring it on. David and I have a few days to recuperate from all the hustle and bustle of Kristi and Dustin's comings and goings before we have to make our airport run. I must say that I'm really excited to be following their dusty trails.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Dustin Leaves Doha in the Dust

Dustin's fifty day marathon came to an end when we packed him up and dropped him at the airport this morning. This is the first of our two airport runs today, as we will be taking Kristi there later tonight. Dustin pulled an all nighter in hopes that he will be able to sleep on his Doha to D.C. flight. If he can stay awake for his next two flights (D.C. to Dallas, then Dallas to Austin), he should be good to go back to sleep when arriving home close to midnight. That's the plan, but it never seems to happen that way. After our goodbyes and I love yous, David and I stopped at Ric's Kountry Kitchen for comfort food to fill the void that was left behind. That filled our tummies, but the ride home lifted our spirits. There's nothing like a truckload of sheep on the corniche to make you smile. I'm sorry Dustin missed that one. Also on the way home, I captured the nasty dust that we've been experiencing the last week and a half. I dug up a pic from the archives
taken at the same area. The difference is unbelievable and it seems to be growing worse daily. The paper says it's due to "scant rains" in the region prior to the "advent" of summer. Nevertheless, we will all soon be following Dustin and leaving Doha in the dust.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Beautify Me

Our neighborhood beauty saloon, "Midnight Fantasy" finally opened this week. It's next door to the Turkish Star Restaurant that we frequent (remember, the Turkish Cowboys?) . Every now and then I would stop by and see if the door would open, but it was always locked. Well, I was pleasantly surprised the day before yesterday when I pulled on the door and it flew open. When I peeked in ten eyes stared back at me, first in shock and then in excitement that a customer had arrived. Of course they all knew my name, "Hi, Madame!" they said in unison. I told them how excited that I was that they were open and they told me, "First day, first day". I then realized, they weren't really open. They were all practicing on each other's hair, which I must admit made me a tad nervous. Of course, you know I had to ask where they were from as I do everyone in this country. Three were from Tunisia, one from the Philippines and the last one was an abayaless Qatari which is quite a treat to see. Wow, they are real people. I knew that already, but I do love the gentle reminder. Sometimes it's just really hard to see past all the coverings and quite refreshing when you do. In broken English, the Filipino proceeded to list all the things they could do to make me beautiful. I decided I'd let them practice a few days and then I would go back with my reinforcement, Kristi. Well, we went this afternoon and I got my hair cut while Kristi had a manicure and pedicure. We took our respective seats and waited for the guinea pig process to begin. A few minutes after being seated, we were presented with little china cups of delicious coffee. After an exchange between the stylist and myself via the receptionist for translation, she started snipping away. I was surprised when she really seemed quite confident and cut my hair as though she knew what she was doing. Did I mention that I was the one that had no confidence? She started blow drying my hair after the cut and then motioned for her assistant. The assistant whips out these big aqua blue fuzzy rollers reminiscent of the 60's. I'm like, "no, no, blow dry is good". OMG, no way were those prickly things going in my hair. She didn't seem offended and finished up the blow dry, which I was pleasantly pleased with. Kristi's nail tech seemed quite pleased herself, as she admired her own work and then smiled at Kristi for affirmation. After a few pics, we bid our new friends farewell and decided we had some catching up to do. We took our beautiful selves to Starbucks. There's nothing like Starbucks to facilitate female bonding.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Write this Down...No Ads Allowed

It has come to my attention that some of you may think the pics and what not on my sidebar are advertisements. Let it be known that this blog is an ad free zone. There is nothing in it that I didn't manufacture myself for your viewing pleasure or displeasure, whatever the case may be. For instance, the picture of the orange sunset behind the mosque tower is a picture I took last month when making a wrong turn going to the grocery store. Then when I looked up and saw the sun setting behind the mosque, I knew there was a reason for my errant turn. So, I used the pic for the background for the local Doha weather link that I added. This is not an ad. Now, the shoes for the mosque thief story were found on the internet and I turned it into a link that leads to the story in our local newspaper. I guess I could have taken a picture, but that would have required more effort. I asked David if he liked the "Mosque Shoe Thief" story after he read my post the other day and he said he didn't know what I was talking about. Honestly, I can't even get David to read my blog even though he's subject to a pop quiz everyday when he gets home. So anyway, I immediately put in the thumbs up, pointing fingers over my mosque story to make it stand out for him. He chuckled at that, but then tells me that I have too much time on my hands. (Hmm, I could go shopping or hang out at Sharq Village & Spa everyday.) Then Dustin takes a gander and informs me that all that "junk" on the side looks like ads to him. Great. I try to be creative and you see where it gets me. I got one more opinion from "The Lonesome Texan" or the "Last Texan" as Kayla refers to herself in emails to me. She tells me that she doesn't think it looks like ads, and then interjects, "but I'm smart". Then she goes on to tell me that she didn't click on the mosque thief story, either, but the title alone made her smile and she made up the rest of the story in her mind and was, I quote, "satisfied". Whatever it takes. I promise y'all if I decide we need a second income and have to resort to selling commercial space in my blog, I'll give y'all a heads up. As for right now, don't be afraid to click away on my page. You won't go anywhere other than where I intended for you to go. Happy clicking!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Grass is Greener in Texas...Duh

Remember the story about me getting old and getting up with the chickens? Well, those days are gone with the Knox/Owens clan. Since they've left, I can barely roll out of bed in the mornings. I must be having sympathy jet lag. The only other thing I can think of is the summertime blues. No goin' and blowin' anymore. Most of my partners in crime have left for Texas. I do have a couple of others, but we tend to lay low with all the heat. Kristi's been useless, as well. I haven't seen her since school let out. No use in retraining myself to getting up early, we'll be on the dusty trail soon enough ourselves. It's hard to believe we'll be leaving next Wednesday. As I was eating breakfast this morning, I realized the first thing I want to do...go to IHOP and get a double order of BACON! Lol, I'm not a huge pork eater, but just the fact that I can't have it here makes me want it that much more. So, Mom, get the bacon ready. We're having it every morning! And JoJo, toss out that healthy turkey bacon, and get the real thing. It's funny, all I ate at home is turkey bacon and I don't want to cast my eyes upon it now. I look at it as an evil imitation. I'm sure David will want to visit our local "Texas Barbecue" in Kyle and order up a pound of pork barbecue for himself. You know, I always preached to my kids the old adage, "the grass is always greener...". And, oh, how true it is. Literally!

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Showers, No That Would Not Be Rain

They came,they saw, they finally conquered. Well, that's what they tell me, anyway. Our water heater stopped working about five fast showers ago and after three visits from the villa people (not to be confused with the Village People), it is fixed. We've been having to turn the water on cold to get warm water, because if you turn it to hot you get cold water. I don't understand it, people, but David could explain this Doha phenomenon to you. Myself, I don't have the energy to listen to the reasoning involved, or even care for that matter. All I know is that my next shower,hopefully, will be scalding hot and I will be beet red when I emerge.

Footnote: I couldn't find the original James Taylor version of the song, but thought this Gospel Choir did a nice job...never thought of it as a Christian song,

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

To Some Pretty Special Guys

Click on the cookie!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Moving On

I guess you've noticed that I'm a bit hesitant on taking down Kristi's grad pics. For some reason, I just can't let go, yet. I guess I'm waiting on some type of "closure" to be cast upon me. I'll have to consult my psyche major, aka Dustin, and get back with you on that one. But, be assured, I will move on sooner or later and you'll see some fresh new flashing neon signs on my home page. I'll start today by just making the pics smaller and moving them over to my sidebar. Then, maybe if someone sends me some awesome you tube video that's a "must see", I'll think about replacing those with it. Hmm....or maybe I'll just put the pics in this post, so that they'll always be there for me to refer back to. Now, that I might be able to live with. I think I've just talked myself through what was my biggest dilemma these days....when to let go. I guess I don't have to. That wasn't so bad after all. Thanks for listening, my friends or as my dad always called it, giving me some much needed "couch work". With your help, I believe I can fly!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Peaceful Dreams

I've figured out what I'm going to do come September when I'm back in Doha childless. Three letters...S P A. It came to me a couple of days ago I joined a few of my tea friends and headed to Sharq Village and Spa for high tea. It was the first visit at this resort for the five of us. The facility is owned and operated by the Ritz, but with a completely different decor. It's not quite so "Ritzy", but at the same time everything is tastefully appointed with a soothing and comfortable atmosphere. The "attentiveness" was much better than the Ritz, as our tea cups never went below the halfway mark. The subtlety of the service was amazing. Our conversations never interrupted, but all needs fulfilled just the same. We were each given a complimentary bag of tea to take with us, which added a special touch. After tea we decided to take advantage of the moment and wander around the property a bit, since it is known to be quite elite in Doha. As we teetered around oohing and aahing we came across The
Sixth Senses Spa that the resort is known for. We asked the doorman if we could just peek in and instead were given the grand tour which afterwards made us feel that we had had an entire day of spa treatments. Just walking around in the never ending rooms of the spa relaxed us while we could hear the cascading waters, the flute music lightly playing, and the subtle scents wafting in the air. Are you with me, yet? We finished our tour and were asked to relax and have a seat in the comfy reception area. We were promptly served ginger tea by our tour guide, Maurine, from Nigeria. We then had "chasers" of a refreshing water that had cucumber, lemon and mint. So, in the coming months if I should for some reason find Doha not so kind to me, I know where to turn now. For that matter, if it is kind to me I know where to celebrate it, as well. Aaaah, a girl's gotta dream...Peacefully yours, Syb.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Paradise Awaits

Two tickets to paradise....I think that's about how Kristi and Dustin are feeling right now. Dustin has decided that maybe he's overshot his stay by a few weeks. Six weeks in Doha with no vehicle, no money, and no heat relief can be a bit long for a 23 year old young man. Relying on mama with your hand out and calling taxis gets old. Kristi on the other hand is anxious to get away from the unsolicited smiles, cat calls and stares that a pretty, young, very white girl receives in this country. Heck, I even get that (on a minuscule scale, of course). I can only imagine what she goes through. Perhaps the difference is being on the front side of fifty, sometimes you appreciate those things no matter who it's coming from. That's so sad. So anyway, Dustin heads out on the 20th, while Kristi leaves on the 21st with a first class one way ticket out of here. She'll be anxious, especially since all of her friends will have already left the country. I've hardly seen her lately, she's been living every last breathing moments with her international friends...making their final memorable moments in the land of odd. Not to worry, they all have plans to reunite in the future. I don't doubt that they will, for she and her friends have created unique bonds. Dustin has also made a few friends and I'm sure will stay connected despite the oceans between. But, as I've said before, all good things must end and they'll be on their way to the land of the free and the home of the brave. Hmm...that makes me want to go to a "stros" game. Anyway, that's it from our side of the world today. Have a good one.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To Load or Not to Load

It was inevitable, just a matter of time before the camera nailed us for something. Police here have a different role than back in the states. You will never see someone get pulled over. As a matter of fact, I saw a cop get "flashed" the other day and he promptly retreated to the right hand land to let the Land Cruiser behind him by. I've probably discussed this before about how cars don't even yield to emergency vehicles or police with flashing lights. But, put a camera in and a new found respect abounds. You see the cameras and radars everywhere and you know when and where to slow down. The cameras are prominently displayed in straight aways and at intersections just waiting to catch you speeding or "jumping" the light. Well, our ambiguous faux paux which David found while checking the government website was "loading or unloading the vehicle in a dangerous manner". Are you kidding me, I haven't seen a kid in a seatbelt in this country, yet and they want to give us a ticket for dropping someone off on the corniche, if indeed it did take place. This supposed infraction occurred on the corniche in the evening hours on a weekday night when David is already tucked in bed and I'm curled up on the sofa with my laptop and Fox News. Now, I can't honestly say that there is no way that this occurred, but as for right now any possibilities are escaping me. Be assured that "they" will win as I hand over my 500Qr ($137) traffic fine.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Our Week in Pictures

Our company has come and gone, but the memories we made are here to stay. I've put our trials and tribulations in a slide show to make sure, like the Energizer Bunny that they keep "going and going". I've discovered this last year that my memory is going and going, so I thought I'd document the visit before it's completely gone. Without any further adieu, I hope you enjoy the montage as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Where There's Smoke There's...

The Events of Thursday, June 5th

I think today's post will get us up to speed on our Tennessee/North Carolina adventurers that joined us this week to celebrate Kristi's graduation. If my memory serves me correctly, this was one of those extra lazy mornings when no pots were banging in the breakfast hours. I just sliced up some apples and cheese and passed the plate around. My "hostability" was falling apart. No eggs, no bread in the house. We made up for it with a trip to Nando's for lunch for their world famous Peri Peri flame grilled chicken. Well, that's what their website says, anyway. It was excellent, so if you're ever in the D.C. area they're opening one up this month. We walked around City Centre Mall a bit after eating and stopped at a kiosk for a little gelato to top off our meal. I wasn't kidding when I told you that's the favorite pastime here...eating and shopping. And, we can hang with the best of them. After lazing around during the evening hours letting our food go down, Bob was reading my Discover Qatar book and was taking it quite to heart. He blurts out, "It says here that one shouldn't leave Qatar until experiencing shisha". It was only 9:00pm and after all, Qataris never get cranked up before then, so we hit the pavement to the souqs. Ok parents, this is where it gets a little questionable. You may want your children to leave the room or using my best Ricky Ricardo impression "you might have some "splainin" to do". We stopped at Al Bandar for our late dinner, which was delicious I might add (if you don't count the head on Granddaddy's fish). We had a little Arabic dessert and then some shisha to top off our meal. Remember, the book said that this MUST be done while visiting, so we did our best to obey. JoJo and Granddaddy defied the rule and opted out of our antics. I think they were just deathly afraid that they would soon be blog fodder if they joined in. We chose the double apple flavor recommended by a friend that was sitting at a table near us. Bob is going to shoot me when he sees his pic, but as Flip Wilson used to say, "the devil made me do it". It looks like it's right out of an old Cheech and Chong movie. You know the one..."Up in Smoke". I wasn't going to add a pic of David and myself, but I figured I'd be in a heap of trouble if I didn't. The funniest thing about this whole situation is the multiple takes that we had to do to get the pics just right. Sherry and I weren't very good at this stuff. We'll keep our day jobs. Keep in mind, people, this is all on the up and up. No funny stuff or even not so funny stuff was going on here. Just 100% pure entertainment for the rest of the crowd at Al Bandar as they watched a table of middle aged people cough and choke while laughing and taking endless pics for the history books.

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