Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Qatteri and Kuwaiti Gazingas

We’ve lived in so many different places and dealt with so many currencies, you’d think we’d be used to it by now, but there is always that confusing time at the beginning, when you are mentally trying to multiply and divide and figure out how much things cost. Generally speaking, we call it the gazinga problem, gazinga being our family generic term for whatever currency we are currently using.

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I think the cost of food in Qatar is cheaper, but to figure that out, I have to think what it costs here, translate that from Qatteri riyals to dollars, and then to translate that to Kuwaiti dinars. For example, the Vanilla Caramel coffee stuff I like is 2.250 in Kuwaiti dinars (when I can find it) which is about $8.25, and in Qatar, it is QR 15.50, which is $4.25, a significant difference.

Life in Kuwait became much simpler when my Kuwaiti friend told me “Just think about a Kuwaiti dinar being roughly equivalent to the dollar. Otherwise, you will go crazy.” He was right. When I would go grocery shopping and just think of it in dollars, life became much simpler. Every now and then, when I would multiply by 3.65 to figure out the cost in dollars, I would gasp and put the item back on the shelf. Life is simpler if you just go with it. Mostly, I would look for locally produced vegetables, eggs, etc., and that kept grocery costs down. It’s the imported stuff that gets crazy.

So, irrationally, when I have 500 riyals in my pocket, I feel RICH. I feel secure and protected. (500 riyals {$138} is approximately equivalent to 35KD {$128}). I can’t tell you the number of people who come into town in Qatar and offer to take us to dinner (we’ve learned – we always carry extra cash!) – and then when the bill comes, they are stunned – and embarrassed – that they don’t have enough riyals to cover the bill. It’s not that the places are that expensive – although some of them are – but that it all adds up so quickly, and a couple hundred gazingas may not cover a dinner for four.

In both Kuwait and Qatar, I make it a point to quickly learn where all the cash machines are, the ones for my bank, and the ones that you can use your US credit card in and get cash. You just never know when you are going to find something in a shop that doesn’t take credit cards, or find that you are low on cash and still have a couple stops before you get home. Like knowing where the clean toilets are; it’s a matter of survival. 🙂

In Qatar, 100 Qattari riyals is about $27.50, so when doing rapid calculations, I figure it is around $25, then I add a little.

We are working on getting rid of the pigeons. It took a while – when AdventureMan went to the management and said he wanted the pigeons gone, they didn’t understand him. We say “pijjens” and they say “oh! pij-ee-owns!” The cleaning crew came and cleared out the awful nest yesterday, and only one pigeon came to try to spend the night. I threw pencil erasers at him (I had to gather them all up this morning) and then clanked a big stick. Today I am going to buy a water pistol.

The cleaning crew asked if I wanted to have my windows washed, and oh, yes, I did. It really helps to have lived here before. I know that if you want your windows washed, you can go to the desk, they will schedule it and they charge you around 500 riyals – still a bargain, by stateside standards – about $128 for a two story house with some very hard-to-get-to windows. But if you ask the cleaning crew on the compound, they will come during their time off and charge about half – and all the money goes to the guys who clean the windows. I now have bright, shiny windows – I don’t think they had been washed on the outside since I left over three years ago. Now – they sparkle!

Banks in Kuwait and Qatar are way ahead of banks in the US with their use of technology. When I took money out of our bank account yesterday, AdventureMan called me immediately and asked if I had just taken money out of the account. They had SMS’d him what had been taken out and what was left!

My household goods were delivered two weeks ago today. There are still a few remaining little nests of things that need places, but – not much! We walk around the house with that satisfied feeling of knowing things are in their place, where we can find them insh’allah, when we need them, and there are no more boxes, no more piles – it looks pretty good! Even AdventureMan got his room all in order – Now he walks out of his room and says “Oh! It feels so good to walk in and everything is put away!” and he has a huge grin on his face.

Little Diamond arrives tomorrow night. We can hardly wait. 🙂

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July 13, 2009 Posted by | Doha, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Food, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Language, Living Conditions, Moving, Shopping | 12 Comments