Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Halloween Post Mortem

Hallowe’en is really more a cultural tradition these days than a religious event. We no longer worry about spirits walking around on Hallowe’en, and wear costumes to try to scare them away from us. In fact, many of the trick-or-treaters who came by our house last night were pretty! There were fairies, and little mermaids, and some very alluring witches.

In fact, there were so many trick-or-treaters that we ran out! How embarrassing! I thought I had a LOT, but there were more trick-or-treaters than we had treats.

It was a great evening, altogether, and next year I will know better.

Here is our not-scary pumpkin. I wish you could see the ears – it is an orange cat pumpkin, in honor of the Qatteri Cat.


All the visitors made the Qatteri Cat jumpy. He was happy to stay inside and hide with all the action in the streets last night.

November 1, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cross Cultural, Doha, Entertainment, Family Issues, Halloween, Living Conditions, Pets, Qatar, Qatteri Cat | Leave a comment

Back in Traffic; How Do You Alphabetize / File?

So today I became, once again, a legal driver in Qatar, five months to the day from my arrival. Yep, for those of you who never have the joy of trying to maneuver through the complexity of getting a license in a foreign country – you have NO idea. NO idea. There are people who try and try to get a license and never do.

We are really lucky. We have some very good people who help us get things done. Somehow, it’s my turn to be lucky today.

When I showed up at the office, however, one of the HR girls told me “Oh! Flana is not here today! You will have to come back.”

You all know how nice I am. I smiled at her and said “my husband told me to be here today to get my driver’s license. Someone is going to help me.” Smile again, big smile.

Sure enough, someone is going to help me, and it is someone who I like, someone who has helped me before and who is always calm and patient and knows how to persist pleasantly until he gets what he wants from the bureaucrats. In fact, I admire him, because people end up liking to help him. He is low key. He takes me to the driver’s station, where, because of my advanced age (DO NOT ASK) I have to have an eye test. This leads me to wonder. Doesn’t everyone have to have an eye test?

Then I wait, in the special ladies’ majlis:

I had to wait quite a long time, but I was comfortable, and while I was waiting, I read all the driving safety signs they had up along the ceiling. They were all in English and Arabic, and they were great thoughts, but too many words. Like if you are reading that many words: If you are driving too fast you may not get home alive (that is not a real one, but that was the gist of most of them) so I was creating a new driving safety campaign called the equal campaign:

Speed + Texting = (shows a vehicle turned on its side and all smashed

Speed + Weaving = Two or three crunched vehicles

Texting + Driving = QR (enormous fine)

Something simple to read, graphically simple, something you can glance at and get the meaning.

When I got my driver’s license, I was really happy, except for one tiny little thing – it’s kind of my name but not exactly my name. It’s an easy mistake to make, names can be complicated, but . . . it isn’t my name on my license. It’s my face, it’s my information – it isn’t my name. For half a heartbeat, I consider saying something and then Wisdom kicks in and I zip my lip.

So then, driving home in traffic, I got to thinking about names and how we file things, alphabetically, and even Europeans sometimes file us wrong, which has led us to first class seats because airlines can’t find us, etc. It isn’t always such a bad thing.

Then I started wondering about how Arab speaking people file. Like do you have half the files in the “A” drawer, like Al So-and-So and Al Somebody Else, and how do the sun and moon words affect the filing, like Ar Rayyan, or Ath Thalaka, or As Shams, etc. Once you have filed someone, the goal is to be able to retrieve that information? How does alphabetization work in Arabic? How are things filed?

So being stuck in traffic might not be so bad if someone answers my question and I learn something. 🙂

November 1, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, Doha, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Social Issues, Work Related Issues | 7 Comments