I'm trying to think back on my week. I really should take notes because everything blends together by the end. Several important things happened that will make my life so much easier. I got a badge for Tornado Tower where I work. This is an improvement on the previous badge as this one actually opens doors and has my name spelled correctly. I also got my official Qatar Foundation badge with a fancy lanyard and whole shebang. It smells very new. I do not recommend enjoying the lovely new smells while you are in the office. This badge lets me do all sorts of nifty stuff the first of which will be going to the gym and the pool. The last super big thing is that I was paid and I have a bank account. In the coming weeks I'll get an atm card and a credit card. It is common to pay for a lot of things with cash here so I need to be in the habit of not letting my resources get too low. Of course I'm the last of the big spenders (not!) so even though I was at the grocery store with my paycheck I only bought obscenely practical things. My idea of a splurge is buying a whole pack of soap and not just one bar.
I am getting into meal planning and I was thrown by the variety of spices and also the size of some of the packages. Who needs that many bay leaves? Since I liked the Zatar/Zater spiced bread so much I decided to buy a packet for my cooking. Good ole Lulu, they think of everything.
Tuesday night I went to Georgetown University School of Foreign Service to hear Author Dinaw Mengestu speak about his third book All Our Names. I admit I had not finished the book yet; it was not a story that could be rushed. I was beyond impressed with the interview. Mr. Mengetsu is an eloquent speaker and the next morning his words were still with me. Given the number of expats in Qatar, All Our Names was a good choice. The conflict the author felt growing up as an immigrant in the United States is seen in the struggle of all his characters. Anyone with a foot in more than one world can easily relate to the quandaries presented. I really appreciated how Mr. Mengetsu judiciously tried to talk about some broader ramifications of identity, race and nationality.
Oh right I forgot to share, so this week when I commute to work I now hire a car. I meet my driver in front of my apartment building in the morning. After work he picks me up and takes me home. It sounds fancy but it's really common here. My driver is super nice but I don't know a lot about him. I really like that if I don't see where he is parked right away he will try to flag me down. You might think since you hire the driver for the week that you can pay just once for the whole thing. Your driver's boss may agree to this but your driver won't like it. Many of these fellows live on next to nothing and if you don't pay them they won't have the funds to make it day to day.
Last week we worked 7:30am-2:30pm, this week we now work until 3:30pm because our summer hours are over. During Ramadan the work day ends at 1:30pm so I will get to experience that next year. The good part is that we also get a half hour lunch along with the later end time. I can scamper across the street to the Monoprix. Monoprix is a line of French drugs stores. They carry anything from clothing to bath products. The grocery has an amazing variety of products from an incredible array of countries. I was able to buy aloe juice as treat. I also tried Pocari Sweat. This is an uncarbonated drink that tastes a bit like Fresca. Its is sweet and salty so it seems a bit like a sports drink. I didn't like it much. The big appeal of Monoprix is the lunch counters which sell curry, baba ghanoush, deli sandwiches and salads.
Have you ever tried a dessert with rose water in it? I learned that rose water had been used in the past as a flavoring before vanilla extract became so popular. I had rose water in a cupcake with raspberry and it was so good. It is fun to eat foods that you like but that you also cannot describe. I like this taste but I don't have a word for it.