Marhaba means "welcome" in Arabic. For the most part, we have felt very welcome in our new home in Doha, Qatar. I think there is no getting around the cultural overload though, and we have been pretty overwhelmed. The 24 hour plane flight, the moving, the hot and humid climate, not to mention all the bland colors of sand and sand-colored buildings have had quite a physical as well as emotional and mental impact on us. It is quite a unique experience for a westerner to walk through a mall filled with people dressed in abayas and thobes. I don't know what can prepare a person for that.
The morning after we arrived Abbey and I slept 14 hours straight while Brett started his first day of orientation atVirginia Commonwealth University Qatar. It has taken all of us over a week now to feel rested - and even then it is questionable.
I have a new appreciation and respect for my dad who emmigrated from Germany to Canada in the 1950's. He didn't know any English and had to slowly learn the language as he manuevered his way through a new country and culture. At least for us, most people here know some English - and I use that term "some" very loosely. I find myself asking the maintenance man at our complex to repeat things over and over. He is not even Qatari. There are more immigrants in this country than there are nationals. We were told that there are only 200,000 Qatari nationals in this land, and most of them are very wealthy, so they need that immigrant population to support their lavish lifestyle. In honor of that, and because the hot humid climate has taken my natural sweet smells to new heights, I bought myself some new perfume here called "Lavish." It hasn't helped me feel any more like a native, but it has definitely improved the surrounding aromas. Next time I will write about how I went to go get my Qatari drivers license with Mohammed Ali. Imagine that!