Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Irrelevant Clothing, Shoes and Scissors

It doesn’t matter how long I have been living in the Middle East, it doesn’t matter how many times I have made the trip back and forth, I never seem to get it quite right.

I knew it was going to be less hot in Seattle. I knew it. And still, I didn’t pack a single pair of closed toe shoes, a single pair of nylon stockings, and only a couple long sleeved things. It doesn’t matter that I have lived in Seattle, that I know Seattle, when I am in the middle of the heat and humidity of August in Doha, I lack the imagination to think clearly about the coolness of August in Seattle. I have a lot of lightweight cotton dresses . . . hmmm, so irrelevant in Seattle.

I keep a storage locker here. It started when we moved our parents from their big house to a 2 BR condo (with a water view 🙂 ) and Mom had separated out some of her treasures to divide among us movers. The problem was, I didn’t really want to take them with me (bulky and I would have to bring them back) and I have already imposed on the sister who lives here with a bunch of my stuff, so I finally decided to rent a storage locker. I discovered as a landlord, it actually comes off my taxes. I still have to pay for it, but it isn’t a total loss. I keep Seattle supplies in the locker, too.

When I went to the locker yesterday to pick up some more long sleeved stuff, and my Seattle hairdryer, and my Seattle make-up and living supplies (dishwashing soap, coffee filters, paper towels, laundry soap, etc.) yesterday, with my Mom in the car, nothing went right. My code didn’t work. I had to go inside, leaving my Mom sitting in the car, and it took them a while to work out what was wrong.

(“We don’t have seven number codes! . . . .Hmmm, , mmm, , , yeh, it says you have a seven number code all right, . . .. so here is your new code . . . )

And the new code didn’t work either.

They opened the gate for me, I went to my locker, and with my Mom sitting in the car, discovered my laundry soap had leaked during the time between visits, and with my Mom sitting in the car, I had to clean it all up AND dig out some relevant clothing, and some wrapping paper for gifts I need to send, and scotch tape and scissors (yes, I keep all the things that I frequently use in the locker so I don’t have to buy them again and again and again.) I also grabbed the bag of cosmetic items – like shampoo, toothpaste, my Seattle toothbrush, etc.)

My poor Mom! Remember her? She is still out there sitting in the car!

(The code didn’t work on the way out, either.)

So after all that sitting in the car, I treated Mom to a trip to Trader Joe’s, a place we both love. I picked up sugar snap peas; I just eat them like candy, instead of candy, they are SO good, and some sushi for later on, and Mom picked up things that were really bad, like triple gingersnaps and a wonderfully fragrant new Rosemary Tree.

On the way home, she said “you know you have some stuff in the guest bathroom” and I assured her that I did not, that it was all my middle sister’s stuff, and she said “No, Little Diamond looked at it while she was staying here and said it was yours, that it was stuff you use.” Hmmm. Little Diamond said that?

So when we got back to Mom’s house, I checked the cupboard, and there was one of those zipper bags like (ahem) I always use, and inside was . . . yep. Another hairbrush. Another Seattle toothbrush. Scotch tape. Scissors. My particular make-up back-ups. Shampoo. I brought it with me, and I had two almost identical zipper bags full of Seattle supplies. I can only imagine that sometimes when I get here after all those hours of traveling that my mind is just so addled I am not thinking.


It also makes me feel a little weird that Little Diamond knows me so well that she can identify MY things with just a glance at the contents of the plastic bag, LLOOLLLL! I am that predictable?

On my way over to my Mom’s, I had stopped at the local Fred Meyer’s, a Target-like local store I just love. Now that I am in Seattle, I see things differently. I see things I can hardly resist, like something in me feels like getting ready for the winter, but then, Thank God, my sterner self jerks me back just as I am reaching for:


Look at those socks! Look at those colors! I can barely resist, they are such a hoot! but then . . . where would I wear them? Even if I were abaya’d, people could see my bright polka-dot chartreused ankles and it would draw unwanted attention . . . . maybe just around the house . . .

But no . . . around the house – look at these!

Thick, fuzzy sleepers, only $16.99, like we wore when we were kids, only these are for grownups, and oh! look at that zebra print! The cheetah! They are almost irresistable!

And so irrelevant in Doha!

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Humor, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Privacy, Random Musings, Relationships, Travel | 9 Comments

Today’s Sunrise in Seattle ;-)

LOL, this one is every bit as typical in August as yesterday’s sunrise. Yesterday, we had the kind of day that makes people move to Seattle. It was purely gorgeous.

In another hour, who knows? We may have another beautiful day . . . but for now (shiver) it’s a little on the wintery side.


The parking lot has an indicator that it rained a little last night:


August 25, 2009 Posted by | ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Seattle, sunrise series, Travel | 2 Comments

When Iftar is not Iftar

Holy Cow! I thought there was a dispensation during Ramadan for those who are travelling, pregnant, sick, etc. But no, Qaradawi says even people living in high rises can not break the fast at the same time as those on the ground, and those in the air must watch for the sun to actually go down!

Sunset, not clock, decides Iftar time, says Qaradawi
Web posted at: 8/25/2009 4:19:40

DOHA: Islamic scholar Dr Yousuf Al Qaradawi has urged people while travelling to follow the sun’s position for breaking the fast. Most air travellers currently break their fast as per the timings on the ground.

“The people on flights should break the fast according to sunset, not according to the ground timings,” an Arabic daily reported Qaradawi as saying.

Qaradawi was shocked when a pilot on a Qatar Airways flight from Cairo to Doha announced Iftar time when the sun had still not set. The reason given was that it was prayer time on

the ground.

Qaradawi told his co-passengers that the time for Iftar was yet to come and asked them whether they could offer Maghreb prayers at that time. Most of the people on board agreed with him. The first class passengers did not break their fast but many in the economy class had had their Iftar. When he told them they need to compensate for the day’s fast, some started to cry.

“The mistake is not of the people, it was because the airline had announced it. People should not blindly follow any direction while fasting, they should ensure the right time has come,” he said.

He said that even people living in elevated areas, including highrises, should not follow what people on the ground do.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | News, Ramadan, Spiritual, Technical Issue | 10 Comments

How to Wash Your Hands in Qatar

I had just moments in the Ladie’s room in Qatar, just moments to whip out the camera and photograph this incredibly bureaucratic approach to hygiene and cleanliness.

How many steps to wash your hands??? And who (besides me) is really going to read these instructions in such detail? I am lucky to remember to wash my hands long enough to sing “Happy Birthday to You” two times using hot water and soap!


LLOOLLL, 12 illustrated steps!


August 25, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Doha, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Humor, Hygiene, Living Conditions, Qatar | 6 Comments

Sweet Amsterdam

I used to hate the layover in Amsterdam. I used to sit in the lounge, trying to stay awake so I wouldn’t miss my next flight. Then – I learned about the showers.

You have to scramble to be one of the first to sign up. As it was, I had to wait about an hour, but I still had plenty of time. I love getting all clean between the long flights. It’s not like I am a clean freak, but when I travel, I am just so aware of my exposure to germs from all over the world – the thousands of people who have sat in this same seat, the people who have touched this doorknob, just after sneezing, the people who are coughing and not covering their mouths – I just feel so vulnerable.

And even better – after sitting is fairly close circumstances with total strangers for hours (I am not so friendly when I am traveling) I relish having one small room all to myself, quiet, privacy, just some time alone. It makes all the difference in the world, to me.

KLM seems to be updating their lounges; the new showers are really nice, modern, clean clean clean and cool – they used to be moist, steamy, HOT. I used to feel sweatier after leaving the shower than before, but now – ah! fresh!

Look! Even a hair dryer!


I totally love these showerheads, they are called something like tropical rainfall or something, but they use less water and make it sprinkle all over – I love them!


My only complaint is a small one, and maybe more perceived than real. The women working with KLM are always so nice and jokey and friendly with all the men, and with women, they seem to have an attitude like “why are you here?” and give the men special treatment. It’s not totally across the board; I have had one or two people who knocked themselves out to help me over the years, but for the most part, they are falling all over themselves to serve the men, and they are barely dutiful when they take care of their women guests.

I also hate it that, leaving Doha, they fly into Dammam and then wait there in that creepy, barren airport for over an hour. Just when I need to be getting my prime sleep, you have to sit in an upright seat for landing, and then again for take-off. Once you take off from Dammam, it is relatively peaceful, but I just hate that stopover.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Hygiene, KLM, Mating Behavior, Travel | 10 Comments