I climbed high up onto the bar stool, increasing my height easily over 6ft. I surveyed the room, yes yes, we were ready. The jazz was about to begin.

But wait, what is that unfamiliar feeling? Something’s amiss…

My eyes darted around the packed bar. Then I saw it. It rose quickly from multiple sources and headed straight for me. I tried to swerve out of the way but it was too late. I resisted as long as I could, but could not hold back any longer. I inhaled. It brutally attacked my nostrils, crawling up and down to my chest. Coughing. The dank smell thoroughly coating me.

In my mind the crowd had suddenly changed to this:

All credit to Villafane Studios

(All credit to Villafane Studios)

Grimacing and laughing and puffing away on fat cigars and cigarettes. Women and men alike were attacking me with their putrid fumes.

I was taken back to my teenage years where you’d get home at 3am, stumble drunk, and only smell of smoke. Of course, too tired to do anything about it, you’d sleep like that, hair reeking of smoke the following morning. Then there’s the [non-]smokers cough.

All in all, going out to a busy smoky bar is an unpleasant experience, breathing in fumes that have a negative effect on your body when it’s not your choice. Smoking is highly socially acceptable here (with the exception of Muslim women), with smoking sections in restaurants too.

Let us hope that it won’t always be the case, and I’m looking forward to enjoying a smoke-free night out!

Apologies for any preachiness – smoking is a personal choice, but please refrain from sharing it inside when we cannot escape!

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I’m pretending to be a photographer – it started with my 365 project upon moving to the UK, which merged into a 366 project for 2012, and a camera upgrade.

Then I saw a school friend post a link to Indisposable Concept – a film based project run by Stuart Chapman in Brisbane, Australia. It’s a pretty basic concept – take one disposable camera, snap 24 ‘indisposable’ moments on film over a week, submit and share with the world.

You don’t have a chance to see or edit the photos, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes you’re surprised by the results.

I decided to take my photos while back at home in New Zealand in April. Check out my gallery here.

Indisposable Concept is hosting an expo at the Bleeding Heart Gallery in Brisbane from the 23rd of May 2013, details below.

Indisposable Concept Expo

For more information check out their website and facebook page. And get involved!

Apologies for my absence. Life lately has been cat-like, existing on a process of sleeping, working, sleeping, eating, and sleeping. I’ve done very little of anything and have preferred to curl into a ball on our 2-seater couch and snooze. So much so that anti-exercise Hubby has left me to my slumber and hit the gym without me (he’s a “gym bunny” now).

Qatar has a different class system to that of the UK, simply split into what I will term blue collar “service” (construction workers/drivers/maids), white collar expat workers (like us), and then the local population. It amazes me that we could hire home help for less than we hire our car for – countries are currently agreeing minimum wages with Qatar and the GCC, bearing in mind that this does not include their housing, food, amenities etc which are covered by the employer.

There is help available everywhere you look: men to help you load your supermarket shopping; doormen; multiple cleaners on every level of our office building; and ‘tea boys’ in the office. If you hired a maid and a driver, you literally wouldn’t have to do anything except work, exist, and enjoy.

While stuffing ourselves at three hour all-you-can-eat-and-drink feast at Doha’s best restaurant (it just won the TimeOut Restaurant of the Year award), Market Restaurant, in W Hotel, a discussion about the ‘tea boys’ came up. [To clarify, ‘tea boys’ can actually be men or women, and their more official title at my office is Aide, who assist with other office duties too].

Colleagues were discussing how the tea boys stopped serving them for a few days, or only brought them one coffee a day – “Shocking!” I hear you cry! At that point I stopped and thought “WHO HAVE WE BECOME?!”. Of course we have the skills to make our own hot drinks, but ironically, you are not allowed in the kitchen to do so. So if the tea boy doesn’t provide, you go thirsty. Seriously, there aren’t even water coolers available – it’s either BYO or ask someone nicely. In my case, it’s hoard bottles of water from meetings and keep for future use!

It’s dawning moments like that, as I waltz through yet another 5-star hotel, where I wonder when the change happened. Will I be able to go back to a normal life, where I am not living in a fancy serviced apartment? Can I survive without having the flat cleaned three times a week? Can I open MY OWN DOOR?!

My general life skills are quickly deteriorating, and there may be no going back.

One million Kiwis are missing from New Zealand. Last year I was in the UK, now in Qatar. For birds without wings we manage to get around just fine (that’s what planes are for!), and we’re keen explorers, experiencing the world.

Share your experiences and thoughts below with Kea, New Zealand’s global network, because Every Kiwi Counts:

http://www.everykiwicounts.com/

I have just returned from New Zealand where I spent most of my time in typical Kiwi attire, shorts and t-shirts (not jandals though, I’m not that Kiwi). When we jumped off the plane in Doha we’d noted things had hotted up, and that was at 6am. After a nap back in our air conditioned apartment we got ready to venture out.

Hubby: “Why are you wearing jeans?”
Me:        “What else should I be wearing?”
Hubby: “But it’s hot out, why aren’t you wearing shorts?”
Me:        “They don’t cover my knees”
Hubby: “Oh…”

In that moment was the realisation that our trip to New Zealand was the last time he’d see my pasty white pins in the light of day.

Thus leads me to my clothing conundrum. I packed my life into a suitcase and moved continents (again), and now most of what I packed is inappropriate. Tops may expose too much shoulder or arm. Skirts do not cover my knees. A v-neck may be a little too risqué. That fitted top or dress is too tight. Layering doesn’t work because you melt in the heat, and the heat is yet to come. Who knew I dressed so scandalously?

I’d describe my clothing style as ‘lazy’. I hate shopping, throw outfits together from the ‘what’s clean and doesn’t require ironing’ pile, and prefer to wear flat shoes to enhance my ability to walk while demonstrating a key attribute, my lack of height.

But what’s a girl to do when she doesn’t want to offend? I have cardigans and scarves to utilise when need be, but they just add extra bulk that you don’t require when even the gentle sea breeze is hot.

So I went shopping. I. WENT. SHOPPING. (Detect the anger, no no, of course there’s not online shopping as an option – it may never get delivered!). We actually went to Villagio which all Kiwi’s will know and hate because of that fire, so I should really not be seen as supporting it, but I digress.

Shopping is a unique experience here. You’ll find all of your favourite(?!?) UK shops in a Venetian style mall which spans such a large area my shopping fatigue quickly sets in. The shops are styled with mannequins of the latest fashion, but the latest fashion is rarely appropriate – think hot pants, singlets/vests, and dresses that are too short, too tight, and missing half the back (yes, that’s just one dress), all paired with ridiculously high heels I’ll never be able to walk in.

After hours of failing at shopping we stumbled across Marks & Spencers and decided to give them a shot, just in case. There it was, glowing, LINEN, COTTON, breathable materials! They weren’t too tight, too short, or too hot. Sure, they’re not cutting edge fashion, but at least I won’t offend anyone by baring my knees.

But back to my style, now it’s loose trousers (or as Hubby terms me, MC Hammer), light cotton t-shirts or linen tops, and below-the-knee linen skirts. We shopped up a storm!

Hammertime!

I sat in on my first meeting that was held mostly in Arabic today where I was only able to pick up the odd English word was used instead. But I sat, listened, and watched, observing the reactions of the audience.

And then they laughed. They were all laughing.

What were they laughing about? Do I laugh too? Do I stare blankly into space?

What is the protocol for this?

So tell me – what would you do in a similar situation? To laugh or not to laugh?

Hello there.

I’ve been quiet, I realise this. Sorry for leaving you in the dark lately. As you know, we’ve been travelling around NZ for the last couple of weeks and only arrived back this morning.

It’s now 7pm and we’re still awake. The sneaky mocha may have helped, but we’re both a bit bleary eyed and trying to keep our eyes open until a relatively decent bedtime hour.

I’ve got lots to share, but now is not the time for it. I thought I’d just let y’all know I’m alive and well, home safe, and that, although the trip was very long, it was actually ok. Highlight of the plane right back was the amazing sunrise while we chased the night across the globe! The low was probably spending 5 hours in Perth airport, an airport not really designed for international transfers.

Thank you New Zealand for the amazing weather, good times, and great people. It was great to see everyone in our rushed visit, and I think Hubby really enjoyed the trip. You can catch his summary here.

My shorts and tees have been put away (metaphorically speaking as they are still lying in the suitcase in the middle of the lounge), and I’m back to jeans and a longer sleeve top to wander the streets in muggy 38 degree heat.

Tomorrow I will once again awake at 5.30am to start another week of work. Two weeks went far too quickly!

Choice as, bro.

My birthday lamp from Hubby purchased from the souq:

Image

I love lamp!

Hubby did good!

This Greek dude, Heraclitus, once said “Everything flows, nothings stands still”, which has since been quoted in its various permutations around the globe.

Qatar is definitely not a country standing still. Rapid change is in progress, there are a multitude of significant governmental and environmental changes happening. Strategies are being developed and implemented. New staff are being imported. Qataris are stepping up and in to new exciting jobs and now have more opportunity than ever before. Change is why I’m in Doha.

The change is amazing. Drive just slightly out from the centre of Doha and you get an idea of what ‘old Doha’ was like. You suddenly see the sand and rocks, and realise that yes, you are living in a desert. As an example, I’m borrowing a picture from Doha News that shows Doha in 1975. The pyramid building is the Sheraton, still being built.

West Bay, Doha, 2011

West Bay, Doha, 2011

Above, my photo from November 2011, shows the Sheraton on the far right. Doesn’t that just blow your mind?!

I’m here to drive change initiatives and am ready for some push back while people get used to new ways of working and develop an understanding of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Relationships are key. What I wasn’t expecting was so much change to happen to me!

You learn to adapt, to bounce back, to vent when you need to, and when to voice your opinions. And sometimes you realise you shouldn’t leap straight to the next idea as everything might change again in 10 minutes.

And sometimes you realise you’re going to be away for two weeks, and just let the changes roll over you.

2013 will be defined as a year of challenge and change. Bring it!

[While writing this, TED posted an article: The courage to believe change is possible: A Q&A with Melinda Gates about the Positive Disruption TedxChange theme for April, check it out maybe?]

I once said that I was leaving [on a jet plane] and didn’t know when I’d be back again. But now I know and the answer is Friday! THIS FRIDAY! Yes New Zealand, I will be back for a a couple of weeks. I am blonder, perhaps slightly off-white, and no taller (or shorter, I hope).

Tonight is the night we jet set from Doha to Auckland, to endure a 24+ hour journey via Bangkok. I naively thought that since Emirates fly via Dubai, I’d almost be halfway home. This was a lie but it’ll be worth it.

[Tip: booking from Doha to Auckland on Emirates is actually cheaper than booking Dubai to Auckland, so being sneaky and booking a cheap flight to Dubai doesn’t work! Consider mixing airlines as they have worked out cheaper and quicker for us.]

I haven’t seen the green green grass of home for nearly 2.5 years, meaning I haven’t seen a lot of my family or friends during that time either. I’ve changed a little – I mean, I surprised even myself and got married then moved to the Middle East. No one would have guessed that would happen!

Green grass has turned to brown, clinging onto cracked dirt desperate for a drink. While I am hoping that the weather remains dry and sunny, I’m from the ‘countryside’ where we’re still on rain water from a tank in the garden, and Mum has threatened that we may be bathing in the river if it doesn’t rain any time soon.

My concerns lay with NZ Day 1, where I leave Hubby to fend for himself on my friend’s stag do. Much beer will be consumed, and who knows where they’ll end up, or how he’s going to cope with jet lag!

We’ve got catch ups organised, trips away booked, rugby to watch, and a wedding to attend, not to mention an important birthday (you can provide your present ideas to Hubby here). I’m most excited about seeing Nana and introducing her to Hubby for the first time, turning up to bowling to hang out with my friends, and seeing my friend’s face when his bride walks down the aisle!

Now it’s time to pack, jump on a plane, and arrive in time to crack open a crisp cider on my parent’s deck. (Mum, if you’re reading this, a Monteiths crushed apple cider would be great!)

See you on the other side!

*SQUEEEEEEEE* <—- that’s me, all excited like.