A pretty typical Friday in Doha ...

Life in Qatar is often much like life elsewhere.  We're always happy to see the weekend roll around, and one weekend often seems much like the other.  For some without kids, Fridays and Saturdays may be filled with intense gym sessions, brunches and spa packages, but our weekends consist mostly of leisurely breakfasts, a family outing, catching up on sleep, and grocery shopping.  It's a pretty ordinary life.

This was a pretty typical Friday in Doha.  We got up, puttered about, and I made Kiddo the little piece of deliciousness pictured below.  Weekends call for yummy breakfasts, no matter where you are in the world.

Even though I couldn't have the pan-seared buttered bread (left over from a Tim Horton's chill meal on Wednesday), I did steal a tiny piece of the bocconcini with pesto and a sun dried tomato.  Typical mom - I'm always there to help out when Kiddo starts to get full.  Thank goodness she has a good appetite and usually finishes her plate, or I'd be ginormous ...

We decided to head down to the Corniche.  It's a great place to hang early on a Friday winter morning.  Traffic is practically inexistent in Doha before Friday's noon-time call to prayer, and the hordes of picnickers haven't yet settled in along the 7 km stretch that partly encircles West Bay.  We got there before the air got too dusty.

There were already quite a few people out, strolling along the waterfront, taking in the glorious combination of warm sun, salty air, and coolish breeze (it was actually more of a gust ...).

We parked at the 5 km marker near the MIA (Museum of Islamic Art) and hung out for the 30 requisite minutes it takes Kiddo to don her elbow pads, knee pads, shin pads, wrist guards, sunscreen, bug repellant, helmet, ear plugs, light reflectors, radiation shield, and (finally) roller blades.  For just an instant, I wondered if perhaps I'd turned my child into a sports wimp.  But that moment evaporated as I saw her struggle to get to her feet and slowly and shakily move forward.  Watching her wobble along the cobble, I knew there would never be such a thing as too much protective gear for my child.

I was quite proud of her as she skated a good 3 km down the walkway before finally asking if she could walk the rest of the way.  We continued on towards the Sheraton Hotel, stopping at Costa Coffee at the 5 km mark to enjoy a small salad and a brownie.  Even though it was really windy, the sun was shining, the temps were hovering around 23C, and the tables outside were packed.  We found a little spot on the grass outside and enjoyed our quickie meal.

Kiddo then made it all the way back to the car without uttering barely a peep of complaint.  I later found out she'd been motivated by Smilin Vic's promise of a treat from MegaMart at the end of the trek.  At the end of the day, she'd clocked almost 10 km.  Without much dissent.  Not bad for a 9-year-old.

Mission accomplished, legs sore, we headed off to MegaMart to re-stock for the week.  The only thing really critical on my list was garlic salt and non-stick cooking spray.  If you've read any blog about Qatar, you'll have heard of mysterious and sudden specific food shortages.  In the past, we've seen Heinz Ketchup, HP sauce, chicken, Hillshire farms turkey franks, buffalo mozzarella, and a slew of other products simply vanish from the shelves.  This month, it seems to be garlic salt.  

Alas, there was no garlic salt to be found.  Fourth week in a row.  I'm wondering what the garlic salt gods have done to lose their place of privilege on the spice display shelves.  I know it's not powdered garlic per se that's being shunned, because we managed to find a jar of garlic pepper.  Who in the world uses garlic pepper?  Except Smilin' Vic, that is; he claims it's his new favourite spice.  It's NOT a spice Smilin' Vic.  It's just a cruel joke.  A ''Wannabee''.  Garlic salt is where it's at.

Nor could I find the cooking spray.  I'm close to desperation; my last can is half empty.  What gives????  I have a serious beef with the 'guy' who sits there deciding which Western convenience will not be imported to Qatar this week, this month, this year ...

We did, however find these eggs:

We argued for a while over the purchase of these 15 ''Big Beautiful EGGS''.  You see, Smilin' Vic is convinced that brown eggs are healthier than white eggs.  My extensive Google searches would indicate the nutritional value, if any, is so slight as to be negligible.  And considering that I can get 30 white Saudi eggs (which is how many we go through in a week) for 21 QAR (+/- 6 $), I don't see why I'd pay 15 QAR for 15 brown ones.  Is it because they're ''freshly laid in SUNNY UAE''?  Like it's not sunny in Saudi?  Or is it because, as per the packaging, these are ''vegetarian'' hens?  As opposed to what?  A delinquent bunch of flesh-eating, carnivorous hens? Obviously I lost the argument, hence the rant.  I've decided Smilin' Vic is staying home next time I go egg shopping.

We caught sight of these guys doing some sort of desert sailing on the way back from the shop.  Not sure what you call this sport, but they were moving at incredible speed.  I love Doha days where you see people out and about taking advantage of the great winter weather.

It was a good Friday.  Pretty typical.  Good.  

Toilet Talk ...

Sometimes I want to use bad words when we fly back into Doha from Canada.  Not because Doha's such a bad place, but because it's at the back end of a 13-hour flight.  Because it's so far from family.  Because it's hot and humid.  Because the traffic's insane.  Because it's crowded.  Because even though it's home, it'll never be HOME.

But a 9-year-old is good enough reason to keep my potty mouth to myself.  At the very least, any toilet talk takes place in my head.  Any expletives that might want to leap off my tongue are drowned out by enthusiastic claims of ''isn't it great to be home?'' and ''can't wait to sleep in my own bed.''  Kiddo's joy at coming back to her kitty cat, friends and toys is always reason enough for me to keep my disenchantment firmly buried.

Our maid is a wonderful woman who always puts up balloons and ''welcome home'' signs for our return home.  I'm slightly ashamed that I can't muster up more enthusiasm when I see those signs as we walk through the front door.  

I wish I weren't so disappointed that it's still so darned hot and humid.  How quickly I've relegated to the back of my mind the 45C heat and 85% humidity of August.  How quickly I've forgotten the frigid winds and 8C temps on that one afternoon in Callabogie, Ontario last week.  34C and 54% humidity isn't good enough for spoiled me today; I was hoping for a perfect 25C, with big white puffy clouds, a gentle dust-free breeze, and no humidity - oh, and maybe a light shower lasting no more than 30 minutes at some point in the afternoon.  I'm nothing if not demanding.

Even the a/c is a major disappointment.  I go to bed just knowing that the frigid forced air will have me clogged up like an old sink come morning.  

After a 14-hour sleep to rid me of jet lag caused by a 7-hour time difference and 13-hour sleepless red-eye flight, I drag my stiff back out of bed, try to brush away the fur in my mouth, wash the grit from my eyes, and set about trying to re-adjust to life in Doha.  Too lazy to go out for groceries, I set about thawing some bread for toast, crack open a few eggs, and sit down to 'breakfast' at 2:00 p.m.  

Then I head up to unpack.  Always my least favourite part of the return home.  And I see that Smilin' Vic has already started undoing his luggage.  And I'm brought to tears.  This is what he's taken out of his suitcase.

Kind of like my memories, I haven't even dusted it off yet.  I was so excited to see this quirky little memento.  Smilin' Vic always manages to do these little things that make my heart sing.

It's a toilet paper holder.  A toilet paper holder made for me by my Dad.  All those years ago, when he first started scavenging for little pieces of discarded wood to indulge his newfound love of woodworking.  I think this is one of the first pieces he carved out successfully.  He made one for each of his kids, and probably for each of his friends.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are dozens of my Dad's little toilets scattered around the world.  I'm sure he's getting a good laugh up there in heaven, knowing that he's catching people at that one moment they're sure to be alone, when he's guaranteed to get their undivided attention.  

This one had been left behind in our little summer cottage over 8 years ago.  Given that the cottage has been rented out to a number of tenants who would have had no idea that a wooden toilet paper holder shaped like a toilet could hold precious memories, I figured it would have been used for firewood ages ago.

But on our very short trip to Canada last week, Smilin' Vic had to fly out to the East Coast to sort out the cottage for some new tenants.  And while there he found the little wooden toilet paper holder hidden away in the damp recesses of a basement closet.  And decided to secretly fly it back to Qatar to surprise me with it on the return 'home'.

And all of a sudden, toilet talk has taken on a positive twist.  Smilin' Vic is upstairs working out, Kiddo's watching a movie on Mac TV, I'm sitting outside blogging, and it's actually cool enough that I'm not sweating.  Our kitty cat is sitting at the screen door, preening as she watches me type.  I'm catching up on pictures my nieces have posted of my nephew's wedding, the one we flew back to Canada for.  I don't feel so groggy, and life doesn't seem so bad at all.  

And in an instant it hits me.  We're back 'home'.  With all our quirky little mementos, our sweet little cat, our comfy couches, our own frames on the walls, a few more memories of another great trip to Canada, and 'us'.  That's all we'd ever need anywhere I guess.  

I guess a little toilet talk was all I really needed to figure that out.