Why Being Left Behind Isn't as Bad as it Sounds

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Pack Your Bags

Friday at 6:00 p.m. I’m the first to arrive to ladies’ night. This rarely happens. In fact, it’s probably safe to say in the instance of this particular group, I’m always last one in and first one out. On to a school fundraiser, or a birthday party, or some other family summons that sees me double booked.

But tonight I’m the first to arrive and the hostess pulls me into the kitchen.

“I’m glad you’re here. I wanted to tell you that I’m leaving the country. I’m going home.”

“Oh,” I said. The one word reaction was all I could muster in the face of yet another person announcing she was returning back to her everyday life.

Depending on where people are in the average three year expatriate cycle, the time-to-resume-regularly-scheduled-programming talk is always right around the corner for someone. But a dip in global oil prices ensured the start of 2016 as a particularly dire time for contracts being terminated, budgets slashed, and the proverbial shoe falling in Qatar.

There’s a typical pattern for those who are leaving: first, euphoria at the prospect of a new job or returning to the bosom of one’s family. Secondly the delight at knowledge that all the creature comforts you’ve been denying yourself, or strategizing to get delivered at regular intervals, will soon be back at your fingertips. Then, with the threat of deportation no longer on the horizon, a how-I-really-feel-about-this-place fount of self-expression flooding her social media. The curve on the leaving staircase is particularly sharp if one is going home; less so if there is an onward destination.

For those who are left behind, immediately there’s a gnawing sensation when you hear the announcement of a departure. Then comes the wistfulness at the thought one day it will be your turn. Finally, the no-man’s land of former vivid friendships now sustained on social media where the former desert denizen posts every negative article written about your former shared city.

Except you kind of like living where you are and so you call up a friend and commiserate. One of the few who’s still here, that is.

We Need to Talk about Slavery

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 10.14.27 PMI went to a slavery museum today. Not in Washington, D.C. but  in the heart of old Doha. Yes, on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, there’s slavery museum housed in a building dating back to the 1920s, which once belonged to the Bin Jelmood family. The feelings that well up when you’re inside the museum are different from what you might expect if you’ve lived here for a while. Yes, yes, you might think as you read the stories of trafficked people, from children to housemaids, on black people shaped silhouettes, let’s tell these stories.

“…. she is now back in Sri Lanka,” one housemaid’s anecdote reads, after a harrowing series of details about her working without pay for years in Lebanon. But how, how did get there? How many more are there? Questions that are left unanswered.

Further in the interior is an interactive exhibit on the history of camel racing and the movement away from using child jockeys, often malnourished and minors, to human shaped robots, is an interesting reflection on Qatar’s growing social consciousness.

Oh good, maybe now they get to go to school instead of racing you hope.

Yet outside the understated facility, scattered throughout the city, are men who sleep in the shade of road signs because their employers don’t provide them with a break room in a country where the summer temperatures rise past 40 degrees Celsius (100+ F).

Like most steps of progress, the Bin Jelmood house isn’t a complete answer to the modern indentured service happening across the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. But it is a very public, and very important step to talking about a taboo subject: the museum is the first of its kind in the Middle East region.

What do you think? Is talking about the context of global slavery a start? Or does it not go far enough?

Book a tour and see for yourself: T +974 4006 5560; Info@msheireb.com.

Life Lessons from Game of Thrones (contains #GoT6x03 spoiler!)

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Jon Snow Tribute

Monday night is media night in our house. Depending on the time of year it could be The Walking Dead that keeps home or Game of Thrones.

Two very different sagas that have one device in common: characters you care about in life threatening situations.

Tonight’s episode, number 3 in season 6, was full of life lessons, so if you haven’t seen it, stop reading, and go have a 1:1 with some of the most perilous circumstances in the 7 kingdoms.

If you have, let me know what your favorite moment was.

Mine was when the crowd favorite, leader of the Night’s Watch got a pep talk from Davos. He had a bad day, betrayed by his friends, so he wasn’t in the mood for the get up and go that was being asked of him.

“But I failed,” the Lord Commander said. Sounding, if we’re being a honest, a bit like a tired five year old. After all, don’t we have all limits?

“Yes. Now go do it again,” says Ser Davos Seaworth, who truth to be told, is at the end of a string of a few bad months, maybe even years.

Good advice from the trenches.