Someone else in this neighborhood….

likes chocolate doughnut munchkins from Dunkin’ Doughnuts! This is why there are none left for me when I get there. I wonder who it could be – the overweight, impatient teenager, his cheeks showing stretch marks – with his petulant “Give me that one”? Or the rude mother who lets her children deliberate for fifteen minutes on their choice of ice cream, only to come up with, “vanilla”? Or the polite man who steps aside when I walk into the shop and lets me order before him?

The doughnut workers don’t want to be overly friendly in a society where men and women do not mix; particularly in public. But they are mystified by my pursuit of this one and only flavor, in the face of all the pink, and white, and yes, chocolate glaze. They look away on the days when the tray is empty and I bit down onto my lip to avoid flying into a rage. 

Why can’t they order more? 
Who is the *#@ who takes them all? 
Do I want to the distinction of being a regular in a doughnut shop? Calling is the only alternative – am I that dismayed by their absence – to avoid driving over and being disappointed.

On days when someone else beats me to it, I get back into the car and try to breathe all the way home. But when I’m home, nothing subsitutes for the soft goodness of the munchkin. 

My daily trips got me through the rough transition of my second year in this city, when suddenly nothing seemed interesting or worthwhile. The warmth and delight of biting into one after a day of being beaten into the ground by the system packed pounds onto my waist and just under my chin. I didn’t realize this was the price of comfort; the slow disapperance of my body’s angular parts into the growing folds of flesh. Goodbye chin, see you later collarbone.

Then, suddenly, as if I’ve crossed an imaginary, unseen line, life is better. The system starts bending. I am making headway. Every day is not a battle for self-respect and dignity; no longer am I holding together by a frayed thread. The emotional distance traveled in one day is no a struggle for a modicum of control but rather up, up, up.  All of this without drugs and without chocolate.

I don’t notice but my visits to the doughnut shop grow infrequent. 
My clothes fit better. 
I feel happier.

I am six pounds lighter. 

Okay – five – because I still like to eat them, every now and then, just for fun. Instead of ten in my bag, there are only three or four. It’s easy to get the taste without taking as many bites. It’s silly to head all the way to the store, because now I’ve moved and it isn’t directly infront of me any more on the way home, come into the crowded tiny parking lot, where impatient drivers of SUVs jostle for petrol, car washes, the ATM machine and sugar.

On the rare afternoon I make the trip, I push one into my mouth while reaching for another, I reflect on those melancholy days when the world was conspiring against me, just to find my tipping point. 
I didn’t tip.

Is my one handed U turn back onto the main road, away from the doughnut shop, onto the main artery, back to my house, proof that I am free from the pull of alternating pink and purple sign: Dunkin’ Doughnuts, Baskin Robbins?

Even though I’m not coming as regularly; someone else still is. Someone else in this neighborhood loves the munchkins as much as I do, because no matter day or night, afternoon or morning, the tray where those delights cluster can still be empty: it’s 50/50. 

Someone else loves them. 
Is she as sad as I was? 

Someone else buys all of them at once, so there are none left for me.
I’ve stopped doing this, now that I no longer eat all of them within the first two days of bringing home the wax paper bag. They even go a bit stale in the middle when I’ve forgotten about them during nights out or under the influence of my own happy meter. The urge for chocolate never appears, so I no longer forage in the kitchen.

Someone else in the neighborhood knows what it is to need a chocolate doughnut. 
Is he now as happy as I am? 

Why start now?

This is the beginning of my third year living in Qatar, and for the past few I have been debating: blog? no blog? I have erred on the side of caution and kept off the blogospheres, especially in light of recent actions taken against a range of people – professionals, students, and homebodies alike – for content posted on their blogs. This, in addition to the fact that I am a guest in someone else’s country, has kept me cautious. 

But now I wonder if that is actually the right decision. 

After all, am I not adult enough to realize this goes out to the entire world and is in fact, not my private diary? 

So here goes: a public forum about a non-Muslim, non-Arab, non-Arabic speaker living in the Middle East.

Live from Doha! It’s daily life in the desert…….