the Rants of Ms. Hala

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Living the Confused Expatriate Life

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 6 of a Few… Two Years Already?
By: Ms. Hala

I’ve passed my two year mark as an American expatriate living in Qatar this past July. WOW! Taking a moment to evaluate some of the things I’ve learned and discovered throughout this ongoing adventure I call #InLivingQatar.

As an expat:

  • I’m to expect the unexpected, period.
  • I know now that nothing is like how it’s done back home (nor anywhere else for that matter) and sometimes that’s a good thing.
  • I’m grateful to this country for not taxing my anything.
  • Not everyone is obligated to speak YOUR language. You live in Qatar, make an effort to learn the language! If you don’t speak a second language, don’t miss out on the opportunity to do so.
  • Home is what you make of it. It’s the simple things from the food to the adventures that make being an expat in the Middle East oh so wonderful.

About myself:

  • Apparently, I enjoy shopping for things other than shoes, office supplies and kitchenware. I mean, when was I ever known to be one who wouldn’t miss a sale at Mango (my new found obsession) or appreciate Riva for the size 4 pants that fit my proudly curvy body? REJOICE!
  • My savings isn’t very happy with the above mentioned self discovery.
  • I simply don’t care anymore about the pettiest of things that just do not matter. I’m too busy laughing at the silliest of things.
  • I’ve always had a thing for men in thobs, living in Qatar solidified it. Seriously, ANY MAN can look amazing in a thob.
I mean, can you resist this "thobi"? No, no you can't (and you shouldn't). #JustSaying

I mean, can you resist this “thobi”? No, no you can’t (and you shouldn’t). #JustSaying

Speaking of men:

  • Dating it’s a coin toss which isn’t much different than it was back home. I’ve realized that when I decided to accept dating someone I probably wouldn’t have dated say three or four years ago.
  • I’m still the least romantic person I know and thanks to my ex for catching on to that. =P
  • Chivalry is not dead and a part of me is still caught by surprise.
  • “Momken netwaseel?” or “May we keep in touch?” has to be the funniest pickup line ever! So polite yet stupid and invasive in so many ways… especially when it’s the 20 year old kids almost every single time.
  • Wearing Ed Hardy outfits, I mean the whole covered from hat to shoes, never has and never ever will be cute. Walk away now.

In dealing with people:

  • If you are not amongst good company, start by being part of a social group be it through Twitter, MeetUp or otherwise.
  • For whatever reason, the most drama queens I’ve dealt with in this country have been men.
  • Don’t be surprised that there’s just as much fake people as there is fake designer wear floating around. It’s really a global epidemic sadly, get over it.
  • This may be the safest country in the world but stop taking it for granted. There are people that can still break into your car, knock on your door at odd hours and simply just not be safe for you to be around.

Here’s to another year of an adventurous #InLivingQatar! =)


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San Francisco Bay Area Hit With a 6.1 Earthquake!

I remember when the earthquake hit in October of 1989 like it was yesterday! It was one of the scariest moments of my childhood! Being with my younger brothers & my very pregnant mommy when it hit, I soon felt safe. We instructed each other on the drill we learned from school (“get under the table, NOW!”), comforted each other and slowly put away anything that had fallen off the shelves. Since we lived in a second story apartment, to be safe, we spent the night in the lobby in case any major aftershock hit while we slept.

Reading on today’s earthquake via Twitter while being so far away from home, that moment when I was scared just rushed through me. I’m, once again, comforted by messages via apps and social media that my loved ones are all OK in their homes.

Image of the epicenter of today’s earthquake, c/o of KGO Radio (San Francisco).

Insha’Allah everyone is OK, especially those experiencing their first earthquake. May you always be surrounded with your loved ones to comfort you and  make you feel safe… Ameen.


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The Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can make a huge difference in one’s day. As I sit here after hearing of the passing of the comedic legend Robin Willams, I’m not reminded of his movies or his stage performances. I’m reminded of an incident in my childhood.

After my parents divorce, my mother took a few dead end jobs to make ends meet. She landed a job at one of the Toys R Us shops in San Francisco. It wasn’t far from home and the schedule worked well for her as she was not only caring for us five kids, she had taken in my ill grandfather as well. It wasn’t much pay wise but it was a steady something a single mother could find until something better came along.

The first time Robin came to her register to purchase a few things, everyone was star struck, in awe at the local comedic celebrity amongst them. It didn’t phase my mother but she knew whom he was as we were huge fans of his. She remained professional and they had small talk about the day, the city and the items he was purchasing. Soon enough, whenever he frequented the shop, he always made his way to my mother’s register. She never asked for a picture or an autograph (this is way before social media mind you), she didn’t want to make him uncomfortable. He was one of her favorite customers and she knew this simple customer/cashier interaction was better than anything she would’ve asked of him. She would come home happy whenever he had visited and go one about how he was such a kind soul.

http://www.blogcdn.com/blog.moviefone.com/media/2011/11/robinwilliams-530-1321549250.jpg

He will always be known to us San Franciscans as the local resident whom always gave back. He supported every cause that gave back to the city and it’s inhabitants. He started Comic Relief, performed many times over for charity and brought awareness to the many issues within our city as well as our nation.

Robin, thank you for making my single mother’s days at a dead end job eventful. Thank you for caring and making us care about our communities. Thank you for the laughs, the tears and the joy. You are already missed.

 

I’m obligated to include and share the below image in this post as someone whom has worked with individuals suffering all forms of mental illnesses, including depression.

 


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FGM in the West

AlJazeera’s The Stream will be doing a piece about female genital mutilation (FGM) and it’s growth in the west, mainly the UK, later today. I was approached to include my comments which I’m sharing with my readers below. Click here for the link to a very important story!

The fact that this horrid act continues into the 21st century says something not only about the worlds education system but also about the worlds health system.

There needs to be a global initiative to be educated people on FGM, the myths behind it and the health risks. First and foremost, this whole obsession over female virginity is absurd! FGM has nothing to do with keeping a lady a virgin, her choice to be celibate (or a virgin) until marriage does.

Second, FGM is a health risk, many die under the knife during this procedure, especially when done to girls as young as 12 years old. I was in Egypt in 2011 when a girl not far from my family’s town had died under the knife of a doctor whom was an “expert”.

Finally, and I’ve had this argument with many people, FGM has nothing to do with religion. It is not Islamic in any way shape or form. Islam dictates that only men are to be circumcised after birth if health of child allows for procedure to happen at the time.

And that’s my rant on that!
@Ms_Hala
http://mshala.wordpress.com


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Ramadan in Qatar

Ms. Hala:

As I begin my third year of fasting in Qatar, I’m reminded of my first Qatari Ramadan just two years ago. It was hard at first but the tips below were very helpful. It may not be as hard this time around, but when is it every an easy one without your near and dear loved ones? Without an awesome mommy and her cooking? The answer, never.

May this Ramadan be a little easier for us all as we strive to improve and purify ourselves; may it remind us to be kind for someone somewhere out there is in need of that simple kindness to make it through what may be their most difficult Ramadan yet… Ameen.

Originally posted on the Rants of Ms. Hala:

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve moved to Doha, Qatar from San Francisco, California. So far, I’m settling in slowly but surely, taking in this diverse atmosphere and doing my best to survive this ridiculous summer heat. I have gone out and about exploring bits and pieces of Doha which I’m sure you’re aware of from my many posts on Twitter and foursquare. Not sure how much of that is going to continue as Ramadan approaches.

My favorite time of year is about two days away. As I sit trying to figure out what I need to know about Ramadan in Qatar, I was reminded by my weekly email subscription from Friday Nasiha that this will be my first Ramadan alone, away from my family. It’s not going to be like when I was in grad school a few years back and working long hours where I only had…

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AlJazeera Staff Sentenced in Egypt

On June 23, 2014, Sisi’s vision of “Egyptian democracy” were made obvious when AlJazeera journalists Peter Grest, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Ghorab and several other journalists (some in absentia) were sentenced from 7 to 10 years for doing their journalistic duties.

Media preview

c/o @mohamed via Twitter

This sentencing comes despite complete lack of evidence of any threat to Egypt’s national security. This also comes after US Secretary of State, John Kerry visited Egypt’s President on the matter and of course, the issuance of military aid from the US, a total of half a billion US tax dollars.

Family, friends, supporters and journalists were forcefully removed from the courts after the hearing. Several images on Twitter have shown police angrily placing hands on camera lenses and chasing people out of the entrances. After going a few steps forward on January 25, 2011, Egypt has now gone several hundreds steps back on June 23, 2014.

I still have hope and know deep down that this not the end of the revolution. The struggle remains, the voices louder, the revolution continues.

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