Some things in life are bittersweet, mainly resolved with chocolate.
Please be advised this picture may be graphic and disturbing to some.
This picture was taken by Taslima Akhter of the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. This picture, in my opinion, speaks volumes for itself and rightfully so titled, Final Embrace.
Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 2 of a Few… Marital Status
By: Ms. Hala
I am not married. I am not engaged. I am not in a relationship. I am single. It has followed me around to no end, even when I’ve moved thousands of miles away, to a conservative Arab country.
When it comes to my status here in Qatar, I’ve come across two reactions in people.
The first being the cheerleaders. They are the ones with nothing but kind and positive reinforcements. It’s even more astounding when it comes from those I lease expect it from. For example, the older Egyptian gentlemen whom I work with that are always encouraging me. In the last four months that I’ve worked with one of the managers, not a day goes by without him always complementing my strength and determination, especially during some of the challenges we’ve faced at the office, for doing what I do. With limited internet access in the past few months, when I do log on, I find a good number of emails and messages via social media from young people whom have noted how they follow-up on my latest Qatar adventures with inspiration. Some of them, already here in Qatar, have blessed me with their friendship.
The second being the haters. They are the ones with nothing but stupid, stereotypical and just plain envious words because I can’t find any other reason for their bad energy. These are the people that feel the need to say one of three things:
“You’re here, alone? No family? No husband? But why? You poor thing.”
“I could do what you’re doing now but so-and-so said men don’t like girls like that and I really want to get married.”
“I wish I was you! You’re doing everything I’m too dipshit* to do on my own! People talk you know.”
After my third month living in Qatar, I just stopped trying to answer to these people. Yes, I’m here alone with the blessings of my family. However, that’s when I came to realize that there are very few people like me in Qatar and most young ladies are living here either with family or a spouse, not alone. I miss my mommy.
Please, don’t tell me of how you could do things for yourself if your life revolves around someone else. You people are more irritable to me than those whom keep trying to set me up with this “great guy”. Please realize that not all of us are living up to some odd standard of husband hunting. Some of us actually live for ourselves, have more meaning to life than just finding someone to accept us. I mean you want to get married, great, but life doesn’t need to revolve around the idea.
And for crying out loud, if you want to do something, just shut the fuck up and go for it. Trust me, when you don’t do nothing, people will have something to say about it. When you do anything, guess what? People will have something to say about it. Funny thing though, most people don’t give two shits about what you are (or aren’t) doing so I’m still trying to figure out why you even care about the opinion of those people.
As of last month though, I’ve come across the third reaction that has started to get under my skin.
The third being some of Qatar’s policies. Before I go on a rant here, I want to state that I understand why some of these policies are in play, to prevent human trafficking and prostitution. However, there’s got to be some kind of line of reasoning, understanding, common sensing (Is that even a word? Well it should be.) around here. And here’s where my rant begins.
Exhibit A: In order to obtain my Qatar Residency Permit (RP), I had to go through a medical screening. Mainly an X-ray of the chest and two different blood tests. For those sponsored under employment, the company pays in advance for the fees or refunds you for it while all others usually pay upfront during their appointment. If you are born in Qatar, you don’t go through this lovely experience.
The Medical Commission that I was blessed to attend through my place of work was the most disgusting place in Qatar. It starts out nice, divided into a section for the ladies and a section for the men. Or I thought, until I drove towards the ladies section to find swarms of men waiting outside the ladies’ only entrance. I entered alone, passing the many odd stares and glares. Once inside, there were two lines, those pre-paid and those needing to pay. The pre-paid line was empty. Showed the lady at the counter my blue passport, got the up and down look before the lovely question, “You’re here through work? You’re here alone?”
“Yes” I answered back smiling sarcastically and annoyed. She kept rolling her eyes as she processed my papers and directed me to the x-ray room. After the lovely experience of being herded like animals and watched by others as I took the x-ray, twice, I picked up what was left of my dignity and went to get my first blood test. Upon looking me up on the computer, the lovely lady at the counter made stupid remarks about me being work sponsored before handing me a few documents plus a little booklet.
Not paying attention, I walked towards the exam room where a kind nurse was assisting me in getting my blood test. Having small talk and looking at the booklet because I hate needles (don’t ask me how I got my lip pierced!), I realized what the booklet was, “Prayers for the Dead”. Really? Bitch gave me a prayer book for the dead? Kind nurse laughed at a comment I made as she instructed me to go to a private clinic for my second blood test. I gave the bitch the booklet back stating, “I’m not dead!”
Throughout the short drive to the clinic I kept thinking what the hell was her intention giving me that booklet? Am I as good as dead? Or did she just run out of “Prayers for the Living” booklets?
Deeply annoyed sigh.
Exhibit B: I finally found a nice little apartment, comfortable for myself and my little devil child, Ms. Doha in a brand new gated community. Upon registering and signing, it was brought to the attention of the gentleman handling my application that the contract would be under my happy name.
“Ma’am, are you registering under your name?”
“Yeeeeeees. I’m the one whom will live here.”
“Do you have an ID?”
“Yes! Here’s my Qatar ID and my passport as well.”
“Do you have a letter of employment verification?”
“No, I wasn’t told I needed one when I inquired over the phone.”
“You need a letter of employment verification to complete your application.”
“Why? My Qatar ID specifically states my place of employment as my sponsor.”
“Yes but you’re special.” He joked politely seeing my disapproved reaction. I’ve been told that reaction scares a lot of people. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing so I tried to make a curious face. It didn’t work. Poor guy continued with his charming self, “Company policy requires that you bring a letter of employment verification because you’re a single lady. We’ll extend your booking time and follow-up with you, don’t worry.”
I just stared blankly, watching other people register without a hitch. The gentleman assured that the apartment was mine and that he would follow-up with me but to please bring that letter from my employers. I left a little disappointment and fearful I was going to lose this nice place. I had to move out of my place and my lifestyle choice was the reason for the delay? Akh!
I have to say that the lovely people of our HR department were understanding and produced the necessary documentations for me within the hour. The apartment company did continuously follow-up with me until I showed up with the letter later that evening. They were generous enough to expedite my move-in date upon knowing my circumstances. People here are helpful towards a single lady, especially if she’s willing to follow company policy.
* Disclaimer: none of those whom made that statement actually called themselves “dipshit”, but I think they should have.
Praying for the resilient people of Boston and the international community that came to run in unity and will come in unity through this.
I thought this was heart breaking yet beautiful, had to share it. RIP Annette Funicello…
“Two Thumbs Up!”
That was the quote I awaited to hear every week on “At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert” when I was young. Roger Ebert’s work was one of the ways I was introduced to American movies when I was young and only really exposed to American TV and Egyptian movies. I learned not only to enjoy a movie, but to appreciate cinema as a whole.
I remember many times going to a movie and thinking, “Ebert was right, these actors were superb.” or “That’s why Ebert gave it a thumbs down, it sucked!”
I agreed with many of his reviews and was an instant fan of his work both written and on television. God bless the internet, Ebert’s work became more easily accessible to a fan living outside the Chicago Sun Times delivery route. From reading his reviews on the web throughout high school to following his tweets on a daily basis. He was not just a critic of the movies, but a critic of the many issues that we faced every day outside the movie theater. He championed indie film makers, supported film festivals and was always heard, loudly. My kind of critic!
Ebert suffered from cancer in the last few years. It eventually effected his speaking abilities but that never silenced him. He continued to do what he loved best, critiquing movies, and the world, loudly via social media. Yesterday, he posted what is now his last post, “A Leave of Presence” where he basically says, “I’m sick, going to take care of myself but I’m not going to stop doing what I do.” Now when I watch a movie, I’m going to think, “What would Ebert have thought of this one?”
Rest in Peace Ebert. I’ll see you at the movies.Please also read: Chicago Sun Times’ Ebert Obituary Mashable’s Ebert Obituary Angry Asian Man’s Champion of Asian American Cinema