Monday, September 20, 2010

If In Doubt, Buy Two

It started off innocently enough. I was warned by a few of my neighbours here that certain household items can be hard to find when shopping in Doha. It was recommended to me that if I find a brand that I once used back home, buy it in bulk as it may not be there next time I went to look for it.
I took their advice with a grain of salt. I didn't feel I was attached to any brand or product in particular. Big deal if I had to use a new brand with a nice little arabic label scrolled across it, right? Wrong. Oh so wrong.
My first solo outings here in Doha were for essentials only - groceries, baby items, and household things we didn't think to pack in our shipments. Needing those things forced a jet lagged version of myself out in those first few days when I was very wary of going anywhere without Colin. I would load Ella up in the truck and spend our mornings scowering the shelves of new stores, lists in hand, trying to get us comfy in our new digs. These stores had lots of 'stuff' - just not the stuff I was used to!

I began noticing some rather 'odd' things when I shopped.

For starters, where were these stores hiding all the good toilet paper? I consider myself a bit of a toilet paper snob, and, as my father says... "you have to be good to your bum, dear" (he is also a tp snob and has actually spent time calculating what the going rate of good roll of toilet paper is worth, so one you do some quick math to determine if you are getting a deal when deciding what to buy).

While purusing the toiletries aisle, my heart starts to beat a little faster. All of this toilet paper is 1.) heavily scented, and 2.) coloured.

What? No. Wait now. I want my double roll of cottony soft Cottonelle with the white puppy on the package. Not this peach coloured, sand paper-y, tangerine smelling nonsense. It turns out that the decent quality white stuff was the toilet paper minority on the shelves.
My list goes on and on. I found out that I do in fact have very strong preferences to the things I want used in my home. It also turns out that over the years, I have become quite environmentally aware of the products we use every day... laundry detergent, household cleaners, all of Ella's baby products. Good luck finding any 'green' anything. (Don't even get me started on the absence of any type of recycling). The most popular items here seem to smell the strongest.
Getting back to my point, I began to realize that the neighbour ladies were right. They have been there, done that and I had to start stocking up on some good stuff'.
So, it became a sort of a personal challenge I would take on for the comfort my family. When I scored a bottle of Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter in the condiment aisle, it was a small victory for Clan Chisholm. But hang on now. A dark shadow of doubt inevitably started creeping in on my victory celebration. One, two, three, four. There are only four jars of Skippy Creamy on the entire shelf. Oh no. What if I can't find it again? I don't think I have ever seen it here before. Panic. Better buy two just to be safe.

Hypoallergenic Baby Safe Bounce Sheets... a thrill of excitement runs through me when I find them in a random store one day. I never really used Bounce sheets before, but never mind. I need five boxes. Lord only knows when these puppies will be back on the shelf again.

Organic baby food with no additives or preservatives? I practically clear the shelf with one swoop of my arm.

Scoring any type of dog treat is a major milestone. Our boys are a tad bit spoiled. They actually have learned to expect a treat when they see us carrying in grocery bags. If I find a rawhide bone or a squeaky toy, my heart sings with pure joy.
No one would believe what I went through to find and purchase a tube of Super Glue. Apparently it is a popluar thing as the shelf in each store I went to would have a label for super glue, but the box would be empty. Hmm.
It is a whole other story when we talk about alcohol. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not much of a drinker. I may have a drink or two a month, on average. But, put me in a place where there is only one liquor store in the entire country...well, who knows when I will visit it again! What if they suddenly closed it or it caught fire? We can't be caught without adult beverages in the house, now can we? Let's stock up! Our pantry is now ready for a major party for us and 100 of our best alcohol-drinking-friends at the drop of a hat. We laugh everytime we walk in and look at the stock pile. We have enough wine to float a boat. Guaranteed we will be giving away lots of it when we move.

I now routinely stock up on everything when I shop. Why take the risk? Trips to the grocery store (often 'stores') is no small task with a fiesty 11 month old. I buy extra so we have it "just in case".
I just looked up the definition of a hoarder to see if I qualified, and I don't think I do:

HOARDER -A person who acquires and fails to throw out a large number of items that would appear to have little or no value to others.

Well, that is not certainly not me. This stuff has big time value to others. Doesn't it? Me, a hoarder? Not a chance.
I am more of a "Collector of Household Necessities". I have enough canned goods to keep us going for months if need be.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Huggin' and A Kissin'

It happened to me again this past weekend. In fact, it happens so often these days that I feel I have to discuss it here... SOCIAL KISSES.
Let me start off by saying that I come from a very long line of huggers. My whole family likes to embrace. Hugs all the time for everyone. And, I married a hugger. He comes from a proud line of huggers as well. It's what we do. Do we also kiss, you ask? Why, of course we do, but our social kisses are generally limited to a select few. It is quite common, for example, to plant a kiss on a grandmother, favorite aunt, or any sweet little child when meeting or saying goodbye.
Perhaps an Eastern Canadian thing? Not sure.
Enter our time in Texas. Now, here is where my social-kiss-dial was turned up a few notches. We made all kinds of new friends in the USA. All of our new Texan amigos seemed to enjoy a quick squeeze now and then as well.

Our European friends however... all die hard kissers. I have to admit, I was caught off guard a few times - me going in for a nice farewell hug and suddenly someones lips are upon me, approaching rapidly at an odd angle because I didn't suspect the sudden smooch headed my way. It only took a few awkward pecks for me to figure it out - I had to prepare myself.

It seemed that, generally speaking, most folks gave two quick 'air' type kisses (more like cheek touches), but our Dutch friends liked to go in for three light cheek grazes. Not so predictable.

So now, we're back to real time. Here I am in the land of the Ex-Pat, and it seems everywhere I turn, someone is trying to plant one (or two, or three) on me. I am in a constant state of social kiss paranoia.

Don't get me wrong, I like kissing. I just need to be prepared. We were at a work function of Colin's recently and as I was meeting and greeting, I was getting hugged and kissed from all directions.

The "incident" that spurred my writing about this: the husband of a friend was greeting me. They are Australian. I see him moving in for what looks to be a hug. I start to hug him, and, oh no, he has landed a lightning-bolt-speed kiss on my cheek! The weird part - he went in for a kiss (expecting me to know this), and as he approached, I saw 'hug' written all over him. So as a result, as he ejected himself from the kiss, I was just beginning my hug. Therefore, for a split second in time, he was pulling away and I was actually holding him in place. He was trying to free himself and I wasn't having it. He was stuck in a forced embrace for about one second (that seemed like an eternity!). I was getting my hug if he was getting his kiss. It was the weirdest moment I have had in a while. Definitely an 8 out of 10 on the awkward scale for sure.

Perhaps it will become second nature to me. All this social love is contagious. I instantly feel more connected with these kissers as they have entered my personal space zone more than once for some social greeting love. Not so bad really.

What would make my life a whole lot easier? A quick flip of the hand, holding up the number of kisses expected just before smooches are exchanged. Asking too much? Probably.
Lookout expats of Doha, if it is kisses you want, then it is kisses you'll get... maybe one too many or one too few from time to time, but go easy on me... I am a hugger, afterall.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Another Trip Under Our Belts

On August 22, we left Doha for the second time this summer, to fly back to Nova Scotia. Our close friends Laura & Stan decided to get hitched and we couldn't miss it. The flights were more of a challenge this time, as Ella seems to be asserting her independence quite a bit these days, but we made it.

Fast forward through lots of driving, one wedding out on the Mira, LOTS of bacon eating, a sun set cruise with a boat full of Chisholms, photo morning in the park with all our friends children, and some short & sweet visits with old friends, and... our eight days were up.

Coming back to Doha was definitely easier than leaving. I think the three of us were just so pooped that we silently agreed to rest on the flights. Our luggage was apparently tired too, as it took three days to find its way back to us after we landed. Looks like we'll be needing a new set as the wheel are strangely all missing now? Hmm.

So, are we done dragging our poor child from place to place for a while? No, no we are not. In October we are headed to Houston for two weeks and in November we have planned a family vacation to Paris! Bring on the jet lag - we are going to be pros soon enough!