Saturday, January 5, 2008
The weather is turning "cold" here... signs of oncoming rain, I hear. Today's temperature was only about 69, which, for the kids, was still warm enough to swim--at least while the sun was out. This next week, the highs will be in the low 60s.
We still don't have a car, so we ventured out to the neighborhood "shopping center" (in quotes because this was no strip mall: see the picture I'm hoping Ron will post soon), which consists of a dry cleaner (shirts cleaned and pressed for 60 cents; labor is the cheapest thing here), a small grocer, a juice shop (large, fresh fruit smoothies for about $2.00), and a bakery. We bought steaming hot, fresh pita bread, 4 for 35 cents. The bakers all laughed when we expressed shock at how inexpensive it was. Now we just need to find good hummus to go with it. I don't imagine that will be too difficult.
Just some more trivia for the area: None of the workers here in Doha are Qatari. Even the middle-class Qataris don't "need" to work and have homes that would rival any Malibu mansion you could possibly imagine. (Remember this is the richest country per capita in the world.) We ventured out last night with a friend to see a Qatari's private herd of camels (used for the purpose you imagine... one of the three baby camels was "missing"). Surely, we thought, the home was a palace meant for multiple generations of the same family. No, our friend told us, that was one man, one generation, and many servants. Even the fully furnished tent for the servant who took care of the camels was big enough for a large family and had a satellite dish. As for our family? We're more or less lower class here, regardless of Ron's position as a professor. We're simply another brand of hired workers. Which, considering how nice we have it here (despite our current lack of a car!!), isn't such a bad branding, really: a large villa (5 bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths); a pool, tennis courts, and playground behind us; and a clubhouse complete with pool table, ping pong table, satellite tv, saunas, and a well-equipped workout room. No, not a bad lower-class life here at all.
That's not to say there isn't poverty. It's just that we're literally closer to that level than to middle class. Trite, but true, it's all relative.