I took a couple of bluegrass harmony classes several years ago. (Bluegrass harmony has its own rules, which can be applied to any song, not just bluegrass songs. I won't bore a single one of you with the details.) In the second of the two classes, we had to teach the class a song and then we all worked on figuring out the 3- and 4-part harmony together. For other non-music-nerds out there, trust me: this was a lot of fun. Except for the song "Time Is Winding Up" that one of the women taught. It's well known in bluegrass circles (don't laugh; they exist), and I can't figure out why. It sounds like a lot of moaning to me (again, no comments, please) and is just plain depressing. I think it's supposed to be about preparing for the Second Coming or death or both. Yes, I know a lot of bluegrass songs are depressing, but at least they're also pretty.
And I caught myself humming the tune to myself yesterday while I was thinking about what we have to do to get ready to leave here: go souvenir shopping at least once more, get some boxes, pack what we don't need our last week or so, finalize travel plans, officially withdraw the kids from school here, stop our mail at home from being forwarded, and a number of other things I'm sure I'm forgetting.
Frankly, I'm understanding the feel of that song now--not so much that I'm walking around singing it out loud, but enough that I can admit I'm a little blue at the thought of leaving Doha. Yes, there's no place like home, but home is always the place you can go back to. We won't be coming back to Doha.
So, in honor of the knowledge that we'll be back on the other side of the world this time next month, here are some of the little things I'll miss:
The yogurt. Dannon and Yoplait got nothin on Arabic yogurt. It's like a different species entirely.
Filipinos. And I hope this doesn't make me sound racist. But the Filipinos I have met here are the warmest, hardest working, most optimistic people I have ever met. One friend I've made has a Master's in education, taught school back in the Philippines, but couldn't afford to raise her family there. So her 3 children (all still in school) stayed behind while she and her husband came here two years ago. She can make as much money nannying here in a month as she made in a year back home. But she misses her kids like mad, and she's just one of more than 100,000 Filipinos who come here to try to make better lives for their children. I don't know how they do it, but I admire the hell out of every one of them. And I don't ever want to hear anyone back in the States ever tell me that they're too good to take a job flipping burgers. After seeing what sacrifices people here make, I could choke on the disgust I have for pride. Okay, the soapbox has been put away.
Fresh and delicious produce, generally for less than we pay in the States. Granted, it's subsidized here and I don't want that happening back home. But I have definitely taken advantage of those subsidized prices while we've been here.
The Garden. Holy cow, this is the best Southern Indian food I have ever had in my life. We've been going once a week, and I'm going to go through serious withdrawal when we leave. Plus, the service is phenomenal, meaning, for me, that the people who work there love my children and don't cringe when they act like, well, children. In fact, if the manager is there, he takes Ivan around the restaurant and into the kitchen (shhh) while the rest of us eat.
The compound. Now, I know I've had my gripes about compound life, and my saying I appreciate compound life as well doesn't erase those gripes. But the one thing really worth loving is that my kids can leave our villa and be gone for hours without me worrying about where they are. Yes, I have to still follow Ivan around if he's alone, but if he's with the other kids, I can just check on them every half hour or so. The speed bumps within the compound help, as do the guarded gates and the fact that Ivan can swim now, so if he happens to fall into the pool, he can get out. (No, I don't let them go swimming without me.)
The diversity. Beyond the Filipinos, the eye-opening, mind-stretching cultural benefits of living here are obvious. We'll never experience anything like this again. And that makes me the saddest of all, scarecrow.
To end this post on a high note, however, here's what the kids are looking forward to:
S: his friends, school, bagels, and American football.
O: sleepovers, his friends, his teacher, and Chrissy and Dave
E: her friends, pizza, her teacher, and Chrissy and Dave
I: Nothing, because apparently he has completely forgotten we ever lived in Pittsburgh.
As for me? Target and a bed with box springs. Oh, and of course, my friends.