Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day One in Doha

Yesterday can be simplified as a whirlwind of meetings and activity that did nothing more than leave us with more questions than answers.

We started the day in need of local currency (riyals), an electric adaptor (mine has never worked for some reason), a cell phone, and an itinerary. I exchanged money at the hotel, and we got the latter two items upon arriving to campus. We met with two different Associate Deans of Academic Affairs, one of whom was American, so we understood him clearly, but there didn't really seem to be an obvious point to our meeting. The other would be Our Boss. He signs off on all contracts and oversees all faculty hires, etc. He may or may not be American, despite being trained in the States and a transfer from our University's main campus. Whatever the reason, it was not only very diffficult to understand what he was saying, but some of his answers to our questions weren't clear. He seemed to give a slight bit of deference to Hubby over me, but I'm not sure why. It could be a "man thing" or it could be that he found out Hubby would definitely be graduating in August, while I probably won't. Meh, who knows...

After chatting with one of the English faculty members, a single mom who's on hormone-replacement therapy (since hers is made from horse urine, it's against Islam and unavailable at pharmacies here), we found one of our first potential problems: H's medication for her ADHD. It may or may not be available here...and if it's not, some sort of drug-smuggling might be necessary, though such drug-smuggling apparently comes with no penalty or fine (they just take the meds).

Our second potential problem came about when I heard that there may be some issues in terms of taxes as a result of the non-salary benefits: housing, living expenses, vehicle allowance, etc. All factored together, these benefits generally double ones base salary. As a couple, this person suggested, we'd need to find out what taxes might be due on approximately $250,000, because this is what our salary and benefits add up to. Gulp. My list of questions and concerns just got significantly longer.

Then, we had our housing tour. The house was as big as I'd imagined: 4 good-sized bedrooms upstairs, living, dining, kitchen, laundry room, and a maid's room and bathroom downstairs. The furnishings were okay--not our style and it wouldn't feel like "home"--but hey, they're free. The stove/oven isn't what we'd consider standard size (they're smaller), but the house was almost brand new and located in a new compound they've designated as family only (and only those that come from our state). The rec room was nice, as was the swimming pool, but Hubby and I were surprisingly taken aback at the obvious lack of a yard. For some reason, I'd assumed that if there was a rec center and swimming pool, that some sort of landscaping might be present, even if it weren't part of each unit. Rather, perhaps a communal playground-type grassy area for kids. Nope. No green. At all. Anywhere. And yes, I realize this is a desert. We didn't think it would be a big deal, but it kinda was. Thus, we left the housing tour really concerned about what the kids would do outside. Are there parks? If so, is it just a bunch of grass with no play equipment? What do we do for our children, who are used to living within walking distance of two very nice parks with lots of playground equipment?

By the time we headed to dinner, I was starting to have my reservations about this whole relocation idea. For dinner, we headed to Chingari,
an Indian Tandoori restaurant in the Ramada. As to be expected, fantastic food! We shared a tandoor platter for two, along with these cheesy, tandoor mushrooms, which were out of this world! We had both hit the Day One Jet Lag Wall, so in addition to new possible questions and issues, we were both a bit grumpy and sour. Well, Hubby was, I was more...thoughtful than grumpy, I think. I mean that in the sense that I was thinking about things differently now that I'd seen them, and I was thinking about questions, problems, changes, I hadn't anticipated. One of the best things about the day? Getting back to the hotel around 8:30 for an early bedtime. After talking to my mom and the girls, who are both having a great time at Nana's house, I was done for the night, thankfully too tired for any of the new worries to keep me awake.

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