Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week 7 of 52: More Muslim than I thought...top 5 reasons I have not been deported from Qatar

Not that being deported from Qatar is a goal of mine, I was just thinking that some who have known me throughout my life are probably a bit surprised is all.
Intercon Hotel, Doha, Qatar.

Let me explain.

I'm visiting my good friend Ann. I have known Ann since grade 7. We likely became friends over the shared trauma of being moved to Hamilton by our well-meaning families at the age of 12. She moved from London, Ontario and me, Winnipeg, Manitoba. We basically attended the same schools from grade 6 to OAC (grade 13). We hung out in overlapping social circles but not the same ones growing up. It wasn't until she finished teacher's college and moved back to Hamilton that we became the girl friends you see depicted in media. We weren't giving each other manicures and shit like that but we did marathon Sex and the City.

It was only 2 years of solid friend time we shared together before I left Hamilton for Victoria to attend graduate school. FYI - solid friend time = talking on the phone regularly, going dancing together and talking about boys. And during these 2 years, Ann knew me as such:

the girl who worked at a law firm full-time during the day while finishing her undergraduate degree at night school and summer school. The girl who was on the Dean's Honor's List and had plans to attend graduate school.  The girl who drank every day, starting at lunch until after school, smoked pot every night before bed (to relax!) and who chained smoked and drank coffee like it was water. The girl who would not get a serious boyfriend because she was leaving and didn't see the point of wasting her time with a guy that she was going to eventually break up with (I hate watching men cry, then having them stalk me!). 

Ironically, when I moved to BC, I gave up drinking and pot. Pot never really came back but drinking has made several reappearances and no doubt will come back again at a later date. But my substances for self-medication are the subject for another blog post. My point is, Ann has experienced a different Andrea than the one my current friend circle knows and loves. So she was a little surprised when I showed up at the Doha airport in my present form.

We both like shiny things!!
Top 5 Andrea behaviors that surprisingly align with Muslim culture here in Doha, Qatar:

1. No alcohol! Between my depression and workout regime I have no desire to drink right now so I'm happy to be in a place where I don't feel the societal pressure to drink or at least the pressure to explain why I don't want to. 

2. No drugs! Obviously pharmaceuticals are ok, otherwise I would be in trouble! As I do have the tendency to resemble a walking pharmacy when I travel. Always a fun challenge when I have to explain to foreign officials toting machine guns that the pills they found in my bag are for my allergies and that I am not a drug smuggler. Just so we are clear, I'm referring to my 3 week road trip through Mexico. Thankfully my sign language is universally recognized! I'm talking about the illegal kind. Not a problem I haven't smoked pot in over 10 years, unless you count my Amsterdam visit where I had to try it. You could order it off a menu at the coffee shop! I had to do it once just for the experience.

3. No public displays of affection (PDA)! No problem. I have no partner, I have no interest in hooking up and I don't like to watch other people touching each other. So I'm good on this one. In fact I'm kind of surprised at how much I'm in approval of this one, that the other day when we went clubbing I almost had a couple kicked out for their PDA. In my defense their PDA wasn't a simple kiss or hand holding it was full blown dry humping on the dance floor. Besides the fact that their PDA was interfering with my ability to dance the main thing that bugged me was how disrespectful it was. It is so not cool to disrespect the culture of a country you are a guest in, even if you disagree with the culture. You can go to jail for this shit! Dry humping in public in Qatar is like being invited to thanksgiving dinner, whipping out your dick, and pissing all over the host's dinning room table in front of all the guests. It's just not cool people. I don't give a crap what you decide to do in the privacy of your own home with your lover or lovers, that is not my business, but when you put it in front of me like that, you start making it my business. Sorry I just don't care to watch that shit and I don't like being forced to! Looking back on that night I'm kind of surprised I didn't get them kicked out. It was almost unbearably tempting to complain as I was pretty sure if I did, they would go to jail. And that made me feel kind of happy to know I could wield that type of power...and it is shit like that which makes me think I was an evil dictator in a past life. But my past lives are totally the subject of another blog post or two!
Perfect amount of skin for clubbing, in my humble opinion!

4. Cover it up people!! People dress very conservative here and I love it! Except for when this extends to my run gear-don't love that so much. If I didn't have the propensity to overheat when I run then this wouldn't be an issue; however, the weather here is like summer back home and everyone knows I lose about 5 pounds of water when running outside in the summer and that is when I'm wearing just short shorts and a tank top. Needless to say I have been spending a lot of time on the treadmill. My conservative dress preference comes from the fact that I belong to the "less is more" camp of style. It is shocking to some because I've been frequently told that if people had a body like mine they would show it off more. Yes it was always my goal to get a smoking hot body so I could parade around the streets naked. Yeah, no it wasn't. Sorry guys but the smoking hot body is just a mere side effect from developing healthier mental health coping strategies.  One of the few benefits of my frequent tendencies to be unreasonably anxious about nothing. Yeah, if you want to see me naked the closest you will get is taking up running and running with me when it is hot out. You may be able to catch a glimpse of my thighs and my arms but you won't ever get to see my amazing abs because I just can't bring myself to run in just my sports bra no matter how hot it is. Maybe if I was Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan or Catrin Jones racing the Barcelona marathon...maybe...thankfully, I do not have the elite runner problem of being a woman and needing to find the right balance between appropriate attire for optimal performance and being stylish.

5. No pork! Although I have recently taken up eating meat again to appease my body's iron stores I don't exactly crave meat nor really care for it that much. So really not a problem. I actually would much rather just take iron supplements than eat meat because that is actually better for my sensitive digestive system that way.

Oh and my bonus point: I woke up this morning at 4:45am to the Islamic Call to Prayer. I got up and opened my window so I could listen to it. I thought it sounded beautiful.

No I'm not converting! I'm just saying!

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