When I wrote my last blog post, I was days away from leaving on a brand new adventure in Doha, Qatar. Here it is, a month down the track, and here I am! I’ve been here for 3 weeks today (at the time of writing) but it feels like much longer. I am amazed at how quickly we are settling in, getting to know the city, meeting people, making friends, and acclimatising to this, our new home. We are loving it here so far, just enjoying the lifestyle and the freedom of being away, although it is early days yet! Mostly everyday life is much as it is all over the world – we sleep, eat, work, shop, relax, socialise just like we did at home. But at the same time our whole world has been turned upside down, and every day there are new experiences, new sights and sounds, new people, and a new lifestyle to adjust to. I am learning my way around, and getting to know people (and remember their names!). I can nearly always find the correct aisle in the supermarket when I’m shopping, and I have so far got to everywhere I need to go without getting lost (although more often than not it’s the taxi driver who deserves the credit for that!). We have found an apartment, and will be moving in in the next week or so. My husband Keith has been busy at work, and I have met so many people my social life is already busier than it was at home!
When I travel, I generally take way too many photos – hundreds per day. But here I’m not a tourist, this is home, and though I am having many new experiences, I have had hardly any time for sightseeing. I always have my camera with me though, and my photos are often of ordinary things like shopping malls, restaurant meals, traffic, and the local area. I decided the best way to document my first year in Doha is with a Day2Day project. I know most people do a Day2Day project starting in January, but who says that is the only way? It took me a few days to get myself organised enough to begin, so mine started on June 15. It is a completely random day, just happened to be the day I decided to start. It was quite liberating actually, starting on that day – there was no pressure to start at the beginning or the year, or even the month, there was no “right answer”. I just started. So far I have stuck to the weekly theme posted on our website, but at the same time took photos that illustrated some aspect of our lives here in Doha. I may continue to use the themes or I may not. I may use them sometimes. I plan to take a photo every day, but if I miss an odd day because I’m too busy or too tired or I just forget, that’s OK. I might take two photos the next day, but then again I might not. This is my album, and the only person who decides what to put in it is me!! It’s only been two weeks, but I’m loving it so far! It has been fun looking for specific photo ops that fit with the theme (or thinking up captions for my photos that conform to the theme), and I’m loving the glimpses of daily life that my photos reveal. I know this will be an album I’ll treasure when this adventure is over.
Here are my first two pages (click for a larger image), and below, a little about each photo:
- June 15: I had heard a lot about Doha’s terrible traffic, and from our vantage point in our hotel room on the 38th floor we were able to see it firsthand.
- June 16: We moved to a serviced apartment for a month while we searched for some longer term accommodation. The foyer of our apartment building has a striking, huge floral display.
- June 17: In the supermarket, huge sales encouraged people to stock up in readiness for Ramadan, which starts at the end of June. I have been aware of Ramadan before, but never experienced it at such close range.
- June 18: Our apartment is on the 40th floor. I don’t love heights.
- June 19: The Kempinski Tower, where we are staying, is one of Doha’s tallest buildings.
- June 20: Every week after church we gather in a restaurant for lunch with a number of families. It’s a great tradition, and has enabled us to get to know people quickly. This day we went to a restaurant called Shakespeare and Co, a little corner of England in Qatar.
- June 21: We had a visit to Ikea, to check out what furniture we might get for our apartment, when we found one. The view back towards Doha across the vast construction area and the flat suburbs with the many villas and compounds seemed to sum up the city.
- June 22: It really is very hot here, so a cold drink over ice is very much appreciated. Cans of drink with familiar labels in Arabic remind us we are far from home, yet the comforts of home are all here.
- June 23: We found an apartment to rent. We are very happy with it, and feel very blessed. The foyer of the building is very grand and impressive (more so than the apartment).
- June 24: Since alcohol is not served apart from in the international hotels, restaurants are very creative with ‘mocktails’ and exotic fruit juice and iced tea combinations.
- June 25: We had to pay the deposit on our apartment in cash, since we didn’t have a bank account here yet. There was a lot of running around to try to get enough cash in time to secure the apartment. The local currency is very pretty.
- June 26: To celebrate getting the apartment, we went to dinner at a restaurant called “The Spice Market” in the W Hotel. We had a tasting meal of 10 small dishes, including this incredible dessert.
- June 27: We drove with some new friends right across the country looking for some sculptures in a remote area, and got to see some of the real desert.
- June 28: Ramadan started tonight. All the shops have big sales. Ramadan is a major Muslim festival, and everyone here, including visitors, participates to some extent.
As you can see, every picture really does tell a story. It doesn’t matter if it’s a great photo, or an image of something highly significant. Every photo means something to me, and I’m so glad I have started this project.
If you have been someone who missed out starting a Day2Day project in January, and now you are waiting till 2015 to start, think about whether you need to wait that long? Is there something significant happening in your life you’d like to document? What about the year you turn 40 or 50 or 73? Your first or 2nd or 23rd grandchild? Your first year in a new neighbourhood? Your last year in your old neighbourhood?
Is a year too long? Try a month, then another month. Aim for 100 days. Interpret the Day2Day concept in a way that suits you and your life. After all, it is your album.
Maybe just pick a day and start. How about today?