That is, except for the stares.
I got used to it a bit in Spain. Walking down the street, men would shout, whistle and occasionally ask to touch le blonde hair. I learned how to establish personal space with big elbow juts and numerous mean looks.
But here in Doha, the style-of-stare is something different. The men just look. Not sexually, not viscously... they just look. I can't figure out why. Is it because I'm female? We've seen very few women here, and those we do tend to either (a) be in the hotel setting, a la expats, or (b) be covered head-to-toe in a Hijab. Is it because I'm not covered entirely myself? I dress conservatively. Arms, legs, loose clothes, simple shoes. So what's the deal?
I guess this question is tugging through my mind because I just walked down the street to our little closet-sized neighborhood grocery store, called (of all things) Dana Grocery. I bought some cauliflower, two sodas and a weird fruit that I can't quite recognize but definitely can smell. During the short, five-minute walk, I tried not to notice the many eyes on me. Then I tried not to let it bother me. Should it? I just don't understand.
Life, though... life here in Doha is just amazing. The GM of the Sheraton (another friend of Mr. Billionaire Bilal) gave Kath, Tessa and I all pool and gym passes to his hotel. Enter private beach, much swimming, a solid fitness facility, and.. oh yeah, a private beach. White sand, blue sky, blue waters. Even better? Pretty much no one is ever around, choosing to swim in the hotel pool over swimming in the salty ocean. This means that most mornings, like today, I had the entire stretch of salt and water and sand to myself.
I'm busy writing. It's still hard for me to believe that I am, indeed, a real journalist now. We attend events as press, and I introduce myself as 'Danae Mercer, staff writer from ABODE.' I have interviewed several just fascinating people, like this woman named Noor Al-Kuwari who pretty much single-handedly (and pregnant to boot) opened two restaurants, traveled to China, Morocco, America and back again, and is traditional Qatari. She worked alongside her construction people, eight-months-pregnant, wearing her Abijah, during the insane Doha summer heat. Amazing.
The wealth of Doha is also still constantly amazing me. It's... well... It's a lot. Tons. People here have resources I can't even imagine. When we go out to meals, they tend to run upwards of $100 a plate. Starting price. It makes me wonder about how all this is impacting me. A man at a cocktail party told me the other day that once you are in Doha, you get spoiled. You can't leave. You become use to the grandeur, the opulence, the luxury.
Will I ever become used to many near-silent servers sweeping forward to lay my napkin on my lap, pull out my chair, pick up my water bottle when it tips sideways, fill my glass with bubbly and wine? Will I ever adjust to this sort of treatment?
Today, Tessa is allowing Kath and I to come in late, since we are usually working from 8am-6pm officially, then attending events for work in the evening. We're going to hit up various stores to do pulls for interiors; I'm going to finish my articles and copy edit some others; write write write; and then attend a W pool party in the evening.
So things are, as always, busy. Good thing I've got my cauliflower to tide me over, and my soda to give me a lil pep. Man, I love it here.