Old friends and new

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Anyone who has read any of my previous posts will know by now how important my friends are to me, and how much I'm missing them already.

"I don't know what you're worrying about," Tan said as we got ready to go out a couple of weekends before I left, "We'll probably speak to each other even more than we do now while you're out there". And she's probably right - God Bless The Internet.

While we're out here, we needn't worry about making some new friends along the way either. According to the Gulf Times, expats accounted for 94% of Qatar's labour force last year, and with that many people seeking to make this strange and unfamiliar environment their home, potential new buddies are in abundance.

You tend to meet these people in the most unexpected of places. On Monday, en-route to get his fingerprints taken as part of his Resident's Permit process, Rich's partially blind taxi driver drove over some boulders on the side of the road (these are put in place to prevent terrible taxi drivers from driving off the road completely - very pleasing to find out they're doing their job!). Rich bonded with his fellow passenger as the blind taxi driver was inevitably unable to change the tyre unaccompanied, and by the end of the process we had a dinner invitation for the next evening.

We headed to the Anvil Rooms on the 28th Floor of the Tornado Tower.

The next two hours were spent listening to some hilarious behind-the-scenes Al Jazeera English newsdesk stories and learning a lot more about Doha (one of the guys had been here for 6 years and there is nothing this guy doesn't know about the city).

I was also in seventh heaven as the food was incredible: beautiful ox cheek tortellini, melt in the mouth steak and the best home-made pretzels I'd ever had.

The view was alright too.

It was one of the guys' birthday, so afterwards we headed on to a bar for some celebratory drinks. I haven't laughed that much in a while...and a night that ends with you drinking Cabernet out of a glass as big as your head is always a good one in my book.

The other unusual thing about making friends in Doha is the number of people you know from previous lives that suddenly come out of the wood work. I have had so many messages from people who have either recently moved out here, or are in the process of doing so in the past few weeks - not to mention the people who will be here temporarily with work at some point. 

Last night, we met a couple of these friends for dinner in the St Regis hotel. 

The Al-Sultan Brahim specialises in mezze and seafood (which you pick yourself from the range of fresh fish on offer), and all of it is divine.

The real treat however, are the complimentary Arabic sweets that they bring out at the end. Sesame Halva, Dima Sharif and as much fresh fruit as you can manage (a rarity  and a real treat out here!) - too good.

And you can't put a price on seeing some familiar faces, chatting about familiar people and things, and best of all knowing that you don't have to put too much effort in.

When we got home, Rich and I looked out at the lights over the marina and chatted about friends old and new. Exhausted, we drifted off and slept for a very long time.