It can be difficult to differentiate between summer holidays and real life when you live in Doha, Qatar and come to Ireland for the summer. What happens is you compact a full year’s life into a 9- week period. Anniversary parties, Christenings, Engagement, Weddings even funerals are all planned around the summer and bang, the minute you come home, you’ve a full diary before you even start.
For a while it feels like you’re home, really living in Ireland, it’s busy but great. Of course on top of the to-attend list, there’s the to-do list, introduce the kids to a wildlife, a forest, a pet farm, a bush anything, but get a picture with them and something green. Spend time down on the beach with hoodie and wellies, pontificating how gorgeous the fresh air is and get the kids to pick shells which you vow to make something with but never do. Get a photograph of the kids playing with water on the only glorious afternoon we had in the back garden, (water other than rain). Try to meet all your friends, for lunch, for drinks, for dinner, try to get to the theatre, try to get the kids to a theatre. Spent quality time alone and with people. Take part in a fun run with the kids and a mini marathon without them. And last but paramount, try to get a photograph of all the cousins together – good luck with that one!
If you haven’t already detected a flaw, I’ll point it out, it is impossible with a 20-month-old wilful girl to accomplish, even plan most of the above. It is also physically exhausting for a 41-year-old girl to achieve half of it, but that doesn’t stop us, why, because once we get on that plane, back to Dubai, then Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, then straight run into Doha, that will be the end of all activity and any craving for routine will be well and truly satisfied with days of being in Doha.
So, we plough on, planning and filling our last days in Ireland for 2017 with experiences and memories that will sustain us until June 2018. Gorging on company, butter and fresh air, stuck now in automatic pilot, we can’t stop, unable to draw the line.
But life has a way of drawing the line for you and it started a few weeks ago when the shops because a sea of block colours, royal blue, maroon, dark green and navy. Lunchboxes and drink bottles. Copies and colours, non-marking black soled shoes and school bags with wheels. Back to school season in Ireland is the equivalent for visiting expats of winding up the alarm clock to get the visitors to take the hint and go home! It’s the first part of the summer that we are unable to take part in. Our uniforms are shorts, our drinks bottles must be thermal and our lunch boxes need to have some kind of anti-melting device. But it’s irrelevant really because it’s becomes clear, we don’t live here anymore.
The line gets drawn deeper all the effort of integration all summer is compartmentalised to…summer, this is a different season one we’re no part of. Get fit schemes, children’s activities, October weekend events and loose plans for Christmas, are all planned before our eyes and reluctantly we must turn focus onto Doha and admit to the reality, we don’t live in Ireland, we live in Qatar! arrrggh.
This last week, is the time when we peek through our fingers and squinted eyes and look towards Doha. What is facing us. ‘Da Crisis’ is still on, the milk is still bad, flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi are still blocked. All summer we thought, I certainly thought that if I turned attention instead to pet farms and summer festivals that when I look back the Middle East Crisis would be solved and we’d at least to returning to what we knew as opposed to a situation we don’t know and don’t know how it will affect us.
It’s certain the finish line is drawn for summer in Ireland and it’s time to get back to Doha and draw yet another start line in the sand.