Friendship, the sunshine of life

by Darla on June 12, 2009

in Doha, Qatar

In Doha, everyone comes for a contracted period of time.  Those contracts may renew or extend but end it does.  Sometimes it ends unexpectedly with little or no notice (2 weeks contract or not) and other times you have longer.  Most of it depends on who decides to end the contract.  That is not the point of my post.  The point is that relationships take on a different tone.  This has its good points and bad points.

Good:

Time doesn’t get wasted as much forming new friendships.
Friendships are worth their weight in gold
Friendships take on the value of precious family members
It truly is a small world and you never know when you will run into friends again.

Bad:

Time on the contract may run out long before you are ready to say goodbye
The friendship dance is shorter
Each year we say goodbye to good friends who are moving on

Two years ago, a homeschooling family moved into our church family (doesn’t happen very often).  I met the husband first, he was sharing when he and his family would be moving in.  I felt an instant connection with her as he told me about their family.  Her husband didn’t know where they were going from their last job so she moved to the Philippines for 6 months with her two children.  What a woman, she is someone that I wanted to know better.  She has inspired this post today.  She makes up her mind to do it and away she goes.  It is a whirlwind but wow.  I hadn’t heard from her in a week and found out they had decided to fly to Kuwait for a vacation for 2 weeks.  Yep that is Jenny.  They are now off to hopefully greener pastures – want to farm in the US.  I’ll miss her.   I didn’t realize how much until she told me yesterday that she was downsizing their food storage.  I know it won’t mean goodbye because the relationship will pick up right where we left off when we meet again.  Still it won’t be the same.

We’ve met many families through the home school group email list.  (this is a sad example)  Our family had an activity inviting one new family and a new/old friend as I thought we might all enjoy each others company.  We had a great time but then when it came time to talk about a next time they were really vague.  Each suggestion for things to do was met with nope done that don’t want to do it again.  Doha doesn’t have too many new and innovative activities to do it is getting to know people that provides the excitement.  It is either take what is available or make your own fun.  Each time we tried to get together it was the same sort of thing.  They spent at least once every other month traveling for 2 or more weeks.  Communication needs to happen on both sides for this arrangement to work well.

It has also been interesting to see that those most dissatisfied with Doha are the ones that travel so much they don’t have time to settle in any one place.  They often feel disjointed and separate.  It is really hard to know when they are or aren’t in town.  Jet lag also takes a role because it can take from 1 week up to a month depending on how long you have travelled to get back into the swing of life here.  Time travel is hard on a body and flying through so many time zones takes it’s wear and tear.

New friends are made in unusual ways.  This spring we made another precious friendship through this blog.  Their family was moving to Doha from Saudi (it is a hardship assignment in contrast).  She was so excited to meet other homeschooling families that on her first trip trying to find a house and all the other things that needed to be done she really wanted to get together.  I laughed and said I would be glad to meet her but wouldn’t count on it.   If she had time, give me a call.  She had so much to do she didn’t even have time to get a phone call in.  Meet we did after they arrived and found we had much in common.  It was like meeting a sister you never knew you had.  We don’t even care if our children don’t enjoy each other because we will get together for play dates.  hahaha.  Our children do enjoy each other’s company and we come up with easy and fun ideas.  Such a relaxing time it is a breath of fresh air.

During the summer it can get a little bare in Doha as most families travel.  It does get hot about 125 to 135 degrees.  I’ve heard of it going to 155 but haven’t experienced it.  Those are the days you stay inside and don’t go anywhere until after the sun goes down 4:30pm.  I guess what I like is that it is so hot outside that the kids are more willing to spend time on their studies with serious efforts.  We stock up on activities just like we used to for wintertime when you knew that going outside opportunities might be limited.  The traffic reduces to manageable levels, supplies are easier to find and strong friendships are made with those that are here.  It is such a different world and it is amazing to see the transformation that happens.

The last thing I would offer about friendships is that we become family to each other.  The support network develops slowly but with lasting impact.  You are there for each other in a way you might never experience anywhere else.   We help each other out with whatever is needed in times of sickness, new babies and health.  What would I do without my friends.

It is a sad day when you say goodbye but also a time to rejoice when you once again meet and greet each other with tears of joy and a kiss on the cheek.  Thank goodness that even amidst the goodbyes there are opportunities to say hello and greet new friends that we haven’t met yet.  I’ve learned so much about making and keeping friends living in Doha, friendships are the sunshine of life.

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine.”

– Thomas Jefferson

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