Friday, March 27, 2009

Wed. March 25 - Lunch with Minika and La Cigale

This morning Lucy and I stayed home while Gennette and Janet went back to their Arabic class. I would have liked to have gone, but I needed to catch up on blogging. It has been very difficult living this life and writing about it. Journal keeping usually isn't this difficult when you don't have big adventures on a daily basis. But writing a soap opera at the same time as living it isn't easy. I did finally get used to using Gennette's computer. It is in Arabic. There is no English on the shift key or the enter key or some other keys. I had to figure it out, and now I'm a pro at using an Arabic computer. When they returned home, Minika took us to lunch. We went to a nearby mall which was very nice. As nice or better than malls in the States. We had salads and bought chocolate desserts to take home. I have discovered a new favorite drink. It is called mint drink. To make it, put fresh lemon juice in water with finely ground up mint leaves. You could add a bit of sugar. All these restaurants serve it. I first had it at the Iranian restaurant we went to. They must ground their mint very finely because it looks like green water when it is served, but it is so delicious. I wish they served free refills. We had a great time, and Minika has definitely become one of my favorite people. Minika was on a lunch break, so she dropped us off at Gennette's and returned to work. Then Gennette discovered that she had given her key to her maid, Conchita, and we were locked out of the house. Conchita was gone taking the neighbor's little girl to a class. So Gennette called a taxi to come get us and take us to meet Conchita to get the house key. As we were driving off in the taxi, she asked him how much it would be. He quoted us 45 riyals each way. I protested and said I would rather wait outside the house than to pay that much. I said that was too much for that taxi ride. He wouldn't back down on the price. About that time Gennette's friend, Dina, called her. Gennette explained our situation, and Dina invited us over. So Gennette told the taxi driver to turn around and take us to Dina's house. Gennette was trying to remember the directions, and we got lost. We were driving in an area where there were lots of large adobe and concrete Arab homes each surrounded by large concrete walls. After a while, it all looks the same. Basically we ended up driving in a circle before we told him just to take us home. It cost us 20 riyals for a taxi ride in a circle!! Dina came to Gennette's house, picked us up and took us to her home. Dina is originally from Iraq. She is educated as an architect, but isn't currently working. She has a 16 year old son. Her husband works with Gennette's husband. We sat and visited for a while, and I was embarrassed a bit because I was nodding off and could hardly stay awake. But we couldn't go home yet because we couldn't get in. Dina offered me to go lay down and sleep. (That's how tired I was!! How embarrassing to be that tired at a stranger's house!!) I declined and forced myself to stay awake. I can't remember the subject we were on when Lucy suggested I tell Dina about the time I vomitted on a blind date. Lucy said, "Karen, tell Dina about some of your dating experiences. Tell her the one about you vomitting in the woods!" Since I have vomitted on two blind dates, I was glad she clarified which one. Sometimes I hate reliving all that, but at the same time, it definitely woke me up. So I told Dina about when a blind date flew me out to Calif., and I drank too much Lava Lizard, and thought I was dying. (Wow, that's a long story made short!!) We laughed and laughed, and then I told her about when I flew upside down in a sail plane over Mt. Timpanogos and vomited again while wearing a parachute. Dina, who has been married for over 20 years, was quite entertained. So by then, we were all wide awake. Dina asked if Lucy and I were "Mormons" and we said yes. Dina is Catholic. She commented to us about the "way Mormons are" which was very complimentary. She thought we were very service oriented, friendly, and helpful to others. She paid us a very high compliment when she said, "All Christians do what you do, but you just do more." Finally, after spending several hours at Dina's house, we went home. Eyad was laughing when he arrived home and we told him about our day. He thought we needed a nice break, and so he took us to La Cigale, a very classy hotel/restaurant in town. Actually, at home he had asked, "Would you like to go get some ice cream?" I pictured us going down to the local neighborhood ice cream shop. So wearing sweat pants with tennis shoes, I was all ready to go to the local shop down the street. I had no idea where he was taking us. This was a reminder of when I wore tennis shoes to the fancy Arab feast at Sunset beach. I need to remember to ask more questions about how to dress when people invite me out. La Cigale had valet parking, revolving glass doors, and three enormous chandeliers lighting the lobby and showing off all the vases of fresh flowers and seating sections.
A little bit different than what I was expecting!! We toured the entire hotel before we even got to the ice cream section. We passed through a very nice restaurant, and through the gift shop and candy shop where candy was displayed all the way up a 20 foot wall. We enjoyed our ice cream at a small table under some real orange trees. There was an entire row of orange trees and therefore, the citrus smell was in the air. All of this was indoors. The ice cream was delicious and matched the ambiance. Before leaving, we took photos in the lobby, posing next to a three foot vase of fresh lavendar flowers. On the way home we laughed reading all the signs on stores. All of the hair salons here are spelled "saloons". Same as in Saudi Arabia. We laughed at how many saloons they had! There was a store called "New Happy Baby". We thought that was better than "Old Sad Baby". Seriously, even though I love the Middle East, I do think they could use some help in marketing. We drove by the downtown skyscrapers and around many round-abouts (those are everywhere versus intersections) and on towards home. Just another day in Doha!

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