Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Miss Understood

I feel the tingling sensation of a budding "personality complex". FOr once it has nothing to do with my weight, my skin or the fact that my towels in my linen cupboard (yes I have a linen cupboard..don't you?) are not uniformly folded.

It has to do with my marital status.

When I first arrived in Doha there were some problems processesing my visa. HR would send my papers (including a photo where I am clearly wearing lipstick) but looking at my managerial designation, the Ministry officials clearly remained unconvinced I was a woman. And so, it was sent back pointing our the "gender error".

Being more family-oriented than the chavtastic party capital of Dubai, many people assume a woman of a certain age (ahem...) must clearly be with her husband. I encounter this on a small scale when attempting to squeeze appointments into my lunch break. I am forever haggling with receptionists.

"9am madam," they say firmly.

"No sorry can't do mornings, " I reply.

"10am?"

"I can't do mornings. 1pm til 3pm maximum."

"Hmmmm...oh do you have to pick up your children from school?"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO I WORK...WORK FOR A LIVING!"

"So 2.30pm?"

"Yessssssss. Thankyou"

However, this being Doha setting the appointment does not necessarily ensure all will go according to plan.

Once, at a salon, I waited more than an hour to be seen. Then something bright and shiny distracted the stylist and I was left to wait another 30 minutes. At the end of my tether, I left, informing the owner of my decision. She replied that most of her clients had a "flexible schedule".

I politely informed said owner that while it would be lovely to be a "Lady of Leisure" dividing my time between coffee at Starbucks, lunch at Le Notre and scrapbooking classes on the compound, I indeed had to work for a living.

Don't get me wrong. I have a great life. having to defend and explain my personal choices is a small irritant and sometimes plain amusing.

A few weeks ago while in the changing rooms of my gym, a Qatari lady approached me and asked where I was from. I told her.

"You live in Doha or just visiting?"

"I live here...almost a year now!"

"With your husband?"

"No."

(sharp intake of breath) "You leave him at home!!!!?????"

"No."

"He's dead? Sorry sorry."

"No I am unmarried."

"Not married?"

"No...single."

With that...she patted my shoulder, smiled and said "Inshallah, enjoy!"

2 comments:

Lee said...

Honey, I told you, my kids and husband can be yours anytime you like.

Oh and I have found rolling the towels hotel style looks much neater in the linen press than folding.... you could try that. If I start on my oven cleaning hints you can shoot me! :)

Nigel said...

Similar cultual differences here. I think there are probably many more unmarried working women in Doha than married, unemployed expat men.

It's sad really. The reactions I see are usually of disbelief that my wife has been allowed to sponsor me, when most people have great trouble getting their wives and kids into the country.