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.
"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!"
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?"
(sharp intake of breath) "You leave him at home!!!!?????"
"He's dead? Sorry sorry."
"No I am unmarried."
With that...she patted my shoulder, smiled and said "Inshallah, enjoy!"