New Shoes

Photo1514It’s been a helluva month, rattled by like an old-fashioned train. I had dreaded it somewhat. Who doesn’t think January is going to suck but it’s been the best month here. The weather is appetizing here in Qatar. It’s been pleasantly warm in the day and 15C-20C at night, perfect for an evening walk along the seafront.

The contract at the Ministry finally came to an end tomorrow after 20 weeks of my life. I can’t say it’s been terrible but it’s run its’ course now literally and metaphorically. I’ve had enough of it. The sad news is we’ve signed a new contract to start the same but shorter course from mid-February. The good news is I’ve resigned (as of last week) and I’ll only be doing part of the course. I have to give 3 months notice so they can find a replacement. The sense of relief is great and I can barely keep that smile from my face. I can feel all that life coming back into me.

IMG_20140104_201709With 3 months to go, I have a clear timetable to work to. Outside of work its all taken off. We went to the tennis to see Rafa Nadal win the Open, saw Real Madrid play Paris St Germain seeing Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic. I’ve taken note, starting to run again and do some serious exercise. I ran the 10k run with some people from work without any real training. I found it easy enough which surprised me. It took 64 minutes at a gentle pace. Since then I’ve upped the pace, doing 5ks in 23 mins. My aim is to get it to 21 minutes and then run 10ks in 48 minutes. I’ll be happy with that.

Photo1513I’ve coupled it with a real diet too. I’ve limited my intake, removed most carbs, alcohol, cheese, bread, fast food and sugars. The diet here can be as brutal as the weather. Fast food joints abound and the temptations are too great. Fresh vegetables are cheap but they don’t often looks too fresh. In their places have come fresh vegetable, chicken, fish and fruit. With all this exercise, a cup or two of camomile tea sends me straight to sleep! Zehra and I had the Korean BBQ the other night and Nancy and I have been getting sushi on a regular basis. The best meal was the Pakistani restaurant the other night with some work friends, the best curry I’ve had in a long time.

After a paltry 3 books read last year, I’ve got right back into it and finished a Cormac McCarthy and books on wars in Congo and Indonesia already. Along with the academic reading I’m doing to help Amna, I’m getting through Conversation in the Cathedral by Llosa, a book on Cultural Sociology and Celines’ Journey to the End of the Night. I’m also doing my Spanish daily and taking Japanese lessons with a native speaker. I also managed to catch the Damien Hirst exhibit the other day too. Interesting if not artistically mesmeric.

Academia is a focus right now as I plan my return to graduate studies, hopefully at Leiden to do SE Asian Studies focusing on Indonesia. I’m getting my references from Nottingham. If I don’t get in, I’ll be heading to Kiev, Moscow or Jakarta. Either way I’ll be in Europe for the summer.

Photo1510Next month includes camping in the desert, camel racing and a day trip on a dhow plus I’m on the committee for the work Away Day. On top of all that I have a holiday to arrange. Iran I hope. If not, maybe, maybe Paris. Maybe, maybe.

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