Khalas

April is the final month. It seems to have taken a long time but it’s finally here. I am flying out tonight after final drinks and meet with friends. The apartment is empty. The windows are now sealed shut. The air-con is on and would stay on for the next 5 months should I stay. But I’m not going to. The fridge is empty. The bag is packed. I even swept the floor of the ever-accumulating dust. It’s halas time.

While its slowed in pace as rapidly as the weather heats up in April (32C to 42C), my mind moved from confusion to clarity. Confusion reigns over whether I was doing the right thing here and there but when I sent my belonging through the post and said goodbye to the staff yesterday and the diplomats today I felt sad but clear. The mind is as clear as the city is covered in haze. From May onwards Qataris start taking holidays and the country becomes much quieter heading into Ramadan. Only the lesser off remain. The city (and therefore the country) is left to survive the summer heat usually heading towards 50C every day.

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But April itself has been interesting.  We kayaked in the mango groves watching the sun set. I drove a powerboat and tried some Arabic (Lebanese and Egyptian) dancing after a fair bit of tequila. The museum held an exhibit documenting the history of chess and other board games which was surprisingly interesting. They all date back to India but the rules were drafted in Persia. Some of the pieces and boards dated back to the 9th century. I walked and ran a lot. Friends exchanged meals and we said fond farewells. The souq held some celebrations. My happiest memory was going out with the Sri Lankan houseboys to eat their food. I wanted Sri Lankan food I never saw when I visited and they came through. Hopas, egg, plain or string will stay with me. Thank you.

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The summer promises to be fun. I’ve much to decide regarding where the next job will be. I could come back but leaving right now is the right action. What happens next is the next confusion but a few simple decisions I’ve put off for months and all will be fine. First it’s to Moscow and St Petersburg to meet Polina and Ekaterina. Then onto the wedding in Serbia, a trip into Montenegro and finally back to the UK for interviews, awaiting university decisions and a general refocus. 18 months might not seem like a lot but it is here in the desert. Time for some greenery. I’ll see if I miss the place.

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