I was moved to my second apartment. It was huge – 3 bedrooms, an airy kitchen with a window view from the 5th floor. But problems arose very quickly. The gym was in another building that was owned by the same landlord. That gym wasn’t open most of the time and most of the equipment was broken down. It was the kind of place that you wanted to take a pressure washer to. The workmanship in the building was pretty sub-standard. Grout crumbled away every time you cleaned the bathroom. Baseboards were falling off, etc.
We had a one of the longest rides to work of all the accommodation sites across town and we got to see first hand the crazy snarled traffic in Doha sitting back on the employee bus to work.
Our biggest problem was not the gym, the commute or the crumbling interiors – it was the overflowing septic systems that existed under each apartment and commercial building in our crowded area of the city. We were on a very minor downhill grade and all that overflow collected in front of our building. It was horrid. I started nicknaming the place ‘The House at Poo Corner.’
You see, there isn’t any real infrastructure as we know it in North America or Europe. Each building owner has to arrange to have his own power and water brought in. You’re just not part of the ‘grid’ by virtue of being a building. And because he (they’re all men) has to bring water and power in, he has to bring things out too. Not only had the building owners up the street cheaped out on the septic systems, we also had squatters in an abandoned and crumbling low-rise building around the corner and overflowing garbage bins on the street.
Every morning, we took pictures and documented. We sent in letters of complaint – to everyone we could think of. Every day, and sometimes numerous times during the day, we all emailed health and safety, facilities, etc. But, because the problem was not our building, but buildings that sat just a little higher than ours, ‘we’ didn’t have a facilities problem.
But, I figured it was my new home and I better get settled in. I had only the SIM card in my smart phone, and no cable TV or Internet, but that’s the way things were. I used my iPhone for a hotspot, when I absolutely needed to, but did It ever suck the life out of my phone. Laptop use was pretty limited still.
I made my first of two major household investments. A top of the line Nespresso single serve coffeemaker and a water cooler. Life was coming together. First, I didn’t have to lug litres of water back to may apartment every 2nd day or so, and in the morning, I could savour a latte.
Bright red – that Nespresso Latissimo coffeemaker cost half a month’s salary, and I will never be able to bring it home (220V versus 110 in Canada). But my oh my, that latte is good each morning.
And now, I had Nestle (yes Nestle foods just like Nestle Quik and Nestle chocolate) delivering water to my flat every week.
All I needed was that precious Residents Permit/QID …
My wish was granted on September 6th. I got a phone call from a member of the immigration team in HR to come and pick up my State of Qatar I.D. Card.
A couple of days later, I headed down to the state internet provider (aka monopoly) and stood in line at what felt like a 3-ring circus act at one of their numerous downtown service locations. Ooredoo, formerly QTel provides land lines, cell phone service and Cable TV. Vodaphone has a toe in the market and can provide cell service to anyone, but they only provide Internet in a small section of the city.
Anyways, after waiting in line for my turn (about 45 minutes), I presented my QID, along with my QTel number and my electricity number, all which are posted on plaques by my apartment door.
Since we don’t have street addresses like other parts of the world, these plaques seem to be the key to locating your dwelling. I signed up for basic service – I figured I could add on once I got the lay of the land. Now, I had to wait. It was a minimum of a one week delay between applying for internet at home and Ooredoo coming to install it. But now I had a date. It was a workday afternoon, but we had all waited so long, having to take an afternoon from work to be connected up seemed very minor. It couldn’t happen soon enough.
Almost as important – I now had the ability to leave the country…
Part 3 coming soon