More of the weird and wonderful

It occurred to me that I hadn’t updated this blog for some time, and I’m wondering if I’m finally getting ‘used’ to things around here. What I am used to is things not making sense, never knowing when someone will spontaneously close their shop doors for the day, the crazy aggressive drivers that drive on sidewalks and on the wrong sides of the roads, etc. etc.

The temperature and humidity are rapidly rising (it was 40C today on April 24) and soon walking outside for more than 5 minutes will be unbearable. But, today, in a friend’s car, we drove past something I saw months ago and it gave my head a shake. I didn’t have my camera then, but I did today.

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What you’re looking at is a row of drive through ATMs from every bank in the country. In the middle is the drive through payment kiosk for paying internet and cell phone bills. The ATMs and banking situation is fascinating – I can use any ATM anywhere in Doha and never incur any banking fees. Something about Shari’a banking laws and banks not allowed to charge fees. So, you can lineup all the ATMs and use which ever one you want. And you can line those ATMs up at a gas station (where someone pumps your gas), with a strip mall behind it.

And then there’s that payment kiosk for our internet services. In Canada, we’ve been getting bills for our utilities by email for a few years now. Still, many people continue to get their utility bills in the mail. And in Canada we can get our bills in the mail because we have house addresses. No such thing exists here. Nor do zip codes or postal codes. My apartment building has a name, and nothing more. All I can do is use landmarks and intersections to give taxi-drivers directions. I get absolutely no mail, and nor does anyone else. This city of 2.6 million has more central post office and that’s it.

So – yesterday I got a text message from Ooredoo – the state internet provider – reminding me that my monthly payment was do. I now need to either go to a kiosk and make a cash deposit or go to their online site and do a bank transfer. Because I’ll never get a bill in the mail!


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