I’m not going to write about the whos that I miss–my family and friends, classmates and teachers–because I think everyone who should know I miss them knows. But while I expected to miss people, I did not expect to miss products. I do not think of myself as someone whose life is defined by things, but if nothing else in Doha made me miss home, realizing I had to cook using someone else’s pan did*. But I was poleaxed by my longing for the following products, if only because I suddenly realized that I used them as keys to my communities–musician, college students, cooks.
- Craigslist. Qatar doesn’t have one. When I figured this out a few months ago, I found myself reconsidering my commitment to Doha. Did I really want to live somewhere where I couldn’t browse the listings for a bike to fix up or a voice teacher? How was I supposed to attach myself to communities I wanted to participate in without a functioning community forum? The nearly $1,500 I had spent on the trip at that point halted my musings, but it was not until that moment that I realized how thoroughly I depend on Craigslist to navigate my community.
- Hulu*. Last semester I used TV how many of my friends used beer–to relax after a hard day, create a context for socializing, and gain some shared social experience. I connected with the divas in my opera on nothing so thoroughly as Glee, and friday night Dollhouse was a staple of my weekend social schedule. While I have not investigated what western syndicates are operating here in Doha, being unable to access my TV when I want it is troublesome.
- Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. When I moved into my apartment, a previous tenant had left a strange assortment of dry goods–two large bottles of lemon juice, three tall extra-virgin olive oil bottles, and four glass bottles of maple syrup. No pepper or baking soda. Shopping at the downtown Carrefour, I spent nearly 20 minutes desperately trying to find baking soda. It turns out it was just under my nose–but 1) it was not in a yellow box and 2) it was called “Bicarbonate of Soda“. These factors made it invisible to me.
Perhaps “miss” isn’t quite the right phrase: the absence of each of these things provoked a flash of isolation, a feeling of separation quite different from the warm welcoming I feel most of the time when I am here (I must have accepted more rides from acquaintances in the past week than I did in all of last semester). It passes (the world isn’t that different here) but as irrational feelings go, this one is strange.
*Hulu is not accessible because of my region. See the notice below:
*But since I’ve perfected my frog-in-a-hole technique in the pan here, I think I have spiritually subdued it and can now call it mine.
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese