My day started out like normal; Isabelle waking, then fed & changed. I put her on the blanket on the floor, checking that all hard toys were in front of her and any potential danger was at least 5 feet away on all sides. This is my secret recipe for taking a shower so fast that only a mother of a baby could understand. After showering & getting dressed, we called Haroon to pick us up. To my surprise, when we got outside it was someone else from the car service company. I asked him if I could hire the car by the hour, in order to leave the carseat in the car (like I do with Haroon); he nodded and said "okay." Highly suspect of him actually comprehending what I said I went with it. Meanwhile, the lovely bellmen were helping out by holding Isabelle & loading the trunk with all of our stuff, while I was making arrangements with the driver & installing the carseat. Once we got to City Center Mall, where we were meeting for the Mommy & Me coffee morning, the following conversation with the driver ensued:
I said, "Thanks. What is your number so I may call you when we're ready to go?"
He nodded and said "okay."
Hmmm. I asked "Do you have a mobile number, so that I can call you when we're done?"
He said "10 minutes?"
Right. "I'm not sure how long we'll be, how would you like me to reach you when we're done?"
He nodded and said "okay."
Thinking back to the learning curve I had with Haroon, I recalled the drivers are fairly efficient in speaking in time incriments. So I said, "1 hour or 2 hours or maybe even 3 hours."
A saw a new flash of comprehension in his eyes and thought that was promising. He said, "okay...here?" As in where he was dropping us off would be where he would pick us up.
"Yes, thank you." Then I held up my mobile and he followed my lead by writing his number on a card so I could call him when I was ready.
This, by George, is how you get things done. Proud of the effective language barrier dance we had, I opened the trunk & flipped open the Maclaren, which we broke out for the first time today because of our ginormous bag of dry-cleaning/alterations (think largest bag from Duane Reade).
Something seemed missing - stroller, carseat, bag of dry-cleaning/alterations, purse, baby...where's her diaper bag? I'll spare you from the profanity that came to mind at the thought of having to turn around and go back to the hotel (google 'traffic in doha' and you'll know what I mean). Wondering where, on the child-abuse scale, letting your child sit in her poo for a few hours ranked, I put Isabelle back in the carseat. While I took a deep breath, I realized that I didn't know how to fold the Maclaren back up. Maclaren Quest. I thought the sole purpose of these strollers was the ease of flipping them open and shut. For the life of me I couldn't figure out how to close this thing, complicated by the fact we were in a no holding zone in front of the mall. I released every lever I could find but it was stubbornly staying locked open, though loose everywhere. Finally a kick to the right and something happened. Going on the longest 3 minutes of my life I decided not to look into what I had done differently and folded it up, and tried not to throw it in the trunk and slam the hood.
Now, back in the car with both Isabelle & the driver looking thoroughly confused, I asked to go back to the Somerset. When we arrived, the sweet bellmen were then the third and fourth people to look at me confused when I mentioned the baby bag left behind. One of the guys hopped down to the car and pointed to the front seat. Right. There it was all along. Okay driver, back to the City Center Mall.
45 minutes late to the Mommy & Me group, and I thought 'not too bad' all in all. Once we were in Starbucks with 3 of the moms & their babies, I got my iced Americano, whole milk on the side, settled into the chair with my amazing baby in my lap and tried not to be obvious as I was willing my heart-rate to take it down a notch. It eventually did. That was until one of the moms mentioned that she thought there weren't more moms there because of the health hazard associated with the horrendous sandstorm going on in Doha. Great. After I counted at least 10 other babies come through the coffee shop, I started to relax again and thought if the health hazard was that bad, then why are all these babies still out? Fine with my justification of dragging Isabelle out on a day like this, & considering there was nothing I could do about it now anyway, we spent the next hour or so laughing and playing with other babies. It just so happened that 2 of the 3 moms there were American, so we talked especially American-centric...in Starbucks. It was funny, for a milisecond I forgot we were in Doha.
When it was time to wrap up, I snapped Isabelle into the Maclaren, taking note that I need to adjust the straps of the harness since they are currently at the default-factory setting - more in line with the top of her head, no where near her shoulders. Got the huge bag of laundry/alterations and headed off to find the tailor/dry-cleaners in the mall. Eventually found a tailor, but he doesn't do dry-cleaning. In fact, I don't think he even does women's tailoring but made an exception for me. I must have had that desperate look. As we were ready to leave with our bag of dry-cleaning, I got a call from Roxanne saying that I left Isabelle's hat & my wallet in Starbucks. Eager to relieve Roxanne of baby-sitting my belongings, I asked the guy for a receipt or a slip, figuring I would need to produce something upon pick-up of my tailored items. I asked, "do I need anything when I pick-up my clothes?"
He nodded and said "okay."
What is it with people just agreeing with me when I'm asking a question that requires an answer?!
Finally I pulled out a card from my purse (the one from the driver) & pointed to it, figuring he would get an idea of what I was saying. Nope. He hands me a business card from the shop. Fine. So I left and I hope we see our clothes again one day.
Then I ran down, got my wallet & Isabelle's hat, thanked Roxanne – bordering on profusely – and headed over to Qtel as I only had 4QR on my pre-paid phone card, (which is basically $1). Getting into the perma-long line to the ATM-like machine to top-off my phone card, I knelt down thanking Isabelle for being such a star, kissed her and jiggled a toy in front of her. When it was my turn, I got to the screen and it was all in Arabic. Uhhhh… Looking around, I was about to grab the friendliest-looking person to translate for me when suddenly the screen went English/Arabic mix. I figured it had to have an English option. Anyhow, proceeding rather smoothly on my first attempt at charging my phone Qtel style, I was thinking “how user friendly!” Then it asks you to enter your cell phone number. Sounds reasonable, right? Except for I forgot what my number is since I never call myself. So as the line of white throbes & black abayas were growing long behind me, I called Richard at work to get my number & I think I accidentally hung up before saying good-bye. All topped-up, our next stop was Carrefour.
After getting more sweet potatoes to boil for Isabelle, shampoo & conditioner, we go to check out. The total came to 60.50QR, and I gave her a 500QR note. Curious what a .50QR would look like, since I’ve never even seen QR coins before (I actually didn’t think coins existed as everything normally ends in full denominations), the cashier gives me 439QR and a candy bar from behind the register. Apparently .50QR comes in the shape of a candy bar. With my change and candy bar, I said “thanks,” and thought it a good time as any to wrap up and head home.