Leaving Doha

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Dearest Doha,

Three years of living with you comes to a close this Monday when I fly home to the great state of New Jersey (and no, I’m not being facetious). It feels a bit surreal that I’m writing about the closing of this life chapter. So much has changed since first coming here in July 2014, not the least no longer being as much of the timid young man I used to be.

When I first landed you truly fucked with my mind: the construction everywhere; the lack of centralized information about getting stuff done (like how to get a driver’s license or getting Internet in your apartment); the bureaucracy; etc. I didn’t know at the time how to cope with this type of chaos on a daily basis; in my defense, this is my first time being an expatriate. It probably didn’t also help that I was leaving behind a fairly organized, well-planned big city in the US, Washington, DC.

I remember many days coming home totally drained by the simplest things, such as going to the grocery store or work – driving here, for those who haven’t been, makes NYC traffic seem easy to handle. Over time this and other tasks would become easier and now, at the end of my stay, it’s something I’ll miss.

I’ll miss the chaotic nature of life with you with all of your quirks, be it getting lost somewhere because Google Maps hasn’t updated to account for the newly opened road or the hum of your crowded streets in an older section of the city. These are things that no guidebook will ever tell you about. It’s the messy, frantic, bursting-at-the-seams, oft-missed parts of you that I’ve come to love over my three years of being here. Give me this over any glitzy mall or American-style planned community that tries to project a pristine version of the city.

Doha, I love how much of a hot mess you can be sometimes, even when you stress me out or don’t seem to make sense. Retain your character; don’t sacrifice it for the pursuit of some lofty dream of “perfection.”

Before I go, I leave you with these words that seem appropriate for saying adieu:

“I’ve lived through days
And I’ve lived through nights
I’ve had my loves
and I’ve had my fights.
You’ve got to know, you have my heart.”

With love,

Andrew


A nearly emptied apartment at Al Mana Residences, my home for almost two years.

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