I’ve been stateside for three weeks now, and realize I still haven’t wrapped up this blog. My last week in Qatar was a blur of packing, goodbyes…and a party at the US Embassy.
It wasn’t as glamorous as it might sound. In fact, it wasn’t glamorous at all. It was kind of like a backyard barbecue party my parents might have––except without the barbecue, and in vastly larger backyard. My friends and I had to pass through three rounds of security to get in. The guards confiscated our cameras and cell phones.
Once inside the grounds, we quickly realized we were the youngest guests at the party. Still, we decided to make the most of the pizza, potato chips and nearly empty dance floor.
I told the DJ that it was my last night in Doha.
“Play something CRAZY!” I yelled over the music. A few songs later, he dedicated Girls Just Wanna Have Fun to me. Not exactly what I had in mind, but it was true: On my last night, I did just want to have fun.
The next morning, I arrived at the airport around 5:30am. I shook Saif’s hand for the last time, and took my last look at the endless desert. I left for Istanbul at 7:30, and met my parents and grandmother there that afternoon. Over the next week, we marveled at the tiles of the Blue Mosque, snapped photos of the cavernous Ayasofia, spent obscene amounts of Turkish Liras in the Bazaar and wandered down Itstiklal Street. After a recommendation by the hotel concierge, we even decided to clean up at a Turkish bath––this experience is not for the easily embarrassed. Let’s just say this: there was a lot of soap and unexpected nakedness from several different parties. I did, however, come out feeling quite clean.
Though I was only there a week, Istanbul was a vital part of my time abroad. Since it’s the only city in the world that straddles Asia and Europe, it became the most tangible part of my transition from east to west.
I miss Qatar’s majestic sand dunes, superb hummos and astonishing hospitality. I miss my friends, the idyllic weather and the strange characters who wandered into my life each day. As I get ready to graduate in June, I’m uncertain about many aspects of my future. I’m sure, however, that I want to go back to the Middle East as a journalist. Inshallah, I’ll be there again someday soon.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Ma’Salaama!