24 March 2019

A Stopover in Qatar: Hanging Out with Family

After spending the day sight-seeing, I then spent some time with family. During the evening, I was picked up by my uncle from my hotel and we headed out first to their flat, and then to dinner. It was fun just catching up, I must say, given that I haven't seen him for a very long time.

I have an aunt and uncle who lives in Qatar. From what I gather, my uncle has been working in the Middle East for quite a while now, from Kuwait, to Saudi Arabia, and then to Qatar. My cousins were all at some point living in the Middle East, only going back to the Philippines for the holidays, or to attend university. Currently, it seems that only one of my cousins are in Qatar, living together with her husband and baby in the same flat as my uncle and aunt.

As much as I was very glad to see them, there's still plenty of things that make me realise that I have a different lifestyle than them. Even my uncle agrees: he says that they always found it very important to stick together, even though there's now three generations living in one household. I would find that very uncomfortable but apparently for them it works. There are also things that I learned about them, which was very positive in my opinion. I didn't realise how open-minded they are: I suppose I just didn't have the chance to figure that out, given my limited interactions with them back in the past.

During my visit, my aunt was not there, as she was on vacation in the Philippines, together with my cousin. However, I met my cousin's husband, and together with my uncle, we spent some time together, eating dinner and hanging out in the mall. There's not a lot to do in Qatar, but the malls can be very big.

I missed Filipino food, so we actually went to a Filipino restaurant. That was good. There's a huge Filipino community in Qatar, so everyone in the restaurant pretty much speaks Filipino. You can survive in Qatar existing solely within the Filipino community. It seems there's no need to learn Arabic: even in public places, I saw Qataris interacting with people speaking English.

Life in the Middle East can be hard: someone commented that my cousin's husband looked way older than me, even though he's technically younger. But in any case, it was definitely great to be able to catch up with family. My aunt was super sweet: she told me that I should come visit her either in Qatar or better yet, in the Philippines, and she'll make me my favourite dishes the way she made them when I was a young kid. I didn't make a firm commitment, but nevertheless that was sweet to hear.

2 comments:

  1. How was the family visit planned? Like, did you say "oh, I'll be in Qatar" and they invited you over or did you contact them? I'm curious because I can't imagine "catching up" with relatives I barely know or haven't seen in ages (not sure if that was the case for you here, maybe I'm assuming too much).

    When we went to China in 2014, I was a bit uncomfortable meeting Feng's very extended family because he barely knew them as well. I'm used to hanging out with close relatives (i.e. relatives to whom I'm close, they don't have to be "close" in the family tree!) but the idea of seeing each other just because we are blood relatives is a bit foreign to me. It,s not a cultural thing, though, plenty of French families also visit/host distant relatives.

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    Replies
    1. Zhu,

      I'll tell you in an email. It's better to explain details there. :)

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