In the summer of 2001 I boarded a near-empty Qatar Airways flight to Doha. Reuniting with my family who’d recently moved there for my father’s new job, it was my first time living abroad.
My first weeks in Doha were about as pleasant and stress free as I could have hoped for. I lived with my family in an expat compound called Beverly Hills Gardens, a fifteen minute drive from the city’s commercial district. Row after symmetrical row of terracotta villas, it had everything young unemployed me could have possibly needed. A gym, saunas, squash courts, a small shop and a gargantuan swimming pool complete with wooden bridge. Not to mention an illuminated waterfall that came on in the evenings.
Then there was our home, a massive space that easily housed my parents, brother, sister, dog and I, without ever feeling restrictive or cramped. Whenever I felt the need to escape this suburban bubble, I’d grab a lift into town with my dad. Or hail one of the many orange-white taxis driven by Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans.