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.
The residential blocks of Qatar Aeronautical College were little more than gray characterless slabs, each building an identikit of long, empty corridors with small simple rooms set around a communal lounge and kitchen. ‘‘It doesn’t look like much but it’s actually pretty cosy’’ said Scott in an almost apologetic tone as we stood outside my new room.
I’ve made a mistake I thought flatly, my suitcases slumped at the door like nervous creatures reluctant to go in. When I first moved to Doha I’d shacked up with my family in the luxury of Beverly Hills Gardens. A beautiful expat compound with a pool, fully fitted gym and squash courts. Life had been pretty sweet.
But now, having settled into a teaching job at a local language institute, the time was right to strike out alone and claim some independence. Luckily my decision was made a whole lot easier by my employer’s offer of free lodgings within the college itself.