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JustHere | August 23, 2017

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What do you do all day?

What do you do all day?

Whether it’s my neighbours or fellow parents at the school gate, as soon as I tell people that I’m here as my wife’s ‘plus one’ the first thing they want to know is: “What do you do all day?”

And they’re not alone. Friends and family have been pitching variations on the same question ever since I touched down.

Now, full disclosure: I haven’t asked a non-working woman if she gets the same treatment. Not because I’m afraid of putting in some hard research for your reading pleasure, but more because I’m terrified of being slapped.

I mean, it’s not a particularly rude question – it’s usually asked out of genuine curiosity, as if I might spend my mornings dispensing vigilante justice or volunteering as a lifeguard – it’s more the tone it’s asked in, one that leaves the words “…in between drinking coffee and hanging out at the mall” hanging unspoken.

I have no idea if my female counterparts are loitering with intent at the malls all day, because I’m never there myself. I realise this might make me something of an outcast in Doha society, but like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, it’s a role I seem to be playing with increasing frequency.

Before we arrived in Doha, I was genuinely worried about there not being enough to do here. We heard stories of people seeking refuge from the heat in air-conditioned malls and thought: Really? Is that it?

It’s not shopping I’ve been spending every spare second doing since I got here, it’s queueing…

But of course it’s not. No, it’s not shopping I’ve been spending every spare second doing since I got here, it’s queueing. Whether it’s at Immigration, or the police station (multiple visits to pay fines, acquire and renew my driving licence, transfer car ownership, dispute traffic violations) or at Kahramaa or the Medical Examination Centre… Like the queues themselves, it’s never-ending.

So it’s lucky I’m British. Because if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s queueing. If it were an Olympic sport, we’d win gold every time. I take a ticket, fire up Triple Town and watch the hours fly by.

It’s a cultural archetype that means getting beeped a lot when we’re on the roads, because we do silly things like wait patiently for a gap in the traffic before trying to join. But please don’t get mad at us: I’m just attempting to preserve my heritage in the face of overwhelming odds.

And that’s more than enough to be getting on with for one day.

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