The population of Qatar is approaching one million persons, about 80% of those persons being expatriates (expats, for short--people who live outside their home country). Of all the expats here, most of the workers seem to be men, leaving lots of expat wives in the mix with little to do (other than shop) while the kids are in school. To remedy this, numerous women's groups have popped up around town: American Ladies Group, South African Ladies Group, AUZIQ (for Australians and Kiwis), Spanish-speaking Ladies, Expat Women, Tuesday Morning Ladies...and of course, there are the company-specific wives' groups as well. This week, Jennifer and Ellie attended two such groups: the company wives' coffee morning and the Tuesday Morning Ladies Group coffee morning and fashion show. For those of you lacking in excess comedy these days, read on for an account...
First, the company group. Oh my. In the past, I've avoided those coffee mornings entirely, assuming they simply wouldn't be my kind of thing. However, being new to Qatar and finding very little else to do here, I decided to give it a try. Let's just say my initial assumption held. It really wasn't my kind of thing. Although I was dressed in "smart casual", I was the only one not wearing a skirt or dress. The other ladies weren't very friendly. Making conversation was painful! No one seemed to want to meet new people...so, as the new people, we were left with no choice but to exit stage right after about 15 minutes.
Next, the Tuesday Morning Ladies. I have found a good friend in another American woman here in the Ritz, and she invited us to come along with her to try out this group. She had met a wonderful Scottish woman who recommended it, so we thought we'd give it a try. Oh my again. And again. We arrived at the Ramada for the coffee morning, and the room was a relatively small conference room with low ceilings and not much A/C...and it was packed with ladies, most of whom are at least 20 years older than I am. Again, not too many people wearing trousers or jeans. My claustrophobia (and general fear of lots of expat ladies in small quarters) kicked in immediately and I had the overwhelming urge to flee at top speed...except I'd come with a friend and was trapped. Instead, I opted to have some tea, which had cost me an unexpected fee at the door (QR 10 for tea, QR 10 because I wasn't a member, and QR 10 for charitable funds). There were indeed many cups, saucers and tea bags available...but no more hot water, so no tea. Alas. Just as I began to twitch with anxiety, a very proper English old biddy (picture Hyacinth Bucket, for those who are familiar) stepped up to the podium and says above the din of expat ladies' chatter, "I'm waiting...for silence." Now, we are in elementary school. It only got better. She went on with the morning's announcements, including disdain for the Ramada, which seems to be booked (heaven forbid!) at the time of the next Tuesday Morning Ladies' Group meeting, so "we must have an outing". Though inexact, her speech pretty much went as follows (to be read in a high British accent): "The outing will be a beauty day at two salons in the Royal Plaza. We will be divided into two groups on the day, and you will not be allowed to choose your group. Remember this if you come with a friend! You might not be in the same group and that is just how it is, ladies. No quabbling about it! The beauty morning will begin at 9:30. That's 9:30, ladies! NOT 9:15. NOT 9:45. NINE. THIRTY." By now, I'm giggling. Then, the fashion show began. About ten of the ladies had volunteered to model fashions that were...shall we say...for a different age group and taste than mine. Then, there was a little raffle for charity and it was over. Something tells me that the Tuesday Morning Ladies Group isn't really my thing either.
On the drive home, my friend's husband called her cell phone to see how it went. She gave a brief synopsis and concluded with, "Where are all the young, fun expat wives??!!" His response was, "In your car right now."
The man has a point.