Assured of a contract for the 2009-10 Joy and I settled ourselves into organising our lives for a full year in the Gulf States.
This meant setting ourselves up to become landlords, clearing our house out to place everything in storage during our absence and ensuring that our estate was to be well managed. This was a task and a half as we moved, packed and sorted out all we had accumulated over the past 11 years in Franco Lane.
While we concentrated on this task the contract negotiations meandered their way through the hallways of the various Government departments in Qatar towards final signatures. This took time and left many of the team in the twilight world of waiting, waiting, waiting for the call to return to the Gulf.
During this hiatus Joy and I, along with the rest of the family, celebrated my father’s 87th birthday in Wanganui. We flew south from Auckland on a typically windy,wet N.Z. winter morning in a small commuter plane which was uniquely suited for flying through up and down draughts. Thanking our lucky stars we weren’t flying Yemini Air and the wings remained on the plane we watched our, thankfully empty, coffee cups fly into the air to bounce onto the heads of those in front as at one stage we dropped several hundred feet to bounce back up through the clouds to resume level flight.
Dad’s birthday celebrations went off well despite Dad having been to New Plymouth to his Brother-in-Law’s funeral on the Friday. As Dad said at his age farewells are more common than celebrations.
Back home Joy and I cranked up the house cleaning and packing in the expectation of the flight back to the Gulf.
At the beginning of August we were all ready, the house rented out for the year, the storage unit booked, the removal men coming in and the tickets in our hands for a flight out on the 19th.
Then, a glitch, a pause, a hiatus, a spanner in the works for some one in Qatar had suddenly decided that it would do our souls good to wait a little longer with a question about several consultants’ ages. At 55+ a small group of us, inn the different consulting teams, suddenly became too old to perform the tasks we’d been competently performing four weeks before and so we were put into the holding pattern while representations were made on our behalves to the Qatari bodies responsible for the contract we were employed under.
This snafu meant that we had to review our options and begin looking to plans B through to Z in case our personal contract could not be fulfilled. Our plans all took us to the UK where, with an EU passport, I could secure work for the 2009-10 academic year as a supply teacher and, if Joy wanted, she, too, can work. So now I registered with half a dozen recruitment agencies and sent my CV to a couple of colleges enquiring about possible job vacancies.
My qualifications and character were being checked out to ensure I was of sufficient good character to minister to the tender psyches where ever I was offered a job.
All that remained was, given that the Gulf contract could not be fulfilled, to make urgent phone calls to relations to beg bed space until Joy and I were in full employment and had secured a flat for ourselves.
On Tuesday (11th) Joy & I went along to Howick College to be properly fare-welled from the staff as I had been merely offered best wishes as I took off on an extended leave in November 2008.
The fare-well speeches were complementary and,as Joy said later, a pleasure to receive. I also ended up with two & half days of cover and the offer of more if we were still around till the end of the month. At least being busy doing something productive kept me from worrying myself into a panic about possibilities that may or may not eventuate.
In the meantime; the management team in Doha continued to make optimistic and pressing representations to allow us to continue through this contract and we practiced deep breathing and patience.
I practiced the deep breathing by doing relief work at Howick and packing all our possessions into the storage unit along the street until, after much deep breathing and other calming techniques, Qatar finally decided that our ages did not weary us and we could continue in our roles as consultants.
This meant that we were finally on our way on the 26th and the associated 28 hours of traveling time once one counted in waiting time for connections and other delays.
Our first encounter with travel delays was at Auckland Airport where the Airport Authority had installed carry on bag weigh people whose job it was was to stop travelers and weigh their hand luggage to ensure it was below 7 kgs. Of course our bags were 3 - 4 kgs over each so it was back to the check in to summon back our suitcases and off load any excess to the lightest case.
After an hour and much argument Joy and I finally succeeded in off loading enough to allow our cargo case to be within limits and our carry on bags to be 7 kg.(as long as we didn’t pack our reading and some miscellaneous items of clothing we couldn’t pack in our main cases, without going over weight, but were needed on arrival in Doha. These we packed into a couple of small hand bags, weighing an extra 2 kgs each, and carried, along with our carry on bags, back to the departure hall where our carry ons were weighed.. they were now 7 kgs each ...and we were allowed through passport control.
Once there we repacked our small hand bags into our carry ons, bringing them back to 9 kgs each, and headed off to our departure lounge and the wait for the off and the 3 hour trip and a 90 minutes transit wait to Sydney.
From Sydney it was a 19 hour flight to Dubai and a 150 minute transit wait until our 45 minute flight to Doha, Ramadaan (22 August - 19th Sept) and 43 C heat.
We were met by Priscilla Ellis and taken to our new apartment at Bin Mahmoud not too far from our familiar area along Al Miqrab Road. This apartment is larger than our Mazda one with the added advantage of neutral furnishings, a land line and a stable internet connection.
Neville Henry, from Mazda, came round and, with his help, we moved the bits and pieces we’d left in 12 to Bin Mahmoud and got in our groceries and supplies. This effort, while not huge in terms of weight and difficulty, was exhausting as the outside air temperature was 43C and, to us, rising.
Anyway, we’re now comfortably established back in Doha and waiting on the arrival of the boxes we freighted up on Tuesday so that Joy can unpack her painting gear, music for the 2009-10 Doha Darlings and I can find any extra teaching materials I’ll need once we start back in the schools sometime next month.