Dreadful Day in Doha – 3D

I’m finally reading a book that’s been in my library for years. It’s called Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott) and it’s about writing. She says to write every day (I’m going to aim at three times/week, don’t tell her). Write about anything, she says, any part of life, memories, dreams, paint a picture for someone, take them there…just write.

Don’t worry…I’m not going to blog every time I write.

Yesterday was eventful here though. It was the kind of day that had lots of excitment and emotions. So if you don’t mind….I’m going to paint the picture for you.

Dreadful Day in Doha – 3D.

Yesterday, Honour was supposed to have 2 wisdom teeth out. She and I were on the way to the dentist, in the car, looking for food (she hadn’t eaten yet…like a teenager). She said something about the drugs she was going to get and I said ‘no, honey, you’ll be completely numb but you’ll be awake, no drugs’…apparently Dave told her she’d have drugs. He wasn’t even in the appointment so how would he know?! Nobody said anything to me about drugging her. I know they want her awake. Anyhow…she started to panic. Cry. Tremble. She got so scared. She just wasn’t prepared for this.

I was trying to talk her down. She won’t feel pain, it’ll be ok. She’s going to be alright. When….our car was hit from behind.

doha trafic

The kind of chain reaction you can so easily imagine happening often here in Doha. We were the last car in the chain so it wasn’t a big bump at all. Neither of us was hurt in the slightest but the already shaken up Honour didn’t need this.

doha traffic

I was just reassuring her that it was alright, we were ok, nothing serious, when a man came running up to our car, tapped on our window and said “call an ambulance there’s a man on a motorcyle under the truck two cars back!”  I jumped out of the car and ran back. I stopped just before I went around the last truck, aware that there was a possibility that there might be something there I’d never be able to “unsee”. I looked back at our car and mouthed to Honour “stay in the car”….someone had already called an ambulance and the police were there very quickly.  In the meantime someone jumped out of a car and started reefing on the motorbike…this seemed unwise to me, not knowing the extent of the injuries, but he pulled the man out and he hobbled over to the grassy median and sat under a palm tree. He’s a very lucky young man. I watched for a few minutes and made sure he was mostly alright. He was rubbing his hand and one leg but he was ok. It’s a dangerous job here. All the food delivery seems to be done on motorcycles that weave in and out of traffic. I’ve often said, “I wouldn’t do that job to save my life.”

I headed back to our car…to find Honour hyperventilating, having a full on panic attack. “Is he dead? Is someone dead?”  I didn’t realize that she hadn’t seen him walk away. Poor thing.

We had to sit there for quite sometime while reports were written, accounts were told by all parties and waivers were signed for the ambulance attendants – no, we didn’t need to go to the hospital. The time lapsing was a good thing. Honour was gaining a little stability and the need for them to let us go so we could find a bathroom and some food was eclipsing the trauma. As we sat we called the dentist who said ‘take your time.’ Breathe.

Finally we were allowed to leave and continue on our now urgent quest for a bathroom and food and to get to the dentist. I was still doing lots of calming talk for Honour but of course inside I was dealing with my own jitters. Every car that came near (and we were in high traffic time) I could feel my heart beat pick up. But I was ok. I was ok. I was ok.

Each food vendor we drove by was turned down…’do you want to eat that?’ ‘how does that look?’…she was starving but nothing looked like something she could eat. I knew how she felt.

In the sky a huge plume of dark smoke billowed over some buildings. Honour let out a yell…”Mom, what is that?!! This is a terrible day! It’s a sign! I shouldn’t have my teeth out today! I’ll probably die! What is that smoke?!”  I continued to reassure her. It probably looked worse than it was. (Turned out to be a bus on fire, at a construction site).

doha fire

It seemed that every turn we took was wrong, we drove by turns we should have taken, making us have to double back. All in thick traffic. I put the car in reverse once when I was pulling out of a parking spot that I had to go forward in and almost hit the car behind me. It was exhausting.

Finally we arrived at The Mall. Yes, it’s literally called “The Mall”.  We wondered if it was called that because it was the first one in Doha? I dropped her off at the door so she could run to the bathroom. Cars behind began impatiently and persistently beeping their horns. I jumped and gasped at the sound. It was jarring, abrasive, and I was in no mood. I proceeded and parked. One of the rude, honking cars parked beside me. It was an if-looks-could-kill moment and they got the full force of my highly developed skills in this area.

At some point in the next few moments the dentist called and said ‘we’re about to close, why don’t you reschedule.’ I was relieved. Honour had mixed feelings about it as she was still bracing herself and trying to make herself ready to get it over with. We were both feeling quite weak so I think it was really for the best. Funny though, once I didn’t need to be the calming agent in this percolating situation, my legs became like rubber and my hands started to shake. This is how I knew we were safe. Aftershock. This is always my response to trouble. Keep everyone calm. When the worst is over….crumble.

But we weren’t home free yet…

So we went into The Mall. Sat down. Ate some dinner and tried to collect ourselves. Our dinner went down…kind of shaky. We walked around the mall. We tried to see a movie for distraction but nothing good was on. We tried to be interested in shopping but neither of us could really engage. But we walked and talked and moved around the mall waiting for the knots in our stomach to disappear, the almost-17-year-old occasionally holding my hand. When does that happen? We both knew, but weren’t saying, that we were just avoiding the long drive home through the Thursday afternoon traffic. We were about as far from home as you can get in Doha and I knew no other way than straight through the traffic.

At some point we knew. It wasn’t going to get any better. We were delaying the inevitable. When the exhaustion of wandering the mall and pretending it was a normal day got too hard to do, the drive home seemed a better option. Let’s get this over with.

There were a few spectacular examples of bad driving on the way home. We were cut off a couple of times. This is normal. To be expected. Today, it produced an overreaction every time. The incredible thing was…that while traffic was gridlocked everywhere, we were amazed at how our lanes had a lot of space in them. I don’t know if we were going the opposite way of the majority of people needed to go, or if there were a hoard of angels circling our car…I picture them pointing at the other cars, eyebrows raised saying “don’t even think about coming near here”.

Here’s what I love about days like this. (Oh yes…there’s almost always an upside).

When you’re shaken, little things don’t matter anymore. Life gets really bare-bones-no-frills-stripped-clean real. The important things take their rightful place once again. The things I was mad at Honour for in the morning were not important now. Our car getting bumped was not important. Holding hands was important. Telling each other that we were ok, taking care of each other’s emotional state, that was important.

My husband, who had been staying in close contact the whole time by phone, was waiting for us, well past dinnertime. “Should we stop and get you some supper?” ….”No, just get home.” Being together and safe, this is important.

Home, sweet home, is important. Breathing is important.

Doing something exciting to start the weekend…even watching a movie…NOT IMPORTANT!! Not even possible. Not yesterday. I was in bed and asleep by 9:15 letting sweet sleep wash over my body and administer recovery to every cell.

This morning…the sun is shining and it’s a new day.

Thank goodness!

New day...home sweet home.

New day…home sweet home.


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11 responses to “Dreadful Day in Doha – 3D

  1. Lourdes Torres

    Wow… what a day, my friend!! I’m so glad to read everything is fine for both of you now. Have an un-eventful weekend!! 😉 Lourdes

    Lourdes Torres-Pocklington Sent from my iPhone

  2. Karen O

    I love your view on the world. You are a wise woman! You also have a rare talent of painting a vivid picture. I felt I was with you in that traffic and felt the dread as you were about to look at what could have been a horrific sight. As I was reading I was thinking there is an angel with them…and then you said it. I’ve come to believe that those days that seem horrible are actually days where we should feel blessed that there was an angel there protecting us. But I guess it’s only in reflection that we see it. Take care…and have a beautiful, peaceful weekend. ((HUGS))

  3. Crazy day! Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you guys are ok! (I hope the next version of the wisdom teeth out is less eventful!) Make it a great day! Johnny

  4. Lynda Carlyle

    💖Pls tell me you are all, all better today xo
    Date: Fri, 3 May 2013 06:37:33 +0000
    To: lynda.carlyle@hotmail.com

  5. I’m gob-smacked. You re-told it wonderfully and I ‘leaned in’ to hear how it all worked out – greatly relieved for you both.

  6. Wow… what a story!

    I like your commitment to writing 3x a week… that’s a pace I think I could handle these days as well.

  7. Wow. Glad you’re okay. I dread the day we get in an accident. Because living here, it’s generally a “when” and not an “if.” Hugs to you and Honour! (aw, heck, throw one in for Dave too) 🙂

  8. Julia

    I read your blog regularly, and rarely comment, although I know I should comment more, because so often your stories have such an impact on me. I even find myself repeating them to Steven at dinner – “Wow, I have to tell you what happened to Tracie” or “Tracie has such a great perspective on the classroom, today she said…”. He smiles at me like I am a lunatic, but he listens too 🙂
    I love your writing style. I really feel like I am in the moment with you – thank you for that from this armchair traveller.
    What a rough day you had!! The love your family shares is so evident, bad and good times!!
    Keep sharing your incredible life, opening my eyes to the other side of the world, and giving me conversation topics for dinner.

    • Hi Julie,

      I had no idea you were one of my readers! Much less that you retold my stories at dinner. I feel so honoured.
      It’s nice to have you along for the ride (and to know you’re along for the ride!)

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