November 1, 2006. 2:00 p.m.
The moment I entered Qatar. It was a clear cut day with blue skies and bright sunshine. We stopped for a while and I was walking along the Qatari border and I felt like a stranger in this unknown land, felt like an alien who had invaded this unknown planet. Everything felt strange and odd. Even the blue sea felt like a stranger to me. I was a stranger in the city. That day changed my whole life. I did not know it at that moment but my perspective of life changed.
Things happen to you all the time and they happen for a reason even though you may not realise it at that moment. Some things are good, some are bad but for me this was the worst. For years I had travelled and lived in K.S.A. Now I was in a place I had never heard of. All I saw was a road ahead stretched to the longest point imaginable to me. I thought what had made me come into this land of strangers. I hated it at first sight. I mean, come on from my point of view, I was forced to leave everything behind, my awesome school, my friends, my skating team and my home. K.S.A was home. All I had now left were memories. I was filled with hatred towards this small land. I thought that I wouldn’t last here long and then I would go back but I was proven wrong.
During the ride in the city, whenever I looked out of the car, all I saw were big ugly Land Cruisers surrounding me. They were everywhere and I thought don’t these people have any other car. Then I was stuck in the traffic jam. Ugh. I hated it even more. The scenario of the city was so ugly, there were construction signs everywhere and digging was going on. The skyscrapers did not appeal to me. To me it looked like they are falling on you.
November 22, 2006
First day at the new school. Everyone remembers their first day at a new school. I for one will never, ever forget mine. It made everything worse. Being the new kid at school is horrible but being a complete stranger in an unknown desert is so much worse. New country, new city, new house, new school, new classmates, it was too much for me to take in at once.I hated to get up in the mornings and go to school because for me school was torture. I was just so different from the others there.
Even the corniche with its skyscrapers, bizarre lights and palm island didn’t appeal to me. I felt like I didn’t belong here.I just couldn’t understand the mystery behind it. Why people loved this strange and small land? What was there that I was missing? My evenings were spent in playing basketball with my brothers because I had nothing else to do.
But one day, I don’t exactly remember which one, everything changed. That was the day I met her. My first actual friend in Qatar. She was very ordinary but among her I found something special. That was our friendship. I don’t remember how we became friends but I remember all those days with her. Day by day, I felt less like a stranger and more at home. Sharing lunch, eating Doritos, laughing at silly jokes and sitting in the forbidden grassy land became a routine and I had fun. She became a part of my life. She meant the world to me because among her I had found my happiness. I found myself opening to her. She became my best pal. We used to roam aimlessly in the school grounds. We used to do forbidden things and break the rules. But life became fun. It became beautiful. I forgot my lonely stranger days and looked forward to the happy fun days. Sitting together, sharing the latest Hollywood gossip, chatting, reviewing the latest watched movies became our routine.
At night, I roamed in Abu Hamour doing a little sight seeing on the bonnet of our car. I learnt to drive my dads Mercedes at 11 near the Qatari border.
The land I hated at first, I fell in love with it the next. This city which was like a stranger to me became my best friend. I fell in love with the sunsets and sunrises of this little magical land. Playing golf and swimming in its clubs became my hobbies. To this day I have never understood its magic.
Now if I have a million opportunities, I wouldn’t even think about going back. I fell in love with its people, its sand, its beaches, its falling over skyscrapers and not to forget its cars. Roaming on its streets late at night, getting caught in the rains, I love it.
Many people come and go from this land, some admire it, some like it, some find it boring, some hate it but some like me, fall in love with it.
P.S. Dedicated to Zartasha Arooj Shahid, a friend who I loved more than anything else. This is something I wrote a long time ago.