1 Dohar Delights
“I`ve done it, I booked my flight, I am flying to Qatar next week. I can`t wait! Do you think you and your fella will get a chance to come out and visit once I am settled?”
“I dunno Frankie. I will try and speak to Phill soon. We could do with a holiday, he works too hard nowadays.” Mo replied. I often asked the advice of my big sister Mo. She knows me better than I know myself.
“You and Phill will love it there fantastic weather, a private pool, 5-star hotel. No pubs mind you but your other half could do with a few weeks off the beer anyway.”
“I `ll run it by him but I can't promise anything. I must admit I fancy a few weeks in the sun away from London.”
I didn't stay chatting to my sister long on the phone. I still had so much to sort out. She would only try and talk me out of it anyway. She has always been the sensible one in our family.
Here I am now sitting by the pool in Dohar, Qatar, with a cold fruit juice in my hand and the sound of wailing in the distance. The sky is a gorgeous clear blue as it is always and it is incredibly hot even at 8.30 in the evening. “What am I doing here anyway?” I reflected for about the tenth time that day. I had lived in a hot climate before in Spain but this was another level. I was starting to have serious doubts about my decision to emigrate to the Middle East and leave my secure job in a college in London behind. It wasn`t like I even had a definite job lined up. The agency just promised me 3 months work teaching English with the accommodation included in the package. It is my first day tomorrow in the school and I don`t know anyone here and I can`t speak a word of Arabic. How bad can it be?
I walked into the spotless classroom expecting to be greeted with a chorus of friendly greetings and fake smiles from disgruntled teachers. They are usually too busy marking or preparing lessons that they hardly have time to even look up. It somehow seemed different here. I was actually made to feel welcome and respected right away.
2 Turkish Delight
After the trauma of my first English lesson on Qatar soil I retreated to the comfort of the staff room to re-group and get my lunch. As I approached the room a dark haired attractive lady smiled and spoke to me in perfect English.
"I know you from somewhere don`t I ?"
"No I doubt it.This is my first day here I only arrived in the country two days ago," I replied. "My name`s Frankie"
"Hi Frankie, I`m Zara. Hope you enjoy working here, don`t worry it is not as scary as you think."
"I`m just going to lunch. Where does everyone usually go?"I asked.
Zara walked with me down a few corridors and showed me into an impressive looking dining area.
"I am busy now," she said, maybe catch up later,"
As I sat in the corner of the cafe area eating my pizza I reflected back on our short conversation earlier. She has got a slight Spanish accent from the Catalan region. She must be in her mid fifties, good figure still, she must be teaching English here too. It was turning into a very interesting first day at the Dohar School of English.
Waiting for me in the warm cosy cafe in Gerard's Cross was Julie. She sat alone in the corner staring out of the window at the busy lunchtime traffic. Will she even want to hear what I have to say after what happened the last time we met, I wondered.Julie is not one to hold a grudge I'm sure she will help me this one last time.
"Hi you look great, "I said. "Can I get you another coffee?"
"No thanks Frankie I can't stay long, "Julie replied. "Long time no see how are you and what's with the late night phone calls? Norman is starting to suspect I'm up to something."
"Look Julie as I told you I know we are over but I need your help. I have to get far away from here and quickly, I pleaded.
Julie was my first real girlfriend we used to be flatmates in a big shared house in Chiswick when we were both working in London. We were only together about 6 months but we remained good friends until she married Norman last year.
"Why you in such a rush to get away? she asked. "I thought you hated
"I can't explain the full story now but I need your help I have to lie low for a while can I move in with your brother in Turkey?"
"I'm in big trouble Julie can you get me on a flight today?" I begged.
Julie wasn't impressed with my behaviour but I managed to convince her that I was deadly serious and she knew I wouldn't contact her out of the blue unless it was extremely important. Julie was wise enough to not quiz me too much for more information, she paid for a flight and arranged for her brother to meet me in a bar in Ankara Turkey later that night. While waiting for her brother, Harry I tried to get my thoughts in order. I had to get rid off my mobile phone and only use the local currency. This secret spy lark was all new to me. If they find me out here I've had it, they won't rest until they get the truth out of me.
Harry kept his part of the deal and before long I was in his truck climbing the steep tracks to his place in the hills.
I was too tired to make much conversation and before long I drifted off to sleep. The next thing I knew I was being woken up outside Harry`s home, which was to become my place of refuge from the madness that was taking over my life.
Harry and I had only ever met once before, briefly at a friend of Julie`s weeding four years ago.Thankfully he isn`t the chatty type so I kept my explanation to the bare minimum as to why I was suddenly coming to stay, without any luggage and no idea of how long I intended staying. He gave me some manual work to do for his building firm so I was able to live with him without the need to use what money was left in my bank account. I was determined not to reveal my whereabouts to anyone. It was not going to be easy I knew that much. After a few weeks I was anxious to discover if anyone had tried to contact my friends to try and discover where I`d disappeared to. There was no point in calling anyone it would only lead to one thing...someone kicking in my door when I`m asleep in bed.
The weeks turned to months and I was starting to feel that maybe this new life in Turkey was going to be OK. I had a job, somewhere to live and the weather was a lot better than back in London. It was the first time since I was a student that I felt physically strong and fit. Working for Harry everyday was demanding and most nights I collapsed into bed exhausted after hours of moving furniture, loading up skips and digging foundations.
Julie sent me a message one day via Harry`s email. She just wanted to let me know that if I needed more money she could send me some. I thanked her but told her I was fine for the time being. That was my first big mistake I shouldn`t have pressed send on Harry`s laptop!