Saturday, 4 April 2009

Lazy weekend

After a fairly manic week work-wise I've been pretty much just chilling out this weekend. Yesterday I got up late, walked the length of the Corniche (the promenade) from my hotel all the way to West Bay and the City Centre Mall. I hadn't originally intended to walk this far but getting a taxi seemed an impossible task and once I'd got so far I thought I'd just carry on. Plus the weather at the moment means walking is bearable, so I better make the most of it while I still can.

There are only a few malls here, which is nice considering I was expecting something like Dubai, with it's 20-odd behemoths to conspicuous consumerism. City Centre has a large cinema, so I went to see Monsters vs Aliens, an enjoyable animated film a la The Incredibles. It almost felt like I was in Muswell Hill Odeon for a while.

Thursday night was spent with a few guys from work getting a curry at the Ramada, which seems increasingly like the focal point for apres-work activities, followed by a few pints of Fosters at the bargain price of £5 a pint - the cheapest beer I've found so far. I did sample the Guinness at the Ramada last week and was rather impressed with it. I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do today, though they've just started to do a lunch buffet at the hotel, so I suppose I should give it a try.

Speaking of accommodation, if all goes to plan I should be moving into the Al Seal Residences in the very near future. The bank has an apartment there which will be vacated shortly (if it hasn't already) so West Bay here I come! It's fantastic news because I don't need to pay a deposit, only have to give 3 months notice to leave (when Jenny comes out we'll probably look for something bigger) and I don't need to pay the difference between my housing allowance and whatever the rent is there. So I'm feeling pretty chuffed with that.

Also, I've just got my residence permit - apparently in record time of under 3 weeks! So I can get a Qatari driving license and finally get some wheels. Without a car you are just so stuck here. Sometimes, like yesterday, taxis are impossible to flag down. I need to figure out whether I'm going to buy, or if I can lease - which would probably be easier. Technically you're not allowed a car loan until you've worked for 6 months, but I could lease for a couple of months until I've saved up enough for a second hand car. At this point in time I have no idea who road tax, mot or insurance works over here, so I have a bit of investigating to do.

My boss has just gone on holiday, so I'm in charge for the week. Ironically just after he left on Thursday we had a major problem in that our external IP address for sending email was blocked by a number of spamlists. The likely cause is a trojan somewhere in our network, so my priority for the week is to make sure our AV is up to date, and covers every machine, plus sort out our Windows patching. It's a mess at the moment, but hopefully won't take too much to fix. In the meantime we've been unblocked and started routing email over a different IP just in case. It feels good to be getting stuck into things though - but in some respects it's difficult to decide where to start first!

One of my camera lens' has gone kaput. I've managed to locate a shop that should be able to fix it though (or the cost will outweigh purchase price of a new one, but hopefully not). I don't think it was the sand or heat, but I can't rule it out. Oh, and the LCD screen on my little camera has a thick line of knackered pixels running across it. That was definitely the heat as I've been carrying it around with me in my work bag. Foolish man.

It's a real shame you can't get any English papers here because a lazy day flicking through the Independent would be right up my street. I'm finding I'm listening to 6Music online a lot, it's a good slice of normality and the only real way I'm going to find out what's going on in the world. Not that it matters here I suppose.

Anyway, what should I do today? Lunch then wander into town? I suppose I should also tell the hotel I'll be staying for a few more days. I think they might be a bit surprised.

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