File picture: Jack Lestrade.
File picture: Jack Lestrade.

Back to school nerves and traffic jams

By Ridwaan Bawa Time of article published Sep 7, 2018

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Beep! Beep! Beep! The noise in the children’s bedrooms grows increasingly louder until, abruptly, it stops. 

That means the alarms have been switched off and the kids should be awake. In a few minutes, Aqeel, Saabirah and Yaqeen will emerge tired, nervous and more than a little excited, ready to tackle the new school year in Qatar.

Getting back into a daily routine after a summer holiday that has lasted almost three months won’t be easy. Back to school isn’t always cool, at least not in the searingly hot Gulf summer months. The Qatar school academic school year runs from late August or early September until June, and there tends to be an exodus of expats from the country as soon as the schools shut. To maximise time away, my family and I opted to travel back to Qatar only a couple of days before schools opened. The taxi queues that greeted us at the airport seemed to indicate that most families had done the same, with the hustle and bustle adding to the frenetic feeling we had of quickly needing to get everything in order before normal life resumes. And, of course, adjusting to the traffic again. The construction taking place all over Qatar means traffic is a challenge at the best of times. When you factor in parents rushing to drop their kids off at school, things can get a little hairy, with the government actually issuing a traffic advisory urging motorists to drive carefully and not put children at risk.

For the past couple of years, traffic was not something Shihaam and I had to worry about when it came to getting the kids to school. The compound we live in was chosen primarily because of its proximity to the school - it’s across the road. But construction in the area now makes it difficult for the kids to cycle to school, and it is still too hot to consider walking. So they now get dropped off. The hassle is worth it, though - they enjoy school.

I peek into their rooms. All three are still curled up in bed. I decide to give them a few extra minutes. After almost three months of rest, a few extra minutes can’t do any harm.

* Ridwaan Bawa, a former newspaper executive editor and magazine editor, is writing a weekly column about the life and experiences of a proud South African living as an expat in Qatar. Follow him on Twitter @ridwaanbawa

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

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