‘Cabin crew, prepare for take-off.” Five simple words that herald an end to three glorious weeks of holiday in South Africa, filled with fun days, late nights, good food and even better company. Normal service is about to resume for the Bawas of Doha. Sadly.
And that includes a reintroduction to the blisteringly hot Gulf summer heat. Arriving at Hamad International Airport at about midnight, we’re greeted by temperatures of 36ºC, with a healthy dose of humidity thrown into the sweaty mix.
With the mercury set to rise to the high 40s during the day, the icy winter of Cape Town is already becoming a distant memory.
“It’s so hot,” I tell Shihaam as we cross the tarmac, rather stating the obvious.
“Yes, it is. But in Cape Town, you felt it wasn’t warm enough. You really do blow hot and cold,” she replies.
Everyone’s a comedian, it seems, but I must admit Shihaam’s right. Cape Town was cold. But, when the welcome rain wasn’t falling, the kids were able to run around outside to their heart’s content - something which is not recommended at the moment in Doha, unless you want heat stroke to be your friend.
But like winter in South Africa, the Gulf summer too shall pass. Very soon, the weather will be perfect for days at the pool and late-afternoon braais, although we’ll have to schedule those downtime activities for the weekend, seeing as the kids are heading straight into the new school year.
After almost three months’ holiday, getting Aqeel, Saabirah and Yaqeen back into a daily routine won’t be easy. Especially not after they enjoyed being spoilt by grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins in Cape Town. They quickly cottoned on that relatives who hadn’t seen them in ages were very eager to please - much more so than mom and dad.
Truth is, while Shihaam and I would shake our heads and tut-tut when hearing the kids had wangled yet another late night playing 30 Seconds or watching movies under the blankets with their cousins, it was a treat seeing the kids showered with love and affection from family and friends.
I do worry, though, that they will think that their holiday experiences are a reflection of life back home.
Like my mom always says: “Ridwaan, don’t think it will be all fun and games if you move back. Just remember one thing - holidays are holidays and life is life.”
For now, I’m happy to let the kids bask in the memories of the birthday parties, sleepovers and road trips with their family. Winter it may have been, but the Mother City’s embrace was warm enough to keep us going till next time.
* 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.