A Letter to My Wonderful Housekeeper – who has been through EVERYTHING with me for over 25 years

January 28, 2011

Dear Sra. Isabel,

I just wanted you to know that I rented out the room to the man you met on Thursday…..his name is Sr. Evan…

He is an interesting person that seems REALLY awfully nice…he has had quite a life….

He comes from a very wealthy family – his father is a BIG producer in Hollywood – who won an Academy Award for “Platoon” in I think 89 – but has produced such movies as “Twisted” with Ashley Judd, “Unfaithful” with Richard Gere, “A Perfect Murder” with Michael Douglas, “Eraser” with Arnold Schwarzenegger…etc etc..

But Sr Evan is not speaking with his father at the moment…and does not have much money….

His mother died when he was  9 and his father married his secretary to whom he is still married….

Sr Evan was married for 8 years and was into drugs and sex…they had a BIG house..….and it was a very hedonistic point in his life – his wife left him leaving him VERY much in debt – her credit cards were over $150,000.   He had been an attorney – had worked for his father at one point…well he totally rebelled against this life style….gave everything away….and became committed to fighting to clean up the environment – which he is still pursuing…studied and became a Yoga instructor….

For the last 1 year and 3 months has lived in a commune in Venice….but he said to me “Rob…you know the people in the commune are just a step above homeless people – they don’t care about the environment or the world…they are all quite greedy – and don’t clean up….after themselves”

So he has decided to go back to a more comfortable life…..and that is why he LOVES my house….

I normally would not rent to someone like this – but after meeting him and talking to him – I liked his being so bluntly honest…he is trying to start an internet business by November…OH – you’ll get a kick out of this – he works hard all week (is off only on Tuesday and Thursday)…for a medicinal cannabis company…..he must actually work in the gardens as his hands are so rough….when he shook my hand…..

He will be moving in the end of February – he has A LOT of stuff so I have to clear out all the books in that bedroom – and he will be storing A LOT of stuff in the garage – and not park in there until he goes through it – sells it or throws it out….(he drives a nice older   Mercedes )….

Anyway this all means that I have to get rid of more stuff in order to put the books from that room into the garage…

So I am going to put A LOT of stuff in the middle of the garage – and see if you want any of it before I throw it out –

Anyway Thank   you Dear Isabel for everything you have done for me all these year – has to be at least 25 hasn’t it????

…looks like another Exciting Chapter in Our Life….

Ohh he speaks a bit more Spanish than I do as his mother – years ago – had a wonderful Latin woman that worked for them – which made him want to learn Spanish….

Ohhh and Sra Maria (my last roommate who moved to Qatar)… said to say hello to you…I will copy her email…

Dear Rob,

Sorry I have been out of touch for a while — I have been completely immersed in my life here!

Here I am – finally able to sit down and write you a proper letter. But where do I begin? So much has happened since I got here. I honestly feel like I have been here for months, although it has been barely three weeks.

Let me just say – life here is very different!

But seriously, where do I start? I arrived here January 8 and had a week of orientation. It actually wasn’t much of an orientation since running on a schedule is very much a foreign concept in this part of the world. Everything and anything might happen at any given time that would disrupt one’s original plan. That is also why people tend not to plan much around here. If something is to happen, it will only happen if God wills it to happen – that is the general philosophy around which everything revolves.

I am a part of a team of nine teachers. We each have a class of about 8 Qatari girls, between the ages of 19-24. The girls are pretty amazing and getting to know them is wonderful. Like girls everywhere, they each have their own unique personality. Unlike girls everywhere, they all come from very wealthy Qatari families. They wear traditional attires only – a black robe with a black scarf on top to cover the hair. So the only way they can express any sense of style or aesthetics is through their shoes and their hand bags – think Gucci, Versace, Chanel, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, etc.

I am very fortunate, because for all of my students, Italian was their first choice. These are girls that have decided to seek employment and since the government is the only employer here, they are taking foreign language and culture courses so that one day they can serve their country as a liaison between Qatar and the target country whose language they are studying or joining Qatar’s foreign mission in the target country.

They are very eager to learn and they are all a joy to have in class. They are excited and super enthusiastic. They are romantic and sweet and also test to waters regularly to see how much they can get away with. But as you know, I run a tight ship so NO blackberries are allowed in class, I give them lots of work and tediously reinforce the information that we go over through all sorts of fun and not so fun drills! They just had their first chapter exam today and I have to say that I am proud of them. The lowest score was 87 and the highest 100! The rest were in the 92-98 range! That is just fantastic and I feel optimistic that we have laid a sound foundation for their language acquisition future!

I teach from 8 am until 12.30 – there are for periods and three breaks in between. After that I am free to do whatever I wish. So, I have plenty of time on my hands. I don’t have a gym in my building but there is a five-star hotel across the street from us and four of us signed up for a gym membership there. So we often go there in the afternoon, and use the pool and sauna as well. What can I say? It is truly a life of leisure. So much so that I am becoming uncomfortable with it! I have always been a busy body and I need to keep myself occupied.

My biggest disappointment has been that I don’t feel like I am in an Arabic-speaking country. Only the Qataris speak Arabic but there are so few of them and I have no contact with them outside of my immediate classroom. Everyone else that works here is a foreigner. The professionals are mainly American and European and the hard labors is carried out by Indians and Pakistanis. So, the most spoken language on the street is Hindi. It is very irritating for me and I am looking hard into signing up for Arabic lessons somewhere. There is a rather good number of American universities that have opened up campuses here and I am hoping there someone, somewhere offers Arabic.

I haven’t had a chance to fully explore Doha yet. My first week, I rented a car for two days and drove around in an effort to familiarize myself with the roads and the city. Traffic is crazy but not too crazy. Nothing like Cairo! I was pretty comfortable driving around – except for the millions of roundabouts! I am so not used to these and the Indian and Pakistani drivers are obnoxious when it comes to giving the right of way!

There is one incredible museum that I am looking forward to visiting – the Museum of Islamic Arts. It opened just a couple of years ago and it boasts a huge collection of Islamic arts from Spain to India. I hope to visit it this weekend. Doha isn’t really that big so I am consciously pacing myself! People spend a lot of time at one of the four big malls. One of them – you are NOT gonna believe this – is called Villaggio and on the inside it looks like Venice. I am NOT joking! It has the water canals with the boats and buildings and everything! It’s quite something! When you are there – you really lose a sense of where you actually are. No desert – just luxury and Europeanness everywhere around you!

I am still not able to do a lot of things – like get internet at home and get a local drivers license so I can lease a car for a year or two. That is because I must first get my “residency” – sort of like a green card here. I should have it in a week or so. The process has been very bureaucratic, of course! And an appointment doesn’t mean anything – everything can change within a matter of hours – including the law that establishes the protocol for all residency procedures! Well – God willing – I should have it by the end of the month and then I can really feel like a resident!

Anyways, give me your news and your gossip! I hope that everything is going well with you! By the way, thank you so much for depositing that check! Please say “Hi” to signora Isabel from me the next time you see her!

Lots of hugs,


God Bless you and your family Isabel – YOU ARE WONDERFUL!!

Sr Robert

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