Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Proof in the Pumpkin

October has always filled my soul--with the blazing colors of the trees, the expansive fields of bright, orange pumpkins, and the anticipated newness of another season in the air. Just like Anne in Anne of Green Gables poignantly said, "I am so glad I can live in a world of Octobers." One part of the season has always been our pumpkin patch excursions. A visit to a pumpkin patch, with all their unique curves that have been growing for a few months on the vine--the pear-shaped, others more rotund--have always enlivened me.  Last year's post about pumpkins:  http://trekingonward.blogspot.qa/2014/10/our-new-pumpkin-patch.html
After picking the best pumpkin in the patch, the creations can be endless....

My mom at the pumpkin patch with some of my kids,

Obviously, there are no pumpkin patches in Doha, Qatar; it is much too hot here in the desert. I had been told by a knowledgable source that the large orange pumpkins were at a Farmer's Market for about $5 (there are fruits and vegetables imported from Egypt, Jordan, Iran, and other countries around here). Our little family excitedly trekked over to the Wholesale Market. I was definitely not paying the $50 price tag for the curvaceous, orange ones in the grocery stores here. A few of us expats descended at the market--fully expecting to be able to buy some round, cheerful, orange pumpkins--the kind we had always purchased or grown at this time of year. However, it must have only been a small load that came in the week before. There were no orange pumpkins to be found amidst all the venders.

I never thought I would pine over pumpkin patches. They were just always there, just part of every autumn season. But this week I learned a valuable lesson from an improbable source: the pumpkin. I decided that I can enjoy being an expat--when things don't work out as anticipated or hoped for. Indeed, there can be substitutions and compensations that can make us laugh and even enjoy the differences. In our excursion to find the "perfect" pumpkin (or the thing that we have traditionally always had), the search can trigger an adventure, an exploration, new friends, and definitely a chuckle. We came home empty handed with what we had searched for, but nevertheless, happy with a new adventure under our belt.

No one could understand "pumpkins" when I asked around--lots of puzzled faces. They did understand the word "orange" so I was led to the Egyptian stall where they sell oranges. No matter. I bought a small crate of them--you cannot just buy a few. Every morning we have fresh squeezed orange juice, but alas, no orange pumpkins to be found.

On the scout for some "orange" pumpkins. Do you see the men in the background wanting to get their picture taken? Most of the fruit/vegetable dealers are from India, Egypt, and Bangladesh. They love to be in our photos.

This is the supposed pumpkin patch that I found last Saturday at the Farmer's Market--under a pavilion, next to a fish market

Some happy fruit sellers from Egypt and Bangladesh--wanting me to take their picture. It's funny I can tell which countries they are from now--even their personalities give it away. I have found Egyptians to be very playful, funny, light hearted. I immediately knew which one was Egyptian. They are usually making a joke about something--even when their English is minimal. 

Another Eyyptian fruit seller that sold me some pomegranates. He made me laugh so of course, I bought a crate of pomegranates. I just gave some to my neighbors. We can never eat a big box of pomegranates. 

Yay! Finally, we found some opaque orange pumpkins from Iran--not the bright ones I am used to for carving jack-o-lanterns. See them in the box? They come four in a box. But hey, I will take them. Traditions and festivities must go on....

Some friends that we found at the farmer's market, searching for their treasured pumpkins too. Look at the happy faces, even though it is not the typical pumpkin patch we are accustomed to.

The entire time you are in the Farmer's Market they are unloading huge amounts of vegetables and fruit. Here is a cart full of garlic.

Our Bangladeshi "trolley" driver carting our Iran squash (pumpkins), potatoes, pomegranates, grapes,  and "oranges." Not to let the failed attempt to find orange pumpkins dampen our spirits, we just added the trip as one more adventure in Doha.

Across the street is a Fish Market. A fisherman showing off his catch.

So instead of this....

I get this! Sometimes the boys like to dress up in the Qatari native dress. I would be lying if I told you I didn't miss the autumn, but to experience new people, traditions, and cultures can be rejuvenating and enlivening too. So I say the "proof is in the pumpkin" that I can be happy in lots of places. Pumpkins can come in many other different, lustrous colors and shapes.

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