In 2002, I celebrated my 50th birthday on the 25th floor of a tower block on Shaikh Zayed Road. It wasn't my party. In fact it was an unlikely annual event to mark Finnish Independence Day and Burns Night (of which it was neither). I remember thinking it was a strange place for a 'Westie Coastie' Scottish kid to have ended up. After all, my brother and I had accepted, 45 years previously, that we'd probably never get the chance to fly in an aeroplane. That's just for very rich people, we said. Times change.
Now, seven years on, to the day, my vantage point is considerably lower - a first floor apartment in Muntazah, Doha, and suddenly I'm struck with another thought. Under Qatari employment law, if I choose to stay here, I've got exactly three years left, and given the rate at which my seven years in the Gulf have shot past, these three years are going to feel like half an hour.
And then what? Fifteen days retirement, of course. Because as we all know, the World is going to end on December 21, 2012. My life savings might just cover 15 days.