Our five year adventure in Doha, Qatarended June 1, 2012, but the memories will always remain. It's back to Texas where I have decided...Qatar isn't cornering the market on "quirky", as I once believed. Thanks for opening my eyes to the world,Doha!
The sound of David's shower going this morning was the warning that it was time for me to rise and shine. Or, could it have been the cat licking my face that made me realize that 5:00am was approaching? It didn't matter which it was, it was time to get ready for our photo/archaeological gig. Yes, Karen and Kim drove up at 5:30am to whisk me off to Al Khor, a city just north of Doha. We found the ruins of an old village that Karen had been to a week before with her husband. She decided that Kim & I needed to get "in on" this find of hers. Well, find it we did and it was quite fun. We shot from every angle possible, some of us anyway. Kim was doing the belly flop trying to get a picture just right. Now that, I should have taken a picture of. Sorry I missed it. Karen was told by a Qatari gentlemen that this was a small village from just about 50 years ago, not very old by our standards. Supposedly though, back then many, many of the people were Bedouins that just lived out in the desert in tents, so perhaps this village was actually living "high on the hog" as we might say in the USA. Qatar's oil boon didn't start until the late 1930's as I understand. I'm not sure of this history, so I'll have to research this more and get back to you (lucky you!). Regardless of the age, there was a whole lot of blood sweat and tears put into building these villages as you can see in the stone fences. As we were leaving, we encountered a sheep herder on the side of the property that was very successful at his job. He had one stick and many sheep to corral, and corral them he did with just a few commands from his mouth. He was very happy for us to take pictures of his herd, and extended his palm for a little greasing. Yes, of course, we did oblige him. Now, does that makes us professional photographers, or does it have to be the other way around?
We headed out to the souqs tonight for our evening meal. No pots banging in my kitchen, nothing new. I had read wonderful reviews about an Iranian restaurant with great atmosphere and even greater food. My kind of place. We walked around the souqs a bit before heading to eat. That's Kristi trying out her royalty look just in case the need arises. There she is getting ready for the Shriner's Convention if ever it is held in Doha. What am I going to do when she's gone? Do you think David will fill in the gap and strike a pose for me every now and then? I'm not so sure he would look that cute in a Shriner's cap. After fun pics, we headed to the restaurant around 6:30pm, whose name I'd tell you if I could only speak Arabic. The entrance was a long hallway with beautiful mosaics, murals, and colors all the way down it. It was absolutely gorgeous. At this point I didn't care if the food was good or not. The atmosphere alone was going to win me over. As we entered into the main dining area, we saw that they had majilis seating downstairs. This is the customary seating arrangement of the Arab lifestyle (so I hear). They have cushions all around on the floor and dine and visit in this fashion. We each had question marks over our heads, looking at each other deciding if we wanted to do the majilis thing or go upstairs for conventional seating. As we were discussing our options amongst ourselves, the waiter walked over and graciously made our decision for us. "Sorry, we are closed. Do not open until 7:30." Talk about burst our bubble. We were starving and didn't want to walk around for an hour, so we opted for Le Gourmet, another restaurant in the souq area. We ate outdoors where the breeze was quite warm, but nice anyway. It had been 97 degrees when we were down at the pool this afternoon, but it really didn't seem near that hot. The humidity was at 14%, so maybe that's what made the difference. Anyway, the meal was excellent and relaxing, however we do look forward to going back to the souqs one evening and trying the Iranian restaurant keeping in mind that timing is everything.
Good Morning, America and to my Middle Eastern compadres!
I have absolutely nothing to report to you today & I figure since it's your weekend, you have better things to do than to read my blog. So, for my faithful that are tuning in, I'll leave you with the uncovering of the truth. It has been found that Hillary wasindeed under fire in Bosnia, as the following footage will prove.
Oh my goodness, people...I could not wait to go to bed on this Thursday weekend night. It was 10:00 p.m. and my eyes were so heavy. After barely making it up the stairs to crawl into bed, I laid there and waited for Mr. Sandman to take me away, but he didn't. I could feel the sugar and caffeine surging through my body caused from a trip to the Ritz this afternoon for high tea. So, here I am taking it out on you guys. However, we did enjoy the afternoon so much that our cozy little group decided we'd start "Tea Hopping", a nice alternative to "Bar Hopping". After this insomnia tonight, I might have to substitute warm milk at our next event. Top left is Peggy from Labelle, Tx. Practically my neighbor when I was in Port Neches, but I didn't know her until Doha. Next is Karen (you've met her), and Lora is on the right. She's from the Houston area, as is Karen. That's Karen, again, peaking out from the greenery in front of the Arabic translation of The Ritz Carlton. Notice the huge "construction" sand pile behind her, a common site in this town. So common that I didn't even notice it while taking the picture. It's just one of those things that is synonymous with Doha. And the mosque, well I just threw that in for fun. Karen and I are always talking about going on a photo taking mosque hunt (that's just about an oxymoron, as I've said before they're several in your view at all times). Anyway, on the way home this afternoon we spotted this one and thought it looked like a good one to photograph. Well, after going around the roundabout for the fourth time to get a good shot, I was getting dizzy and decided that just maybe we should pull over to take the picture. Hmm, novel idea. It's now 4:35 a.m. and this lion still ain't sleepin'. I've popped me some popcorn, played with a picture editing program I've found, and surfed the net...just no rest for the weary.
Drumroll, please.....introducing The Pixel Chicks! Our newly formed photo club met today for the first time. Our fearless leader, Sherry tried so hard to keep us on task. A difficult task knowing that my mission in life is to derail the train, but I must say she did a pretty good job of keeping me on track. There were five of us, each bringing our own expertise to the table. I'm not sure what that is on my part, but hopefully we'll figure that out soon enough. I joined the club just to go along for the ride...you know, a little fellowship, a little food, and a whole lot of chatter. I didn't want to commit to learning, just in case I couldn't keep up with the photography lingo. I realized during the meeting that this is probably going to be more of a creative learning process rather than a technical one, which was quite a relief to me. I grasp creative better that I grasp settings, but we will touch on that and who knows maybe I can learn both. So, let your creative juices flow if you perhaps see a picture on my blog that you wonder, "why the heck did she take a picture of an apple?". Maybe, just maybe, someone will see it as a piece of art. Lol, hardly. That being said, we are meeting at the vegetable/fruit market next week for a photo shoot. We'll see just how many ways I can get fruits and vegetables to pose for me. All in the name of art. :)
You'll never believe what happened this morning while I was taking Kristi to school. We parked the car, got out and had to duck and run into the school under all this crazy sniper fire. Are you kidding me??? Who makes stuff like that up. Don't we have enough problems and dangers in the world without embellishing them? And then to go on and say "it's the first time I've misspoken in 12 or so years". Has the saying, "quit while you're ahead" ever crossed your mind". Well, I guess you'd have to be ahead for that to happen. She was gaining ground, did she really think this was going to seal the deal? Barack was really helping her out with his anti-American, anti-white preacher, and now that news has been interrupted by sniper fire. I really don't mean to turn my "light, don't have to think, enjoy reading with your coffee blog" into a political statement, but these clips keep getting played on the t.v. and the internet is crawling with it. I can't help but wonder "what the heck was she thinking?" The bottom line is, I had absolutely NOTHING to blog about. Thanks, Hill.
All content presented on the Qatariadventure.blogspot.com website represents the expressed views and opinions of the editors, authors and contributors, and does not reflect the views of the general public. Opinions and viewpoints expressed by authors in articles on this site are solely that of the author or authors. Last, but not least, I do not mean to hurt your feelings if you are a Hillary fan...it just makes for good fodder.
Old news is the new news today. I'm at a loss for words, so I'll pass along the slide show that I told you about last week. Some of the pics you've seen, some you haven't. For those with slow internet, ( like we have in Doha), it might "stream" slowly, so let it play through then replay it for a smoother transition with no interruptions. Until next time...Syb
Kristi & I had a "we" day (imagine that!) for Easter Sunday, which was really like Monday for us. David was off to work leaving us with no car. Kristi and I didn't even think about her being off on Sunday and forgot to reserve the car. We were stressing as there were no taxis or drivers available so I had to pull out all the stops. I called my friend Karen ( now aka taxi driver) to the rescue. She dropped us off at Landmark for none other than a shopping day. Fran, you're right shopping and eating are the past times in this country. It's a self proclaimed fact in Qatar. We had a little TGI Friday's, a little shopping and then a lot of Starbucks to revive us. While we were sipping on our lattes, I was looking out over the mall and noticed a sign that said "Paris Nails" and got all excited. Landmark is a one level mall, but this sign was up high and I had never seen it before. It's not like I haven't been to this mall fifty times or so since I've been here. Kristi and I both had been complaining about our feet and how we needed a pedicure. After a little navigating we found the entrance to this place, hidden in what is called Circus Land, a big carnival area (carousels included) for kids. (See the elephant above...that's in the entrance to Circus land. Kayla insisted on having her pic taken with the elephant while she was here earlier this month.) We took the stairway that led to a beautiful salon that provides manicures, pedicures, massages, haircuts and all the womanly needs imaginable. We both were pampered with soothing pedicures, but were demoted when a Qatari woman came in with her two children, each having their own nanny. We weren't really demoted, but we felt a bit slighted when she was brought hot tea on a silver platter, literally. Remember that caste system I mentioned in a post awhile back? Undaunted by being 2nd class expatriates, we made appointments for haircuts next week, along with more shopping, deciding that we just might need to get "dolled up" a bit. After all, it's now official, we're going to Bangkok and Phuket (pronounced poo-ket...careful!). We leave Friday, April 4th for this adventure, but don't worry we'll bring you along with us. :)
As I was coming down off my "princess high" today, I remembered that I forgot to tell you about our Macaroni Grill lunch that I shared with my photographer/Chevron wives, Karen and Kim, after the ribbon cutting ceremony. We had a great lunch cussing and discussing the many views of living in Doha and their culture, deciding how wonderful it was that we could share our opinions and still walk away as friends. We'll see how long that lasts. Anyway, after our meal Tomi our Macedonian waiter (you know I don't go anywhere without finding out where everyone I talk to is from) continued to ply us with multiple glasses of tea, when Kim noticed that there was a group of American military guys sitting at a booth across the restaurant from us. You can always spot those military hairdos. She casually mentioned buying their lunch when Karen already had the waiter flagged down inquiring about the aforementioned gentlemen. Tomi was a bit taken aback by our request. We weren't sure if it was from the language barrier or the fact that we looked like three American spinsters trying to pick us up some army guys. Well, after much rigamarole, we did get their check and anonymously pick up the tab, receiving some strange looks from Tomi and the lovely waitress that delivered the service men's check to us. I think that they thought the tea was getting to us. It was really quite funny to hear Kim keep explaining to the waiter that this is a gesture that we do for our American military to thank them for serving our country. I couldn't decide if she was just trying to educate the man about Americans or trying to clear our good names! We walked away laughing, wondering what they were thinking about these crazy white women...I'm sure it was...."and we thought Doha was the land of odd".
We had our photo shoot for the ribbon cutting ceremony at The American School of Doha this morning. As suspected, I didn't get a lot of awesome shots but some of them will pass. Also, Sheikha Mozah was not in attendance as I had hoped, but I did meet a nice substitue. Jazi Al Thani (shortened version of a very long name) is the student body president at ASD. I approached her at the reception (even though Kristi's little voice kept screaming in my ear, "stop...stop") and asked her if it was true that she was a REAL princess. She and the Qatari boy next to her just smiled from ear to ear, with Jazi blushing a bit at the same time. She said, "Well in my country we don't have Kings and Queens, but yes, I am from the royal family." Good enough for me, "would you take a picture with me, I've never been photographed with a real princess?" She obliged with a huge smile, so I handed my camera to her Qatari friend. Then all of a sudden an older gentleman walks up and takes a picture of us as Jazi informed me that it was her dad. Wow, more royalty, it's my lucky day. He was great, he came over and got with me and Jazi as we posed for our other photography friends. He pointed out his American flag pin he had on his pocket and told me it was his first time to wear it. I in turn informed him that he should wear it everyday. Now to be completely honest these people are royalty, but I have no idea where they fall in the royal family. The truth of the matter is it doesn't really matter, as they were very warm and welcoming and a pleasure to meet. They were perfect examples of the hospitable people here in Qatar. Now, their driving skills may be another story all together! I did run into Kristi at the outdoor ribbon cutting and snapped her and her friend's picture. Now, don't go tell her about my "run in" with the family. That will be our little secret!
Ok, guys. I had a very unexciting day because I spent 2/3 of it putting this slide show together. So in other words, I don't have anything to talk about. Well, unless you count Sykes jumping from the top of the refrigerator onto the fire extinguisher that's bracketed to the wall....balancing his back paws on the extinguisher and his front ones on the door bell receiver that's also attached to the wall. From there he jumped up onto the door and was balancing on that until it started closing on him (spring loaded). It was pretty much a comedy of errors that I enjoyed witnessing. I guess I'm going to have to strap my camera on my head like a miner's light. I can only imagine how much of his antics that I miss. The pictures posted are a reenactment with the help of David and some people food to bribe Sykes to take his original path. Let's see, what else don't I have to talk about. I went to get the truck serviced, which was 5000 kilometers passed due. You do the math, I have no clue. It was the first scheduled maintenance where they change the oil and check it out from trunk to hood. They told me and Kristi that it would take about an hour to service it, so we walked across the street to Landmark Mall to get her some new contacts. Boy, was that easy. She's been without for about a month. We presented a U.S. prescription from last April to the gentleman and he told me that it would take a month to get a toric lens for her right eye that has an astigmatism, but if Kristi wanted contacts right then, he'd adjust the prescription. She did, so he did and we walked out with a box of three pair of contacts and didn't even have to give our name. No computer trail or anything. Now, that's true progress. We shopped, bought Kristi a new outfit, had us some Starbucks and just enjoyed the leisure time. A couple of hours passed, so we walked back over to pick up the truck. I asked the service manager how much did I owe him and he waved his hand in the air....not to worry. I had already checked the price list on the wall and it was supposed to be 400 or so riyals ($110). I was always taught to not look a gift camel, er... I mean horse in the mouth, so I didn't and we walked out. What does that mean, anyway? Hmm, I'll get back with you on that. We topped our outing off with a little "Hot Chicken" take away which David was patiently waiting for at home. You know, he really enjoys a hot home cooked meal when he gets home from a long day of work, and I aim to please. One last newsflash. David got a haircut! The first haircut he's had in this country. People, he's been here eleven months! He did get it trimmed when we were in Abu Dhabi in November. My gosh, he was looking a bit like Grizzly Adams. Actually though, I didn't mind it. The girls were the ones constantly fussing about it. Anyway, he's clean cut now, if you don't count the facial hair. Wow, I've talked so long that I don't need the slide show as a "filler" I will now remove it and save it for another day. Oh, I'm such a tease and you were all just salivating to see it...yeah, right.
Reading my friend, Karen's blog this morning is giving me the itch to get started on another picture project. A few weeks ago, I put a grouping of canvas pictures together that I took while we were in London last fall. I decided that there's no better souvenir than to capture our memories on film...or digital and display them. It all started when David picked up my camera and shot a picture of Kristi and me walking through Green Park in London. He never touches my camera for fear of my raised right eyebrow that is so well known within my family. It was a great shot, I must say, and David was very proud when I had it enlarged and framed. Soon after that the idea of a collage was born. Karen has now made a beautiful collage of her own (top left) from pictures that she took while visiting France. She and her husband, Ed, actually lived in Paris for the planning stages of the project that David is working on here in Doha. What happened is that after she moved from Paris to here, Ed bought her a ridiculously awesome camera for Christmas (surprise!). She had been disappointed that she had missed out on so many photo ops, but lo and behold, Ed comes home one day from work announcing that he's being sent back to Paris for a week on business. Some people have all the luck. Karen grabbed the opportunity and her new camera to make the trek with Ed. Anyway, the results on her wall are wonderful. So now, I'm reinspired by her work to do even more myself. It's a vicious circle, you know. I might have to separate myself from newfound photography buddies or I won't be able bring home all the pics I have enlarged. Framing is CHEAP over here, so I have to take advantage while I can. We've also done a little painting around the villa to add some much needed color. I posted these pics to show you what a difference a little paint can make. The walls still need decorating, but the paint itself has improved the villa 100%. Yes, believe it or not, that is red that you see on my walls. I thought we'd practice on this place, before I paint back in Kyle. I posted a few "before" pictures for you. You can get a feel of how we're getting there slowly, but surely.
Happy belated St Patrick's Day! Our ladies' group celebrated at none other than Bennigans which is synonymous with St. Patrick's Day. The only problem was there was no green beer to be found. Oh well, we survived and enjoyed the shamrock cookies that were offered to us after our meal. We had about 20 plus women and two precious little boys join us...have food, will travel is our motto. Before our Bennigans lunch, I met a few of my photo buff friends at The American School of Doha (Kristi's school) for a "pre-shoot" meeting. The official ribbon cutting ceremony for the school which opened in September is finally happening this Thursday, and we've been enlisted to capture the moment. I'll be in my element, but perhaps out of my league. My compadres' cameras are a bit more advanced than mine, so I will have to try and make up any shortcomings in creativity. The school superintendent wants every angle chronicled for this "Invitation Only" affair, so that they can be published in a coffee table type book . Every angle includes the roof. I opted out on the roof shots. I've become a little more adventurous this past week, but haven't conquered my fear of heights. Our mantra for the outing is "shoot first, ask later". I'm really excited about this photo assignment as you never know which of Qatar's dignitaries will show up. The Emir himself could grace us with his presence or even better Sheikha Mozah, one of his three current wives. She's singlehandedly responsible for the education reform in this country and the advancement of women's status, as well. Anywho, it'll be interesting regardless of who shows. Cheese.
The kids have come and gone and it's back to normal. Oops, did I say normal? That word's not even found in the dictionary in this country. You know, Doha is known over here as "The Land of Odd". Anyway, I'm on my fifth load of laundry this morning... please remember that our drums are about the size of a popcorn tin, if that big. I also have managed to burn a couple of batches of homemade apple muffins for my local US Army friends . Again, if you'd see our oven settings you would refer back to "The Land of Odd" comment. One of our Chevron ladies is heading up a service project to send Easter baskets full of goodies to the troops that are stationed here in Doha. I salvaged what I could, wrapped them and dropped them to her this morning just a bit embarrassed that I haven't quite figured out the oven settings. Sign language was never my thing. Whatever happened to words like bake, broil, clean? I just have a bunch of pictures on the oven knob. I'm sure Kayla & Dustin would say that I'm just living up to my reputation as they did witness me burning a few pancakes while they were here. Did you enjoy our kitty aka Golden Retriever video? Sykes wears us out wanting to play the fetch game. Now when he returns the wadded up paper, he deposits it in whatever shoe is available on the floor, then waits for you to retrieve it and toss it again. He plays the game until he's panting like a dog and I make David stop for fear that Sykes will have a heart attack. Soon I'll have to record his weird animal noises, nothing I've ever heard from a cat before. His whiskers vibrate back and forth and some sort of lamb noise comes out of him. It's a bit creepy if you ask me. I'll just wait for you to see it and you can be the judge. Until next time...Syb