Sunday, December 7, 2008
This week is Eid.. a ten day school holiday for us from Friday 5th through to Sunday 14th when we go back to work.
Eid is the holiest day in the Muslim calendar being the day the pilgrims descend from Mt Arafat following the Hajj after celebrating the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Issac, in an act of obedience to God. The celebration apparently lasts for three days and is marked with ritual sacrifices of lambs or goats and acts of charity.
For us the break has allowed us to begin to explore Doha and the areas around our apartment. We were a bit restricted Friday & Saturday as Joy tripped over as we were walking to the Jarir Bookshop and bruised her knee very badly which knocked doing a lot of walking off the calendar. It didn't stop us going out to dinner with the other Cognition people in Mazda 2. We headed into the souq where we found a Lebanese restuarant and relaxed over water and coffee as we waited for our communal meal.
The souq offered us a chance to people watch.... tourists drifting in and out of groups of black abaya clad women with their faces veiled or masked and men in their white thoups amid the stalls selling everything from antiques, to blankets, to carpets and other knic-naks while a genial old man led a donkey up and down the street with happy little children balanced precariously on its back
. Man, donkey and child. The Souq, Doha.
On Saturday Joy & I went out to Villagio Shopping Centre where Joy could walk without stressing her knee too much. While we were there Doha enjoyed one of its few rain moments... thunder and lightning with bouts of heavy rain. In a typical Papprill moment I found the point in Villagio where there was a leak in the roof which, after I moved must have leaked more because soon there was a squad of squegee carriers in the area pushing water into the canal.
Outside, the rain was causing havoc for Doha drivers who, not being used to wet weather driving, were stalling in the fords that had collected around the round abouts and intersections or crashing into other cars as their wheels skidded on the slippery road surfaces. On the ride home our driver, Lulu, an Ethiopian, confessed to being afraid of the thunder and lightning as he kept lifting his hands from the wheel to cover his ears with each peal while commenting on the risks the other drivers were taking trying to drive as they normally do on unfamiliar surfaces.
We got home to find the other tenants mopping out the corridors as the drain points in the light wells had been blocked with sand and plastic bags which meant that the water could escape only into the corridors and, a few less fortunate rooms, of the ground floor.
Sunday saw us heading into the souq to explore the market stalls and Doha's tourist attractions. We poked around the Gold souq where Joy checked out the jewellry on offer.
There were lots of ornate pieces of very yellow gold that, in Joy's opinion, would be out of place back in New Zealand. However, we will probably head back to the Gold souq and poke around some more at a later date.
We crossed the road and began an exploration of the corridors and crannies of the textile souq with its myriad of stalls offering abayas, caps, tailoring, material, pashminas, watches, toys, odd bits of electronic games and dried fruit and nuts.
The Textile souq. carpets for sale.
I tried on this chamois coat, designed for the colder winter evenings in the desert, at one stall while the owner was at prayer... the owner simply locked up and left his stock hanging outside for passersby to admire and return at 4.00pm when the stall re-opened. Such trust... we couldn't imagine such happening at home, even at Botany Downs!!
Check out the price QR 250.00 is approximately $NZ 125.00. I did think the coat would have been great to swan around Dannemora in during the winter but then customs might have had to hold on to it when we came through passport control on our return as the coat was made of genuine leather and furs.
We found the Falcon Souq where the locals buy both falcons and the hunting gear that goes with this ancient sport. Here we saw the birds being groomed and cossetted by the handlers as tourists, like ourselves, watched and asked countless, repetitive questions about them.
We met up with Charles and Marylyn from Mazda during our fossicking, had lunch with them and then went on a tour of the Corniche where we took a ride on a Dhow around the harbour before taking a coffee break at The Sheraton Hotel.
The dhow at its moorings. Charles & Marylyn Cron & Joy
The Hotel had hosted an international conference on the economic crisis and, after seeing its conference facilities, we could see why. The size of each conference room and side rooms was beyond anything I've seen at home.
Monday is the actual Eid festival so the shops are closed all day. However the mosques were in full and elborate call for prayer at 4.30am in celebration of the event.