Friday, December 26, 2008

Xmas Celebrations Doha

Trolley Man - Vegetable Souq.

Vegetable shopping in Doha is an expedition in hunting and gathering around the Fruit & Vegetable Souq where the produce is fresher and cheaper than that in the big super-markets in the large malls.
We've been there twice and enjoy the bargaining and choosing from the vast array of produce on display. We can choose from fruit and vegetables we know and recognise to those we've never seen before and are sometimes given cause to wonder how or why anyone would eat them. The strangest looks like a large mud-caked rock which is sliced open to reveal a mass of wooden fibre that apparently cooks into something that is edible.
As we wander we often have to dissuade the trolley men who are there to load the shoppers' bulk purchases on their trolleys and take them to the cars. The Trolley men have their equivalent in the Souq - the Wheel-barrowmen- who follow the Qatari shoppers with their barrows piled high with spices, clothing, knick-knacks and textile bolts.
This week was a three day weekend as Xmas Day was a Thursday.
Xmas In Doha was a definite contrast to our earlier experiences of Christmas away from New Zealand... Snow in the winter darkness of Tredegar, fireworks and crowing cockerels in Bangkok , the post Boxing Day humidity of a Chennai airport stop over and the winter chill of Macclesfield.
We spent the morning skyping family, with the inevitable confusion when we attempted a three way conference call.... everyone trying to speak at once.

With a long morning to fill we thought we would take a trip to Villaggio Mall. We were waiting to hail a government taxi when a well dressed man asked where were we going. He said jump in the car, a Mercedes Benz, and he went out of his way drop us off. It turned out he was a Pakistani Human Resources Manager of a Consultancy firm. He gave us his Public Relations hand out which carried an endorsement from the Sheika Al Thani.
He wrote his phone number and email on the back and said if we need to phone him do so.
He was interested in my job and thought there was a need for a teacher training system here in Doha.

Sunlight on the frontage of skyscraper City Centre - Doha

As we were allowed Christmas Day off in recognition of our different belief which was a chance for us to wander the down town centres of Doha where the commercial side of Christmas was celebrated in true European style... a Santa Claus outside a Bakery cajoling passersby to enter and purchase elaborately decorated cakes and, in the City Centre Mall a gigantic tree and a Teddy Bears Garden, the focus of many cameras clicking snaps of junior in front of cotton snow and gift bearing bears.
City Centre Mall Xmas Tree.

Xmas night we celebrated quietly in our apartment before collapsing, exhausted from our walking and enjoying the Winter sun.

Boxing Day saw us, with Dave Parry, heading off to check out Doha's 19th Annual International Book Fair, forgetting, in the process, that it was Friday and, therefore, everything wouldn't open until 4.30 pm. This meant that we promenaded along the Corniche from the City Centre Mall to the Souq Waqif, a good 5 km stroll and a great opportunity to get a winter sun tan!!

Joy striding it out with Dave keeping up.
Enjoying the sun along the Corniche
Once we reached the pearl sculpture we were all exhausted and nursing well battered feet so headed into the Souq to seek out a coffee and a well earned rest. If nothing else these seven months will see us coming home fit, sun tanned and healthy - if not coffee addicted.

Two pearls and an old pearl diver.
Once in the souq we filled ourselves with coffee and sat and watched the passing parade then ventured into the Falconry Souq where we walked through the various stores and aviaries catering for the falconry enthusiasts and assessed the birds on display along with some of the locals.
The Mosque - Souq Waqif.

Falconry is a hunting hobby here that is pursued with enthusiasm by the local Qatari. we've seen young boys walking around with kestrels on their wrists. Other members of our tteam have seen men driving their 4x4s with a bird on the steering wheel.
Young Qatari sizing up the local birds- the Souq Waqif, Doha..
Incidentally, on the topic of unusual sights, on Wednesday afternoon we saw a ute driving past us on Salwa Road with a camel tied down on the tray... a rope looped twice across its hump was enough to keep it in place ... it was gazing around at all the cars & trucks passing by like a strangely shaped farm dog on a truck at home!

we had a Boxing day celebration at our apartment block with the other Cognition residents... lots of food and soft drink. With the local liquor laws being very restrictive no one had gotten to the "library" (local code to the Alcohol bond store) to buy any so we made do with two bottles of sparkling wine and a couple of cans of beer.

Carol Young, Dave Parry & Frank Gibson at the Mazda Boxing Day Party 2008

1 comment:

Matt said...

Sounds like the sort of Christmas I would like. Sun, and walking. As you know, we missed you this Christmas. It was a intensely packed few days of family fun (mayhem?)
The kids loved it - and most of the adults as well.

It poured with rain on the two days before Christmas day - poured! And now - one day after boxing day - it has just started to heavily rain again.

Heidi seemed to be much more boisterous yesterday - like being around 10 children/pre-adults gave her an increased sense of rambunctiousness. Unfortunately, it meant that she woke up twice last night.

As I write this it is 7:20ish, and the whole household is still fast asleep. Amazing how much more you can do while everyone else sleeps.

My love,