Friday, May 15, 2009

Fishing, dust and heat

Fishing, Dust and Heat

Friday night concert at Souq Waqif
It has been two weeks since our last update on our activities in Doha. Either time is speeding up or there have been few events to report on or that work has limited my time to update.
In retrospect it would appear that all of the above are true.
Lately it has felt like that no sooner than I wake up on Sunday morning, go to work and return home it is Thursday evening and the weekend which leads one to presume time is speeding up!! This, of course, makes one feel that there are few events to report on and that work is limiting my time to update.
As our contract nears its end the need to ensure that the school has been left with a reasonably well developed resource base that can be sustained and built on by the staff has meant that we've been working on monitoring, collecting, rewriting and, at times, constructing resources within the Departments we're responsible for and putting them onto the school server and wikispaces so that staff can access material to build their teaching to address the curriculum standards on without having to resort to the old vocabulary-grammar booklets that do little to encourage language development.
So far I've, in consultation with the English Department, created a new course of work at each grade level and, at least for Grade 10, built up a set of eight broad description Unit Plans for them.
The next step is to do the same for Grade 11 with a sketched outline of approach for Grade 12 before the end of June.
With the Grade 12 students out on national exams the chance to do some intensive PD has to be seized on as well. I've managed to do a day with the English staff but, as the policy here is to move teachers to different schools to invigilate the exams, I haven't yet worked with the full department of any subject.
Apart from these demands there are the monthly reports and analysis to complete as well as writing up observations and offering constructive comments to the teachers. All of which make the time appear to speed up as well as giving value to the work here while limiting the events to be reported on.

Aside from the demands of the job we have managed to squeeze in few uniquely Gulf activities.

Last week we went fishing-cruising on a dhow on the Gulf.
Twenty four of the Cognition team hired a dhow for the day to fish and swim in the Gulf. As you can see a dhow is quite a large vessel. The one we went on can accommodate 50 with plenty of room to move around both on the lower deck and the upper sun deck.

We headed out to sea at 8.00 am, past the Coastguard station at the mouth of the harbour, past large, empty cargo ships moored waiting to be loaded or dispatched to other ports and then out towards the even larger, loaded vessels waiting for a slot to unload, to idle in the current and fish.
Fishing here is certainly different to that which we're used to at home on the Hauraki Gulf. At home one finds a reef, anchors and then, between feeding the small fish which suck the bait off the hooks, reel in fish that pass the 27cm size limit with some degree of regularity. Here we cast out and let our lines drift as we waited and waited and waited for even a hint of a nibble.

There were brief flurries of excitement when tangled lines convinced people that there was something biting in the depths and when one of the crew members hauled up a small shark but none of the elation of filling buckets of fresh fish many of us, still filled with NZ fishing expectations, were wishing for.
However, the lack of fish did allow for plenty of conversation over countless cans of Pepsi and chilled water and, as the sun warmed the boat, inspired the odd doze on the deck.
All of which made the day incredibly pleasant.

Joy keeping me under control as we wait for a bite.

Somewhere around three or four hours into our waiting and following the time honoured ritual when there are no fish biting, of reading the paper, swigging a can of drink and wandering down the boat to see how Joy was getting on with her fishing and conversation then ambling back to check on my rod, I felt a substantial tug on my line which did bend the rod tip off the horiziontal. Reassured that I had more than someone else's line on my hooks I reeled in and found I had hooked a couple of remora or sucker fish.

Unfortunately one dropped off as I was reeling in which left me with the one most unusual fish I've caught and the only fish caught by us for the day and, thus, the proud recipient of the Brian Woolhouse Cognition Fishing Cup!

After a very pleasant barbeque lunch and further no fish line dropping the crew ordered up lines and we motored off to drop anchor at Banana Island for a spot of swimming and diving from the dhow.

Here we were brief companions of the owners of a well appointed yacht and a private dhow with a string of jet-skis long-lining behind it before we headed back to shore and the need to prepare for the new week.

As the heading for this post indicated this week has been one of increasing heat and dust as summer creeps in to the Gulf.
Each day we've driven, in temperatures of 35-40C, through snakes of sand swirling in curlicues across the roads as the winds from Saudi begin a sweep towards the sea and through Qatar until to day when the dust has swirled sufficiently high to turn the sky white and to obscure the buildings around us. We can hardly see the Ramada hotel which is directly opposite us,or, for that matter, La Cigale in the other direction.
The more established ex-pats all promise higher temperatures and humidity and even dustier atmosphere. Our friendly chemist, with whom we chat when we go for our evening walks, has told us that at the height of summer, with the temperature in the 50s, the air has to be cut, sliced and filtered before one can breathe it!!

Other than these events Joy & I celebrated her birthday on Friday at La Cigale which was a very pleasant experience. Good food, well presented at one of Doha's 5 star hotels making Joy's birthday one worthy of memory.

Making her birthday even more memorable has been an invitation, not only to offer three paintings for an exhibition at the Souq Waqif, but to join another N.Z. artist in a joint exhibition of work in the future and two commissions of paintings to be done for other Cognition colleagues. As well, she has noticed an increase in traffic on her website ( ) which has made her really happy, especially if the interest gets her the feedback she has gotten from other ex-pats in the area.

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