Friday, November 13, 2009

Films, DVDs, Family and paintings

Forgive me if this blog is a little maudlin but there are times when one heads of in that direction.

Doha life has been busy for us both since our last blog. As I said we took in the Doha Tribeca Film Festival - at least two of the films - Bright Star (Jane Campion) and Harry Brown, starring Michael Caine in his "last"movie.
The latter was one of the toughest films Joy and I have seen for a long time. It was one of the blackest pieces of social commentary to come out of the UK for years, a cross between Ken Loach (of the Cathy Come Home genre) and Don Seigel's Dirty Harry which left us despairing of the present self centred, selfish society that we seem to have allowed to develop and which, in its end, will spawn the vigilante who, desperate and wrathful, acts as the purgative that society seeks to recreate order and decency.

Even though the film ended with a high - the aged vigilante surveying a peaceful and clean housing estate - the over whelming sense of depression and hopelessness of the scenes left us feeling uncomfortable for our support of Michael Caine's Harry Brown in his battle to purge the community of the corruption that was destroying people's lives.

Some days later I was sitting at the traffic lights,giving all those drivers who needed to turn across my lane time to avoid an accident, when I found myself thinking of Dad and the pleasure we had in our Friday phone calls and the many jokes and stories we had shared over 6o years and the tears came making it even harder, than the traffic allowed, to drive across the intersection and head for home. Then, a week later, the DVD of the funeral arrived so Joy and I played it through to end up comforting each other as we watched the send off we gave Dad. The laughter that farewelled the Old Man was an endorsement of the life he lived and the pleasure he'd shared with others.

It was a reminder that we should and can get on with living and enjoy fun and laughter with an item we're rehearsing for the Cognition Christmas Dinner scheduled for the 17th of December.

Joy has created and hand-sewn the costumes and choreographed the item which we're rehearsing two times a week in our apartment. A tight fit for six of us!! All I can say is that if the hall doesn't collapse in laughter then our collective sense of humour will have disappeared.

Joy has also found an outlet for her Doha paintings in a dusty handmade furniture, handicraft and carpets antique shop,The Green Door, in a street just off Al Jazira. The shop is owned by a friendly Jordanian, Ghassan who agreed to exhibit her paintings to the tourists and businesses that deal there. While she was negotiating the commission and procedures a tall Qatari came into the room. Ghassan introduced us,although, I learned later,Joy missed the name until I asked her if she had realised that the man she'd been talking to was Sheik Abdulla Al-Thani, a member of the ruling family of Qatar.

Sheik Abdulla is a local artist in his own right as well as having an interest in the Green Door as he appeared to go on Ghassan's buying expeditions to India. Anyway, he liked Joy's work, which was great, and suggested some other places and things she could look to painting in the future.

Later in the week we hosted one of the Qatari teachers who wanted to practice his conversational English with us. He stayed for a couple of hours chatting about politics - national and international - families and travel before he went to pick his wife up from a workshop at one of the local hotels. We are now looking forward to going to Al Wakra to meet him and his family. This will no doubt be the focus of our next blog.

On the work scene we are busier than ever with reports and paperwork to be completed in what seems to be ever tighter time-frames. It certainly makes the experience worthwhile and professionally rewarding. Our work has been reported on in the local papers with the publication of a complimentary report from the RAND group who have reviewed the effectiveness of the SSO teams and the reforms and found that our work has made significant impact on Qatari education so I feel that my decision to take up the contract with Cognition has been vindicated.

On Monday night we had the choice of The Doha Debates or a Literary Evening. We chose the Literary Evening and went to the Doha Writers Group literary reading to hear a British Muslim writer, Shelina Zahara Janmohamed, read and discuss her novel - "Love in a Headscarf - a Muslim woman seeks the One." An amusing evening as she regaled us with stories of buxom aunties, mosque Inmans, romantic comedies, arranged marriages and being British. A rewarding evening with Joy taking home a novel that she is enjoying.

We are now hosting Dave and Shirley Parry on their return trip to NZ after their contract in Doha and holiday in the UK . Dave is keen to see the friendly match between England and Brazil here in Doha this weekend and to catch the sun and sights before heading back to the Pacific.

With the Eid break (26 Nov -6 Dec) we're heading over to Abu Dhabi to catch up with Peter Rocha, ex Otahuhu, and perhaps head over to Oman to catch a glimpse of different Gulf States and climates. That will, no doubt, be the centre of our next blog.

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