Friday, March 30, 2012

Why I'm Not Posting a Blog Today

Test on Tuesday!

To tide you over, here are some images from last week's cloudy day walkabout - past the guards, beyond the gates and INSIDE the amazing hidden (to me) park BEHIND the Islamic Museum:

the BACK of the museum - that's the Heart of Doha (Bob's project) at the photo's center

cool place to sit (and study, which is what I did here)

interesting structure, nifty clouds

inside the interesting structure

another cool place to sit, um lay, and stare at the Persian Gulf - believe it or not, even I was not bold enough to photograph the young couple seen lounging here moments later

beyond the hill and family preparing to picnick (popular activity here) - wide body of water and… towering West Bay buildings (farther away than they appear)

the Pearl (where we live)!

More coming soon…

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bob Goes to the Hospital

A solid gym workout.  A night of howling wind and spitting sand.  Hazy, thick morning air. Coffee, tea, meetings…and then: broiling chickens on an indoor grill.  Upstairs lunchroom.  Hot air rising. Hot "Egyptian Chicken."  Hot.  Space. Hot. Rice. Hot…
…water?  Too late.
Helped downstairs.  Sandy air refreshes.  "I'm fine," he says.
But the boss insists, so he goes:
To hospital.
Gets EKG.  Everything looks good (black sox excepted).
Blood work done.  No problems there (doesn't watch).


Waits some more. Keeps waiting. Waits a lot…just like in every hospital in every city in the world.

And finally, the prescription:

If you live in a place where the air looks like this:

And the temperature feels like this:

And you're doing much of this:

It's important to drink lots and lots of this:

So your healthy, happy life may continue…like this:

Happily, Bob is FINE, everyone!  :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Open Letter to the Sun

Dear Sun,
It's been three long days since I felt your kiss warm on my face.  Three days since your light has brightened the sky, shimmered against the water, reflected itself in glass.

Three days of cold wind and blowing sand.  Three days of watering eyes, absent horizons and gritty floors…inside the house.

Three days, Sun.

Remember how we helped Hannah find seashells on the beach?
Have you forgotten the great time we had jogging at the park and snuggling by the pool?  Those intimate walks along the Corniche?

Did it mean anything to you, Sun?

They tell me that your hazy bed is a merely a prelude to a summer of boiling water and scorched earth.  That you'll be back with a vengeance to belie our earlier closeness.  That one day soon even the sand and wind won't be able to cool your fury.

Must you withhold these last few days of dry, blue, beach sky?

I miss you.
Signed, an admirer

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Come to Dubai: where you might view the horizon from the world's tallest building (if you can get tickets and if you can see the cityscape through the sand).  Visit the dolphinarium, underwater zoo, forts, museums.  Ride a camel, take a desert tour, play ice hockey, ice skating, sand bashing, dune buggy-ing.  Enjoy dhow, water taxi and bus rides, water and light shows, first run American and European movies.

And that's just day one.

Surf, swim and sun on sandy (manmade) beaches:

Goggle over strange architectural wonders from the Big Red Bus (the same open top vehicle London made famous): 

There is snow skiing in Dubai:

There is drinking in Dubai:

There is shopping in Dubai:

There is green in Dubai:

(According to the Big Red Bus's taped tour guide, Dubai has the highest water consumption in the world; it takes 250 million gallons of wet stuff a day to keep this desert city green.)

There are malls a-plenty in Dubai - with merry go rounds, amusement parks, zoos, restaurants, souks and more…indoors, out of the blazing equatorial(ish) heat.

You won't need a car to "do" Dubai, either: there's a clean, easy access New York style subway "Metro" - along with buses and taxis too.

So, g'on now:  come to Dubai!

…unless you're expecting to learn Arabic - or experience actual Middle Eastern culture, values and traditions.

According to a local source (and personal observation), only 20% of the people who live in Dubai are Emiratis.  The rest are from the Philippines (and maybe one or two other places.)  Sure, ads are in Arabic and English - but a lot of signs are in English only.  There are posted reminders to "please respect our traditions by covering your knees and shoulders" but people still dress in all manner of non-Islamic respecting ways: tube tops, shorts, flip flops…and those are the men.  Female tourists wear backless dresses and see-through skirts with sandals - which make it easier to recognize the prostitutes because they mostly wear high heels.

Oh, yes - there is prostitution in Dubai.  One website claims that after oil was discovered and foreigners poured into the country, locals kidnapped expat wives, used - and returned - them.  When foreigners, um…balked…at such practice, leadership thought again, and began importing women for said purpose  (

If you're a pretty, young girl (ie, MY DAUGHTER), please don't "do Dubai" solo.

In truth, we did hear the call to prayer - once - piped into the mall.  We did see a few traditionally garbed families.  As in Doha, there is a cultural center in Dubai, tasked with sharing information about local customs and Islam. But really - why bother?  Dubai may be in the Middle East, but it's not "Middle Eastern."

Go horseback riding instead.
More pics: 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cindi Gets a Ticket...(or two)

In Doha, people pass on the curb, park on the sidewalk, drive on the wrong side of the street.  That does NOT mean you (should) too.

I'm the black car parked in the middle of the street - along with all those other (UNticketed) cars.
doing what everyone else does is bad

see circle on window?

that would be a violation sticker

But officer, everyone does it!  Why was I singled out to receive a ticket?

Was it the Budget-Rent-a-car sticker?  My little blonde head?  That it's against the rules and I shouldn't have parked there?  All of the above?

In researching "what to do next" Bob (not so cheerfully) discovered…there were actually two tickets issued against his car.  Wow, coincidence as I'd parked in that spot, in that manner, in that line of cars exactly…twice.

Here are a few traffic violation repercussions:

"Using mobile phone while driving:  QAR 3,000-QAR10,000 (approx. $825-$2,750USD) or up to 1 year imprisonment...

"Driving Under the Influence of Liquor...Driving in the Opposite Direction of the Traffic Flow...Not Wearing Seat Belts...Not Leaving Enough Space Between 2 Vehicles...Beating the Red Light: QAR10,000-QAR50,000 (approx. $2,750-$13,750USD) or 1 Month to 1 year imprisonment or Both..."

Oh, and no leaving the country until consequences are addressed.

Turned out my tickets cost QAR300 EACH (about $83.00USD).  Bob was not pleased.
Bob looking displeased

But the real punishment was the 45 minutes it took to drive through afternoon traffic and construction to pay up.  On a sunny day when I'd planned on… the beach.
beautiful Katie at the Inland Sea


But don't worry.  I've learned my lesson.  No (more) doing what everyone else does,

Unless it involves sun and sand…