Friday, March 21, 2014

Signs & Sentinels


 
Billboard signs tower over the ever present stream of traffic, are planted at intervals along highway medians and glued to bus stop shelters. It's the silhouette of a little boy peeking over what might be a table, keyboard, computer, window frame. "We all see you. You are not alone."
 
Isn't that nice? I thought. Like the famous line from the movie Avatar, Qatar sees me, my heart and soul and person-ness. No need to feel lost or alone so far from home, craving news of adult children, missing two beautiful, perfection-itself grandbabies who are busy growing up without me. Ahhhhhh. How thoughtful of the locals to touch base from behind those 10 foot walls; close the cultural divide to reassure and enlighten me. The veil is just a thin piece of fabric, after all.
 
Here's what others are saying about the ad, according to DohaNews.com:
 
…George Orwell 1984… 30 years later?
…I'm predicting it has something to do with kids observing us
…I think it's a child abuse campaign
…sounds/looks very sinister!
…felt like Big Brother state
…Scare the Children Into Submission campaign
 
Turns out we're all wrong: the ad is part of a three year initiative sponsored by Qatargas called "Qatar Belongs to Everyone" - the point of which is to reduce litter.
 
Yes, really.
 
In other words:
 
We all see you - leaving your campout waste at the Singing Dunes. You are not alone - on the planet or in this town, so stop spitting in the street, close that sewer valve and wash your car in the designated area.
 
Here are a few other curious signs seen around town:
 
Um, what?
photo credit: Bob Kennaley
 
No butter served here, maybe?
 
(snicker)
photo credit: Matt Mikus
read Matt's fantastic travel blog at postcardsandplaylists.com
 
In Doha, a "saloon" is a barber shop.
Perhaps the result of phonetic Arabic spelling for an English word, translated back into English: in Arabic, "salon" is spelled with a letter that makes the "oo" sound.
 
Other interesting displays:
 
Meet Consumer Rights Guy, economic superhero, Marshad, whose job is to save sanguine spenders from their own bad habits. He's seen dangling from ceilings, waiting at cash registers, posted to mall walls, in grocery stores and retail establishments.
(I think he's pretty awesome.)
 
 
Expats quickly learn the basics of prayer time "whens."
Bummer to spend all that time in traffic to get to (grocery store, meeting, lunch) only to be met by one of these…or realize there aren't any cashiers around at the time you're ready to check out.
 
Prayer and wudu' spaces are everywhere:
grocery stores, businesses, construction job sites.
This photo was taken on a college campus.
(I think this is pretty awesome too.)
 
We arrived in Doha too late to see the wild camels.
Still, I like this optimistic sign found near the Singing Dunes.
 
And finally, lest one forget:
 


Not the same as baking cookies with Krissy or reading a train book snuggled up to Killian.
But knowing the sentinels are afoot makes me feel warm and cozy in…a different way.
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