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From Doha, With Love : Minimal Changes


SO I've been to Doha a few times already by now. Minimal or no changes at all on this flat land of sand and sandstorms, except that the population seemed to have increased by god-knows-how-many-folds judging from the volume of people seen at the popular Souk Waqif in the city centre two days ago. It's like people have multiplied like the sea sands. The last few times I was there, I remember liking the place for what it was - a perfect venue to people-watch, smoke Shisha and be a tourist. Now I don't know if that's a good thing...


...if there aren't enough social venues for this astounding volume! Perhaps, I'm a little spoiled coming from a city where food is available 24 hours a day, with freedom of alcohol consumption at random bistros and cafes and to do just about everything I wished for in a cultural setting that doesn't stare at me like I'm some kind of a three-eyed monster. I suppose people here are just a curious bunch given the potpourri of nationalities that transit or live and work here. But seriously. Doha could do with more social venues because...


...I found myself hanging at an art exhibition today! Well, I do like and appreciate art for what it's worth but I won't pretend to know every stroke and technique, and stand in line for the artist's autograph to grace my left butt cheek. Visiting Takashi Murakami's Ego was a concerted effort because I went there twice and the place was closed. No reasons given. "Come tomorrow. We are open from 12 evening to 8 afternoon," said a man in a Sheikh costume to me in an impatient tone during my second attempt. Anyway, third's a charm. Ego was naturally all about the man behind the iconic Doraemon. A host of colourful work based on Japanese cartoons and anime, and giant sculptures of Murakami ruled the show. I think if lived here for a year I might even be absorbed into the world of the artsy fartsy if I'm not spending too much time...


...at hotel Happy Hours where alcohol is served! That's right. You can only purchase alcohol at the hotels here, and if you're going to buy them for home consumption, you'd need an alcohol permit, and purchase your stock from the one and only Qatar Distribution Company. Well, you might think I'm an alcoholic by now. Haha. All I'm saying is I don't want to be enclosed in a rigid hotel setting for a glass of something nice. Did you know that I ended up paying 300 Rials (about USD$100) for a double shot of Famous Grouse at a lounge here? Eventually smoking up Shisha the entire evening is going to burn a hole in your lungs too. 


A balloon sculpture of Murakami welcomes visitors at the
exhibition
 These happy flowers lace most of Murakami's works


Comments

  1. I'm glad to hear you had such a fun time in Doha Jaya, I love those flowers too! I can't believe you paid so much for the Grouse too, I hope it was worth it, alcohol laws there sound so crazy!

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    Replies
    1. actually Matthew, there is nothing much to do here. lol. yeah. the flowers are nice and the Grouse was a cut-throat!
      :)

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  2. Are there different laws for muslims and non-muslims regarding alcohol consumption? I vaguely remember hearing something of the sort.

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    1. muslims are not allowed to purchase alcohol from the qatar distribution centre but they do enjoy drinking at the hotels. even some local people do.
      :)

      Delete
  3. I like art too, but only up to a certain point before I get bored. But one thing I never get bored of is Shisha (although I hardly smoke these days)... especially the mint-strawberry flavour ;D

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    Replies
    1. i love mint-strawberry flavour too, Azra.
      but i havent smoked any of it since my arrival here :(

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    2. Don't tell me you smoke!

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    3. why the sad face ??

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    4. I just remembered a particular day in September 2011 like it was yesterday. It was 8 a.m. and I was walking to our local supermarket, extremely ill, no air in my lungs and coughing like I was going for a new world record, when this 16-year-old girl walks up to me (I was still coughing) and says, 'Do you have a lighter?' I just looked at her and shook my head. All I could think of was: young and stupid. Sigh.

      Delete
    5. i've passed that young and stupid stage, RC. i'm good now :)

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    6. Hahahahaha. You're still young. We've already talked about it. And stupid.... well, stupid may be a big word. Maybe a tad unwise? Isn't it funny how we change as time passes by?

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    7. yup. i can't believe myself sometimes seeing the changes in the way i think now and then. i like me now better in many ways although there are some naivety about myself then that i miss.
      as for being still young...i'm an old soul, RC.
      :)

      Delete
  4. Whoa, that's a lot of hoops to jump through for some booze! Yikes..

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  5. Can only buy it in hotels and need a license geez, that would not make many alcoholics happy.

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    1. it certainly does not, Pat. too many restrictions. and pork is banned here too !

      Delete
  6. My, my – smoking Shisha and drinking alcohol! Sounds like quite a good time… ;)
    Oh, yeah - and the art exhibit, too… ;)

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    Replies
    1. haha. i havent been smoking though. it gives me a headache.
      but been eating nice food. there are some very nice restaurants here.
      :)

      Delete
  7. Hey Jaya,

    I agree that the Arab nations have a lot to offer however their tourism side is pretty under developed. I really like the way Dubai has shaped up and the difference is very evident when one drops by to Abu Dhabi and then one wud appreciate the Dubai sheikh's vision n guts to stand out.

    Never been to Qatar, though I'm hearing of a lot of people going there now.. aah, next time, if I ever happen to go der, I'll keep this post in mind :)

    Nice one, Jaya :)

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    Replies
    1. hey Raj. thanks. tourism is under-developed, that's true. i like Dubai. when i'm bored here, it's just less than an hour away. in comparison, Qatar still has a long way to go but i suppose there are some big plans to stand out.

      there are tonnes of foreigners here who are kind of holding up the economic system. the natives are just too rich to work :)

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  8. I don't drink alcohol so I would be very wealthy with the money I saved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that saves a lot of money of course !
      :)

      Delete
  9. All I'm saying is I don't want to be enclosed in a rigid hotel setting for a glass of something nice... Sure that's all you're saying. First you smoke and now you drink????? Good.

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    Replies
    1. that's all i'm saying, RC. really. it can be depressing if you live here.
      :)

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  10. Never been that side of the world before, though I'd like to visit someday.

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    Replies
    1. u should. it's an interesting side of the world :) from its culture to landscape and people...
      :)

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  11. This was such an interesting post, Jaya! And I totally forgive you for making me have to Google Doha to know what you were talking about. LOL

    I must say I'm very thankful for the abundant happy hours we have here all over Portland. :)

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    Replies
    1. thank you Susan ! yes Doha. the host of the one of the World Cups to come :)
      yes, you are lucky indeed in Portland :)

      Delete
  12. Sounds like it's a lot more fun than my weekend.

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    1. with that much of paperwork on your desk...i think so too.
      hope all is good with you.

      Delete
  13. I've only ever stopped over in Doha on a flight to the UK and I have to admit that it seemed fairly dull, no offense Qataris, I'm sure that there is plenty of culture to be had amidst the sand. I agree that KL is pretty well geared up for a good time. I'm a big fan of the Backyard Bar incidentally, particularly on a Friday night. Alcoholic? Perhaps!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. incidentally, i end up drinking a whole lot more when i'm with you. perhaps that makes the two of us alcoholics ?? :)
      KL is good. it's home. welcome home.
      ;)

      Delete
  14. I am going there now. I will meet you at the hotel for some drinks!

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  15. Shisha is potent, i passed out while smoking it, despite trying not to inhale because i knew it has tens of times more nictone in it than a ciggerette. The art looked interesting, the middle east has a few interesting museums and things dotted around. How do you find the locals staring?. In the middle east men tend to have a good long look like a half starved dog. It was disturbing when i saw it.Good luck anyway, it is always good to see other country's and cultures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it is potent. you're right about that - smoking shisha at one time is equivalent to 20 cigarettes or more, because the nicotine content in the tobacco is not regulated like how it is with cigarettes. in Doha, there is the islamic art museum - designed by the same architect who designed the Lourve. sometimes, they have interesting exhibitions here. yes, they stare :p

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  16. Wow! A hundred dollar shot? I'd be lucky to get the last few drops out of a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 right now. Glad you saw to some happy times, Jaya!

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    1. it's ridiculous !
      thanks :p

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  17. The artwork looks great. nursemyra x

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    1. thanks for dropping by Nursie :)
      yeah. the works are quite nice, but maybe also a bit too obnoxious - i wasnt allowed to take photos at the galleries so i couldnt put the pics up here.

      Delete
  18. Lol @ Shockgrubz, You had me at shisha!

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  19. what an education you are getting!! pretty amazing how different and the same...I miss traveling!!! lucky you.

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  20. Great blog, followed :)

    http://fizzvideo.blogspot.com/

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  21. So that sculpture was made out of a balloon? That's wild.

    ReplyDelete

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