Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vito's Prayer

When we leave our apartment, Vito likes to interact with the echo. This is one of his recent efforts:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Corniche, the Dhow, the Pearl, Oh, My!

Busy weekend. Thursday evening we went to The Pearl to eat and, aside from the unusual customized cars waiting for valet parking, we were quite impressed. We had only driven around the exterior of The Pearl once way back in August when it was really too hot to get out of the car and do anything. So Thursday, after parking and walking to the interior, we weren't really prepared for what we found there: a gigantic promenade (we only walked half of it before we were exhausted and realized that we had to walk all the way back) encircling a harbor full of yachts, high-rise luxury accommodations (some buildings were still unfinished), lights, fountains, music, shops (many still unoccupied), restaurants (we ate at The Noodle House and were quite pleased on all accounts), caf├ęs, and water taxis. It wasn't very crowded, but the restaurants were full. Vito was in heaven running up and down the exotic marble stairs and brick walkways and playing in the water. We didn't have our camera with us or we certainly would have taken some photos. In any event, we'll be returning there to discover more of the treasure.

Then on Friday night, we attended Doha's First Traditional Dhow Exhibition at Katara Cultural Village. There was much more traffic than we had anticipated, but that simply generated more excitement about the happenings. The exhibition was a display and events celebrating the old wooden Arabic boats that go by that name, and included food, artisans, and live music. People from many different Arab nations were in attendance, and, everywhere you looked, there were different groups of people wearing their traditional garments. The dhows were all anchored together close to shore, and visitors could actually board many of the vessels that were on display.

Later on the beach, we ran into an Italian couple we know and their kids amid all the mayhem and merry-making of the exhibition, and went with them for a gelato. The kids watched Tom and Jerry inside as the adults talked outside while the cars trundled past.

Doha City Center in the Background
Finally, today, while Angela was helping judge the Academic Bridge Program's debate competition, which was an all-day affair, Vito and I went to the Corniche to catch some of the hydroplane boat races that were taking place all weekend. Since we've been here in Doha, we hadn't really made time to stroll along the Corniche, which is a beautiful landscaped area along the bay here, so we were excited to find an opportunity to explore part of it. Unfortunately, after arriving, Vito vomited on me while we were waiting for the people that we were going to meet. That didn't deter me, however. A trip to the bathroom took care of most of the unsavory side effects and we stuck around to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

We met one of my colleagues at the park there, a neighbor of his (they both had two kids), and while us fathers sat on the grass and talked, the kids played together. Vito seemed to recover enough to play a little. Soon, though, as helicopters got in position above the water, the hydroplane heats started, and we all moved closer to the water to get a better view. The races were fun to watch, and followed by the French Air Force aerobatic team.

So, there you have our weekend of water-centered activities. Back to work tomorrow. Counting the weeks until the Winter holiday. In the meantime, next week, Arabian Thanksgiving considerations?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Down Came the Rain and Washed the Spider Out

Young man of steel.

We woke up with rain this morning at 7AM. I went out to take pictures, and it rained fairly hard for about three hours. It has been dry for awhile, now, but the sky is still grey and threatening.

I forgot to write you about Halloween, but there was holiday action here. Initially, it was not clear how many people would be participating or if it would even be acceptable. Vito's school had planned to have a Halloween parade after school on the day, but it was canceled at the eleventh hour due to a misunderstanding by some parents that all students were required to participate. In any event, we kind of did everything at the last minute. Luckily, Angela found a nice costume and it all worked out.

Pumpkins and palms.
Earlier in the week, someone had forwarded a picture of a pumpkin to everyone at work and suggested that, if we wanted trick-or-treaters to stop by our residences, we should print out the pumpkin and put it on our doors. You can see in the picture below that some people even had real pumpkins. Unfortunately, we didn't get any pumpkins. When we priced them at our little neighborhood Lulu's, they were around $5 per pound! Maybe next year...

Anyway, there were roving bands of costumed kids and adults in our housing lot. Everyone was walking from house to house looking for the pumpkins (or other obvious indications of Halloween welcome) on all the doors. It turned trick-or-treating into a kind of mystery as we had to look for the residences that were participating. The weather has been splendid, and many people were out on their porches to greet the kids and parents. There was even a haunted house in one townhouse that was quite good. It scared Vito, dressed as Superman, irrevocably. After the haunted house, he wouldn't go near anything that was on the scary side. Loot was generous and Vito could hardly carry his treat bag at the end of the evening. All told, we had a great time, and it really made us feel like we were back in the states for a little while.

On Saturday, we went to the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum with a friend and her two kids. The museum looks like a castle or a fortress with a large pond in the front complete and an old dhow or traditional wooden Arabic boat in the water. There appeared to be two main wings to the museum, although we only visited one on this occasion. Here, at left, is an unlabeled painting that I liked; however, there were dozens of others, equally unidentifiable, still on their easels. After viewing the old Arabic dress, jewelry, weaponry, furniture, doors, paintings, BSA motorcycles, carriages and children's toys, we thought it would be more interesting for the kids if we went to look at the animals that were rumored to be somewhere nearby. I had read that there were oryxes on the property but, after driving around and dodging all of the peacocks, we couldn't find any. I don't know if it will be in my best interest to say so, but there was a great deal of trash on the premises. Much of it, aside from the upturned snow-white styrofoam containers and blue plastic bags, was covered with dust, like everything in the desert, and difficult to see without close inspection.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

As the Crow Writes

Daddy woke up and made pancakes this morning. I should say that Vito woke us up and then demanded that the rest of us get out of bed, too. So I got up and made breakfast. Vito helped. He likes to mix the batter. In fact, he likes to cook. While I'm writing this, he is in the kitchen preparing a Play-Doh apple crumble.

We picked up our new car Thursday night, a Honda CR-V, on the last day before the Eid al-Adha holiday. No work next week! We called the rental company to return our rental car, but there was no answer yesterday. It can be tough to get through to people on Fridays since it's the holy day here.

Yesterday morning after Vito's soccer practice, we went to Carrefour and bought a few chairs, a cooler and a BBQ, and now we're ready to hit the beach. Can't wait to explore more deeply into the Q. We would start today, but we have to go to a birthday party this afternoon, and I have my last djembe drum circle meeting tonight. Otherwise, the weather has been wonderful lately. 9AM as the crow writes and the temperature is 84° F (29° C) with nary any humidity. I have been told that it will remain this way until March when it will warm up again. Caw!

My Arabic lessons have fallen by the wayside for various reasons, but Angela has been studying regularly at Carnegie-Mellon, an Education City university.

It is written that Vito will pursue a new ride of his own today, so we're heading out now to look at bicycles...