Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Rose in the Desert?

Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex
After the holidays, we returned to Doha enshrouded in fog. The night of our arrival, after sleeping most of the daylight hours away, we went to the 20th ExxonMobil Open and watched Jo-Wilfried Tsonga crush Gael Monfils in the final match. It was my first live tennis match, and I really enjoyed it. There was actually a fog delay at the beginning of the match, because the word Qatar, painted on the court at both ends, was too slick and was caused the tennis players to slip. You can see the stadium in the lower right of the photo and the city center with the moon peeping in the background. The tournament concluded with a dramatic light show during which a montage of winners from previous years were highlighted. In fact, some of the previous winners were in attendance to thrill the onlookers. Unfortunately, all the delay and hoopla made for a long evening.

I had to go back to work at the Academic Bridge Program the next day. It was only for a meeting, so I wasn't teaching, but regular classes resumed midweek. The jet lag was slight and, as we had been traveling for more than 24-hours, we weren't quite 100%. Vito's school had also resumed, but he stayed home another day to rest and regain his energy. Everything should be firing on all cylinders next week, however.

It has been foggy almost every morning since we've been back, which is quite nice and refreshing. It burns off by late morning, and then there's the usual sunshine. The weather is warmer now than it was before we left on our Christmas / New Year's adventure. We had run into a little cold spell before the holidays, which seemed a little colder than usual, although my perspective is limited.

Today, we were invited by some friends to go on an adventure with our kids to look for a desert rose, a kind of stone that forms its petalled appearance under the sand in certain places. After taking Vito to soccer practice and despite having a great deal of work to do to prepare for the onrushing semester, I threw caution to the wind and we all rode out into the desert together.

The quest certainly took us too some remote parts of Qatar. Among the many unusual things we observed, the baby camel pictured here was, perhaps, the most striking. It couldn't even walk yet. The way the other camels crowded around it was interesting to watch.