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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 65, Sunday - Doha

*Thank you for your patience. And now...*

Today was a busy one.

The main street 
Mary Anne and I started out the day by going to the souq, Souq Waqif. We first walked down the main stretch and then through the small side streets. The souq is organized by what they are selling, so there is an area for textiles, another for repairs, another for food stuffs, etc.

One "sidestreet"

The first area we visited after the main street is one of Mary Anne’s favorites, and now one of mine as well: the falcon shops.

That’s right, there is a cluster of shops which sell falcons. Hunting with flacons is a popular pastime of Qataris and so the market for good birds is strong.

When we walked into the first shop, I was surprised to find the birds sitting in an area, surrounded by a short wall, just a few feet from us. The birds had hoods on, of course, to keep them calm. We walked through a few of the shops and saw gentlemen discussing the birds and possibly negotiating a sale.
Birds inside

Some were also outside in a courtyard

I love this picture:

I even got to hold one!

After the falcons, Mary Anne took me to a shop where a gentleman makes model dhows (boats). His shop was also full of other random and antique looking objects, such as old cameras and sewing machines. We also walked through the jewlery making/reparing area and the textile repair area.

Then we headed over to a gentleman known as “The Old Pearl Diver” who owns a pearl shop where he sells jewelry but he also was happy to tell us about his days as a pearl diver and then a body builder. Apparently he is quite famous for his talks about traditional pear diving and has a photo album full of newspaper articles written about him and pictures of him with all sorts of famous people, from athletes to politicians.

He told us all about how he and a bunch of guys would all go out on a ship for a couple months during the good weather of the year to harvest the pearls. On board the ship were the captain, the divers, and the divers’ helpers. The divers would put a clip on their noses and then each one would jump in the water with a heavy rock on a rope slipped around the foot to take them down. They also had a knife to cut the oysters and a basket tied to a rope in order to collect the oysters and to be used as a signal and a way for the helpers to pull the divers back up. The divers would typically stay down for about two minutes at a time.

Pearl diving was, and still is, an important part of the Gulf region’s economy.

After the pearl diver it was over to the spice section. The smell of the spices permeates the air so it is impossible to miss once you get anywhere close to it. I love the way they pile the spices. It reminds me of pyramids.

Next, we found ourselves in an area where the stores were selling pets. There was an amazing number and variety of birds as well as fish, lizards, bunnies, kittens, and turtles. I want one of these little turtles, I think they are adorable.

This kitten was also especially cute:

After our tour of the souq, we headed back to the car for our next stop: the sheep, goat, and camel market!

So, Mary Anne had warned me that if the sales guys at the market got too friendly, we would just get back in the car and drive away. I wasn’t too worried, but it is better to be prepared.

As we started to drive through the area (by the way, it was a slow time of day in terms of sales, I think most people do their livestock shopping in the morning or maybe the evening as well) the young men waved at us to try and flag us down in order to sell us something.

One gentleman’s waving seemed rather insistent and we thought that perhaps we weren’t supposed to be in that area. Mary Anne stopped the car and lowered her window. The guy walked over and asked what kind of sheep we were looking for.

Mary Anne told him that we didn’t want anything but that we were just looking. By this time several more guys had surrounded the vehicle and a few came over to my side of the car and were tapping on my window to try to get me to lower it, but I know better than that. :)
I took this later: can you see the finger marks on the car?

The guys on Mary Anne’s side started asking if I was Arab and if I was married. A couple more guys even brought over an adorable black baby goat for me to see and I really wanted to take a picture of it, and the guys, but I knew better than that as well because it would have only caused more of a scene. I think that by the time Mary Anne rolled up her window and started to drive away, there were about a dozen guys around the car. I’m not kidding. I thought it was funny. :)

May Anne said, “Well, it looks like we won’t be getting out of the car.” But, we did end up finding a sort of “alleyway” of the pens so that I could get out a take a couple of pictures.

From the sheep and goats we went over to the camels. There were lots of camels and a variety of colors:
Traditional "camel" color

Another black one for my mom (okay, so technically dark brown)

A white one
There were also baby camels:
Baby camel and its mom!
Next stop was the plant shop where Mary Anne wanted to pick up a couple of things for their house. And here is a picture of her at the store:

Then we went to see the fruit and vegetable market:

Mary Anne tells me that this is where the produce comes first before it is distributed to the stores around the city so this is where it is freshest. It is sort of arranged in a square pattern where the middle is open, one half is mostly fruits and then the other is mostly vegetables, then there is a second ring with more stalls that sell both.

After that it was off to Mega Mart, which is where you go for American products and where we stopped to pick up the turkey that Mary Anne had ordered for Thanksgiving! (She had actually ordered it several weeks before because I think they are not an easy thing to get, but they had been storing it for her since it is hard to keep a bird that big in the home freezer for very long.)

The last stop was “West Bay Petrol Mart” or something like that, which is like a gas station with a few little stores for different food items, a pharmacy, etc.

By this point it was time to head home.

Living at the Murphy’s is a cross between American and Middle Eastern culture; so, we had a more typical sit-down dinner, instead of the Middle Eastern sit-down lunch. We also ate at a more American time and I only ate as much as I felt like eating without feeling afraid of offending anyone by not eating more.

I have also been acquainted with the location of everything I need to make my black tea with low fat milk and sugar, and I have been assured that I can make it as often as I like. :)

And that was my first full day in Doha.


  1. LOVE the camels!! and you should bring home that kitten!