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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 76, Thursday - Doha

Mary Anne and I should go into the cartography business in Doha after the morning we had. Who knew it would be so difficult to find the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Turns out it is actually not that hard to find if you can get someone who actually knows where it is to give you directions, but finding someone who actually knows where it is, is another matter entirely. Don’t worry, I made it.

I took a picture of the sitting room where I waited:

A few other gentlemen joined me in the sitting room while they waited for their own appointments and I chatted a bit with one. When this gentleman came in he spoke to me first in French, I responded a bit but since my brain has been working so hard on Arabic it was easier for me to understand the French than to respond in it. I asked if he spoke English and he did only a little so we settled on Arabic as our primary language.

 A young man brought us coffee and we let it cool a little but the other gentleman drank his quickly and I felt bad making the young man wait for me so I tried to drink it quickly too. I think I only burnt off one layer of taste-buds.

Finally a young man came to take me up to my meeting. The three of us – the young man, the Minister, and I – had a nice conversation. They brought me some coffee, which is typical, but I think it was a cappuccino which is something I hadn’t been expecting as I had been served the typical Arabic coffee in the sitting room. I hadn’t finished my coffee by the time the formal meeting ended and the Minister insisted that I stay and do so; however, he had a meeting to attend so I went with the young man, named Mohammed, to work out a few details and finish my coffee.

It was at this point I realized that the coffee had a lot of sugar in it and the combination of the sugar and my lack of exposure to large amounts of coffee over the last few months (not that I drink all that much coffee at home) definitely contributed to me feeling rather energetic and personable. The caffeine didn’t really hit until after I left the office though, so, sorry about that Mary Anne! I definitely was very chatty for the rest of the day.

After the meeting, we went to pick up our newly framed pieces of art (yes, it did occur to me that they will be harder to pack this way but I have become a near-expert packer now). Then it was off for henna, round two!

I promised people that I would come home with henna, so here is me getting it done:


There were a lot of women in the parlor and I wish I could have taken pictures for you, but since the women were not fully covered (as it is really hard to get henna done that way) I couldn’t. It is pretty amazing though, to watch five women work on one client, covering her arms and legs with varying patterns.

This evening, Carnegie Mellon Qatar (where Terry works) held a Mexican themed “end of the semester” party. Yes, Mexican themed. When Mary Anne and I arrived, however, the main hall was mostly empty except for the tables which awaited a couple hundred people and the fiesta decorations. So where was everyone?
The main hall. See the cactus?

Terry & Mary Anne in Terry's office

Well, Mary Anne and I decided to go find Terry, who had stayed on campus to catch-up on some work before the party. Turns out, we had arrived a little before the big announcement of who would be hosting the 2018 and 2020 World Cups for soccer. Who knew?! Well, apparently everyone except me.

Everyone watching the bid announcement

Qatar was up for the 2020 bid, apparently against the US, and we (USA) were thought to be favored. The students and faculty had all gathered in a common area with a giant tv screen hooked up to a live feed of the announcement.

 If you care about all this, then I’m sure you watched it, and if you don’t then I’ll give you the short version: Qatar won the bid. The whole country subsequently went crazy. I’m half kidding; but seriously, people are celebrating as if they won the World Cup.
The announcement...

On our way home, we saw people driving around with Qatari flags flying out of their cars or painted on the windows. (The next morning, it was all over the papers and there were stories about all of the people who stayed out driving around and burning tires and just partying all over the country.)
I was excited mostly because now when I tell people at home that I am in Qatar they go, “Oh right, they’re going to be hosting a World Cup,” instead of what I use to get, which was usually a confused look.

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