Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Visit to Doha

Part 1 is the written version, Part 2 is my visit in Pictures.
Doha November 2009
I left from the Dubai airport and Matthew & Timothy helped me. I needed a plastic bag for my liquids and off Matthew went to find me one – it was quite a walk away and he walks faster than me. Oh, and that’s right he had to pay for it. Off through security down the walkway & I arrive at the plane door, only to remember I had left my liquids at security. DRAT!! I asked and the steward suggested I go back to the gate check –in. With some discussion the hostess made me realize it was too far to walk back. Double Drat!! By the time I got to the door the second time, the steward was saying sorry to me. I must have looked as distressed as I felt. I got seated and a hostess came to me, knelt beside me and offered me a bag of goodies compliment of the staff. It contained a tube of moisturizer, little compact toothbrush and toothpaste, playing cards and then apologized that they didn’t have the hand sanitizer. Settled in my seat then another young hostess came and spoke to me. This I recognized as a good Aussie accent. She had heard that about me leaving my hand sanitizer at security and offered me hers from the Body shop. She apologized it had been used but that I was welcome to take it. Which I did and every time I use it I think of her.
Our conversation went a bit like this,
“That’s a good Aussie accent, where are you from?”
“Me too, where ‘bouts?
“Really, me too, where ‘bouts?”
“I went to Runcorn High, and was on the student council.”
“No way, I work there and my children went there, how old are you, I have photos of my children, this is Naomi, Timothy, Hannah… “
“I know Hannah, and this one” – pointing to Eliza.
“No way, what’s your name?”
“Laura Gregory.”
Off Laura went because she was working. Not 2mins later she returned and asked, “Are you travelling alone?” “Yes” “Will you follow me?” I went from sitting in row 9 economy to sitting row 1 in Business class. There Laura offered me some juice and fruit as I hadn’t eaten all day. That was before we had even taken off. The story doesn’t finish there because when we landed Business class exits first, so I walked off as well to a bus waiting to take only Business class to the terminal. On our way the bus stopped and I watched Royalty walking across the tarmac. So I got inside the terminal and was asked Business class? I thought “I guess so”, and was ushered straight to the visa entry and straight through. My bag was one of the first off was through in less than 10mins.
Mohammed and Ola picked me up at the airport. We stopped a couple of mins from home where I changed into an Abyah, Shaylah and Veil that Mohd had bought for me. Ola filmed the surprise when Asma & I finally met after 2 years.
That night we walked along the Corniche, then on the way home Mohd stopped at a little take-away and bought us dinner. I ate a most delicious chicken wrap thingo.
I slept so well, then in the morning was able to speak briefly to my mum, dad, sister Nona and little brother Andrew.
I ate persimmon every day. I thought how Eliza would have loved to have been there to share with me and Yellow dates.
Tarsina is such a good cook, I ate foods like, meatball soup, seafood soup, fresh juices, Mohd cooked a BBQ that was so delicious. The meat for the kebabs was marinated in black pepper, and black lemon. Delicious. Asma made a yoghurt dish from Sudan. Yummo! I am going to try that one Monday night here. I tried 2 new drinks from Sudan Kakadar is a red drink. I asked Ola to google to show me the flower that this drink comes from. Well I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the Hibiscus. Asma sent some home with me and the other drink is a black drink that they only drink during Ramadan. Very different and rich with spices. Asma sent her last bit home with me.
We went to the shopping center where I took a photo of a car worth over $1m. There is a river thingo where you can ride gondolas up and down. The center has been extended and wasn’t finished when we were in Doha. Looks great now.
Many of the round-abouts have gone and been replaced with Traffic lights. It has seemed to have calmed the traffic and it flows a bit better.
I loved being with Asma, that was truly my desire, just to go with her wherever she went and do whatever she was doing. We would take Ola to school after 7 then pick her up a bit after 1pm. I loved to stand at the gate where all the students primary and high would stand and wait to be picked up. I would yell Ola, Ola, Ola so she would come. At first I think it took her quite by surprise then she knew it was coming. She would smile at me. From the very first time we met I have wanted to do distributions with her. So that was wonderful to see Asma in action with Tarsina right there beside her.
Tarsina is the housemaid. She is from Indonesia, and fits under my armpit. She is tiny and has the most beautiful smile. I loved the way she called me “mamma Rhonda.” She didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Indo it would have been funny sometimes to watch us try to talk. We usually got to know what the other was saying with mime or run to Ola or Asma to interpret. Asma had a signal with Tarsina, I learnt it meant to open the gate or turn on the computer.
I met some wonderful people while in Doha, Mr Yussif a neighbor of Asma’s is a real gentleman. He helps with distributions. There is also a young couple next door with a couple of children. They would always smile and wave. We were invited to Brunch with a most wonderful Qatari lady. She is so kind, welcoming and I learnt some traditions from her. On arrival I was invited to have incense smoke go up my skirt and blouse. It was a lovely scent, I did breathe in the wrong time once and ended up coughing and spluttering with lungs full of smoke. J The other tradition that I just loved was when leaving the hostess brings a tray of perfumes and the guest applies her choice before leaving. Om Ahmed applied a few different ones so I smelt really good when I left. As I was to fly out early (2am thank you Matthew) the next day, Om Ahed had some gifts delivered to Asma’s house for me. I brought home a book in English of meanings of the Quran, a couple of traditional dresses and perfumes, incense and the burners.
Asma, Mohd, Ola and Tarsina also shared gifts with me as I was leaving. The incense burner will be treasured, a traditional dress that I love to wear to relax on Fridays and shawls for when the weather is cooler, then Tarsina and Ola gave me lots of hearts etc. The gift that helps me remember Asma are the shoes she took off her feet and gave to me. Now when I walk, wherever I go I walk with Asma. To have assisted Asma with the distributions and see the good work she does left me in awe of this wonderful woman. She never thinks of herself and always puts others first. What a wonderful example.

We went to the area where I used to live, I had heard on the news that 5-6 shops had been burnt near the curly Mosque, so I got some photos. Asma took me to the fruit and vege, fish, live stock and Camel markets. It was funny because when we got Ola from school she spoke to her mum in Arabic and asked, “What is that terrible fish smell?” When Asma interpreted that we laughed because it was us. J
The last night in Doha I got to catch up with a dear friend that I met where I did some work when I was there 2yrs ago. She is still as loving and kind as I remembered although she had lost 10kgs.
I have learnt a couple of sayings from Asma, “As you like,” or “At your ease,” and “take your time.” Asma has a kind heart and would comment as we passed one of the workers, “Poor he, or poor she, or Poor they.”
I learnt teachings of Islam and admire the believers for their dedication and faith.
On one of our excursions we were down at the water and driving past these men sitting on their boat. I commented to Asma “I wonder if they would let me take a photo?” Before I knew it she had put the car into reverse and was asking them. They were obliging and we were invited onto the boat by a couple of Qatari men. They are having a boat built. The workmanship was amazing. It will be beautiful when completed. It is a wooden vessel. It was tricky climbing aboard up onto a chair then onto the deck, but the real interesting part was coming off the boat onto the chair, but the boat had drifted away from the walkway. J We must have looked a silly site. I went first so that I could help Asma down.
I got to see where Mohd works and meet his colleague, who is also named Mohammed. He also is a gracious man and is a good friend with Mohd, he also happens to be married to Om Ahmed.
I had a most wonderful time with the most wonderful friends, and have memories that will last a life time. All that is left to say is, “Inshalla they will have the opportunity to come and visit us in Australia.”

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