Monday, December 08, 2008

Five ways in which living in Doha is like being on the Starship Enterprise

  1. There is a constant low hum in the background
  2. Arabic and Klingon sound remarkably alike
  3. We encounter new races every day
  4. We spend a lot of time a long way above the ground
  5. It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.
This is why our motto is 'What would Picard do?' It works in most situations. Rob has already told staff to 'make it so'. I suggested he try 'resistance is futile' next, but he says they know that already.

Rain and other things

This weekend just gone I got my new camera set up and working. I am very pleased with it. It's my first digital SLR and I think (fingers crossed) I can use the lenses from my 35mm SLR with it, although I'll have to wait til we go back to the UK to test that theory. I bought it online from the UK because with the pound being weak things are much cheaper. Despite the lack of purchase tax in Qatar, decent electronics (rather than knock-offs from the souk) are expensive.

I took photos of my recently completed socks (basic ribbed socks using MiddleEarthKnitter's sock yarn in Captain Jack):

Basic ribbed socks
my on-the-needles socks (Roza's Socks from Interweave Knits using 100% cashmere from Knitting Goddess in Brown Owl):

my on-the-needles stole (Matryoshka Stole from Knitscene using Rowan Calmer in Coffee Bean. This is my first time knitting with beads and it's actually easier than it looks):

and the incredible light after a massive rainstorm with thunder and lightning:

It was so good to see and hear and feel rain. I had some laundry hanging on the roof to dry and in the time it took me to bring in 4 towels and a mat, I was absolutely drenched and had to change my clothes. It was television rain -- the kind of huge drops at high density they use on TV to make sure they show up on camera. We spent most of Saturday doing housework so the rain didn't adversely affect our day. When we weren't busy sweeping up tumbleweeds of cat hair, we leant out of the window and watched the storm. The traffic was at a standstill out on the C-Ring road because many people here aren't used to driving in the rain.

We also watched Spiderman 3 and while I enjoyed it, I was disappointed that they still haven't broached the subject of how he gets out of the bath.

In other news: I saw on the TV that John Barrowman got his cock out live on BBC Radio 2. Apparently they had one complaint, presumably from someone complaining that they couldn't see it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Archy and Mehitabel (almost)

At work yesterday there was a cockroach the size of a Shetland pony (well, at least as long as my thumb) in the wash bay. I set Captain Jack the Workplace Cat onto it. I thought he would be glad of the exercise but he was very reluctant to pursue it. He half-heartedly followed it around until it went to ground under the weighing scale.

It occurred to me that maybe, like Archy and Mehitabel, they were friends. And then when I got to work this morning I found Word open on my PC and this on the screen:

jack the stowaway arrives in doha

i got here in a box of spare parts
it looked interesting
and smelled of work
how was i to know where i would end up
i suppose boss that everyone
gets to doha the same way

With apologies to Don Marquis :-)

Buying beads from the Taliban

On Saturday I got together for a coffee with a friend from knitting group. We sat in the rocking chairs outside the Coffee Beanery at Cholesterol Corner (a.k.a. Ramada Signal) and knitted socks for a while. The weather was just right for outdoor knitting – not too hot and not too cold, although there were rather a lot of flies. We knitted until the sun started to go down, then we went to the Taliban Store.

The Taliban Store sells buttons, beads, fabrics, threads, ribbons, edgings and anything else you can think of connected with tailoring. From the outside it’s just a normal Doha shop front with faded samples, dead flies and a leaky air conditioner in the window. Inside it’s like Ali Baba’s cave for crafters. It’s dark and stuffy and so crammed with goods you have to flatten yourself against the wall if someone wants to come by. There are reels of ribbon hanging from the ceiling with the ends dangling like vines. They catch on your clothes so you walk around the shop trailing ribbon. There is a room whose walls are lined with spool after spool of sewing thread in every colour imaginable. There is a wall of buttons that look like sweets in an old-fashioned sweet-shop. We rummaged around for ages. I had set myself the challenge of buying the beads I need for my next project (the Matryoshka Stole from Knitscene) in Doha, instead of using the internet, even if it meant using plastic ones. But I managed to find exactly what I needed in real wood which was great. Natural materials are quite hard to find here.

On the way back to the car we passed a laundry where a man was sitting cross-legged in the window operating a steam press. A pipe directed the steam out onto the street, carrying with it the smell of freshly-laundered cotton. It was refreshing after the somewhat fuggy atmosphere in the Taliban Store.

Things I learned from experience no. 1387

Avoid any restaurant that has a badly-drawn cartoon chef as its logo (yes, I’m looking at you, Italian Job).