Thursday, December 28, 2006
Nothing but frustration.
1) got up early to go to the bank to pay in a cheque as finance *still* haven’t sorted out direct payment into my bank.
2) Went to meet car loans guy at the bank whom I had arranged a meeting with yesterday on the phone, I arrive at specified time to find that he has decided to take the day off. Not pleased.
3) Everyone is knocking off for eid, so trying to get anything done ATM is virtually impossible, and will be so until next Thursday when they arrive at work for 1 day and then knock off for the weekend.
4) Tried to find someone to deliver some gas to the apartment for my BBQ. No one in Doha listed in the yellow pages as a gas supplier, supplies gas apparently, and even if I could find one the chance of getting one during eid is marginal to slim.
5) Spend the day trying to resolve technical and social issues at work – its only 5.30pm here, im on till one am and feel like ive been here a lifetime.
6) Coming down with a cold.
Other than that little lot feeling good, a little tired but now have 3 days off and have been re-rostered to cover the late shift on NY-Day whoop means I don’t have to go to bed at 1am now!
Plans for my 3 days off include shopping for food, as I now have very little in my fridge, possibly going to the QDC as I’m low on alcohol (don’t know weather the QDC is open during Eid – suspect not.) setting Up my new toy in the living room. And trying to sort the car stuff out (this is an impossible task as eid is on) and partying like its 1899 on newyears eve!
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
secondly thanks for everyone who came to dinner on christmas day it was lovley even if i was up till 4am.
couple of items for today
athiests with christmas trees
the little book of hindu dieties
and its true its a wonderful life is communist properganda
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Happy New Year, State of the Union address.
2006 has indeed been a time of change for me, personally and professionally, I started 2006 in the discovery channel & Ascent Media family in London, and ended 2006 in Doha Working for Al Jazeera, the end of 2005 saw me buying a flat behind the Tate modern in waterloo London, where I lived happily until I received an offer of a job as a media manager for al jazeera English (ne International).
The contract at Discovery was a great allowing me to work in broadcast for the first time, working with a truly professional bunch, working under adverse situations, and experiencing nightshift work for the first time, starting to do something that is the new trend in broadcasting, fully digital broadcasting environments, experiencing wholesale ingest environments & merciless corporate environments.
After I left discovery and rented my flat out, I moved in temporarily to my parents Pied-attire where one Saturday morning I woke up with what only can be described as chronic kidney pain I drove rapidly to the west Middlesex hospital A&E where I was initially diagnosed with appendicitis, whisked to surgery appendectomy performed, only to find that I hadn’t suffered appendicitis at all but renal colic (kidney stones), x-rays/CAT scans showed that a 1” stone had traveled from the top of my kidney to the bottom tearing a huge hole in my kidney. After I was released from hospital, I had my stitches out 7 days later and moved to the gulf 2 days after that.
Al Jazeera has presented its own challenges, relocation to the Middle East and the culture shock associated with that, Leaving my dear dear friends and family all of whom I miss dearly, leaving my beloved flat and the culture that comes from living in central London, dealing with Bureaucracy on a whole new level, learning a new meaning for the word & sentiment inshalla (traditionally meant as an encouragement or blessing – literally if Allah wills it, it will be done) as in Doha it is taken to mean much the same as the Spanish manyana but less benevolently (taken in its Qatari sense (( not literally )) it means -- don’t bother me now with this paperwork/ Bureaucracy /anything else that requires hard work - I will get around to it eventually/not at all - so you had better come and hassle me next week where I will repeat the phrase every time I see you, until you sit in this office and watch me do it)
Doha is an evolving city being built literally out of sand as I write, it has great aspirations and wads of petro/gas cash to spend, having the worlds largest natural gas supply, the revenue this supplies is used to build large office blocks and media centers. There is a certain sense that Qatar is suffering from cultural hangover – having moved from a primarily Bedouin state riding camels and living in tents, to driving land cruisers and living in mansions. Everything in Doha is ‘bling’ from 5 story malls with theme parks inside, to spending an estimated $4bn putting the games on, everyone drives hulking 4x4s, with petrol costing less than 7 British pence a liter, gallons per mile is a feasible option. Everything here is at a word naive or juvenile, there is little or no high art, good food comes at a high price, not only buying raw in the supermarkets (literally everything is imported) but at mediocre restaurants too. However fast food of the American style is available on every corner, not good for someone who signed up to the slow food movement years ago, it also may explain Doha’s burgeoning obesity crisis, I however have lost over a stone since I came here as a combination of the bad food, a new exercise regime and a running month of the aptly named Doha Dose.
Going out is traumatic at best with the inevitable PCB (Pilipino cover band) playing bad 80s covers wherever you go. Bars here are based in hotels leading one to feel like an extra in the bill murry film ‘lost in translation’. Day to day life for me at the moment consists of 12-16hr days at work, and days off filled with Bureaucracy when im not at work. Its taken me 3 months to get a driving license, 2½ months to get my residency permit.
The Bureaucracy & lack of culture aside ive had a blast, ive made some good friends, from Iraqis to Syrians, from Irish to Malaysian there all here. Everyone has different lifestyles and life histories but were all here in one big bunch muddling through socially, I haven’t had much time to socialize out of work given that on the compound I live with people from work, im not hugely into going out to bars on my own.
10 best DIY Xmas trees
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Days off watch: Christmas shopping for food, care four and giant stores, got the essentials really for xmas day.
Nights out: movenpik Tuesday night, Wednesday quiet night in watching 9 episodes of Frasier, Thursday night bash at the watering hole at the Sheraton about 200 aje employees, i ducked out at around 1am. Had a blast, chatted with lots of good friends made some more, and met a few of you dear readers.
Doha dodgy advertising watch: Early learning center: Santa came early and emptied his sack here! – WTF????
also didn’t realize the watering hole was LGBT friendly but they fly the rainbow flag!
Doha bureaucracy watch: 2 hrs for eye test that I could of passed if I didn’t wear my glasses, nice photo of the sign outside the eye test center with ‘found photo’ on the top stuck to the wall above it.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The Day after its driving license beurocratic day kicking off at 1pm.
More on that when I get back.
Monday, December 18, 2006
rember folks im a londoner used to ammenitys so doha is going to score low on the horizon. i fully expect NOTHING to score more than 5 out of 10, if you think im missing something tell me, if you there is somewhere cool you think i should go let me know too.
this one is right up my street - retro paper ads and caberet all in one!
Your No-Cover, No-Minimum Guide to the Seamier Side of 1959 Chicago With Your Cordial Host Dave Burge
i currently work a very hard 12 hour shift from 9am till 9pm, or 1pm till 1am, i dont exactly have a huge amount of time to randomly jump on random missions outside of work on any given day, given that everything here takes 1-2days inshalla and nothing official is open for more than 3-4 hours at a time (the bank opens from 8am till 1pm 5days a week)
classic example is today i get my bank statement through, after specifically asking the bank about clearing my credit card ballence on the 1st of every month twice (and reciving written confirmation of this) they didnt clear my ballance -
so i now have late charges on my card, i ring the bank about this but they cant do it over the phone, so i have to go to the bank branch directly to sort this directly with the bank - however the branch is half way across town, is going to cost me at least 60 rials in taxis and a couple or hours of my time to sort out(given there is always a que around the block at the bank), the charge is 160 rials (the policy of the bank im sure is to sting you with lots of little charges that you cant be bothered to sort out and just pay them),
but now im cross and have to sort this issue out, however i cant fit it in this week as i have 5 days at work and more beaurocuracy than you can shake a stick at (i have to get my photos for my driving licence (they have to have me wearing glasses - as the ones for my rp wont do as they dont allow you to wear glasses for the rp ones - which involves me walking through a building site for 40mins to the closest mall which has a photo booth, having my photo taken & waiting for prints (20mins) and walking back to the 20mins mall with nice/propper food, then head home (another 20-40 mins)) then go (taking a taxi) to work to meet the external affairs guys to take me and 'facillitate' the beaurocuracy & have my eyes tested and also do the beaurocuracy for the licence swap(which is going to take half a day and arguing in arabic with a police officer/junior beurocrat as something is inevitably wrong with the paperwork), as well as do a couple of present shopping missions) i may get out for the departmental drinks on thursday night, then i go back to work for 3 days untill 1am on christmas day and im going to be blown if im spending christmas day/boxing day in the bank argueing about late bank charges. in which case the earliest i can sor the late charges out is the 27th.
this is how i generaly spend my days off, chasing nonsense beaurocuracy and using systems that dont work.
thursay night i went to the movenpik for dinner and drinks, then ended up at the party for the asian games, topfloor penthouse at p7, grat vibe and tonnes of booze and a great view got home very late.
friday night, dinner with louise on the compound good vibe
saturday was the company xmas party in the desert in torrential rain, passable but not great. drinks at sherahazad afterward good fun.
comedy night last night at sherahazad good laughed a lot, went with wallai brighton based journalist who works in the newsroom , really nice guy good to really get to know him. also picked up my birthday/xmass pressie to myself.
dismaly failed to find a car so that one has gone on the back burner.
back to work, late shifts will be at work for the next 2 days then 2 days off to do xmas shopping, photos for driving qatari licence, which need me wearing glasses (unlike the qatari rp ones where im not alowed to wear glasses) and eyetest for the q. driving licence, and given that im as blind as a bat without my glasses i guess that im going to have to get the glasses
also did my uk tax return - thank god thats done.
also started the whole xmass cards thing.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
im off for three days and not back to work till monday, yaaay!
doha does live late in the day im not sure why as call to prayer is around 5.30am.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
crome and glass ahoy
can anyone say Yeshemesh - the kazakhstan national team shopping at the mall
back at work after 2 days off, a couple of drinks dinner, and a lot of sleeping and im quite happy. a few pikkies of your average mall in doha, crome glass chain stores and glitz.
toys from the states turning up this week, my christmas/birthday pressie to myself. - more about that later.
and a few piccies of that mall for you
Sunday, December 10, 2006
the blogs currently hitting #6 in google with the phrase "its rainy man"
also other news im very nearly at 2000 visitors to the blog!
curent last 20 users
Doha, Ad Dawhah
Doha, Ad Dawhah
Doha, Ad Dawhah
Doha, Ad Dawhah
Cary, North Carolina
Doha, Ad Dawhah
Doha, Ad Dawhah
Doha, Ad Dawhah
Camden Town, Camden
Doha, Ad Dawhah
Doha, Ad Dawhah
so from the site traffic analysis it looks like i have regular repeat visits from
Iceland - whoop - i dont think i know who you are , swing by and leave a comment.
singapore - i know who you are!
philipines - i think i know who you are,
Google HQ mountain view california- nice to see,
And Canbera Australia - tidd i think thats you
Saturday, December 09, 2006
some one asked me the otherday what my favourite movies are, this is always a difficult one to answer but roughly my favourite 10 (not in numerical order) as this changes on a daily basis are
The Wages of Fear
Gods and Monsters
and an either or for #10 - Repoman or the hidden for mid 80's pulp scifi
i think theese are my desert island dvds not sure what life would be like without them, some unashamedly obscure and unlikley to make the top 100 of anyone elses lists, but to my mind all perfect.
Friday, December 08, 2006
well im back at work again, boyant in mood, on a rainy doha friday. the asian games continue a pace with only 1 fatality so far from the equestrian events, very sad.
well here i go again, my days off (2) consisted of picking up amazon packages from aramex and getting my months alcohol quota
which consists of
2x btls of champagne (christmas innit)
2x btls of pink bubbly (australian)
1x ltr of Stolly
1x btl of calvados (mmm my beloved)
2x btls of chenanan blanc
2x cases of oranjiboom.
its all a little scary buying your months consumption in one go, but as i said its christmas, and im having waifs and strays around at mine for christmas lunch/dinner and probably some kind of party afterward mince pies and carols that kind of thing.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
well i went to the finger print place again this morning at 7.30am, i got the ink and paper treatment this time, so i have black hands, i am also assured that processing will take a maximum of 3 days so thats a big bonus.
other than that its 12.30 here, feels like a lifetime that ive been here, tired cranky and didnt sleep lastnight. however i have 3 packages at aramex to pick up tomorow & im going to go bookcase shopping tomorow as well!
Monday, December 04, 2006
Americans should be able to see Al-Jazeera English TV
By B. Kumaravadivelu
\\ http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/opinion/16129711.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp\\ quoted from the san hoze mercury\\ and i totaly agree -
My students at San Jose State often hear me say with irritating persistence that most of them have an appallingly low level of general knowledge about world events that affect all of us. I try to impress upon them that they are long on opinions and short on facts mainly because they remain uninformed. If this is true of university students, it may be true of the general public as well.
We all know that an enlightened citizenry is essential for any democracy to thrive. It is, therefore, regrettable that the American public has been denied an excellent learning opportunity to get better informed about a civilization with which it is supposed to clash. They have been denied access to Al-Jazeera English TV, which is considered to be the voice of the Islamic world.
Since its inception a decade ago, the Qatar based Al-Jazeera's Arabic network has created a niche for itself. In the process, it has invited the wrath of Western as well as Islamic governments. The Bush administration tried, without success, to persuade the Qatari government to rein in Al-Jazeera. Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called it ``vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.'' Some governments, which are not very fond of press freedom, have from time to time prohibited its correspondents from operating within their countries. It is still banned in Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Biased or not, Al-Jazeera has definitely made a dent in the American dominance of global information dissemination, at least in certain parts of the world. Now, with its new English language network, it has the potential to be a bridge between Western and Middle Eastern world views. Bowing to this reality, countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Italy and even Israel have made the channel available for their citizens.
Sadly, the United States is one of the few democracies in the world where Al-Jazeera will not be seen. None of the major cable TV providers, such as Comcast, Time Warner and Cablevision, will carry the network. Nor will the two major satellite TV providers: Dish Network and DirecTV. The providers say it is ``a business decision.'' It is, however, naive to believe the decision was motivated entirely by business considerations, given the severe criticism directed against the network by high-level officials of the Bush administration.
Although the Islamic network has been criticized for being pro-Islam and not pro-American, our government has been spending millions of taxpayer dollars to establish, from time to time, a number of specialized radio and TV stations to broadcast pro-American views. We know the success of Voice of America. We know how influential the Spanish language Radio Martí has been in educating the people of Cuba. More recently, we established Radio Sawa to broadcast in Arabic, and Radio Farda to broadcast in Farsi. In fact, in 2004, as soon as the security conditions in Iraq permitted, we rushed to launch an Arabic-language TV station called Al-Hurra just to make sure that the newly liberated Iraqis have the right kind of information.
After Sept. 11, our government even created the job of undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs in the State Department, with the purpose of promoting cross-cultural understanding and burnishing the American image, which has been under severe stress in the wake of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most of its effort is directed toward the people of the Islamic world so that they are knowledgeable about American values and visions, and do not fall an easy prey to cultural and religious stereotypes about the American people.
A crucial question that seems to have escaped us is: How do we ensure that we also make an effort to develop a genuine understanding of the people of other countries, cultures and religions? How do we ensure that we do not become prisoners of the frozen and false image that we carry in our head about others? The corporate decision about Al-Jazeera English, and the lack of public response to that decision, may betray a deep-rooted feeling that only others should know about us; we do not have to know about them. Perhaps we think that knowledge, like a river, flows only in one direction.
Interestingly, the rest of the world has taken kindly to CNN and even Fox News. There are government officials and people in other countries who think that these American networks are, well, pro-American, and yet they do watch them. Why do we hesitate to let alien voices and images appear on our TV screen? What are we afraid of?
Knowledge is not a scary thing, is it?
B. KUMARAVADIVELU is a professor of applied linguistics at San Jose State University. He wrote this article for the Mercury News.
doha on many levels leaves alot to be desired, but is also fairly civilised too, doha is fundementaly a town under construction, a town run by a man who has literaly more money than god (qatar has the worlds largest gas reserves) and is keen to drive doha into the 21c and not be reliant on its natrual rescources.
as a place to live, doha is a rougly 50/50 mix of tatoween & bladerunner (if you get the scifi references) or a scene from a very distorted western with large 4x4's replacing horses. it also entirley depends what you want to do here at the end of the day, if your into sand theres lots of it, going out theres not much, some good resteraunts but forget it if you want a bottle of wine with dinner, some bars (think of a social scene out of the hotels in lost in translation) but there also full of loud fat oil/gas workers. there are some beautiful beaches but are a pain to get to.
another thing to bear in mind is that doha is incredibly expensive as a tourist average prices here range from 170-350 euros a night for doha or 130 out of doha for the hotels with a pint of beer coming in at between 4&5 pounds. the upside is that shopping is tax free, there is some stunning cloathing out here both hand made and off the peg (if your into hand made cloathing you will be in heaven)
however and here comes the big BUT given that the current thaught in doha is that you can cure homosexuality, and the current cure is 40 lashes and a stretch at his emeirs pleasure, it may prove problematic, on the other hand muslim countries are funny in that way regularly i see arab men walking hand in hand down the road (this is not seen as gay here just a sign of friendship), there is queerness here but its underground (read not very) and have had friends pick up in local bars.
the problem may be that you will are two western women out here, as currently there is a 10:1 male to female ratio, and some friends of mine have been treated appallingly here, with the whole stalking and eve teasing thing being huge here certainly around doha itself. i have heard stories (and this can go under unconfirmed speculation) of women being alone in taxis and the drives whipping their johnson out for a quick play during the drive, there are other much worse stories too - but im not sure of howmuch urban legend to truth factor there is,
but just to relate a story a male gay friend of mine out here brought a 'friend' home, the taxi driver/gate security guard (he couldnt work out whom) called the cops on him and the cops turned up at the door all ready to arrest him, luckily they were still drinking in the livingroom at the time, but that was/is a very close shave that really shook him up.
beaurocuracy watch: ive got to be in the office for 7.30am tomorow to go and get my finger prints done again as the powers that be have lost my fingerprints so it looks like tomorow is going to be a long day. there is supposed to be some muslim feast thing at the compound with goat etc. tonight but i think realistically im going to hit the sack early to get some sleep to be up by 5.30.
dont know what else to say really after spending 3 days veging im feeling slightly beter.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
i wake up with a streaming cold this morning to the ringing of my mobile phone at 7.30am (to most people this seems like a reasnoble time to wake up but for me - no i work till 1am which means that i really have to wake up at 11am). its HSBC ringing me to inform me that i have not been paid this month. so im now awake having been
a) woken up by the bank at 7.30am which im not happy with to tell me bad news that AJI have cocked up paying me. so i get into work at 1pm ring finance, who tell me that they havent paid me, because surprise surprise HR havent given them my bank details, they concequentley have to write me a cheque, which inturn presents me with a problem as the bank only opens till 1pm
b) go to see external affairs who have told me that my RP would be done and dusted today (as they have had all my details (fingerprints, blood tests, blood type, health check x-rays etc)) only to be informed that my fingerprints have not been received, but the will be received soon, as the entire RP process that is inshalla supposed to take ten days its been over a month and a half i currentley have no faith that it will happen anytime soon.
c) add to that i booked a car today to come and pick me up at 11.30 and it didnt arrive at 12.30, when it did arrive the driver was new and didnt know where tv roundabout was, which is frankley unaccaptable, given its one of doha's major landmarks. so my planned side trip to aramex was shelved due to lateness.
i have now come to the conclusion that anything that requires me to intersect with doha beaurocuracy on any level its better for me to chase it personaly as there is a level of incompetance around the HR/External affairs that is truley awe inspiring.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
plans for a rooftop party for the asian games are simmering too!
thaughts of the gothic also spring to mind, how much im missing the london burlesque and caberet scene, stories of the shunt vaults in london bridge get back to me here too, punchdrunk and more, and of course rabbit!