Inspired by my friends Christmas messages.
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.