14 August 2006

The other night


Our Thursday night party fun, with the usual combination of drunkards, dancing and rowdiness.

Early on it was good to meet some people I had seen around but never spoken to. Of course I can't remember any of their names. But one American lady is usually a producer of feature film and TV at home, but here (and in Athens and Torino previously) is in charge of all volunteer cast. As she explained the task here is much bigger, as most of the locals don't have the performance skills that are taught elsewhere - there is no performing arts in the curriculum.

So she's been here from the beginning, implementing a sing and dance and act element to all the schools. Compare this to Sydney, where they could pluck about 10,000 volunteer cast from schools, who could already 'perform'. The population here, again, who do have these skills are the migrant Asians. It's funny to think that a spectacle celebrating Arabic culture will be devised and performed almost entirely from non-locals. After 2 years work here, she is now excited about these last few months when it will all start to come together.

Around 10:30 the apartment became too full for much chatting; the workshop boys had arrived. They were totally smashed when they got here, and proceeded to charge through any alcohol around. Full bottles of vodka disappeared in one round of shots. Freshly stocked eskis were just icy water in a moment. I learnt the next morning that as grabbing and vomit was also involved. Travis caught a guy trying to steal a case of Corona hidden behind a couch 5 times.

Two guys did a top job of DJing from their laptops and kept everyone, who wasn't outside smoking, dancing. I had another run-in with my dear kind friend from earlier this week. At about the peak of the party I see this little hand come out of the crowd and turn the volume down on the stereo, then flick the lights on. Everyone moaned, and I went and rectified. About 5 minutes later this was repeated and lo-and behold, it was the same cranky friend. I asked what she was doing, to which she replied something about needing to get the drunk people to leave the party. I told her how nuts that was, considering this was a) a party and b) not her house. The party continued. The next morning I was sorry to remember this one blight on an otherwise top night. And by then she'd made it even worse; she was telling people I had told her to fuck off. I didn't, but I will next time.

I woke the next morning to the sound of vacuum cleaners and furniture being moved around. I couldn't let my flatmates clean up while I slumbered, so I pulled myself out of bed to help. No - they were couch-bound, as the buildings cleaners did the job! So we lay around whingeing about our hangovers, occasionally lifting a leg, while the house was restored around us.

After some more moaning we moved down to the pool, where a few left-overs from last night were recovering with a cold ones. The incongruency of our lifestyle to the rest of the country peaked around then when the call for prayer went out from the mosque next to our building. There's us, 15 westerners, drinking in the pool and lazing on banana chairs, with the ancient, mournful call sounding from above. Surreal.


Today, Saturday, many people went into work, including my flatmates. After a terrible sleep (msg infested takeaway methinks), I went into the 'old' souks (markets). Its a maze of buildings with covered walkways, and small shops selling everything from spices to clothes to chicken wire. In the tradition of this country these are not actually old buildings, but are new buildings made in the style of the actual souks that probably used to be in Doha.

Most of the shops were closed, as they do between 10 and 4, which I didn't know. But I had a good wander about and took some photos. It was seriously hot, or to put it another way, it was like any other day. My little thermometer read between 38 and 44 in the shade. The whole city being right on a large, salty, shallow bay, the humidity adds that extra bite, in case you were after something a little bit more. It's like what New Years Day was like in Sydney this year, 45+, with wind. But it's been like that every day since I've arrived.

After about an hour I'd seen everything, and decided to walk down to the bay, only two streets away, about 500m. In the direct sunshine it was a whole other thing. By the time I'd got down there for a photo or two and was heading back, I was struggling. I was sweating like crazy, my face was red and I could feel my heart working overtime. By the time I got back to the shade of the souks I was in a world of pain, drenching myself in water to try to cool off. My driver's air-conned car couldn't come soon enough.

The company has a policy that no-one is allowed to work outside for more than 10 minutes in a row. This seems overly cautious until today. Now I think that being outside is not 'hot', it's dangerous. Another few minutes out in that heat, and if I didn't have water, I probably would have passed out. What kind of place it this, where going outside is a health hazard? And how the hell do these construction workers do it all day everyday??


Hot in Herre

News just in - one of the departments here takes the outside temperature every day. As I wrote earlier, it is generally agree that the government fudge the real temperature down so that outdoor workers never have the chance to down tools when the temp rises to 50. Last week the official daytime temperatures read between 34 and 45. The actual temps, as recorded by us were, on average, 54 degrees at midday! Plus humidity.

I'm thinking it must have been that when I was out and almost passed out.

No comments: