Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Doha Mumtaz Tailor

As a last resort, we head to the Mumtaz tailor to see if he knows where we might find the exact fabric for Little Diamond’s pants. No, says the Mumtaz Tailor, but actually he saw a lot of it just a couple years ago, but it is all gone now.

This tiny little shop, just off Karabaa, is probably not one you would go into if someone hadn’t taken you there.

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One of my stitch-group buddies took me on a Doha tour just before she was leaving, took me to all the tiny shops you would never know about if a good friend didn’t take you there. The Mumtaz Tailor is a gold mine. If anyone has just the buttons you need, that zipper in an unusual shade, the lining to go under the cut out brocade – he’s got it, or he knows who does. He also has all the tools-of-the-trade that people who quilt or sew need – good scissors, measuring tapes, embroidery threads, hoops, a whole host of things you don’t even know what they are until you need them. The Mumtaz Tailor has them, tucked inside his fairly small shop, from floor to ceiling, and he knows where they are.

One year, I bought about twenty hajj towels, the very large, thirsty cotton white towels available here in sets of two for men making the hajj to Mecca. I took them to the Mumtaz tailor and he embroidered my family member’s names in English on one end and in Arabic on the other end and I even got to choose the colors. It was the hit of Christmas; a totally unique gift from Doha.

Although he didn’t have the fabric we sought, the minute we walked in I spied a bolt of the only batik fabric I have ever seen in Doha. Six years ago, I bought several meters of this and I have been looking for it ever since, with no success. I bought five more meters. Wooo HOOOOO!

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July 17, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Character, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Shopping | 9 Comments

Doha Parking Nightmare

You could think of it as an adventure, as adventure can cause the same heart-slamming rush of adrenalin. Little Diamond and I were late to the fabric souks area, looking for a match to some pants she has loved and needs copied, as they have irrevocably split in a critical area. We circled the Souk al Diraa multiple times, hoping a spot would open up, one of a couple hundred cars circling, hoping for a spot.

Sharp-eyed Little Diamond spotted a sign for public parking. I’ve never noticed it before – it led us to a building in front of which I often park, it is now totally empty of stores. There is a sign as you enter the parking, which is all above ground, that “only Ministry personnel” can park on the first level.

We had started up the winding ramp when after two curves, we were in total dark. I have my sunglasses on, and I am desperately trying to get them off, but even when I get them off, I can’t see, we are in total darkness on an upward twisting ramp and all I can think of is what if someone is coming up in a hurry behind me and hits me???

“The light! Turn on the car lights” shouts Little Diamond, who is allowed to shout at me when she gives me good ideas. Oh yeh! Car lights . . . since I have never driven this car at night, I don’t exactly know where they are, but I make a guess and thanks be to God, the lights come on and we crawl up two more levels until we begin to see some light appear.

We check out every level – every level is full. On level three, we finally find a spot, and hurry down the filthy stairs to check out fabrics so we can get back to the tailor before he closes. As the tailor had said – we cannot find the exact fabric, but we find a fabric which is about a 90% match and that will have to be good enough.

As we head back to parking lot – the surrounding sidewalk is crumbling and one entry is chained off – we find the elevators to take us up. “Not working!” says a man standing nearby, so we head for the nearest stairwell, and almost gag on the way up. I think people maybe sleep in there at night – there are some terrible sights and smells.

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There are footprints, even high on the walls:

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As we exit the stairwell on our floor, we are met with the sight of a totally burned out car:

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Fortunately, on the drive out, there is no area where the lights are burned out, and we drive comfortably the four levels down to the exit.

I normally get the these souks before nine in the morning and I can always find a parking spot, do my shopping and be out in a couple hours, max. I will NEVER, NEVER again, park in this parking lot. I would forego a visit to the souks rather than park in this parking lot again. It is a danger to your health!

July 17, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Qatar, Rants | Leave a comment

Doha Heat

Seattle has – or had, I am not so sure they still have – a women’s basketball team called the Seattle Storm. I think Doha needs a women’s swimming team called the Doha Heat. I have a little direction finder from Sharper Image that I used to use in my car when I got lost so I would know if I was heading north or south (you can get really turned around and not know it) but it no longer sticks to the dashboard, it lost its stick-power from the heat.

Now I keep it on my vanity in my room, with one temperature gauge in the shadow of my windowsill. This is what it looked like on Monday of this week:

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It seems to have cooled off somewhat since then, perhaps due to being on the edge of the huge sandstorm in Iraq. People here are wearing breathing masks still, although the greatest haze seems to have passed. It is still hot – temperatures in the triple digits – but not so hot as 117°F.

Today’s Peninsula says to “expect sultry weather from next week.” It says that “the strong Shamal (northwesterly) winds that have been lashing the country over the past four days” have kept the humidity away, but that from Sunday, “a change in the wind direction . . . could cause a rise in humidity.”

July 17, 2009 Posted by | Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Statistics, Weather | 2 Comments