Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Doha Museum of Islamic Art, Take 4

I can’t let friends or family come to Doha without a trip to the serene beauty of the Doha Museum of Islamic Art. Little Diamond was content to view the exhibits at her own speed, so I visited a few of my favorite friends:

I never tire of spending time with Iznik Tiles

00IznikTiles

There is an Iranian piece that bowls me over with its beauty
00IranianBowl

And I just have this thing for light fixtures. This is a mosque lamp, and I think it is Turkish

00MosqueLampTurkish

But oh, look at the interior of the museum itself:

00QMIASwirlingInterior

00QMIAInteriorFountain

00QMIADome

There is a breathtaking view of the Corniche Skyline from the spot where, on the map, they say the coffee shop should be. It really needs a coffee shop there. The restrooms are immaculate, the gift shop has lovely items, the exhibits are lush and beautiful, but you need a place to sit and think about what you’ve seen, compare notes, recharge so you can go back and take another look at something you are wondering about. It really, really needs that coffee shop.

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Community, Cultural, Doha, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Public Art, Qatar | , | 9 Comments

Souq Al Waqif and The Tajine

I can’t let Little Diamond leave Doha without one more visit to the Souk al Waqif. She used to go with me in the old days, when the souk was really really really HOT, and stuffy, and even a little dirty, and the pathways were dark and potholed, so you could easily trip or fall down. Some people I would take loved the place, some didn’t want to set foot inside. It was considered dangerous, and off limits to the military folk.

I miss the scribes. I miss the shoemakers. I miss the little hardware stalls, where when I would ask for masonry nails, 3/4″, they would take me by my sleeve to the man who sold masonry nails. It was a sweet souk then.

It is a WOW souk now. Many of the vendors are the same, even though some have gone missing. There is still the canvas sailmaker, and the fishing supplies man, and the bird souk. There is still the HUGE kitchen souk, and I don’t mean it is a large store, I mean it is a store for giant people, who cook in pots the size that a grown man or woman – or both – could hide in!

00SoukAlWaqifKitchenStore

00SoukAlWaqifKitStore2

When we lived in Jordan, we used to be invited to feasts, Mensefs, a huge rice dish, served with goat most often, sometimes chicken, rarely lamb or mutton (sheep) if it was a really really special occasion on huge round trays. The trays in the Souk Al Waqif would probably serve twenty men at one time, they are so huge.

People say you can’t stop progress. When we lived in Doha the last time, the municipality put in meters for paid street parking. Qatteris were so outraged that the meters were ripped back out without ever being used. I wonder where all those hundreds of unused parking meters ended up?

Today there is a story in the paper about paid parking going in at the Souq al Waqif, and they quote five or six people who are wildly enthusiastic about the idea and all I can wonder is . . . where did they find people who would publicly say they were in favor of PAYING for parking that they always have had for free? The article says that now they will have less competition from large trucks, but when we are there at congested times, it is normal everyday SUV’s and family goat-trucks that are competing for the parking spaces. I wonder if the public perception has changed so much in five years that people are now openly praising paid parking?

00SoukAlWaqifPoliceman

It isn’t costly. It’s going to be like 3QR – less than a dollar. It also isn’t covered, and when you park your car in the lot, it is hotter than anything you can imagine when you come out, even if it is only 0930 and only been sitting there for an hour. The best time to go is night, during these hot summer months, and even so – the place is hopping. Even on a week night, there are so many good restaurants down in the Souk al Waqif restaurant row that it is a go-to place for a dinner out.

We tried the Tagine, as we all like Moroccan Food.

00TajineExterior

The greeting was warm, and the service was attentive.

00TajineInterior

The food was excellent. Now I have an admission to make, one I have had to make frequently – I forgot to take a photo when the food was served, so all you can see is the mostly eaten remains. I am so sorry, sincerely sorry, but it smelled SO good, and we were SO hungry.

00TajineSeating

We sat overlooking the souks. There is a wonderful terrace for outdoor dining, but it is just a little too hot and humid for us to enjoy eating outside right now. We can hardly wait for October, when those cooler breezes start blowing.

These are the pre-starter nibbles, delicious olives, a tangy spicy Harissa paste, and delicious fresh-baked bread that melts in your mouth:

00TajineNibbles

We ordered the mixed hot starters, which all disappeared before I thought to take a photo, and Little Diamond had the Addas (lentil) soup, also very good, also not photographed. We had the Moroccan Salad and Zaalouk, an eggplant/ tomato salad we adore. Yep. We were so hungry I forgot to take photos.

00TajineRemainsChickenWSlimBread

AdventureMan ordered Chicken With Slim Bread because we had never heard of it before and it sounded interesting. It was good. He shared with me. 🙂 He also chose the CousCous with 7 Vegetables, because when we lived in Tunisia, we were told traditionally it was always supposed to have seven vegetables (and one was always squash, and there were always garbanzo beans, and there was always tomato, and pretty much always carrot – it was always a very vegetable-y dish). It doesn’t sound like we ordered that much, but it was so delicious, and so filling, that it there was food left over.

007VegCousCous

The bill was reasonable. Wine and beer are not available, and that keeps the totals lower. We rolled ourselves back to the car, already planning our next trip to his delightful restaurant.

Once the sun goes down, the heat isn’t so bad. The Souq Al Waqif is so much fun at night. Everyone goes there – the locals, the expats, the tourists – it thrills my heart to see a public space so well loved, so well used. There are some very cool art spots going in, too!

One of my good friends told me there is a blog in Arabic that talks about searching for a restaurant I had written about in Mubarakiyya, only to find out it was in Doha. The blogger had invited guests. I felt so bad. So I will add this: WARNING WARNING THIS RESTAURANT IS IN DOHA, QATAR, NOT IN KUWAIT!

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Community, Customer Service, Doha, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Public Art, Qatar, Shopping | 1 Comment

Kuwait – American Woman Abducted and Raped

I received this notification this morning from the American Women’s League of Kuwait, guidance from the US Embassy:

We received a report that the spouse of an American citizen was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by three men in Mahboula. The victim was forced in a vehicle, taken to a secluded location, sexually assaulted, and left in the desert. The authorities are working to solve this heinous crime. 

As a reminder to all, it is very important to keep an eye on who may be observing your activities while in Kuwait.   Surveillance is not something that is just done by terrorists – almost every criminal who commits a crime conducts some sort of surveillance on their target either seconds, minutes, or hours before trying to commit a crime or assault a person. 

Keep the following in mind:

 Surveillance – think about who may be watching you.  If it feels wrong, it probably is. Alert the local security personnel or store management of anything you feel is suspicious – DO NOT KEEP THIS INFORMATION TO YOURSELF AND TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.

 If you think you are being followed, make every effort to stay in a very public place until you can either make contact with the local security personnel or have some sort of an escort.  Do not proceed to your vehicle or restroom, thus giving the person following you an opportunity to get you alone so they can rob or assault you.    

Exiting/returning to your vehicle – this is the time when all people are vulnerable because your mind is focused on getting out of the car, watching traffic, trying to control children, or placing packages in/out of the car.  Especially when returning to your vehicle, a good practice is to look around the exterior of your vehicle for people or suspicious items.  Once in the vehicle, lock your doors and make sure your windows are up at all times. 

Travel in groups whenever possible. Tell others where/when you are going and when you plan to return.

If being picked up wait inside a public place as opposed to alone and outside.

Carry a cell phone with pre-programmed emergency numbers, Post One, Police, Home, etc.

Last, think about fighting your attacker, especially if the attacker wants to take you to another location. Do not let that happen and draw attention to yourself and situation.   

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Community, Crime, Health Issues, Kuwait, Law and Order, Safety, Women's Issues | 9 Comments

Doha Cat Television

“Cat channels?” asked Little Diamond, mystified, listening to a conversation at the dinner table.

Oh yes. He’s got the Gardener channel, two or three pigeon channels, the songbird channels, the cleaning lady channel – life is very interesting for the Qatteri Cat. Today, I set up the Quilt Room Cat Sleeping Station – he likes to be in the same room I am working in, and it is a help to me if he has his own place so he is not on top of my work. (My friend who organized my quilt room thinks the Qattari Cat is spoiled, LLLOOOLL. OF COURSE he is spoiled! He is an only cat!)

Here is the cat sleeping station:

00CatStand

Here is how the Cat Sleeping Station is utilized:

00CatStandSleepStation

But then – the one remaining sort-of-non-flying-baby-pigeon has begun spreading his wings, little by little. Yesterday morning he was on top of my car – this is a giant step for a pigeon who walks everywhere. Last night, he was on the garage room – an even bigger step.

No sooner had I set up the Cat Sleeping Station then the little walking pigeon figured out how to make it to my windowsill:

00BarelyFlyingPigeon

Never a dull moment for the Qatteri Cat:

00PigeonChannel5

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Doha, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Qatar, Qatteri Cat | 2 Comments

Doha Details

An old street between Kharabaa and Al Bidda:
00DohaOldStreet

A truck, with a decoration of leaves and grapes across the windshield:
00TruckDecoration

July 19, 2009 Posted by | Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Qatar | 2 Comments

More Doha by Dusk

It’s my favorite time of day, when the sun is setting and the long rays of light bring out colors and hues you don’t see in the harsh, pitiless light of the daylight sun. It is also poignantly transient; you have to shoot fast, and even as you shoot, the light is changing and fading:

Here, the fishermen are more intuited than seen:
00DohaFishermen

The light is almost gone. The Doha Museum of Islamic Art seems to be smiling over the assembled dhows:
00DohaMuseumSmiling

July 19, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Doha, ExPat Life, Photos | Leave a comment

Baked Stuffed Pumpkin

My visiting niece, Little Diamond, is vegetarian. AdventureMan and I are not vegetarian, we laughingly say we are meatatarian or meatavore, but the truth is, we don’t eat a lot of meat, either. Last I tried a new recipe, not entirely original, but a lot of fun, and it turned out really really good. It is also surprisingly easy. 🙂

464_image1
(This is not my photo, but it looks a lot like my pumpkin. It is from visual recipes, another great recipe site)

I got the idea from a quilting friend in Kuwait who baked a pumpkin full of a meat stuffing. It sounded yummy. I filled it with a channa dal / burgul mixture (recipe follows) and I added:

1 chopped apple
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
1/2 cup slightly chopped walnuts

Here is the original recipe for the stuffing:

• 3/4 cup chana dal
• One large onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic (or more, to taste), minced or pressed
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup bulgur wheat
• 2 cups hot water
• 1 teaspoon salt (or less, to taste)
• 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro
• freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Soak chana dal for 10-12 hours. Drain and rinse.

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft (5-8 minutes). Add drained chana dal and bulgur wheat. Sauté for about 3 more minutes, until bulgur wheat is browned (it will begin to smell heavenly). Add all remaining ingredients except pepper, bring to a boil, and lower heat.

Simmer, covered, for about 35 minutes. At this point, check to see if the chana dal is tender enough for you. If not add a quarter cup more water and simmer another few minutes or until you are satisfied. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and mix in pepper.

Makes about 6 cups.

The only hard part is remembering to soak the chana dal. 😉

Pumpkin

Cut a lid off the top of the pumpkin. I usually put a notch, so I know how the lid fits back on.

You have to clean out the pumpkin, throwing out the innards (you can toast the seeds if you want). I also cut some of the pumpkin flesh into small pieces and added it to the stuffing, but that is optional.

Stuff the pumpkin tightly with the stuffing mixture, then line a baking bowl or pan with the remaining stuffing, set the pumpkin in the center, pour 1/2 cup of water – or wine, now that we are in Qatar – or broth – over the stuffing, and cover loosely with foil.

Bake at 350°F / 175°C for one hour, or more, until the pumpkin flesh is soft all the way through. Cut the pumpkin into slices to serve, and heap extra stuffing on top.

Delicious!

Additional hint – I use a Misto, a bottle you can fill with the best olive oil, pump, and spray. I spray the bowl before I put the stuffing in, to make cleaning easier, and I also spray the pumpkin to give it that glisten. It is very sparing with the olive oil, but you still get the taste.

Little Diamond asked if it were a potiron or a citrouille, two words the French use for pumpkins, but none of us could say definitely. I thought it was a potiron, because it is more squat and I thought citrouille were taller and oranger, but Little Diamond actually looked it up online after dinner.

AdventureMan reminded me of the time in Tunisia when Halloween was coming and I went to the market and bought a whole pumpkin to carve. I don’t think it was really a pumpkin at all, it was a huge pumpkin-like squash, and it was sold in slices, by the kilo. I bought the smallest one I could find, but it still caused quite a commotion, buying the whole squash, not just a slice.

And I was thinking, too, of my French friend who shared her recipe with me for the very best pumpkin pie I have eaten in my life, ever.

July 19, 2009 Posted by | Cooking, ExPat Life, Experiment, Family Issues, Food, Health Issues, Recipes, Tunisia | , | 2 Comments

Princess Ouadraogo Writes To Intlxpatr for Financial Help, Risk Free

For the most part, I have stopped even sharing these, but this one is too funny. My message to those of you who have helpful hearts – any time a person who doesn’t know you, wants to share a fortune with you, and who requests:

“also i will like you to send all your bank informations where the fund will be transfered and your internatinal passport or driving licence and also send your photograph”

DON’T DO IT! IT’S A SCAM!

Hello and Greetings to you…

I am writing this letter in confidence believing that if it is the wish of God for you to help me and my family, God almighty will bless and reward you abundantly and you would never re-great this.

I am a female student from Burkina Faso University Teachings Hospitals (BUTH) Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou. I am 28 yrs old. I’d like any person who can be caring, loving and home oriented. I will love to have a long-term relationship with you and to know more about you.

I would like to build up a solid foundation with you in time coming if you
can be able to help me in this transaction. Well, my father died earlier eight
months ago and left I and my junior brother behind. He was a king, which our
town citizens titled him over sixteen years before his death. I was a princess
to him and I am the only person who can take care of his wealth now because my
junior brother is still young and my mother is not literate enough to know all
my father’s wealth.

He left the sum of $10.000,000.00US dollars. (TEN MILLION ) in a security
company. This money was annually paid into my late fathers account from Gold
Development Company (spdc) and chevron Oil Company operating in our locality
for the compensation of youth and community development in our jurisdiction. I don’t
know how and what I will do to invest this money somewhere in abroad, so that my
father’s kindred will not take over what belongs to my father and our family, which
they were planning to do without my present because I am a female as stated by our
culture in the town.

Now, If you can handle this project sincerely and also willing to assist me
in lifting this fund, kindly reach me immediately. Reasons. Please, note that
this matter is 100% risk free and i hope to commence this transaction as quick
as possible, and also i will like you to send all your bank informations where
the fund will be transfered and your internatinal passport or driving licence
and also send your photograph for me to built more trust on you. As soon i
recieve all these informations together with your photo then i will foward my
photograph and datas informations to you immediately.
yours sincerely,

Yours sincerely,
PRINCESS JANNIFA OUADRAOGO.

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Africa, Crime, Financial Issues, Fund Raising, Lies | , | 2 Comments

Doha Sunset

Last night, we just happened to be out at that magic hour, the time when the lights come on but the sun is not yet down. The residue from the dust storm crated some wonderful sky, and the night was breezy and just a little cooler, just enough to be bearable – even pleasant.

00DohaPalmsSunset

00DohaBaySunset

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Beauty, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Photos, Qatar, Weather | 3 Comments

Yesterday’s Heat Reading

My direction finder/ temperature reporter goes a little wonky sometimes, so today it is reporting in centigrade. Here is the reading for yesterday – 52°C. Holy smokes.

00Heat17Jul09

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Weather | Leave a comment