Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Farewell Dar al Thaqafa

We were sitting in a meeting when two friends rushed in, full of news of the fire down at the Souk al Diraa / Souk al Asseiri, familiarly known as The Fabric Souks. Our friend’s car had been near where the blaze broke out and they had been stuck while the firemen refused to allow her near her car, and finally they moved it out of the way for her, covered with ash and dirty water, but otherwise unharmed.

We all waited breathlessly to hear if the fabric souks were harmed. They weren’t. For such a big blaze, such a long-lasting fire, no lives were lost, no one was hurt, as far as anyone knows.

But in this morning’s paper, I see that while the fire started out a small fire, somehow, it was not contained, and in the clutter and chaos of the older souks, it grew, fed by stacks of stored goods and rubbish.

One of the victims was an old friend of mine – the Dar al Thaqafa. Little Diamond and I would often find treasures there, books you couldn’t find anywhere else. There are other bookstores in this chain, but this one, this Dar al Thaqafa was THE oldest bookstore in Doha, stocking school supplies, children and adult fiction and non-fiction, textbooks and obscure Islamic scholarly works. It was a quiet place, an old fashioned book-store, tucked behind the very tacky toy vender where I once bought both a dancing Osama bin Laden and a dancing Saddam Hussein.

We are sorry to see this old friend go. (They gave me permission to take these photos)

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The area was full of small merchants, most of whom I suspect could ill-afford this loss of merchandise and income. I took a photo of an alleyway in the area of the fire (taken in July)

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October 14, 2009 Posted by | Books, Building, Bureaucracy, Community, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Safety, Shopping, Social Issues | 5 Comments

Grossing out the World

I admit it. I failed. I only got 5 out of 11. See how you can do:

http://www.fekids.com/img/kln/flash/DontGrossOutTheWorld.swf Dining Out in the World

Tests your knowledge of eating etiquette around the world. 🙂

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Humor | 5 Comments

Home Foreclosures: The Storm That’s Yet to Come

This is just an excerpt from a much longer article I found on the AOL Money and Finance Site which you can access to read the entire article, and find others like it, by clicking on the blue type.

Experts are saying that there is a turn-around. I believe it, I also see the improving signs, but the wreckage will remain, and may even get worse, for some time to come in the real-estate markets.

Home foreclosures move up-market as discounting pushes prices down
Lita Epstein

A greater number of foreclosures are hitting the high-end real estate markets in 2009 as price discounting continues to throw more and more properties underwater. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy: As some homeowners see their homes’ values drop below the balances due on their mortgages, they give up trying to save their homes.

Zillow’s chief economist, Stan Humphries, found that while high-end markets accounted for only 16 percent of foreclosures in 2006, by July 2009, 30 percent of foreclosures hit the top third of homes. “That means that top-tier homes make up almost twice the proportion of foreclosures as they did just three years ago,” Humphries wrote on his blog.

Foreclosures are no longer a primarily subprime problem. While in 2006 about 55 percent of foreclosures came on subprime loans, in 2009 subprimes represent just 35 percent of foreclosures, another 35 percent are in the middle tier and 30 percent are in the top tier. The primary contributing factor is higher delinquency rates in Prime, Alt-A and Option ARM mortgage products.

According to the Amherst Security Group, this problem won’t go away any time soon, because:

• Loans are transitioning into delinquency/foreclosure at a rapid pace, but moving out at a slow pace;

• Cure rates are low. In other words, fewer people are paying their past-due amounts and getting back on track.

• Loans are taking longer to liquidate. In other words, the length of time between the start of the foreclosure process and the point when the lender gets control of the property is growing.

The Amherst Mortgage Insight report notes that there are currently 7 million homes in a shadow market — homes that are either in delinquency or in foreclosure, but not yet on the market. This number translates into 135 percent of a year of existing home sales, which means that whatever numbers you’re seeing now about homes sales, they don’t truly reflect the storm that’s yet to come.

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Building, Bureaucracy, Community, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Living Conditions | 2 Comments

Shifting Weather Patterns

Temp14Oct09

Last week, we had our first days under 100°F/38°C.

Last night, AdventureMan shivered and moved close to me.

“I’m cold” he said pitifully, putting his cold feet up against me.

It’s OK. I’m used to it. He is often cold, and I radiate heat. We pile the covers up on him and I sleep with just a sheet. I can’t sleep if I am too hot.

“There’s another quilt out on the loveseat” I tell him, referring to a piece of furniture about twenty steps away.

“Will you go get it for me?” he asked, his voice quavering.

We’ve been married a long time. I’m on to his tricks.

“No,” I laughed, “If you want another blanket, you have to go get it.”

“I don’t want to leave the bed,” he complained, and snuggled closely to me to absorb my heat.

This morning, at 0700, it is not even 80°F. Wooo HOOOOOO! There is still some humidity, but the afternoons are balmy, and there are evenings you can sit outside and drink coffee. Wooo HOOOO, my favorite season – Outside Season!

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Humor, Living Conditions, Marriage, Qatar, Relationships, Weather | Leave a comment