Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Christmas Eve Hilarity

All of a sudden, life slows down and friends can gather, relax, share stories and share laughter. We were full of hilarity as we sat down to make Christingles, which, as it turns out, none of us have ever made before and none of us have a clue what they are supposed to look like.

Here is an explanation of a Christingle from encyclopedia:

Christingle is a symbolic object used in advent services in churches of many Christian denominations. It has its origins in the Moravian Church , with the first recorded use, in Germany, in 1747.
This is the story of the first Christingle:
One Christmas time back in 1747 at a town in Germany, Pastor John sat at home in front of his fire. He was thinking how he could explain the love of Jesus, and what Christmas really meant to the children in the church. He decided to prepare a simple symbol to help make the message of Christmas fresh and lively for them. Pastor John gave each child a lighted candle wrapped in a red ribbon, with a prayer that said “Lord Jesus, kindle a flame in these dear children’s hearts”. This was the first ever Christingle service.
Many years later, in 1968, Christingle services were introduced to the Anglican Church in Britain, and the custom spread quickly; each year there are more and more Christingle services in England and Wales, although today’s Christingles are a little different.
The Christingle consists of:

  • an orange representing the world with
  • a red ribbon around it representing the blood of Jesus
  • fruits and sweets (usually dolly mixtures) are skewered on 4 cocktail sticks which are pushed into the orange representing the fruits of the earth and the four seasons
  • and a lighted candle is pushed into the centre of the orange representing Christ, the light of the world

Here are some illustrations I found online:

Here is where the hilarity begins – have you ever tried to tie a red ribbon around a sphere? Have you ever tried to determine the proper “Anglican angle” for the fruit filled cocktail picks? Worst of all, how can such a simple assignment end up looking more like Sputnik than an object to teach children lessons in holiness? We struggled to meet the challenge, and, in the end, had fulfilled our mission, but not one of us was confident that we had produced the real thing. Our results:

After so much stress and hilarity, we needed to unwind, so off to the Ritz Carlton once again, where we discovered that the disappearing Christmas Tree is back in all its glory:

You can opt for a plate from the Ritz Carlton Christmas food yummies buffet:

Or you can order the Ritz special Christmas Tea, which comes in towers (and you can actually order coffee with it if you prefer coffee to tea)

A lovely beginning to Christmas.

We wish you a Merry Christmas, and unexpected joy in the coming year.


December 24, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Community, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Qatar, Technical Issue | 5 Comments

Souk al Waqif: Men’s Souks

AdventureMan and I have a tradition, and that is we like to go shopping together before Christmas, helps him help Santa Clause with things to put in my Christmas stocking, and gives us precious time together in a relaxed setting.

So of course, we headed to our favorite place, the Souk al Waqif, where I discovered that the place I love the most to buy scarves – he always has things no one else has – was totally out of scarves! Well, he had six hanging up, but they were not special. I said “Where are the scarves??” and he laughed and said “Sold out!” and I said “Well that is good for you but not so good for me!” and we both laughed. He said he will be getting more early in January, but that is no help to Santa!

Then we wandered over into the older area of the souks, closest to Grand Hamad street. There is a new shop with beautiful misbah (worry beads) and unusual treasures. We wandered further, and came upon the falcon souk.

OK, I get it, the rest of you knew all about it, but I think because I usually go early in the morning, maybe this area isn’t open when I go – I have seen the seats outside, the majlis area, but I never saw the falcons before, not in the new souks. What fun! But aside from tourist women, there are no women in this area – the falcon souk, the camping souk, the hunting souk – these are very masculine domains, Guy Souks.

And they are equally lovely:

In this hallway, everything is giant. Hanging up above is a giant falcon glove, a giant falcon hood, and at the end of the hall, where the men with falcons are entering, are two gigantic falcon stands.

Look at this beautiful space! I think there are some offices around this space, as well as shops:

The camping and hunting souks have all kinds of tentings, bedrolls, washing up fixtures, etc, not so good for camping in the Pacific Northwest, but great for desert camping and hunting:

When the hardware souks and shoe repair souks were cleared out of the main street, I wondered where they had gone, and last night we found them. To my joy, I also found the scribes! I had been told they dispersed, went to various police stations to do their translations, fingerprints, etc. but last night I found them here! Right next to the police station! How have I missed them, all these evenings in the souks? I didn’t see them!

When first in Doha, where there is not one single modern hardware store, and before I had discovered my neighborhood hardware area, (remember, my secret vice is that I love hardware? and hardware stores?) I would go to the Souk al Waqif and start at one store saying “I need 3/4 inch masonry nails” and I would show them one. The man would leave his shop and take me to whichever of his buddies carried those nails. Or chains. Or bungee cords – they always had what I needed, or something close I could use. I’m glad to see the hardware shops are still there, along with the fishing and boating supply stores, and those huge pot and griddle stores.

Did you know Souk al Waqif had it’s own fire truck? Neither did we!

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Christmas, Community, Cultural, Doha, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Shopping | 11 Comments

Christmas in the Doha LuLu

I think many of the shops were waiting to put out Christmas until after the revelry of National Day (Week). Suddenly, this week, things are showing up. There were a few things before, but now, it is the week for CHRISTMAS!

I was early to the LuLu to pick up a few things and ended up with a lot of things, including some wonderful fresh shrimp. The lines at the seafood vendor formed early, and I was glad I got there when I did – I wanted shrimp, bought a kilo, and while I was waiting for it to be cleaned, a couple bought almost all the rest of the shrimp, and also some crab, and I don’t know what else. I wondered if they owned a restaurant.

As I waited, I was able to watch how different people did business. The men setting out the fish do a beautiful job, and they do it with people yelling at them “Three kilos Shari!” “10 Kilos shrimp!” and they ignore everyone and go on with the setting up. They seem to be keeping track of who is waiting, and go for the person who has been there the longest, not the person who has been shouting most imperiously. I can see some people get really upset when their orders are not taken immediately, even though they have been yelling the loudest.

I can’t help but wonder what it is like to work in that environment every day? People all yelling at you and wanting to be first?

After I had taken these photos, a woman approached me and told me the manager had said no photos in the LuLu. Glad he waited until I had three to show you. 🙂

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Christmas, Doha, Living Conditions, Qatar, Shopping | 5 Comments