Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Top 10

It's crunch time.

I am talking 10 days until I leave. 10 days until I hop on another flight, bounce to Paris, bound to Omaha, visit folks there, trek to Cali, then head to my new home at Cambridge. 10 days and counting.

Sometimes, the ironic vegetarian in me likes to kiss one of the many weird dead animal pellets lining the alleyways of the Souq. ... Like this.

I feel like I'm doing a Top 10 music list of Doha. Playing today? Possibly puppies and kittens (with the Qatar animal welfare society, which I might be volunteering at/interviewing/exploring for the sake of animal shugah). Early morning workout with Kath and our good friends the above-40-rat-pack (as I've named the same four men who are there every day, bright and early, with me. The sole female.) of those men likes to take a conspicuously long time getting water when I'm stretching and my tush is in the air. The cooler just happens to be located near the stretching mats. Hmm.

But anyways! I am powering through Qatar. There's so much I want to see before I go, and so much I simply want to re-enjoy. It's a bit terrifying to realize my days will no longer be filled with things like this:


Watching Kath work her magic in the fashion world


Del biting Kath's butt... yes, there are many butt bites here at ABODE.

Ego-crushingly gorgeous new friends (seriously, Divya. Where's the justice?)

And what about my favorite places to eat, like the $2.50 hummus and tabouleh delicious goodness i adore from the Villagio food court?

Even Kath loves the hummus. See? Happy face.

There are so many amazing events coming up in the cooler (read: Below 120F, 68% humidity) months that I'll be missing. The Doha Tribeca Film Festival, for starters. ABODE attended a premier of one-minute movies in association with the DTFF. Unfortunately, Kath and I arrived a bit late (I had another event. ... I went to a book club.) and missed the showing of the movies. We did meet some pretty awesome filmmakers, young people, and general hipsters.

Young! Artsy! Female! Film Festival!

I guess what I'm saying is I'm a bit sad to be leaving so soon. It's bitter sweet. I realize my time here is up, and that I'm moving on to a whole new, amazing adventure. Only I've spent these past couple months doing what I love (writing), guided by an amazing editor (that's you, Tessa), surrounded by pretty fantastic people (not my dumb roomy. .. . or the absolutely horrible photographer/editor-in-chief/whatever-title-it-is-now) and working for a fantastic magazine.

It's a 22-year-old journalist's dream.

P.S. Ramadan is just around the corner! It starts whenever the new moon decides to appear, so any day now. Apparently the government has ordered all grocery stores sell around 150 products at market price (?!!), which means eggs, breads, etc will be significantly cheaper. All in the spirit of giving. I can't wait, wait, wait to see what happens.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dates and Birthdays!

Want to see how I started my day? Running along this.

And this.

Pretty darn amazing, that's for sure. More than 7k. Ocean. Sun. 5:30am, and a bleary-eyed miss Kathleen Flood kindly dropping me off at one end (although I'm not sure she quite realized what was happening). I arrived at The Sheraton (pictured above, the weird pyramid thing) red-faced and more grinny than usual.

I grin a lot in the mornings. Kath prefers to sleep. Something about 'normal people don't wake up at 5am, you FREAKONATURE, go to BED!' But of course I can't, because my body hates me and loves the sun. I'm like a darn flower.

Not sure Kath is a morning flower.

We're hitting deadline here at ABODE, which is one of my favorite times. It means everything's intense and fast pace. Stories have to be turned in now, now, yesterday, and others are ready for editing, and where are all those photos? I love it. I think the adrenaline junky in me would be perfectly content working for a newspaper where everything is rapid-fire pace... only I love deep stories too much to do that.

Aside from work (with our new crazy work hours, 8-1, 4-7, say goodbye to your day! Only I really actually like it most the time), life is just... well.. Doha. We celebrated Kath's big 22 birthday last week.

Birthday girl in action on a fashion photoshoot.

I was able to pull some PR strings and work a lil magic, ending in a big surprise at The Ritz with Kath's many buddies and delightful cake.

I actually went out (GASP!) dancing at Palomas, a sassy lil club with free drinks all night for ladies.

Dancing was fun.
The next day was not. I think there's a reason I stick to early bedtimes/water/books. Wait, isn't there a name for that? ...nerd. Shoot.

As things heat up, Doha's getting ready for Ramadan. It starts Aug 22 this year (each year it moves back 10 days). During Ramadan, Muslims here only work half days. The government offices do the same. This means things go a lot slower, and much later into the night, since Iftar (the breaking of the fast) starts once the sun goes down. Dates and milk are used to break the fast.

I've been eating a lot of dates lately. They are everywhere. Given as gifts, huge boxes of dates are now popping up at hotels (hello, Sheraton!) and in the corners of our office. I ate seven in an hour the other day, which resulted in one very, very energetic Danae. Note to self: dates = candy = LOTS OF SUGAR.

Then there's Sohour, the second meal during Ramadan. These can go into the wee hours of the morning and are hosted all around town, either in private homes or in large, grand tents. I can't wait to attend a Sohour... even if it will be much, much after my bedtime. During Ramadan, people aren't allowed to eat, drink or smoke in public. Regulations on clothing (no shoulders, no skirts above the knees) have become a lot stricter these past couple weeks. Folks are being fined thousands of dollars.

So I stay covered. It's amazing what you learn to do with layering. All part of living in a strange land.

I'm heading home in two weeks, where I'll lurk for some number of days before waving goodbye bye to Omaha and hello to Cali.

After a week of Leia lei lei family time, I'll be off to Cambridge! My goodness, where did the time go?

I do love living in beautiful, new places. Unfortunately, Cambridge wont be nearly as sunny.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Danae's Dubai Dabbles (and other D words)

There is something unconquerable about the desert. Riding a bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, I watched miles and miles of desert pass by. Forward, backward, it stretched out in shades of yellow and sunburnt orange, with a single strip of highway winding through like a crack in a piece of granite. I will be here long after you're gone, it seemed to say. I will survive and swallow you in dust and sand. You're little. I'm endless. And that is life...

I like feeling little. As we moved into- and then two days later back out of -Dubai, I found myself just staring out the window. I'd say the bus ride was one of the highlights of the trip. There is something at once humbling and empowering about realizing how tiny I really am. My mistakes don't matter. My past, my future, everything is all just a blip on this endless twirling wonder that is the world. I am here now but one day I'll be gone.

So why not live for today? Why not love to the fullest, experiencing all I can?

Dubai itself was... well... Dubai. I don't think it's quite the metropolitan, large bustling New York or artsy Chicago I had in my head. It was just a bigger Doha with higher buildings and roads on roads. A large dust storm had just moved into the area, blocking out any traces of blue sky and making everything a pale, tannish grey. Dubai.

Dubai, Dubai. Danae dancing in Dubai. The friend gang of four and I did indeed dance, although the second night I called it an early eve and sunk to bed while everyone else slipped out.

I really am not much of a late owl, even when three red bulls are trying to give me wings.

We visited a large (understatement) mall where I found vegetable juice and an odd horse statue. Megan and Bryce found taco bell and salvation.

Kathleen searched out a hip little boutique called Sauce, where beautiful clothing mocked my innate unwillingness to spend hundreds of dollars. While she was trying on outfit after outfit, I wandered around a bookstore and a cupcake shop. It made me miss baking... and Leia, but really, what doesn't?

I also had a chance to meet with Dr. Ken Wise, a previous Creighton professor. Over cups of coffee, he discussed the vaguest details of his current profession. It was fascinating and amazing. I am constantly surprised at how many jobs exist that I've never even considered.

Like professional melon eater. I win.

Now we're back. Back to work, back to Doha, back to the city that honestly I like quite a lot better than Dubai. This morning I woke up at 5:30 (because my body hates me) and slipped out for a run. As the sun rose, I did my grocery shopping at Food Palace, a small Indian grocery store that has become my favorite. It was unusually quiet; the produce men were lining shelves with bread, unfamiliar fruit, milks, Laban. I was one of two customers.

I think what I'm getting at here is it feels good to be home. Dubai was nice, more because of the company than the city. But Doha? Oh, Doha I think has my loyalty... at least until Cambridge comes calling.

I'm going to miss some people when it does.