Friday, September 26, 2014

Food Quiz Answers

There were so many guesses about the two picture in my What Could It Be post. Here are the suggestions and the answers.

Is picture 1 meat?  Could it be shredded chicken or duck.  Or shredded cheese?

The first picture is Halawa Shaar, a finely shredded Halawa or Helva.  The main ingredient in Halawa and many  varieties of Helva is sesame seeds. If you've ever eaten hummus or baba ghanoush, both dishes derive a lot flavor from sesame tahini. 

What about picture 2?  A vegetable, red peppers?  A prepackaged curry? Squash?  I really enjoyed the suggestion that this package contains Lil Smokies. I had votes this might also be cactus, sun dried tomatoes or gogi berries.

Congratulations to Jon for knowing that these are dates.  In fact they are dates stuffed with almonds.  I don't have a picture because the dates are so sticky.  They taste delicious and the protein from the almond is a great bonus. You can buy dates here with the pits still in them.  The almonds can look a lot like the pits and honestly I don't know how you tell from the packaging if the dates are pitted and stuffed with almonds or not. In fact I was given another pack of dates today.  The dates may be packed in honey but I won't know until I try one. 

Over the lips and passed the gums, look out stomach here it comes. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Foods

I always try to buy some new things when I grocery store.  I had seen a lot of people buying a yogurt drink called Laban. Also known as Leben, it's fermented milk.  It tastes like yogurt but you can drink it like buttermilk.  Have you had Kefir or Lassi?  It's exactly the same thing, just different words. Laban is nice and smooth.  It's slightly sweet because of the strawberry flavoring and not tangy like some yogurts. I will definitely buy these again. These drinks are full of fun enzymes that help your insides do their job.  I see people pick these drinks up at the store along with their take away lunches. Where do you think Activia got the idea?  Ironically the Laban that I saw only came in a few flavors but the milk next to it in the dairy case came in flavors I am not ready for.  I just cannot wrap my mind around the idea of Guava flavored milk.  The packaging for milk and laban is identical.  Both items are in Arabic on one side and English on the other.  I have noticed that a lot of packaging doesn't say how many servings an item is.  Also the ingredient list tends to be so small you really cannot read it.  My other favorite thing about yogurt here is the package of mixed fruit individual yogurt cups.  I took this to mean the flavor is mixed fruit. And I was wrong. The package is 10 little cups of yogurt and you get a mix of about 4-5 flavors like lemon or strawberry. Who knew? 

I saw these little pudding cups that looked a lot like the prepackaged flan I buy at home.  Labeled as Creme Caramel I figured what could be bad. You can eat these right out of the package but the grooved cup makes it hard to reach all the sauce.  I like to tip my pudding in a dish or tea cup and wait for all the caramel to run out. I love the sauce, it is worth the wait.  It seemly lightly salted. It's a really light dessert and a wonderful treat.  The company Danette is owned by Danone, or in the US, Dannon. Danone also produces Evian water and many other products.   I have noticed that a lot of sweet foods here aren't that sugary.  Instead of tasting sweet you taste the flavor first. I can think of foods from home that are so sweet they make my teeth ache.  I haven't eaten anything like that in Qatar yet. 

Based on this post you might get the impression that I only eat diary products.  In an effort not to break the pattern, here is another new food that is also made with milk. This is Turkish Labaneh.  It is sometimes called Lebanese cream cheese.  So if you are keeping track milk is Haleeb.  Haleeb is made into yogurt, Laban.  Laban is made into cheese called Labaneh.  This cheese spread has a similar texture to the cream cheese you might be familiar with but I did think it was fluffier. I also thought the taste was less tart than our Philly spread.  It isn't overly salty either like cheese could be. I think this is available in other flavors like herb or pepper, but I thought I should start with the basics and then branch out.  I enjoyed my snack on dark brown bread that my German friend favors. 


Monday, September 22, 2014

What could it be?

Since everyone liked the kitchen quiz so much I have another little guessing game.  Please comment below if you know what these two food items are.



I promise that both items are edible and you may be able to tell from the packaging that I've already started to nibble at the contents. 


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Arab and Islamic Heritage Collection

I came to Qatar to work for the library but I do not currently work at the library because it is still being built. Not seeing patrons or books for weeks on end is a new and strange thing for me.  Last week I was able to visit the Arab and Islamic Heritage Library twice; once for orientation and once with Public Services.  The library will one day be part of the National Library.  I cannot wait for all of us to work together under one roof.  Email and phone calls are my only connection to some staff.  Soon we will be a team. My favorite part of the library?  Hands down the smell.  It has a lovely vanilla tobacco sort of aroma that my office doesn't come close to.
The collection began with H.E. Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Thani at the beginning of the 1980s. He wanted to make available the wealth of historical sources about Qatar, including writings by travellers and explorers who visited the Arabian Gulf region. This vision developed to incorporate all rare and valuable texts and manuscripts related to the Arab-Islamic civilization. Preparations are underway to relocate this collection in its own purpose-built location within the new Qatar National Library at Education City.
The collection comprises of two main parts. The Arab Collection contains over 75,000 works including manuscripts and books on numerous fields of knowledge. The Foreign Collection contains over 25,000 works including books, periodicals and maps that reveal the extent to which European Orientalists, travellers and explorers were fascinated by the Arab-Islamic cultural heritage. The earliest documents date back to the mid 15th century A.D. Work is currently being undertaken to enlarge the collection into a rich resource for research and academic study. (Heritage Collection)
As you can see from my pictures, the collection has a great look and feel. The furniture was exquisite.  You may sit on the fancy furnishing but I couldn't. Along with lush rugs, dark wood and stained glass, the walls in some rooms had beautiful fabric coverings. 

This area of the library with its many levels, spiral staircase and dim lighting is jokingly referred to as the Harry Potter room.

The books are arranged by category.  I found a section dedicated to the writings of T.E. Lawrence. There were books in many languages at the library.  We had a good time finding works that each of us could read and translate for the rest of the group.

I am very excited to see more of this library and I cannot wait for the public to see more of what it contains.  It's like a national family tree. 



Howdy All,
I was adding my disclaimer to all my blog posts and I didn't realize that every post I updated would move to the top of the page.  I think I may have blown up everyone's inbox with these updates.  Apologies for being not so tech savvy after all.


Tabbouleh Recipe

A traditional Arabic salad made with parsley, cracked wheat, and tomatoes.

Recipe Serving: Serves 6

  • Ingredients 
1 cup (240 ml) bulgur wheat 
1/2 cup (120 ml) onions, finely chopped 
3/4 cup (180 ml) tomatoes, finely chopped 
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped 
1/2 cup (120 ml) mint, finely chopped 
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
1/2 cup (120 ml) small cucumber, diced 
2 scallions, finely sliced 
1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice 
1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil 
Salt and pepper to taste 

  • Instructions 
Soak the bulgur in 2–3 cups (480-720 ml) warm water for 30 minutes. Drain off remaining water.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow flavors to develop.

World Trade Press. "Qatar: Recipes." AtoZ The World. World Trade Press, n.d. Web. 8 May 2014.


Mehalabiya Recipe

A rice pudding flavored with rose water and sprinkled with ground pistachios.

Recipe Serving: Serves 4

  • Ingredients 
5 cups (1.2 l) milk

1/2 cup (120 ml) ground rice
1/3 cup (80 ml) sugar
1–1 1/2 oz (30–45 ml) orange flower or rose water
1.5 oz (45 ml) light honey
3/4 cup (180 ml) mixed almonds and pistachios, coarsely chopped 

  • Instructions 
Bring milk to a boil, mix the ground rice into a paste with 5 oz (150 ml) water, and pour into the milk, stirring vigorously. Bring back to a boil slowly, stirring constantly. When the mixture thickens, add the sugar and the orange flower or rose water, and stir well. Pour into a serving dish and let cool. Mix the honey with 2–2.5 oz (60–75 ml) water and warm slowly. Cool slightly, pour over the mehalabiya, and garnish with nuts.

World Trade Press. "Qatar: Recipes." AtoZ The World. World Trade Press, n.d. Web. 8 May 2014.


Shawarma Recipe

A traditional Middle Eastern snack. The slices of grilled lamb or chicken are combined with tahini, lime, and pickles in a pita (flat pocket bread).

Recipe Serving: Serves 6

  • Ingredients 

1/2 lb (225 g) lamb, cut into strips

1/2 lb (225 g) chicken breast, cut into strips
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground black pepper
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cayenne
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice
1/2 cup (120 ml) vinegar
6 large sections pita bread
2 tomatoes, chopped
6 slices pickled eggplant
3 serrano or jalapeno chilies, stems and seeds removed, chopped
Yogurt to taste
  • Instructions 
Place meat in a glass bowl. In another bowl, combine the spices, salt, garlic, onion, bay leaf, lemon juice, and vinegar, stir well, and pour it over the meat.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Drain meat from the marinade and pat dry. Grill meat over a hot charcoal or gas fire until done, about 10 minutes, turning often. Divide meat among the pita bread sections, add tomatoes, pickled eggplant if using, chilies, and 1 tbsp (15 ml) or more of yogurt.

World Trade Press. "Qatar: Recipes." AtoZ The World. World Trade Press, n.d. Web. 8 May 2014.


Makbous Dajaj Recipe

This rice dish prepared for large gatherings is the country’s signature dish. Also spelled machboos or matchboos.

Recipe Serving: Serves 8

  • Ingredients 
2 cups (480 ml) basmati rice
1 chicken
1 tsp (5 ml) saffron
2 tsp (10 g) allspice
2 tbsp (30 ml) ketchup
Boiling chicken spice:
2 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods
2 stick cinnamon
2 garlic cloves
1 onion 

1 cup (240 ml) chopped onion
1 tbsp (15 ml) raisins
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry chickpeas
1/2 tsp (2 ml) black lemon (dried lemons)
1/2 tsp (2 ml) allspice

Tomato sauce:
1 tsp (5 ml) crushed garlic
1 cup (240 ml) tomato juice
2 tbsp (30 ml) tomato paste
1 tbsp (15 ml) corn oil
Black pepper
Red chili

  • Instructions 
Soak saffron in 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water. Boil chicken with whole spices until tender in 4 cups (1 l) of water.  Combine 1/2 the saffron with salt, allspice, and ketchup. Brush chicken with the mixture and roast until golden.  Fry garlic in oil, add tomato juice and paste, season with salt, chili, and black pepper, and cook over low heat until you get a thick tomato sauce.
Boil chickpeas in water until tender; drain. Prepare chickpeas by frying onions and raisins over heat until tender, adding chick peas and seasoning with salt, allspice, and black lemon.
Wash rice and soak in water for 1/2 hour; drain. Bring stock, 1 tsp (5 ml) allspice, and salt to boil. Put in rice and cook until only a little water remains. Reduce heat, put chicken on the rice, pour saffron mixture over rice, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. Pour rice on a big plate, add chickpeas and chicken, and serve with tomato sauce.

World Trade Press. "Qatar: Recipes." AtoZ The World. World Trade Press, n.d. Web. 8 May 2014.


Food and Beverage

I am always hungry; hungry for food and for knowledge.  It's great to be able to combine my
curiosity to research a topic that can also please my palate.

Arab cuisine (style of cooking) varies among regions. In some areas, such as Yemen, the food can be spicy. In others, such as Egypt, it can be bland. Basic foodstuffs in the Arab world include beans, chickpeas, lentils, vegetables, and rice. In northern Africa, couscous (steamed cracked wheat) replaces rice as a staple. Beans, chickpeas, or eggplants are often cooked into dips. Arabs eat these dips by scooping up mouthfuls with thin bread, called pita in Western countries. Most meals include bread. People also eat eggs and milk products, especially feta and other cheeses and yogurt. They also consume a wide variety of salads and cooked vegetables. A specialty of Arab cuisine is to stuff vegetables with rice or a mixture of rice, meat, and pine nuts. Olive oil, sesame seed oil, or sesame seed paste add flavor to many dishes. Arabs also enjoy chicken, lamb, beef, and fish. These meats are either baked, grilled, or made into a stew.
Fresh and dried fruits are the main desserts. On special occasions, Arabs serve cookies, cakes, puddings, preserved fruits, and sugared almonds. Honey-soaked pastries, such as baklava, are other treats. Water, coffee, and tea—especially mint tea—are the most popular beverages. (Stowasser)
In addition to local favorites and an influx of modern tastes, Muslims follow rules that guide their eating habits called Halal, or unlawful. 

The word halal is often associated with food and drink considered proper for Muslims. In this sense, it is used in much the same way that kosher is used concerning Jewish dietary restrictions. Muslims are forbidden from eating four main kinds of food: (1) pork and pork by-products, (2) animals that were already dead before they were slaughtered, (3) blood and blood by-products, and (4) food that is ritually offered to beings other than God. In addition, Muslims are forbidden from consuming alcohol and other intoxicants. (Campo)
Classic Qatari Dishes

  • Appetizers
    • Hummus – A spread made from ground chickpeas eaten for breakfast, lunch, and
      Lamb Shawarma
    • Shawarma – A traditional Middle Eastern snack made of thin slices of spiced lamb or chicken. 
  • Salads
    • Tabbouleh – A traditional Arab salad made with cracked wheat, parsley, and tomatoes.
  • Main Dishes
    • Chicken Makbous – A mixture of rice and meat, chicken, or fish served at most festive occasions. 
    • Shish Kabob – Pieces of lamb and vegetables served on a skewer.
    • Biriani – An aromatic spiced rice dish with lamb or chicken.
  • Side Dishes
    • Ghuzi – A whole roast lamb served on a bed of rice with pine nuts.
    • Motabel – A purée of eggplant, tahini (sesame paste), and garlic.
  • Deserts
    • Umm Ali – A traditional baked bread pudding with nuts, white raisins, milk, cream,
      Mehalabiya - rice pudding
      almonds, pistachio, and puff pastry. The name means "the mother of Ali."
    • Esh Asaraya – A sweet cheesecake with a cream topping. The name means "bread of the harem."
    • Mehalabiya – A rice pudding with rose water and ground pistachios. 
    • Hamour– A type of fish caught in the Gulf, served baked or cooked with rice.
  • Beverages
    • Tea – Tea is typically taken sweet and without milk.
    • Coffee – Coffee (qahwa) is extremely popular and is served in small cups in coffeehouses, homes, and offices. It is usually made from a lightly roasted Arabian bean, flavored with cardamom, saffron, or rosewater, and taken sweet.


Campo, Juan E. "Halal." Academic World Book. World Book, 2014. Web. 5 May 2014. 

Stowasser, Barbara R. F. "Arabs." Academic World Book. World Book, 2014. Web. 5 May 2014.

World Trade Press. "Qatar: National Cuisine." AtoZ The World. World Trade Press, n.d. Web. 8 May 2014.

Updates - Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?


So what's the word hummingbird?  The word is paperwork, lots and lots of paperwork.  I do
not know when I am leaving because I do not know when my paperwork will be complete.  I received my transcripts in the mail.  Hooray, happy dance. It was a fluke though. Upon further discovery my transcripts had the wrong certification attached.  It might sounds minor but in the world of legalities having an apostille instead of an authentication is a big deal.  Basically there are two kinds of authentications, because there are counties that follow the Hague Convention and those that do not.  Each group has its own certification for documents and they won't accept anything less.  The good news is my diploma hasn't received the same erroneous attestation and after many phone calls the IU Registrar it seems things are off to a good start...again. 

As with all things, its bad news and good news.  



Sports and Athletics

Despite the weather as an ever present challenge to being physical, Qatar and nearby nations of the UAE, United Arab Emirates, love sports, games and many forms of competition. In January, Dubai hosts a marathon.  Also in the winter, Qatar offers the ExxonMobilOpen and the Total Open to the tennis community.  Camel and horse racing are popular sports.  Saudia Arabia's King's Cup camel race is the countries largest yearly event.  In horse racing, the Dubai World Cup horse race is a major event on the social calendar.  This race is by invitation only.  Qatar holds the Emir's Sword Race, another key international horse race. 

Qatar values its athletes and sports so much so that it has a National Sports Day with the
vision to "To adopt the best practices and means in promoting the practice of sport and physical activities among members of the society." To me it sound a lot like an enormous version of Field Day which we had in school.  There is a large variety of events featuring lots of sports and games.  Unlike many sporting events where the public is the audience this day encourages people to be active themselves.   It must be intentional that the logo looks like it could be for the Olympics. National Sports Day even has an Sports Village just like the Olympic Village.  As part of events there is a 5k run and 1k walk called the Doha Dash

Doha, Qatar is eager to host the Olympics.  There is a major campaign to have the Summer Games 2024 held in Qatar.  Until then Qatar will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup for Soccer and 2014 FINA World Swimming Championships.  Soccer, or football, is the most popular sport in Qatar, followed by handball and cricket.

Qatar hosts races and marathons. It is also home to many running clubs. The Ooredoo Marathon has previously attracted more than 1,500 athletes from nearly 90 countries.  Tri, Bi and Duathalons are also becoming a more commons occurrence.  TriClub Doha was recently formed to prepare athletes for these challenges.  Check them out on Twitter



It's Electric

When you travel people often think about how to convert their money.  In many countries you
UK Type G Plug and Outlet
must also convert your electricity so that your appliances work properly and safely.  In Qatar, you need to use a UK Type G adaptor with all any gadgets and gizmos you bring into the country.  

The Type G electrical plug is a British three-pin rectangular blade plug that has a protective fuse inside to protect cords from high-current circuits. Type G outlets generally include safety switches. 

One hopes that items bought in the country would already compliant to Qatari standards but I suppose you never know. This outlet style is also used in countries like The Isle of Man, Bahrain and Yemen. 

Judging by my tech toy needs, I think an power strip with at least 8 outlets is going to be on my shopping list. 



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I've Been Everywhere Man

I feel like I have been all over the place lately. Maybe I should think about leaving bread crumbs for myself so I can get home. Saturday night we had dinner at Manaret Beirut, Al Nasser Street, Al Mirqab Al Jadeed, Doha. We had planned to eat at the new location of Turkey Central (see previous post) but they no longer have seating for dinning in. Or they will but it wasn't open yet.  I am a little fuzzy on the details. I will just have to check back. Oh no!  We didn't want to get take away so we roamed the street and decided that Lebanese food sounded good. At Manaret Beirut you eat upstairs and the kitchen is downstairs. This seems to be a common floor plan. The menu was a bit hard to decipher as none of the items have descriptions and many of the names were spelled in unexpected ways. Even our friends who read and spoke arabic were unable to explain some dishes as there are too many regional differences to account for. My mixed grill is the bottom right picture and features lamb, chicken and beef. Your condiments include olives, pickles, french fries, plain pita and a way too much garlic dip. I got some grilled pita with a zesty red filling we couldn't identify. We also ordered some appetizers to share like hummus, baba ghannous, stuffed grape leaves, fattoush and tabbouleh. There were chicken livers too but those were eaten quickly so I don't have any pictures. Apologies that the images aren't in the order that I talk about them but Blogger was being all jumpy and I didn't wanna fight.

This is a shot of the street at night while we were waiting to meet up with friends.  It is always busy.  There was a lot of honking and jostling for parking places.  Catching a cab here was also a bit of a neat trick that took three people and conversations in two languages.  We did all arrive home safe eventually. 

I got home a little late Saturday night so Sunday morning arrived too early for me.  I had orientation for work at the Rec Center which allowed me to sleep in. Between trainings we were supplied with large amounts of caffeine and sugar, often in the same treat.   I am quite enamored with this coffee machine made available  by the catering staff. It makes fantastic cappuccino and espresso.  I also had a latte with espresso but I don't suggest trying more than two drinks together in the same cup.  This tends to make the wait staff nervous.

Sunday as part of our orientation we were able to visit Al Shaqab which is also part of Education City.  This massive complex dedicated to horses includes facilities for lessons, racing and raising Arabian horses.  They also keep a stable of ponies of all types for their riding lessons. While our tour included the stables and arenas that are part of a standard tour we also saw some VIP areas that I am unlikely to ever visit again.  The stable is pristine and doesn't smell at all like a barn.  In fact I found many of the areas we visited smelled more like fresh paint than hay.  Also I didn't see any barn cats. 


Saturday, September 13, 2014

What's Happenin'


I know it might seem like all we do is eat but honestly eating is a great way to have fun in Doha.  Even the supermarket is full of unexpected things ranging from local favorites to seasonal treats important from other countries.  It seems everyone is looking for a taste of home.  On a coworker's suggestion I bought these snacks at the Monoprix while we were over there getting lunch one day. Maamoul is like a shortbread cookie and in this case it has a filling made of dates.  It is a bit like a fig newton or other fruit filled cookie.  Unlike poptarts this dessert has a better fruit to bread ratio and you get more of the sweet stuffing to balance out all the crust.  I did find these a bit dry so I am going to assume you are supposed to enjoy them with coffee or tea.  I did really like that the box contains several individually wrapped cookies.  I am going to leave the box at work for afternoons when I am peckish.  So basically everyday.  I also saw treats on the shelf that used a lot of coconut.  I am on the hunt for a minty snack but nothing has really jumped out at me.  I saw another treat that looked a bit like a moon pie.  I think I will have to just eat dessert for a while to get caught up on all this options.  And you wonder why I never cook?  ;) 

This next treat is a product of Belgium.  When it was described for me I thought 'gee that sounds just like Biscoff.'  It's a sweet spread made of cookies.  I had some on a pita because that's what I had around.  It's nice right out of the jar with a spoon too.  I thought it tasted just like Biscoff too, so it was off to the internet to see what was going on.  Sure enough Speculoos was marketed in the US in 2011 under the name Biscoff because that is what they also call the cookies the spread is made from.  Who wants to sing It's a Small World After All? 

A little Biscoff history from their website:
"Biscoff Cookies are a type of shortcrust biscuit known as “speculoos,” a Belgian specialty. Throughout Europe, these mid-day treats are known as Lotus Speculoos.  Speculoos were traditionally made for special occasions, including weddings, births, and to celebrate St. Nicholas’ Feast on December 6. Our European treats first made their way to America as in-flight treats. Starting in the 1980s, Biscoff treats have been paired with mid-air morning coffee in flights throughout the United States. Frequent fliers took note of the unique taste and special magic of Biscoff and coffee, and today’s passengers continue to discover Biscoff on major domestic flights throughout the country." (Biscoff)

Apron souvenir from dinner.
Thursday night I had a BBQ dinner at the St. Regis hotel here in Doha.  The entire facility is exquisite.  It is not just a hotel.  The hotel complex has a pool, beach, numerous restaurants and yes bars, cabanas and a jazz club. The jazz club entrance was very intriguing, you enter via a red lit elevator.  It's so mysterious. We were treated to a sumptuous area of grilled meats, veggies and fruits along with an array of desserts, cheese and breads. The meal featured lots of fun sauces like a traditional bbq, sweet chili and mustard.  The rules for dress and drink are not the same at the hotel as they are for the rest of the city and certainly not the office.  It was acceptable to wear sleeveless tops or skirts.  Dinner was served with alcohol and people smoked openly.  Being at the hotel is a very  different  atmosphere. Even with all the options they didn't offer ketchup which I saw many people request for their fries.  The waitstaff brought ketchup out in tiny jars like you might get with room service. Another treat was being able to keep the custom aprons provided to keep our clothes clean. I actually forgot that my apron was in my purse and Friday morning I found it and was very confused. Although the weather is cooling off slowly I wasn't able to eat very much.  Overeating when its 100 degrees out makes me feel slovenly at best and miserable at the worst.  One thing I ponder as with any buffet, what becomes of all the food?  The breads displayed had the restaurant logo dusted on them with flour. No one ate them.  I wonder what happened to all the bread when we left. 

After dinner we walked down to the beach where a band was playing reggae and rap music.  There were cubies set off to the side for our shoes.  The beach also had a bar and all drinks were in plastic containers.  We took our drinks to the beach with us and you would have never known we weren't in Las Vegas. It was a lovely evening so I was really  surprised when suddenly it was 2am and we were all so tired. If we had stayed up a little longer we might have caught the sunrise. From the beach there was a great view of Doha's downtown skyline and I was able to see my office building.  It can be easy to forget that Qatar is a relativity small nation and that many things are nearby.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Carrefour You So Funny

Today I went to the Carrefour grocery store at the mall.  First we got bubble tea which had a lot of sugar.  So by the time we started shopping I think we were a tad wound up and things seemed extra funny. Like these sale signs on rugs.  I'm not sure exactly what they mean but I appreciated them none the less.

I also bought a coffee maker, fruit and yogurt.  You know regular grocery type things.  I stopped to take a picture of the wall of Tang for Barbara.  I had heard there was a lot of Tang here and that it is very popular.  But wow, until you see how lovingly it is displayed you can't truly understand that Tang is king. Advertising campaigns suggest Tang is as good for children as fruit juice.  Especially since children like Tang better.  I am not convinced. Some of the flavors make sense and seem very familiar.  I saw Mango, Tropical Fruit and Orange.  I've read that Tang has been made in nearly 40 flavors but I couldn't find a definitive list. I did not know what to make of the Lemon Pepper flavor.  To me that sounds like a marinade.  Maybe a lot of the flavors are meant to be enjoyed cold but the Lemon Pepper is more of a hot flavor?  I can see this more as a soothing beverage when you have a cold. I'm not brave enough to buy a whole container so I don't know when or how I will find out what this really tastes like. I decided to spend my money things I enjoy like cous cous, turkey bacon and coconut water.  I wanted to get York Peppermint Pattys or Andes mints to keep in the freezer as a cool treat but I didn't see anything remotely similar. 

I got some new hot sauce to try this time.  Its habanero so I hope its hotter than what I have bought before.  I bought more Halva too, this time in pistachio. 


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Tornado Tower

I have a weather app on my laptop that's link to Yahoo somehow.  I clicked on it to see the long range forecast and saw this familiar skyline.  I work in Tornado Tower.  From the right it is the third large building with the blue lights in a diamond pattern. 

And hey check it out, the low is in the 80s.  Woot woot!


Saturday, September 6, 2014

License Plates and Phone Numbers

Facebook ad for 5 digit plate with double 7s

At home we have vanity plates for cars. If you pay more, your plate can spell out something catchy or just something personal.  In Qatar and countries like Dubai, paying extra for a plate that says less instead of more is common.  The fewer the digits on the plate the more money you spent to get it. Which of course means you are awesome.  These pricey and abbreviated plates are always seen on the latest model Land Cruiser.  Most plates in Qatar have six numbers so the five digit plate being advertised here, along with the double 7s, means it should sell pretty quickly.  I'm assuming my plate will be so long it will actually be a decal that wraps around the car.

Another popular number game here is with phone numbers. The more repeated digits in a
phone number the better the number.  Phone numbers here have 8 digits preceded by a 3 digit area code.  Phone numbers with double or triple repeated digits are everyone's first choice.  Even my number has a double 7. Cause I'm cool like that.  ;)


Friday, September 5, 2014

Apartment Tour

My number one request has been for pictures of my apartment.  I made a little video that I hope will satisfy everyone.  Enjoy.

Maybe next time I'll film horizontally. 

The Spice of Life


I'm trying to think back on my week.  I really should take notes because everything blends together by the end. Several important things happened that will make my life so much easier.  I got a badge for Tornado Tower where I work.  This is an improvement on the previous badge as this one actually opens doors and has my name spelled correctly.  I also got my official Qatar Foundation badge with a fancy lanyard and whole shebang. It smells very new. I do not recommend enjoying the lovely new smells while you are in the office. This badge lets me do all sorts of nifty stuff the first of which will be going to the gym and the pool.  The last super big thing is that I was paid and I have a bank account.  In the coming weeks I'll get an atm card and a credit card.  It is common to pay for a lot of things with cash here so I need to be in the habit of not letting my resources get too low. Of course I'm the last of the big spenders (not!)  so even though I was at the grocery store with my paycheck I only bought obscenely  practical things. My idea of a splurge is buying a whole pack of soap and not just one bar. 

I am getting into meal planning and I was thrown by the variety of spices and also the size of some of the packages.  Who needs that many bay leaves?  Since I liked the Zatar/Zater spiced bread so much I decided to buy a packet for my cooking.  Good ole Lulu, they think of everything.  

Tuesday night I went to Georgetown University School of Foreign Service to hear Author Dinaw Mengestu speak about his third book All Our Names.   I admit I had not finished the book yet; it was not a story that could be rushed.  I was beyond impressed with the interview.  Mr. Mengetsu is an eloquent speaker and the next morning his words were still with me.  Given the number of expats in Qatar, All Our Names was a good choice. The conflict the author felt growing up as an immigrant in the United States is seen in the struggle of all his characters. Anyone with a foot in more than one world can easily relate to the  quandaries presented. I really appreciated how Mr. Mengetsu  judiciously tried to talk about some broader  ramifications  of identity, race and nationality.

Oh right I forgot to share, so this week when I commute to work I now hire a car.  I meet my driver in front of my apartment building in the morning.  After work he picks me up and takes me home.  It sounds fancy but it's really common here.  My driver is super nice but I don't know a lot about him.  I really like that if I don't see where he is parked right away he will try to flag me down.  You might think since you hire the driver for the week that you can pay just once for the whole thing.  Your driver's boss may agree to this but your driver won't like it.  Many of these fellows live on next to nothing and if you don't pay them they won't have the funds to make it day to day.

Last week we worked 7:30am-2:30pm, this week we now work until 3:30pm because our summer hours are over.  During Ramadan the work day ends at 1:30pm so I will get to experience that next year. The good part is that we also get a half hour lunch along with the later end time.  I can scamper across the street to the Monoprix. Monoprix is a line of French drugs stores.  They carry anything from clothing to bath products.  The grocery has an amazing variety of products from an incredible array of countries.  I was able to buy aloe juice as  treat.  I also tried Pocari Sweat. This is an uncarbonated drink that tastes a bit like Fresca.  Its is sweet and salty so it seems a bit like a sports drink. I didn't like it much.  The big appeal of Monoprix is the lunch counters which sell curry, baba ghanoush, deli  sandwiches and salads. 

Have you ever tried a dessert with rose water in it?  I learned that rose water had been used in the past as a flavoring before vanilla extract became so popular. I had rose water in a cupcake with raspberry and it was so good.  It is fun to eat foods that you like but that you also cannot describe.  I like this taste but I don't have a word for it.


All the Feels


I recently acted as a Sag wagon for my sister at a charity ride.  Sag wagons provide 'support and grub.'  While all my friends, family and subscribers cannot provide me with food, the support you show by reading and commenting on my posts is greatly appreciated.

Today I have topped 5,000 page views and I feel very grateful for so much affection. 

More news to come,