Monday, November 28, 2011

Doha Diaries: Days 29-30, NEEDLES! Qatari!

[Day 29] Sunday, Making an Impression, Vitamins, NEEDLES!

Another work week dawns.

Making an Impression

Sometimes, when you slow down the counts on your repetitions with free weights, you can hit a wall with the endurance of your grip strength.  Today, I had that issue, but then I remembered a trick for squats, laying the dumbbells flat on your shoulders instead of holding them in your hands.  I used this trick to finish out my squats...and made a humorous discovery.  Because of the weight sitting on my shoulders, I had effectively branded myself with the name of the manufacturer of the dumbbells, Technogym.

Meh, it's hard to see, but it's there. Oh and there's my favorite pre-trip electronics purchase, the Bose SoundLink.  Oh, how I love it.  And in related news, my deltoids are casting a serious shadow now*.  W00t!

* - rectifying the atrophy of my poor shoulders due to my sedentary lifestyle from 2006-2010 was one of my chief concerns.


I can already feel the difference from taking vitamins.  I guess vitamins work or the placebo effect is strong.  I feel more alert and...mojoful?  Of course, this means more grunting at the gym, because, well, I am a guy, and it's what we do.

I am also accepting that maybe I was working out too much last week and I should stick with just one workout per day, unless the intensity of my routines goes down a lot.


After work, it was time for my teammate Mike and I to go for our "medical examination" to further our Residency Permit progress.  This is all handled by a third party contractor.  Our outing started with a half hour wait for our ride.  It turns out the driver that was going to pick us up was in an accident.  Oy.

Eventually, we were on our way to...I don't know.  But arrive there we did.  Our driver/chaperone was an actual Qatari.  That was pretty cool.  It was pretty impressive to hear him switch in and out of Arabic and English with relative ease.  He spoke with Mike and I in English; proudly recounting his visits to America, especially California and Las Vegas.  He spoke to the other two gentlemen in the car in Arabic.  At one point, one of them commented on his ability to speak multiple dialects of Arabic.  He seemed like a cool guy too; I'd like to party with him sometime.

Male Qatari Clothing Interlude

Male Qatari traditional clothes consist of the  Thawb (shirt/robe) and headgear composed of two pieces - the Ghutra (the folded cloth) and the Igaal (the rings that crown the Ghutra and help hold it in place).  In Qatar, the Igaal tends to have long black ropes hanging down from it, which end in tassles.

/end interlude

So, we head into...the place I don't know.  There is a sea of Filipino and Indian workers crowded into the place.  Our guide walks us up to the front of the line and hands over our paperwork.  I can't help feeling like a douche bag, walking past all of these people, but I am in no position to argue.  A few minutes and a hasty photo, then we are on our way to another window.

Again, our guide walks up to the front of the line.  We hand over our paper, get another paper and a vial.

Our guide walks us past everyone and directly into the phlebotomy room and right up to the chairs.  Mike and I get the fastest, most painless blood draws in our lives.  Of course, the phlebotomist does about a thousand people a day, and I do not think that is a significant exaggeration.

I roll down my sleeve, grab my stuff and...where the hell did they go?!

I look back the way we came, nope.

I navigate the sea of people, pushing forward to a 4-way intersection.

Not ahead.

Not right.

Can't see past that guy to the left...a ha! I manage to spot our guide's Ghutra swaying back and forth as he powerwalks down a hall off to my left.

I catch up and it's off to the X-ray room.  A quick chest X-ray and we're done.

So, why did we get these tests?  I am told that the primary concerns are HIV (the blood) and Tuberculosis (the X-ray).

Then it's back wait...where are we now?  More blood?

We pile out of the car.  Mike decides to leave his bag and jacket in there.  I have already learned the lesson he is about to learn...

Mike: "Will the car be locked?"
Josef: Quizzical look
Mike: "I left my bag in there."
Josef: "I leave my house unlocked 24-7, no one steals anything."

The car remains unlocked and we go in.  Now, that may be a fine approach here in Qatar, where most people are too well off to care or they risk losing their livelihood through deportation if they wrong someone.  But I don't plan to spend the rest of my life here, so I want to keep appropriate reflexes and habits for the rest of the world.  And that's why I just carry my stuff with me.

As for MORE BLOOD, it turns out it's a finger stick to determine our blood type.  I am surprised they don't just ask, but perhaps they had too many folks that were ignorant or simply made up an answer because they didn't care.

In total, once we were picked up, this took about two hours.

The next step in the process is to await medical approval in a day or two and then get fingerprints.

On a whim, I decided to go exploring after dinner.  I credit the vitamins again.

I found the Moroccan Embassy, some nondescript private residences with what looked like tank traps in front of it, and some cool architecture.  I have quickly taken interesting architecture for granted here.  With the money flowing around this place, it's like an architect's wet dream.  All sorts of freaky buildings are going up, like the zig zag towers.  Of course, sometimes it goes wrong, like the building I like to call "condom tower";  It even has a reservoir tip...

[Day 30] Monday, Chunky Kit Kat?  Whaaaa?  Om nom nom.

I guess it's been a while since I mentioned music...I fired up Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill for my Spartacus workout today.  Decent music-wise, but it lasts barely long enough to finish the workout, let alone the warm up.  Oh well, a little Blade II Soundtrack to finish it off.

Work.  When I showed up at 11:30, there was not a soul in the cafeteria, then a few showed up.  Speaking of the cafeteria, first, here is one interesting quirk, tissues as napkins.

And the main cafeteria itself...

They generally have 3-4 entrees and 2-3 sides.  The cuisine of each varies every day, so for example, you might have Asian vegetable dish and an Arabic fish dish, as I did today.

No progress on the medical exam yet.

I came across this in Carrefour after work.  I am not sure they have them in the US.  I had to get one, I was starving and curious, a dangerous combination.

It was tasty.  It seemed more chocolatey than a usual Kit Kat, which is a good thing in my book.

Dinner at the Pearl with a friend.  It was an Italian place...staffed completely by Indians.  The food was decent.  The fish special was good, but the potato side was uninspired.  The wine and desserts were good.  The cost was on par with dinner at the W, but I think the W Market produces better food.  Overall, not a bad place, but perhaps the value is questionable.  Of course, a fish dish may not be the best way to judge an Italian restaurant. :-)

Stayed up late to make calls to the US for work...but it was difficult.  I started turning into a pumpkin at ~23:00, but I had to keep going...time zones are fun?

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