Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Doha Diaries: Days 81-88, Dominating Washer-Dryers, Chicken Anus

[Day 81] January 18, Communication Via Icons Is Not Ideal

I had been having ongoing issues with mastering the demonic beast known as a combo washer/dryer, as pictured below.

I was using regular detergent, but I changed to one that had a combo washer icon on it, like so:

But apparently, that was not good enough.  This detergent generated too many suds, leading to a tiny amount of spillage, nothing as amusing as you might expect from an episode of a sitcom, though.

So...back to Carrefour to buy a detergent that *only* has a combo washer-dryer icon.  Hmm, only two choices, both that are completely new to me and the description is, once again, in Arabic.  Umm, let's pick this one:

[Day 82] January 19, Washer-Dryer Dominated

Yes, finally.  I have mastered the beast and I can actually wash and dry a load of clothes effectively. Huzzah!  Excelsior even!

So, here's my approach.  First, it is accepted that these machines only dry effectively with 1/2 to 2/3 of a load.  Second, the dryer will not automatically start when the washer finishes unless you push in the button to use half as much water.  OK, so I limit my loads to about 1/2.  I don't like residual detergent though, so I flip the switch for extra rinsing.

The end result is clothes that are either dry or are just very slightly damp and dry very rapidly after being removed and laid out.  The joy of clean clothes is dampened by the horribly inefficient, and thus probably not Earth-friendly process.  Meh.

[Day 83] January 20, Chicken Anus

Yes, you read that correctly.

So, Eric, a buddy that works at Shell, and I head to Thai Snack.  After selecting our curries, we decided to examine the menu more closely.  And we found this:

Being professional, adult, cultured, Western men...we found this far too amusing.  Hence the picture.  Neither of us was brave/foolish enough to try them, but wow, what a deal!

[Day 84] January 21, No Idea

Yes, you read that correctly.  I have no recollection of what I did today, so I assume I was just killing time, relaxing, and coding for OwlCon.

[Day 85] January 22, Gold Souqs

Ed took me on a tour of the Gold Souqs and showed me some cool, off-the-beaten-path places for souvenirs and such.  I shall return...

Note: I may not have bought anything, but it appears that, in hindsight, they gave me some free germs, as I was on the verge of becoming very sick for the rest of the week. 

[Addendum: whoops, forgot to include some pictures]

Here are some examples from what I call the "wedding bling" shop, which is full of complete sets of gold jewelry for that special day.  The numbers on the stickers show the grams of gold in the jewelry.  I love the craftsmanship on the 106.74 g set in the middle of this first picture.

This second one is all about a shape theme.

Again, I favor the middle one.  The gold tassel hanging from the loop just looks cool to me.  The tear drop theme would be a close runner up, though.

[And thus ends the added content]

[Days 86-88] January 23-25, OwlCon

For the most part, my days were focused on busting ass to get my work done before the weekend and my evenings were focused on coding for OwlCon.

I credit exercise and diet with allowing me to fend off what seemed to be a potentially very bad illness that kept creeping up but never quite taking me down.  I did have to sleep in a bit extra one day, but I still managed to get in a full work day.  Hooray for fitness!

All went well, and the way was clear for my trip to Abu Dhabi...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Doha Diaries: Day 77-80, A Day of Art, Condom Tower, Getting Domestic

[Day 77] Saturday, January 14th, Ponderosa and Islamic Art, Two Great Tastes?

Today, Bob and I headed over to Ponderosa.  Yes, you read that correctly; Ponderosa.  I opted for the buffet + T-bone, both of which were mediocre.  So, a pretty accurate rendition.

Then we headed off to the Museum of Islamic Art.  I have put up a bunch of pictures in a Picasa album, but here are few samples.  Here is a picture of the main building containing the art.

Some textile magic.

A fancy pants pen box.

And a lot more (again, see the album).  One thing I can say for sure is that they have wayyy too many candle holders in that museum.

The little cafe inside the museum was very cool.  The beautiful surroundings, chill couches, and a lovely view.  Good stuff.

[Day 78] January 15, Sunday, Beams of Light, a Slippy Floor, and a Delivery Bike

On the way to work, I passed by a building as light was flooding through it.

A common site in Qatar is misapplied use of the English language.  Here is a good example.

The traffic in Doha makes you wish you were driving an armored car.  In many places, it feels like the automotive equivalent of a rock concert stampede.  The people that drive these things are some combination of crazy, suicidal, or desperate.

On a related note, you can get quite a lot of food delivered to you in many parts of Doha.

[Day 79] January 16, Window Washer, Corniche at Night, Condom Tower

While at work, I spotted a regular window washing cart, as opposed to the suicidal dangling from a rope I saw earlier.

While running, I managed to get a couple of night time pictures, one of the Corniche...

...and a picture of the "Condom Tower", a nickname it was given, well, for obvious reasons... *cough* reservoir tip *cough*.

[Day 80] January 17, Getting Domestic

In any foreign land, produce can be a problem, especially a developing country like Qatar.  Many, if not most folks, will tend to just avoid it to be safe, unless they end up staying on a long-term assignment.  When I was briefed by my travel health nurse, the advice was that anything that did not grow on a tree was dangerous, but I think their information was for the Qatar of 10 years ago.

Either way, I finally broke down and picked up some produce from Carrefour because I wanted to make 1) a salad and 2) guacamole.  Now my refrigerator looks a little less bachelor-ey.

And I made a salad!

Even here we have some cultural and regional quirks.

Cultural quirk, red wine vinegar - you cannot find red wine vinegar because it is based on an alcoholic beverage and this is a Muslim country, so I picked up "grape vinegar".

Regional Quirk? While the produce may not be as dangerous as some might think, the lettuce is fantastically more dirty than what I get in the USA.  I had to run a washing sink (just a few drops of soap) and a rinsing sink, then peel apart every leaf of the lettuce and carefully, meticulously clean then rinse each leaf, which had a significant amount of dirt and grit trapped within every leaf.  When I was done, there was a layer of fine dirt across the bottom of the washing sink.

Regional Quirk? The avocados are like little green rocks, miles from being ripe.  I am told that there may be a place to get riper ones.

Regional Quirk? You won't find Cilantro at Carrefour, but you will find Coriander.  However, my experience is that the Coriander I can find at Carrefour has a significantly less bold taste than the Cilantro I have had in the USA.  I am not sure if that is just how it is here or if Carrefour has weak herbs...more exploration is necessary.

If and when I do end up with ripe avocados, I am all ready with my ingredients for guacamole, to include the spices you see in the picture above.

Stay tuned to see if the guacamole comes to fruition...