Monday, 15 November 2010

Who said Doha was quiet???

Museum of Islamic Art. ©Sue Pownall
Time here in Doha is whizzing by; two weeks ago I had a manic week and I am now only just catching up with my blog. 
Be warned, this is a long post.
Purple trees at the tennis. ©Sue Pownall
First up on Wednesday 27th October was the WTA tennis championship. I’m not really that interested in the women’s tennis, but have enjoyed the live tennis I saw in Dubai, so thought I’d go one evening. When I got my ticket I was hoping to go to Oman for Tess’ Halloween party on Thursday as I miss my Omani friends and Tess throws the best parties! However, I’m also pleased I didn’t go as there was so much going on that week. I couldn’t go to Oman as I still hadn’t got my passport back from immigration here. The first match was between the world’s number 2, Vera Zvonareva, and a very annoying girl... every time she hit the ball she squeeked, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka. To quote Al Jazeera International, it was "an uninspiring opening match" and the first set seemed to go on forever, but I stayed as I wanted to see Kim Clijsters play Jelena Jankovic in the 2nd match, so I went and had a snack and walk around during the 2nd set. Finally, it was over and when interviewed the winner, Zvonareva, said it was the longest 2 sets she had played, EVER. Second match was a lot more exciting with both Kim and Jana playing really well. I didn’t stay for the last match as it was already after 9.30 by the time those two were over and I was worried about getting up the next day. You can see the sketches I did over on my art blog.

The QPO & Nitin Sawhney providing music for The Throw of Dice.
Next day, I went to the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) with two colleagues. We had a wander around then went into the newly-built open air theatre to see the 1929 Indian silent movie, The Throw of Dice, complete with written dialogue between scenes. Music was provided by the British composer Nitin Sawhney who played with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.  It was free entry and surprisingly it was quite gripping. However,  we had to leave to go and see the film  Certified Copy  with Juliette Binoche, which we had tickets for. It was very “clever”, but I will need to see it again on dvd to tell if I liked it or not... It didn’t finish until 11pm and I was so tired having got up at 5.20am I think I missed some vital subtleties, then again maybe I didn’t like it.
Leaving the city. ©Sue Pownall
On Friday, in the middle of this crazy week I had the opportunity to go out on a dhow with the social group I went to the Egyptian restaurant with (mentioned here). It was a beautiful day, especially as the temperature here has started to drop. First stop was the coastguard boat, where our pilot shouted out the boat number and his mobile number – a shortage of modern technology I think- then we sailed out of the bay to Banana Island. 
A dhow smaller than ours at Banana Island. ©Sue Pownall
Dropping anchor we discovered the boat didn’t have a dingy, so we jumped in the water and swam ashore. The water was cooler than when I went to the beach, but it was far from cold, also clear and fairly clean. The island was a bit dirty due to litter, not helped by the litter bin being full and obviously hadn’t been emptied in a while. I walked to the other side, where there was a huge breakwater, then hot-footed back to the sea, as my feet were burning. Back on board we had a barbeque before we headed back to Doha. All in all the trip was about 5 hours long from setting sail, about enough for me because I didn’t get bored, but probably would have if it had been much longer.

The First Grader director & stars.
Saturday afternoon at DTFF, I was privileged to have a ticket for the Middle East première of The First Grader. This film is the most moving, beautiful film I have ever seen. The cinematography, acting, and script are all superb. It was voted The Audience Award for Best Film, and it was thoroughly deserved. I gave it 5/5. At the QandA afterwards the audience, after giving a standing ovation, were too stunned to ask anything. Justin Chadwick, the producer, is one of the nicest, genuine, down-to-earth men I've been lucky enough to meet. I met him outside the cinema afterwards and gushed how amazing I thought the film as tears still ran down my face; it is such an emotive film.

The madness continued on Monday night when my Canadian friend Tracy and I had tickets for a comedy show at the Sheraton hotel. I met her there at 7.30 for 8 and it was seriously over-subscribed and there weren’t seats available. We were lucky as we managed to get seats in the VIP area, comfy seats 3 rows from the stage, some people sat on the floor and 300 got turned away! Naturally the show started late as they tried to get everyone seated. They didn’t take a break to make up but still finished after 11pm. It started with some amateurs who had taken part in a competition, including a Qatari man and woman, and then continued with the professionals. I had seen Ahmed Ahmed before in Muscat a year or so ago. The show was great, very funny, but I was dead on my feet by the time I got home. My alarm seemed to go off 2 minutes after I went to sleep too. After work on Tuesday I went straight to bed on getting home, at 3pm, and woke up at 5.30. I had to check to see if it was evening or the next morning as it was dark. Sunset is about 5.15 or possibly earlier now, but luckily it was the evening, so I got up for dinner.

I took it easy for the rest of the week before going out on Saturday to hear/see the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra again. They are lots better than ROSO; however they are 99% foreign musicians whereas in Oman they are 99% Omani. The venue although acoustically good wasn't that great for viewing the orchestra, but I enjoyed the evening. Now I am on a week's break for Eid, but will write about that in my next post.

Eid Mubarak        عيد مبارك