Khalas. I just finished my last final, at 8AM on a Sunday morning! Only 3 days left in Doha…
The next few days will include graduation festivities- I’ll be helping lead the procession as the American flag holder. We have a fishing charter planned for 5AM Tuesday- best fishing time! In Qatari fashion, I’ll spend a few hours at the mall trying to spend the gift cards I won as prizes from various competitions throughout the semester. I plan to spend Tuesday night at the Souq to get some items to bring back, and relax with friends before my flight Wednesday. I’ll be sure to take more pictures.
It’s getting too hot recently, as it climbed over 108* on Thursday. Today it’s only 90* but it’s almost too hot to be comfortable outside even at night. I just saw NEPA temperatures in the 50’s… It better warm up in the next few days!
As for a recap of my last few weeks…
My Qatari friend from Texas A&M, Mohamad Albaker, invited the study abroad students to his home for a dinner. Albaker, as he is known, has become a good friend throughout my time at TexasA&M. He has gone out of his way to make our experience as enjoyable as possible. He represents Qatari and Arab culture so well, and has been a blast to hangout with this semester. When you go to a Qatari’s home, you really go to their majlis, which is a separate area used for hosting guests. Arab hospitality starts with dates, Qahwa (Arabic coffee) and other drinks. There were multiple courses of food, including 2 whole lambs, served with rice and other dishes. There was delicious meat pasta and salad as well. With 18 of us there in all, we barely made a dent in the food. Arabs will never let you be done eating, so of course there were multiple dessert options shortly thereafter. At one point, I had 7 different desserts in front of me and Albaker was trying to hand me more! Everything was delicious! It was so kind of him to invite us all over- everyone enjoyed the majlis experience and the food. I hope he makes a trip to the States soon so I can return the hospitality, with halal food of course!
I went to a restaurant Buffalo’s in the mall with my friends Juan and Ammar. It’s “well known” for its buffalo wings. I was disappointed to say the least, but hey, at least I gave it a shot. The funniest part of the meal (to me at least) was that they gave out disposable gloves so you didn’t have to get your hands dirty. I couldn’t bring myself to wear one, but Juan swears by them- “easy cleanup, no mess,” he says! Outside in the mall parking lot, I found a Shelby Ford Raptor truck. I didn’t even know those existed, and they are gorgeous. The quality of cars here still amazes me, even when seeing a Rolls-Royce is a twice-daily experience.
I made a trip to Carrefour, the supermarket here. It’s amazing how much food people purchase, as well as the variety they have. The country caters to the Gulf region, the Northern Middle East, Asia, SE-Asia, Europe, and the Americas. It’s basically a grocery store the size of a Sam’s Club or Costco. I’ve also included some pictures from food places we frequent, including one of the shwarma shops. I found a new restaurant that serves crepes with their hummus, and another place that serves big $1 kebabs. For as simple as the food is, it is delicious. And with finals keeping us up late, we made plenty of trips to Tea Time for chicken popcorn (or popcorn chicken as America calls it!) and karak- a sugary tea.
There was bad rains here 2 weeks ago, which caused flood damage in some areas. Check out my picture of a cyclist battling the water. Cars were stuck where roads had sitting water, and detours were in effect all over the city. It still amazes me how the Gulf countries deal with rain- they really don’t!
I got to attend the finals of the Qatar Basketball Federation Emri’s Cup, where El-Jaish beat Al-Gharafa 73-63 to retain the cup. The fan sections here are similar to soccer games, with lots of chanting and some drums. The cheers are constant throughout the game (like soccer), and aren’t really proportional to what is happening on the court. It was pretty competitive, as there were some American D-1 players and other players from Europe/Africa on the teams.
I attended the Microsoft Imagine Cup national finals, where student teams pitch a startup idea or technology to judges in hopes of earning funding and advancing to bigger competitions. CMU’s team won with their idea of buzzcast, which uses social media to predict how much fun an event will be, and give you updates on the events in your area. It’s a neat idea and hopefully they make a successful app! The event was held in the Pearl, a beautiful man-made island with luxury hotels and homes. The food was delicious as always! And I got to accompany my friend Shashank (last year’s cup winner), as he recently returned to Doha from his semester abroad in Singapore. It’s been great to catch up with him and share some stories.
So School is done!
I’ve been impatiently waiting to celebrate this moment. No more school. Summer has begun! I’m realizing now though, with finals being done, the moment is bittersweet. Some friends have already left Qatar for the summer, and others are busy preparing for graduation. The unfortunate remaining few still have a final exam today or tomorrow. And I leave in 3 days. I’ve been so focused on completing final projects and preparing for exams that I haven’t had an opportunity to reflect on the semester with my friends here. Inshallah I will get to spend time with them all over the next few days.