Qatar: Rhymes with "Butter"

I'm not even sure where to start on this one, other than to say I think Matt may have been right when he claimed, "The Doha trip in the middle of your Mumbai trip is a little aggressive."  

Months and months and months ago, it seems, a new project located in Doha, Qatar, was mentioned and I was asked if I'd want to be a part of that project team.  "Oh, sure!  I dig this international stuff."  And I really do, even when I don't, which is how I'd describe my time in Qatar.  Loved the experience and exposure to a new world but I'm pretty pumped to head back to Mumbai tonight.  These are starkly different places, Mumbai and Doha, and I'll attempt to outline some of those variances in order to depict life from the last week.

I land Saturday night (following the morning meltdown, which was instigated in part by having to get on a plane AGAIN), I go through immigration, and I am greeted by the hotel chauffeur.  The doors outside whisk open and within seconds I start cataloging all the ways in which my new environment is vastly different than the one I just left.  Burning trash smoke is replaced by plumes of cigarette smoke.  We go to the car and it's a BMW 7 series, which is evidently the fanciest of them all.  (I am not fancy enough to know that without someone pointing it out to me.)  This is a far cry from the rickety 1940-issue Fiats in Mumbai that I bop around in.  We also have slight difficulty getting out of the parking garage because all the other cars are ENORMOUS and the spots were not sized as needed.  Later on in the trip I actually took a picture of all the leg room in the car because it was so gratuitous I couldn't help but gawk.

The drive into the city center is short and full of things to see.  A young skyline covered in LEDs catches your eye in no time.   Is this Vegas or Doha?

Architecturally speaking, this place has pulled out every trick in the book.  I guess you can do that when money is no object!

 Note that all my pictures are taken from the backseat of the car.  This is symptomatic of a city where few people walk and the street life subsequently resembles a Sunday morning in Buffalo, NY, at all times.  In other words, Doha looked like a ghost town to my Mumbai-trained eyes.  What else is different?

Loud, manually operated
Quiet, automated
Chaotic traffic and slow going
Orderly traffic but lots of speed
Crumbling buildings
Shiny, tricked-out buildings
Feels like an ant farm
Feels like an enormous corporate office park
Lost City
SIM City
Everyone touches you because there’s no room
No one touches you because that’s the culture
Small black cars make you nimble in traffic
Huge white SUVs make you command the traffic

I haven't blogged real-time about Doha for two reasons.  The first, and most important, was to keep my mom sane by not telling her where I was going. Therefore I couldn't tell the internet about it!  The second was that while I have valued my time here and the opportunity to work in a new foreign hospital, that is about all I have done: work.  This is not because the project leader is a slave driver but rather you don't just happen upon stuff to do or things to see here like you might in other locales.  And, as a woman in a fairly conservative country, being experimental hasn't been a natural inclination.  Therefore, my remaining posts on Doha will be somewhat sparse but hopefully no less intriguing.

I'm off to find dinner before cruising back down to Mumbai, where the city is overcome with cricket mania, just blocks from the hotel!  Yay, people on the streets!

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