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Doha, by Shanks's Pony

Yesterday evening I finished work about half an hour later than usual, so when I called Mr Harun's private taxi he was already fully booked.
You waiting five minutes I am calling my brother coming.
But I declined. I've lived here long enough to know that taxi drivers' brothers hardly ever come, least of all in five minutes. So, the options were, start phoning around alternatives in the certain knowledge that none would take less than an hour to arrive, or, start walking - Shanks's pony, as we used to say.
It's November now and, apart from having the wrong type of footwear, walking for an hour and a half with the guarantee of a cool beer at the end is no hardship. I'll go further and say it's a pleasure - between obstacles, hazards and obstructions.
The tacit assumption in Qatar seems to be that no-one walks, or perhaps that those who do are too poor to afford cars and therefore need not be considered. How else would you explain occasional raised flower beds the full width of the pavement? Are you supposed to mix it with the traffic or trample the flowers? Or do you risk both, by tightroping the coping wall? And then there are the footpaths that simply disappear just where they are needed most, at slip-roads, roundabouts and underpasses, leaving you to pick your way across fifty yards of desert sand or builder's rubble. By the way, here's a tip - when crossing urban desert on foot, walking with the legs wide apart helps prevent the gritty fallout from the moving shoe landing inside the stationary shoe at every step. Believe me; I have experience.
These minor inconveniences aside, it is rare to walk anywhere for more than half an hour without happening on something of inexpressible worth. Last night, the reward was the huge orange ball of the full moon rising smoothly from the sea behind the classic lines of the Royal palace. At walking speed, you can enjoy the entire performance. From a car, there's the moon is about as far as it goes.
And the cool beer was all the better for the exercise.

4 comments:

  1. How right you are. I enjoyed many a memorable walk during early days in Dubai, past the Paranormal to Satwa, down to the beach, to the Creek and through the DIY souk, to Deira City Centre and more. Then, every passing taxi hooted looking for a fare.

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  2. Passing taxis are hooting again, with all the people who have left Dubai, they're having to compete for business again. Dubai's better for walking than Doha though. Apart from the Corniche, most of Doha's under demolition or construction right now. Thanks for commenting :)

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  3. I once had the (mis)fortune to step in some dogshit in doha (at least I thought it was a dog's). I had only ever seen one dog during my 5 years in doha, so I considered it quite fortuitous. I mean what are the chances? Anyway, whilst looking for a clump of grass to wipe my shoe on, or an appropriately sized twig to dislodge the offending mass now making me walk on my heel; I fell into a cunningly placed hole. I think it quite aptly summed up my time in Doha.

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  4. Well, a friend of mine had a tree fall on his car, which is also pretty unlikely in the desert. Maybe there's something going around!

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