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I see trees of green...

If my recent posts have all had an aerial slant, it's only because after a few years at first floor level, my relocation to a seventh floor apartment has afforded me the chance to look down (only literally of course) on the old city.
I see trees of green... And I think to myself...


OK, roll over Satchmo. But about these trees: Trees in Doha fall into three categories: naturally established deciduous trees that have found a source of water, planted palms that require constant irrigation to survive, and dead palms where the irrigation has dried up.
Of the three classes, only the first, the natural deciduous trees are worth their salt. And these, for the most part, grow in the slum and semi-slum parts of the city. Such areas are well provided with cracked and leaking sewerage, dripping stand-pipes and outdoor ablution tanks that drain into the gutters. Though not conducive to human well-being, such conditions are ideal for germinating and nurturing the saplings grown from seeds dropped by birds. And of these saplings, though most don't survive their first summer, a few establish root systems deep enough to access the water table and are then made for life.
All of which makes me wonder why the civic planners insist on prettifying their new developments with eco-unfriendly palms and lawns, requiring endless watering, when the viable natural option of proper trees is clearly available. Another local mystery, I suppose.

Friday Prayers in Muntazah

Taken from my window this morning, Friday prayer time at the local Muntazah mosque attracts numbers far in excess of the capacity of the old building. My best estimate would be around five hundred worshipers, braving the sun on their backs and the hot tarmac under their prayer mats. I think I'm right in saying that praying in the street is discouraged in Dubai, except in certain designated areas, but it's still the norm in Doha, especially in the older quarters.
Mostly, the men turn up on foot, latecomers at a jog or flat out run. The few who drive just abandon their cars as close as they can get and finish the journey with their pedestrian neighbours. Through traffic just has to wait or find another route. When it's over, mats are rolled up and tucked under arms and the crowd disperses as quickly as it formed. But not in search of a cool beer.
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Cock-a-Doodle-Do(ha)

At first I thought I was dreaming. Not unreasonably, as it was still short of 5 a.m. and I was lying in bed at the time. But there was no denying it. I was awake. I had in fact just been wakened, by that most traditional of alarm clocks, a crowing rooster who was still giving it big licks somewhere outside my window. In the countryside this would be unremarkable but in the middle of Doha Muntazah? A quick walk to the window and I soon located the proud cockadoodler, six floors below, on the roof of one of the nearby old houses. I went back to bed, but needn't have bothered, as the call to prayer started up just five minutes later. Normally I sleep through it, but not if preheralded by a surprise cock crow. I suppose I'll get used to it. I'll have to, because it wasn't a one-off. The guy who lives in the old house has a hen-house on the roof and a whole brood of chickens. Almost rural, in an inner city sort of way.
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Bluetoothing in the Paranormal - What's the point?

Using Bluetooth, I'd been uploading a few pictures from mobile to laptop and had neglected to switch the service off, when done. Now, no Dubai trip is complete without a visit to the Paranormal, so Friday lunchtime finds me bar-stooled against the central pillar with a switched-on Bluetooth mobile in my pocket. Halfway through my first beer and third 'Whey you flom?' conversation, the mobile starts buzzing for attention. But not a call or sms. This is a Bluetooth approach: 'accept connection from Tiger?' On balance, no. I have it on good authority that tigers can be male or female and there are some avenues I don't need to explore. But my curiosity is aroused. A quick scan of active devices yields at least fifteen, of which twelve are clearly deliberate, meaning that the name is personalised from the default LG GX300 style (mine) to something user-friendly, like li-li, talkme, and even hello.
But why resort to Bluetoothing in Jockey's? In Doha, where clandestinity is clandestine and propriety is paramount (sorry, I'm in one of these moods) hook(er)ing up by Bluetooth in cafes, malls and even on the Corniche is commonplace. But in the Dubai Paranormal, where even the bluntest approach in un-eyelash-battable, why introduce an extra layer of complexity? Unless, of course, it is the modern equivalent of lighthousing.

The Transformation is Complete

It's official. The transformation is complete. Muntazah Park, Doha's erstwhile popular ladies' and children's park, is now a desert. The park, which has been 'closed for maintenance' for about five years is no longer behind wraps. The black plastic sheeting has been removed from the perimeter fence, most likely by the wind, to reveal the full extent of the maintenance programme, which apparently comprised turning off the irrigation and waiting. I hope no-one got paid for that. Now it seems inevitable that the bulldozers will move in soon. But what will it become? A half empty residential complex? A festive filling station with a drive-through pharmacy and a branch of Subway? Yet another shopping mall? What's the betting it won't be a theatre complex with maybe a bookshop and a cozy bar?
I could get annoyed about it. But I won't. Not while persecution continues apace in Bahrain.
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