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Qatar's Kings, Past and Present

Paraglider proudly presents a veritable Royal Pageant from the streets of Doha. Sadly, the first two of these Kings are no longer with us, having met their demise in the Musheireb Clearances. The King of Shoes suffered the same fate, without even a photograph to preserve the memory.
king of fashion - who needs versace?

note the inverted i - true sophistication

wait a sec, who's that in the window?

rather a modest kingly palace, on the whole

who knew that frames were subjects?

and shouldn't this be a prince?

If you know of any I've missed, please let me know and I'll add them to the collection. I've a vague recollection of a King of Chicken restaurant, but its location escapes me.

From Saudi, with Love

You've got to hand it to the Saudis. OK, they don't get everything right. They're fond of the occasional public execution or amputation. There have been reported instances of death by stoning. Not so long ago, they sent troops into Bahrain to support the regime against its own people. Then of course there's the ongoing oppression of women and the persecution of all manner of minorities.

But hey, they make a great drain cover. A country that does that can't be all bad. Maybe they just need more time. . .

Alan A and the SoundSations at Doha Krossroads

In an earlier post I mentioned that Alan A and at least some of his band had moved from Dubai to Qatar following the closure of the Rattlesnake and were soon to take up a residency in a new Doha venue. The venue in question, as I found out last night, is the Krossroads club in the Horizon Manor hotel. Alan has brought the entire SoundSations band with him. The club and especially the stage is really not big enough for seven musicians (drums, bass, keyboard, guitar, Alan and two girl singers) but this is apparently an interim measure as the hotel is creating a much bigger nightspot on the 14th floor. In spite of the cramped conditions, the guys delivered their usual high standard through four sets (of which I heard two). Certainly they have raised the bar well beyond the reach of any band I've seen in Doha since Boggs and the girls left three years ago. Krossroads is a members' club, but as a year's membership costs all of thirty riyals this is no major barrier to a good night out. Give it a go?

Don't consider the environment - Print the receipt!

Yesterday, I gave a total stranger 500 Riyals. It was an accident of course. I was trying to send 500 Riyals from my credit card to my mobile phone, using a Qtel ATM. Perhaps it was too early in the morning, but I made a single digit error in entering my mobile number. Worse, I 'considered the environment' as requested on screen and opted not to print a record of the transaction. Big mistake. Half an hour later, when my credit balance was still in single figures, the truth began to dawn on me.
Fortunately, I was fairly sure I knew what wrong number I'd credited. It hadn't been a finger slip; I'd deliberately entered and visually checked a number that I often think is mine, which ends in a 2 instead of a 7. I misremembered it that way years ago, and can't get it out of my head.
So, I texted the right wrong number and asked him/her to check if s/he had a richer phone than expected. No answer. I called the number. Still no answer. I resigned myself to my loss and sent myself another 500, this time to the correct number. And I took a receipt!
This morning, I received a surprise call, from my 'wrong' number. The caller confirmed he'd received an unexpected credit at the correct time and reassured me that he would return it. But, to protect himself, probably in case I was some kind of scam merchant, he wants to see the unprinted transaction receipt first. Tricky. He's agreed to settle for a glimpse of my online credit card statement instead. That will take a couple of days to register, after which, with luck, he'll transfer back the balance, giving me an unprecedented 1,000 Riyals total credit. That should keep me talking for a while.

Postscript: He was good as his word and duly refunded my 500 riyals on a sighting of a screen grab of my credit card statement (with sensitive numbers obscured, of course).

From Rattlesnake to Doha, Alan A.

A rare spot of good news for live music fans in Doha: following the closure of Dubai Metropolitan Hotel and the Rattlesnake, Alan A, resident lead singer there for ten years, is taking up a residency in Doha, in a new venue. I bumped into him a few nights ago in Ramada with a couple of his girl singers. We didn't have much of a chance to talk, so I'm not sure if he's bringing the full four-piece band or if it will just be himself and the girls with midi backing from a laptop. We can live in hope, but even if it is only the latter, at least we can be sure of some quality performances from someone who really knows how to work an audience (and can sing well into the bargain). I think he'll be starting in about a week from now, in the Horizon, but that's subject to confirmation when I find out for sure. Watch this space...

Tiger Balm and Leffe Blonde

I blame the cockroach for the specific incident, though the deeper blame lies with the antisocial 'neighbour' whose predilection for leaving rubbish in the shared landing instead of taking it straight outside is the ultimate cause of the cockroach invasion. Friday morning, I'd rigorously sprayed Pif-Paf in all the corners, nooks and crannies and was just settling down to watch the news, when, bold as you please, a half-inch roach appeared from nowhere and paraded jauntily across the middle of the lounge. I wasn't quick enough off my mark, so he dodged my attack and scuttled behind the Stupidly Heavy Sideboard, unscathed, or so he thought. No doubt I should have lifted the Stupidly Heavy Terrapin Tank off the top of the S.H.S. instead of trying to heave the whole lot away from the wall in one go, but I didn't want to lose the element of surprise. Anyway, in a single glorious second, S.H.S. moved, cockroach was duly stamped  and something went click in my lower back.
One can't let a crocked back disturb one's routine, though it will certainly cramp one's style. So it was that walking awkwardly home from Ramada on Friday night, protecting my back, the normally negotiable smashed-up gutter was sufficient to cause a second accident in the form of a badly sprained ankle which, by Saturday morning resembled an incandescent tennis ball just below the skin.
Nor can one let accumulated injuries ruin one's day, though my regular Saturday afternoon walk was out of the question. What to do? A short limp to the local corner shop to buy five riyals worth of Tiger Balm, followed by a taxi ride to the Inter-Continental. Five minutes in the privacy of a cubicle, to massage Tiger Balm into the flaming tennis ball and the base of the spine, then straight to the Belgian Café to further treat the inner man with a few pints of Leffe Blonde, Belgium's finest offering, and a plate of sausages with mustard.
The miraculous Tiger Balm reduced the tennis ball to a golf ball within the hour and greatly relieved the lower back, though at the expense of raising its local temperature to a dull red heat. After a while, the pungency of its essential oils wears off, or more likely the wearer ceases to notice it. We are change detectors, after all. It could have been coincidence that all the seats around me remained vacant. Be that as it may, the further miracle of Leffe Blonde came in the form of a very good night's sleep.
Today, I'm almost human again.

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