Neanderbill has been detailed to Doha, Qatar. His first email back:
It has now been about ten days since I arrived, and I have completed a full week of classes (out of 14). I was picked up at the airport by XX, whom I knew from YY. He brought me to my luxury apartment on the 14th floor of West Bay Towers, which overlooks a marina and the Bay. The apartment, which is supplied for me by ZZU, is bigger than the first house we owned. It was fully stocked with food and supplies. It has a washer/dryer, ironing board and iron. I still haven’t had to buy groceries, but will do so today.
(ED: YEAH, BUT DID YOU IRON?)
Campus (Education City) is on the outskirts of Doha, about 8 miles due west of the Bay. I caught rides to work from people who live in the Towers, until my rental car became available – the day before the first day of my classes, Monday January 14. I left early for campus that day, but there was a detour that threw me off, and I got so hopelessly lost that they had to come and get me. It was a little embarrassing because I pride myself on having a pretty good sense of direction, but I wound up due north instead of due west. It made me glad (just that one time) that they insist I carry a cell phone, which ZZU also pays for.
(ED: IRONIC, SINCE NEANDERBILL RIDES WITH ME, AND "BORROWS" MY CELL PHONE, IN NC. WHO KNEW HE WAS SELF-SUFFICIENT, ALL OF A SUDDEN?)
Why couldn’t I check the sun for directions? Because it did not appear for nearly a week. I was expecting weather that varied between warm and hot, but it has been cold and rainy. Not as cold as YY or even Raleigh, but colder than I expected (lowest since I got here was 46 F at night). The apartment has no heat, for all its luxurious appointments.
(ED: 46 AND NO HEAT IS, AS WE SAY IN MEMORY OF JOHN JAROSZ, A "MITE NIP.")
What does the city look like? Well I’ll show you when I get a camera. (My old one died, and they laughed at Best Buy when I tried to replace the 64 MB cartridge.)
(ED: YAY, NEANDERBILL! HOLDING BACK PROGRESS WORLDWIDE FOR MORE THAN 70 YEARS!)
There is construction all over the place. The architecture is mostly modern, often interesting, and I like the way they often work symbolic Islamic features into new buildings. The Bay has lots of high rise buildings (say 20 stories or more), but after I get beyond that going to work, it’s usually one or two stories max.
Beyond the green of the beautiful Corniche, a walk along the bay, almost everything is beige or tan. And construction is everywhere, to repeat myself. One wonders what this would look like if it were “finished.”
Is it safe in this part of the Middle East? There has been only one terrorist incident: a suicide bombing in 2005 that killed two, including the perpetrator. You are much more likely to die in a traffic accident. There are few traffic lights and many roundabouts, though they are installing more traffic lights. They are also cracking down with fines, which they tell me are in the thousands of dollars. I’ll try not to find out how much.
I’d say the drivers are moderately aggressive, and it takes a little learning to negotiate the roundabouts, because people turn right from middle lanes, and are expected to, and you need to coordinate your expectations with theirs. BTW, gas is cheap. Three fourths of a tank of my little Chevy Optra LS cost about $7. Lots of people drive SUVs.
(Part of a continuing series!!