From Borneo and Around

This blog is all about Borneo (and sometimes elswere) as I experience it. It's about places, people, fauna, food ... and anything I find pleasantly worth sharing in words and pictures.

Monday, October 25, 2010


21th April

Today is one of those times when I have to scrape off any plans I made. Like I do quite often, I feel extremely giddy, to be more specific, I feel like a drunken sailor. 
Here I am, so far away from home, on a continent I have never visited before and I have no choice but to stay indoors. I am not complaining though, I’d rather see the bright side of today. First of all I am alone in the apartment while TP will be away the whole day. This means that my feeling unwell only affects me and not my host; I also have another six days to visit Qatar, meanwhile all I need (and want) to do is relax and sleep, sleep and sleep longer. 

It is already mid-afternoon and I make an attempt at shaking off the sleepiness. I still feel dizzy but I refuse to stay in bed any longer. A long shower does little to revive my senses. I settle in the small TV room with a mug of café au lait which, by my standards means milk with just a dash of coffee powder. I have always loved milk, it’s like an addiction, if I don’t have milk in the morning, things will go wrong, the whole day: my sleeve will get caught in a door handle (several times!), I’ll bang my knee on a table leg or elsewhere, I’ll slam the car door and rip open my calf with the corner, I’ll spill or drop drinks and food on the floor or on my blouse, the list goes on, I need my daily milk! Even though anyone else may find it harmless and even rather country-cute to be hooked on cow milk, my addiction was never welcome by my parents who happened to consider themselves as coffee connoisseurs who took very seriously at selecting coffee from a wide selection available at the local hypermarket. They would pick a savvy choice consisting of some the most expensive jars in order to mix them almost scientifically, by spoonfuls and half spoonfuls, before serving. I, on the other hand, would stubbornly insist on buying my regular tin of Ricoré (a coffee flavored chicory based powder) which they probably felt like a desecration of their costly ritual.  At home, every day after lunch, serving the sophisticated brew had become a ceremonial which can almost be compared to the Chinese tea ceremony. My mother was the nose (way before Michael Jackson); she never failed to mention how her nose was an exceptional God-given attribute to her face. For a while I had been absolutely convinced that she possessed a special power that she kept hidden inside her nostrils; she always reminded us that “no-one can ever cheat the nose!” Sad to say, at least for my hopeful parents,, no matter how long they both tried to convert me to become a respectable heir to the family coffee tradition, I failed, totally. There will be no rehab for me and I say “no, no, no” to black coffee or espresso while I carry on being an embarrassment happily dunking my croissant in my delicious café au lait which is really lait au café.

I turn on the TV and search through the channels. There are a few Arab ones of course, and I can’t help noticing that the anchor men and women are dressed western. The movies reflect the same choice of clothes. I catch a news channel in French; the Icelandic volcano is perturbing the whole of Europe and beyond. There’s a little bit on how it affects Icelanders, with the interview of a farmer’s wife who sounds devoid of panic as if volcanic eruptions was part of the way of life of her people. News however needs something more disastrous to show viewers, like frustrated airline passengers stranded in a foreign country, as far as Asia. A few of the interviewees are even angry at the delay; they had “things” to do back home. I am sure they expect the Icelandic government to put a lid on the volcano and on the wrath of Thor, not to save the lives of their own people from unspeakable death or their land from being drowned with rivers of hell burning lava, but rather to stop the inconvenience caused to airline passengers all over the world.

I change to an English language Qatari channel. An English woman is being interviewed. I understand that she suffers from migraines that make her speak with a Chinese accent which has replaced her native English West Country drawl. Now I’m getting a migraine. A video trailer follows which addresses me directly “Which desperate housewife are you the most like?” I am so surprised that I am ready to believe that this is a paranormal message coming out of the TV set and I am the only one to be able to watch and hear it. Indeed which desperate housewife am I? Am I desperate at all? Since I have watched all in all perhaps three episodes of the series, I can’t honestly answer the question. For crying out loud, I am in Qatar! Then again the Desperate Housewives may be touching, in ways I dare not imagine, all those Qatari wives who happen to be sitting, like me, in front of their TV screen, together with their husband’s other three wives, while their black dresses and veils await hanging by the door. All this is making me very aware that I really know absolutely nothing of the way of life of the people I mingled with last night at the Marine Festival.

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