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


The Ancient Mariner at Al Corniche

T.P is back, I am not feeling much better but I want to keep that to myself. I know she’s doesn’t often have company to go out with and also like the idea to somehow impose a break on her mind blowing and unhealthy work schedule.  Besides, I would need to be half dead, literally, to miss out on a northern Indian dinner. So off we go and down to the fourth floor, into the overly decorated restaurant that would take the air out of the lungs of any claustrophobic; I am not one of them, yet this is not helping my feeling dizzy. The food is delicious though and I make an important discovery. I ordered a lime juice and I am surprised to be served a green drink. TP explains that here, in Qatar, fresh lime is served with fresh mint. I venture a sip. I can’t say I appreciate but I don’t want to create a fuss and because I feel quite thirsty, I take one more sip and it actually tastes better, then one more and I am beginning to love it. I have definitely acquired the taste; in fact I even suspect this thing may be addictive!
To help us digest the garlic nans and the hot Vindaloo, nothing could be better than for us to walk a few kilometers to Al Corniche, the water front that follows the entire bay of Doha. I just hope the evening walk will make me feel better as right now I feel quite unsettled.                                                   
To reach our destination we need to cross the business district which is totally deserted at night. A few cars are still parked in front of an office building. The four wheel drives are enormous. I ask TP to take a picture of me standing next to a pick-up; the wheel is as high as my hips! Something to show the boys back home.     
We walk through the streets like two lonely ants between sky scrapers. A few drivers make us raise our eye brows as they practice rubber-burning around the corners; other than that no one disturbs us and we feel free to mock about hugging a cartoon styled sign-board that represents a smiling traffic police officer pointing at the traffic light sign above his head.Underneath the cut out figure, there is a notice which of course we cannot understand since it is written in Arabic.

T.P does not drive in Doha, she says she is too scared after watching local drivers. When we find another road sign which is meant to warn of something related to approaching a round- about, I agree that I would probably feel nervous to drive among wanna be formula one drivers in a place where I can’t make head or tail of the signage.

The towers are making me even dizzier, I dare not look up, yet they are all a spectacle to admire as most of them are lit up in one specific color or even change hues like the Storm Tower.       
The Storm Tower in Doha, it changes colour
 When we finally reach Al Corniche, the breeze lifts my spirits and seems to clear my dizzy head a little. The large promenade runs parallel to the road, between manicured lawns dotted with palm trees and the waterfront parapet. The place is very busy, a favorite destination for joggers or mere strollers and families. Like I did the night before at the beach, I spend time looking at so many children out and enjoying the evening with their parents.                                                                                                          There’s a boat waiting for passengers. T.P explains that it is called a Dhow. She wants us to buy tickets for a cruise back and forth across the bay. Unlike me she is a tough negotiator; the deal is done for QR 20 each. For a while I forget my unstable feet while I negotiate the plank walk that serves as a gang-way. Off we sail into the night gathering in our sight all of the 240 (well, perhaps not all of them) glittering towers and the sultan’s palace too. Yes, right now T.P and I are queens of the night aboard what feels like our very own vessel while the old mariner who’s at the helm is definitely in a party mood, rocking the otherwise silent bay with Arab hits as well as Lily Allen and Whitney Houston who’s singing  I Need Somebody. For a minute we both consider standing up to dance on the empty deck (we are the only passengers) but then we are too scared to either give our captain a culture shock or send him the wrong message. In the end we both agree to dampen out enthusiasm for the wild rhythm of the night and keep to our bench, behaving like ladies until we find ourselves back alongside.                                         Strange how the boat trip succeeded in making me feel much better; it must have been the breeze, or perhaps the seafaring genes in my DNAS, the fact is that I had almost forgotten about my discomfort while on board. Stepping down on the steady ground of Al Corniche however, feels like payback time. I feel like a drunken sailor on leave. I have often heard that seamen in a state of ebriety never fall over board; I just hope that I won’t fall over my own feet! Meanwhile I feel all at once crossed eyed and nauseous, and yet flooded with an immense pleasure of being here right now, with a friend, in a city where towers turned bejeweled every night and mirror their beauty in the calm waters of the bay.                                                                                 As I can barely hide my awkward steps, TP becomes concerned. “Shall we hail a cab?” she offers. “No, let’s just walk, the night is just too beautiful, beside, look at the moon, it’s full, surely it’s a good thing for me to get better.”

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