Monday, June 26, 2006


William John Sabin

Nov. 13, 1941 - June 25, 2006

Beloved father and grandfather

Saturday, March 18, 2006

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Painting, Doha Cultural Festival 2005

Friday, March 17, 2006

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Expat Math

I walked into a hardware store a while back, needing a couple of items. I found what I was looking for, and it was clearly priced at thirteen rials. I confirmed this with the (Indian) clerk, then grabbed two and handed them to him. He said “Thirty rials”.

I said, “No, they’re priced at thirteen each.” He said “Yes, thirteen for one, but two for thirty”. I said “Thirteen and thirteen are twenty six, not thirty”. He said “Two for thirty”. I said “That’s not correct, what are you trying to do?” He said “Two for thirty”. I got out a piece of paper and added the figures for him…. thirteen plus thirteen equals twenty six. He said “Oh, I’m so sorry! I was wrong!”

Then he scribbles something on the piece of paper. “Twenty six and twenty six equal fifty two! Fifty two rials please!” He announces proudly.

Luckily I had exact change.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Castles of Sand

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This past Eid al-Adha sand castles were built throughout the largest shopping mall here (City Center). Security guards were posted at them to prevent their destruction by overly enthusiastic kids. At the end of the celebration though, the kids did win out in some cases, as at least several were destroyed! Big fun.

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These aren't the only castles in the sand here, as Qatar is experiencing a massive construction boom. Building sites are visible everywhere. The upcoming Asian Games are a contributing factor, but for the most part it's just growth. The local economy is expanding rapidly, and thus so is the need for housing, commercial and retail space, as well as expanded infrastructure.

Some of the houses are fantastic, an architect's dream. There has been an evolution of sorts here regarding housing. The older houses are mostly simple single story houses, large by American standards (in a sprawling, spread out sort of way), but small by current standards here. These are usually 20 or more years old.

Next are boxy types of large two and three story houses. These are usually 3000 square feet and more, maybe much more, and while not aesthetically displeasing, are fairly simple in appearance. These have been constructed within the past 20 years, and most within the past ten.

The newest houses, from the last few years, are very ornate. Most are built using cast-crete, cement that's poured into styrofoam molds to create fantastic special effects. They use it to make ornate trim components to the exterior, lots of domes and other external features and it makes for very creative walls.

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Virtually every house here, old or new, has a wall for privacy. The older ones are simple and plain, among the newer ones more design features are evident and no two seem to be alike.

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This is upper middle class housing for Qataris. When finished they are usually painted in light colors, white or beige most often, like the desert here. Some come a bit more vibrant. Standard features are two separate large living rooms, one for the men, and one for the women (and often a third smaller one upstairs), several bedrooms... 4 to 6 or so, a maid's quarters, and two kitchens. One kitchen is in the main house, and is used only for convenience. The main kitchen is usually out back in a separate building, often attached to a laundry room and the maid's quarters. Some plant gardens on the roof, and all have a walled yard for privacy.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Here's Some More

recent photos of the kids (okay, okay, I promise I'll knock it off soon, just indulge me a little bit here!)

First is my oldest, Shamsuddin. He's six and a holy terror! He loves to ride his bike, ride horses, and make trips to the desert. Exploring ruins or riding four-wheelers on the dunes are tied for his favorite pastimes out there.

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Next comes my daughter Elia. She's three, loves to draw and help cook, and loves her kitty almost as much as she does her big brother... he's her hero, and she says she is going to marry him (no comment). She has a fantastic imagination, and concocts intricate stories about her life.

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Finally there is Sema, my youngest. She is thirteen months old. She is a calm, happy baby, but her temper does flare up if she gets pushed far enough (try taking away her baby-doll... just try it, I DARE you!). Her major goal in life is to outdo her siblings.

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Tuckered Out

My Youngest Daughter Turned One

awhile back. I know we've already done the baby-destroys-the-cake thing on this blog, but what the heck, here's an encore, this time in strawberry!

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Sheer Pleasure
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Abject Destruction

She's walking and talking these days, full of energy and absolutely determined to do everything her big sister does.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I Am Back...

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I haven’t been blogging much lately. We made a trip to Turkey this summer, then didn’t have a maid for months when we got back, thus the duties of domestic life trumped blogging for the most part. Since that time, we have hired a wonderful new maid from Ethiopia, her name is Marima, and she's been a Godsend.

I’ve also been active elsewhere on the net. I try to keep religion and politics fairly toned down in this blog. As a resource about life in Qatar, I think it appeals to a wide variety of people who may have greatly disparate ideas about such things. I think that within the scope of a blog like this, excessive commentary about specific political or religious views detracts from it’s usefulness, so therefore I take it elsewhere. Two places I contribute to regularly are Daily Kos, and Street Prophets, for political and religious commentary, respectively.

The fortunate thing about a blog of this nature is that the information therein doesn’t change much, and what I wrote about a year ago still holds true today. In any case, I am back.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cardamom Pods

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Painting, Doha Cultural Festival 2005 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Painting, Doha Cultural Festival 2005 Posted by Picasa

Ostrich eggs Posted by Picasa

This is number two, our eldest daughter Posted by Picasa

She's a princess Posted by Picasa

She loves high heels! Posted by Picasa

Number two turned three recently Posted by Picasa

Elephant with make-up, Doha zoo Posted by Picasa

Number three is almost ten months old now Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Chocolate cake! Posted by Picasa

My youngest is crawling Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Date harvest Posted by Picasa

It's Date Season

The dates are finally getting ripe. After weeks of blistering heat they are starting to turn brown. While still not completely ripe, they are quite good even now... those pictured above are current.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Here's a picture of my youngest

She's five months old now

Nursing mother

The baby latches on

Nursing Mother

Here’s something kind of cute. This is a breastfeeding doll. These are hand-made by a women’s group in Saudi Arabia to raise awareness about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding rates in the Gulf are still pretty good, but they are falling as the economies modernize. This doll is part of an effort to slow or stop that trend.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Painting, Doha Cultural Festival 2005


Summer Swimsuit Edition!

Here are some pictures of swimsuits that I found on-line. These aren’t actually from Qatar, but you will see these here, especially among Arab ex-pats. My wife is having one brought back from Egypt. Wearing a get up like this isn’t necessary, but it does tend to cut down on the stare factor.

Other ways that women deal with this problem are to swim in indoor women-only pools, to swim with an abaya covering the body (a bit impractical unless you’re just wading), to swim in remote locations far from prying eyes (best bet), or to forego swimming altogether. With even night time temperatures climbing into the thirties, this last option would be unfortunate. One more option is whenever you swim, to bring along your mean and nasty western ex-pat husband to kick some serious behind if anybody gets impolite.

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