Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Doha Quirks, Part 2

It's that time again, kids!! Time for another round-up of strange things that go on here in Doha. Remember, now, that this is all said in good fun.

1) Movie Theaters - It is an interesting experience to go to the movies here. First off, you have assigned seating, so when you purchase your tickets you have to choose from a screen where you are going to sit. This puts you at quite a disadvantage since you can't tell if you are sitting near an old couple or near a group of rowdy teenage boys.

We recently went to see Prince Caspian and, while we enjoyed the movie, found the movie experience to be very distracting. The obligatory group of boys had no interest in watching the movie, it seemed, but just wanted to be in a dark setting so they could show off the glow of their cell phones and experiment with different seating positions in the oh-so-amazing movie theater seats that fold up and down. First they sat normally, then they all, one at a time, switched to sitting on their haunches like a pack of wild animals. One or more of them were going in and out at any given time.

Then there was the usher. With his huge flashlight he'd escort in any latecomers and sweep his hi-powered beam over anyone who happened to be near said latecomers assigned seats. Being blinded was only temporary, don't worry.

The theater was only 1/4 full, but people had to sit right near us and climb over us to get to their seats when two rows down was completely empty. I definitely am not groovin' on the whole assigned seat deal.

2) Candy for Change - Apparently there is a shortage of change here in Qatar. They just don't make enough of it to go around. I think in the three months we've been here that I have seen change less than 5 times. First of all, there's only one coin to start with - a 50 cent piece. Well, 50 dirhams, but that doesn't mean anything to you does it?

So this presents the stores with an interesting array of choices. If your bill totals up to 150.50 riyals (the currency here), and the customer doesn't have exact change - a strong likelihood - then what to do? Should they round up, incurring the anger of the customer? Should they round down and lose money themselves? Ha!

No, many stores go for Option 3 - handing you a pack of candy that you don't want and probably don't like and considering that your change. I wonder what would happen if I tried to pay my bill in rolls of mints next time...

3) Not getting that some things are seasonal - It's June. Late June. And yet my television schedule is filled with Christmas programming. "Christmas Do-Over." "A Carol Christmas." Other Lifetime for Women type holiday programming.

And in the stores? You can find not only Christmas candy and special promotions, but also Easter treats.

I mean, I know that they don't do Christmas and Easter here, but you would think that they would know when it is and when it's over and realize that these things will really be in demand at the appropriate time and not so much, say, six months later.

4) Fine instead of, well, everything - A-ha! You don't know what Fine is, do you? Fine is the ubiquitous box of Kleenex-type product that is everywhere here in the Middle East. Except it's about 20 times thinner than Kleenex.

First of all, there's a box in every car. Usually on the dash board. We have also seen it on restaurant tables to be used as napkins. Emily has seen it placed in a public restroom to be used as toilet paper. Can you say, "Ick!!!!!"

When we were still in the States, my mother in law would always place a box of Kleenex on the dining room table and I could never figure out why. I had a nice selection of both cloth and disposable napkins in my home. But she chose to use the Kleenex. Now I see that it's a regional thing.

Hubby insists I keep a box in my car. And Emily keeps putting it in my dashboard just to annoy me. And then I swat it down. It'll be a fight to the death before I have a box of it on my dash, I tell you.

Just a few more of the idiosyncrasies we are living with here in Doha.


Nancy M. said...

I like learning about the differences in cultures. I find it very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

Erica said...

There's also a rare 25 dirham piece. I have one. It's about the size of a dime. If your total comes up to something.25 they round down, and usually if it's something.75 they round up, except the one time that I got that 25 dirham piece.

Mylinda said...

Oh, that's all too funny! I'm loving hearing all about your adventures, and learning quite a bit, too!! Hope you have a "Fine" Christmas in June!! lolol Love ya!

Tracye said...

I love reading this stuff!

Cracks me up... keep them coming!

I really don't mean that to sound snotty, but I can just see you handing the electric company that roll of mints!

BTW, I would LOVE to come photograph your special day! ;)

stacey said...

these are sooo interesting! i love reading this stuff-can't wait for part 3!

that whole movie thing is bizarre!

Leeann said...

I agree with your commenters..I am enjoying this stuff also. It is fascinating to learn the "hidden" in and outs of another culture..the things you only learn by really living somewhere!


Sarah said...

they sell the christmas & easter stuff later in the year because they're getting rid of stock! and they stock up with christmas candy in october. so actually in december you can't find anything or it is SO expensive. go figure ;)

mamabeck said...

Found you today through a comment you posted at RocksInMyDryer. What a neat blog! My dh had an opportunity to be deployed to Qatar in 2006, and was considering a job there for a while, but the Lord led us another direction. So neat to read of the FAMILY experience where I could have been right now, too!
Blessings to you and yours!


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