dimanche 27 août 2017

THE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN DOHA WILL CENTRE YOUR LIFE: THOUGHTS FROM THE PERSIAN GULF

HOW TO CENTRE YOURSELF WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELING OFTEN?  Thoughts from DOHA
As I entered the Al Mourjan Lounge at Doha International Airport, a young man clad in grey suit greeted me: Nice to see you again, Sir!
It made me think of what is real and what is fantasy, in this world we inhabit, where we temporarily interact with thousands of people: of course, in a case like Doha, the line between Fantasy and Reality is determined individually of course.
The power of relationships is what overwhelms me. Just on this day in Doha, three different Uber Drivers, all with the name Mohammed Plus something (Noushad, Rasheed) asked me:
Are you Pakistani?
Are you Sri Lankan?
Are you Bangladeshi?
At the check in at a fancy hotel in Doha, yet another Mohammed opens his eye in awe, as I begin to chat away in Spanish to his colleague. I dress to confuse the innocent onlookers, with cotton clothes from Cambodia or India, with a business card with a Kathakali mask featured on it.


With Sofia from Lisboa, I spoke a little bit of Portuguese, she marveled at my Brasilian accent, while I wondered how would it be to wander around the walking streets of Lisbon, the very same street that one hosted Fernando Pessoa, while chatting away in her sonorous language.
I am thinking of my dear friends in Havana (who are tattooed into your heart, said a cunning fake artist) and the Indigenous people I have become attached to.

Sofia briefly touched on the reality of the workers in Doha, many of them young women, far from their homes, toiling so that they can provide for their parents and siblings.
These workers may be exotic in our western eyes- Limbu speaking Nepalis with Bhutanese features, round faced Filipinas carrying deeply Spanish names, betraying their indigenous roots in their faces. 


I once asked a young Nepali woman where I could find good Nepali food in Doha, she answered: I do not eat out, sir; that unfolded the entire story of that delightful maiden from the shadows of the great mountains.
What is real for her? She is exotic in our eyes, as I dress to look exotic in the West. As Sofia exclaimed: They can teach us so much!
I have been molded by the many teachings of the Native American Indians, one learns to keep an innocent heart, cleanse your mind of judging others, and look at them as pure creations of human spirit, doing a noble task. For them the reality is not the opulence of Ritz Carlton, the exuberance of Marriott, the extravaganza of Al-Safwa First Class Lounge (repeated a hundred times in Kingdom of Saud Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and to a lesser extent in Oman, to certain degree in Malaysia and Singapore)
I salute you, young ladies of the Orient for allowing me to enter the world of your dreams.
Europeans who come to these shores are following a career or family members, usually a stepping stone to a diplomatic or corporate life. They know the best places to eat and drink in Doha or elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, in the company of other expatriates and create superficial rituals such as Brunch. The term expatriates are best used for them, as workers from India, Nepal or Bangladesh are not truly expatriates, as we know the term in the West. These Europeans will return home, as I do after each of my bi monthly visits to “exotic” Doha or Siem Reap or Kuala Lumpur or Cochin, carrying this image of the Levant, adding stars to their CVs, all well deserved. I admire their courage and far sightedness to come to Doha, to savour another life, even if that life lacks originality.
I salute all of you, shamelessly raising Billecart-Salmon Champagne from my seat 1K aboard this Qatar Airways flight bound for South East Asia.

Right now I wish I could recant these tales of love and ardour to the many who have touched my heart in passing. Without them knowing I loved them deeply.
Now they whisper the tales of my deep emotions, in Persian, that language of love and passion, in the shadows of the Karaj Mountains. Whatever happened to the lady who spoke Spanish with a Japanese accent, where did she take her passion away?
Find yourself a good woman and settle down, the cunning jealous ones would say.
I can only fall in love with the innocence, not with Doctors or Lawyers or Diplomats who cross my path with their thick agendas.


So to my Nepali, Sri Lankan and Filipina friends in Doha, it is I who is lost in this universe, this wandering Jew, sitting in this corner of Qatar Airways Flight, usually in seat 1K, attended by one of your Filipina or Korean sisters, savouring your innocence, the best gift you have given me and I wish you nothing but the best.

I love all of you.