Usually nothing very much happens and the trips go without a hitch.
When I left Cuba this time, I carried with me some misfortune which I knew would follow me for the rest of the trip.
On a trip to Matanzas I was infected with Viral Conjunctivitis, which necesitated my cancelling two clinics, something which has not happened before. The Annual harvest celebrations of the Omaha was on but I couldn't participate in it, because I did not wish any one to be exposed to the virus and its unpleasant consequences.
The journey up to Doha and then Casablanca went well but from there on, the dark clouds began to settle in. Unable to start the plane, QR cancelled the flight and thus an extra day was spent in Casablanca, at the Farah Hotel in downtown Casablanca.
This cut down the days i was going to spend at Ritz Carlton in Doha and very wearily I arrived at Bangkok and then Siem Reap airports. Siem Reap was a welcome break but a short hurried trip of less than a day to Kuala Lumpur and the journey to Brussels from KL was tortuous : KL-Doha-Larnaca-Heraklion-Nantes-train to Auray to Quiberon-few lovely days in Quiberon-to Montparnasse by train and then to Gare du Nord and Brussels Midi. Since I plan and organize my trips, I have no one else to blame and will be careful in the future trips.
Leaving Brussels with a heavy heart about impending Irma prognosticated to hit Miami. I had changed my schedules to be in Miami this particular week and it is not to be. Qatar Airways is not flying to Miami today and the Miami Airport is not open today becasue of heavy water damage.
Qatar Airways while is superior on the air, their services on the ground are mediocre (the agents in their offices and the freedom they have to make changes etc).
On arrival at the Doha airport today , I had to content with a sour faced Indian who was in no mood to help anyone. A slightly more pleasant French supervisor was more civil and helpful but as expected couldnt help with the accomodation, but could organize the journey to the one of the many flights to the USA from Doha, but that still will not get me to Miami and with millions of people waiting out the storm, it would certainly not worth taking a chance to get flights down to Miami, without the USA airlines gouging the tickets.
so I decided to stay two more nights in Doha, waiting to take the first flight out to Miami day after tomorrow. Don't feel sorry, I will be spending my time here, pleasantly enough!
(breakfast at Hilton Doha)
As I had mentioned, everything in Doha is opulent and I curse myself: I dont need this luxury but would this be the place to get rid of the black star that has been following me on this trip?
While this has been less than a pleasant journey, the people aspect of it has been nothing short of marvellous: the smiles of my khmer friends, the erudite GO champion of Malaysia, incomparable love in the Continent. For an anthropologist, I have discovered that DOHA is a dream, where else, as I did last night, one could say hello within a matter of minutes someone from Kyrgyzstan and Uganda!
I will write another blog about Ayeman from Tunis, Mohammed from Alexandria, Sunil from Kathmandu, Ramadan who drew the map of the old Jewish quarter of Damascus, a Yemenite from the Houthi held Sanaa..I collected a lot of little life stories and of course encouraged them a little bit on their way to their dreams..
Participant Observation, that the anthropologists do, in Qatar means luxury accomodation, delicious food and then the chance to meet the world that has come here.. and the generosity of the Qataris willing to share their wealth a little bit..