Tuesday, November 07, 2006

 

Week Twenty Four

Al-salaam alaykum,

This week was a very special week. For most of us, we celebrated our 100 days to go. Now in a normal games in a normal part of the world, 100 days to go celebrates how many days left until the games start. For us, 100 days to go marks the number of days until we leave Doha. The night was marked with a small celebration of fish n chips on the grass on the cornice by the water. It was a nice way to celebrate. Vic did a great job organising it. There were around 20 of us just sitting around, eating and enjoying some great food.

Unfortunately other than that there isn’t much to report this week. It is week 3 of Ramadan and as always, I’m hungry.

Hope you are all well at home

 

Week Twenty Three

Al-salaam alaykum,

A new week, a whole new level of work, not to mention changes, hours and hunger. This week has been even busier, with us having to work isn’t exactly practical when you will be working in 30 odd degree heat every day. One sleeve is yellow and the other is red. The shirt itself is a light blue. It also comes with a very fashionable pair of yellow pants. I know I will be in need of a job when I return to Melbourne, therefore I would like to signal my intention to become a clown! I have the clothes, all I need is the wig and I am home and hosed.

We are now officially out at the village permanently. It is great to finally be out there. We are close to the venue team, which makes it easier for us to make decisions. The team has had a few big decisions made in the past week, causing us a lot more work.

It was great to finally see the weekend. On Thursday night, around 20 of us went down to Sealine Resort for the night. It should have taken us around 1 ¼ hours. Instead it took us nearly 2 ½ hours. The road leading to Sealine was having road works. After some bad directions from, well, me, we ended up around 10 kms from the Saudi border. When we took the wrong turn, we in the town of Messaidd. When I realised we had gone the wrong way, we had travelled 28kms away from the town. Oopps… Anyway, the resort is amazing. It is right on the beach. When you walk out of the villa’s you practically stepped on to the beach. All of them had a bbq and a porch with couches. They were very relaxing. We fired up a big bbq, then sat around listening to music and having a few drinks.

Friday we drove back to Doha. Thankfully the trip only took just over an hour to get back. After doing a bit of work the night was spent relaxing. Saturday it was back to work as usual. Once again it was a one day weekend for us all.

I hope you are all well back home and abroad.

 

Week Twenty Two

Ramadan Kareem,

It’s the first week of Ramadan. That’s right sports fans, life as you know it is entering a whole new realm. From September 23rd until roughly October 23rd, it is the time of fasting. Now although I’m not Muslim, and neither are ¾ of the DAGOC staff, it is expected that we follow the requirements of Ramadan while at work. This includes the following:

- No eating or drinking during daylight hours, or while at work
- No smoking (easy for me as I don’t smoke)
- Cover up as much exposed skin as possible

If I was to follow Ramadan completely, I wouldn’t be allowed to do the following:

- No eating, drinking or smoking between roughly 4.30am – 5.30pm (daylight hours)
- No alcohol for the month
- No sex for the month if single
- No sex during daylight hours
- Keep as much skin covered as possible

This is just the stuff that I can think of. The whole not eating and drinking at work isn’t easy, however we all manage to find ways around it. I casually sneak in to the kitchen where the tea boys are and have something there, along with everyone else in the office. At the village, we eat and drink in the kitchen, or sit behind big filing cabinets so we are hidden. Mind you, at the end of the day I am absolutely starving. When the sun goes down you are allowed to eat again. This is known as the breaking of the fast. Most of the big hotels have Iftars, which is the meal you have to break the fast. These usually involve massive amounts of food.

The other annoying thing is that most of the shops are not open during the day, and if they are, it is only for a few hours, or while I am at work. Because you’re not allowed to eat during day light hours, all of the fast food and take away outlets are closed until around 5.30pm. This isn’t exactly ideal for people who are used to eating all day and snacking on anything they can find.

Thursday night we went to an Iftar at the Ritz-Carlton. We got there around 9pm. It was a buffet, and it had that many food options it was crazy. Twenty of us went and ate our way through the night. The range was great. A few of us also got our palms read. Mine was rather interesting.

Friday was spent on the computer. Our operations plan was due and it had to be finished. As I am sure you can imagine, the day didn’t exactly involve much.

Saturday was Grand Final day in the AFL. West Coast played Sydney at the MCG, and thankfully it was live here in Doha. The game started live here at 7.30 am. That is when the first, and unfortunately the only beer was cracked. We did however eat meat pies (they actually taste great) hot chips and watched the game. There were around 15 of who watched it. We were expected to be at work at 9am, but thankfully a few of the ‘non-Australians’ covered for us. Sadly, a few staff did go to work at half time, thinking that the game was practically over. They missed out on one of the best grand finals played in years. I don’t think it was better than the 1989 grand final, which had possibly the greatest last quarter in football history.

That afternoon it was off to work just like normal, except this one was a much later one than usual.

I hope everyone is well at home and abroad.

 

Week Twenty One

Al-salaam alaykum,

The weeks are getting busier and busier, and Doha has turned in to the land of the Mum’s. Around half a dozen of my friends either have their Mum’s coming, Mum arrived or Mum’s that have left. This week it was my mum’s turn to join us here in the land of sand.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with her due to work. On the positive side Mum did get to see the 2 main shopping centres, the souqs (markets), a few restaurant’s, and possibly the world’s most disgraceful zoo. You would think that with all of the money they have here in Doha that the animals would be well looked after. Unfortunately that definitely is not the case. They had a dingo, which sat on its own on a stone floor, without any water. The conditions were disgraceful. The RSPCA would have a field day.

On my day off, I organised a secret day for Mum. I didn’t tell her where we were going, only that we were getting picked up at 6am Friday morning. We went to the airport where we caught a flight at 8am to Dubai. When we landed in Dubai we got a taxi to the Burj Al-Arab, the 7 star hotel in Jumeira Beach. The two of is went and had a buffet brunch on the 27th floor restaurant Al Muntaha – Sky view Restaurant and Bar. The food was exquisite, clearly surpassing anything I even think of making. At the end of the meal we got in to a taxi and went back to the airport. We flew back to Doha at 5pm. It was a rather surreal experience getting on a plane, flying to another country for brunch and then flying back again.

That night we had a dinner for the parents. Shay’s Mum, Alex’s Mum and her partner and my Mum, along with around 14 others all went out for dinner. It was a really good way to end a very fun day. Saturday it was off to work for me, and for Mum, a day at the Marriot Hotel. I organised a day of relaxation including a Turkish Bath, full massage, pedicure etc. I dropped her off at 9.30am and picked her up at 4.30pm. Unfortunately it was Mum’s last day with us in the land of sand, but I’m glad it was a relaxing way to finish her desert tour of duty.

For me it was fun to have her around, it was nice to be mothered for a little while. For me life continues on as normal, no more sleeping on a single mattress on the floor.

I hope you are smiling wherever in the world you may be!!!

 

Week Twenty

Al-salaam alaykum,

Once again it was another week at work. Things are starting to get busier. With only two months until the athlete’s village opens, there is still a lot of work to be done. We are all working hard to resolve as many issues as possible, but as usual stuff keeps popping up. The venue transport managers are working more and more out at the venue which is good, it’s always good to be out on the ground.

Not too much happened during the week other than work. There are a lot of photos from the birthday party. This web site has a heap of pictures from my birthday party.

Thursday night it was Shay’s birthday party. There were around 160 of us who went out in to the desert for one of the biggest parties so far this year. After being at work all day, the massive group all met out front of our old apartment building, next to where the new staff are living. It took 35 four wheel drives to get us all out there. The drive out was fantastic. We did some sand duning which was fantastic. We then made our way to the camp for the night.

That is when the real partying started. It was huge. There was a dance floor, tents, you name it. It was the same place that we went to last time, but was even bigger. After all of the music finished, about a dozen of us, arm in arm , sang Aussie anthem after anthem. We sang everything from Throw Your Arms Around Me, to the theme from Burke’s Back Yard to We Still Call Australia Home, which mind you, was sang with absolute gusto. After that it was off for a swim. By this time it was 3 am. I had about half an hours sleep, got up and started the day again. Here is the link to some photos: http://subactive.coronadigital.com/gallery/Shays_Pimped_Out_Camel

We all got back home around 10 am. We went back for a shower, then ate steak pies and drank beer. After only half an hours sleep since 6 am the day before, we went and watched the football. There were around 40 of us who watched the Fremantle vs Melbourne match live. This time the coverage started before the teams ran out, giving us the chance to sing the demons theme song when they ran out. Once again we all stood arm in arm and sang the national anthem. For a couple of the boys it was their first time watching AFL footy. Nabel, an Iraqi who moved to Qatar, joined us for his first game. He had a ball. It was great. He picked up the game really quick, and ended up yelling stuff at the screen that actually made sense, and fitted the moment. Plattsy, one of the pommie lads also saw his first game. He ended up receiving lessons about footy from Jess. It was handy because after a while he knew why I was yelling and so pumped up. Unfortunately we lost the game putting us out of the finals.

That night I hit bed at 7.30 pm, having been up for 37 hours. It was disappointing finish with a Melbourne loss, but you get that. Look out season 2007, it will be the Year Of The Demons!!!

I hope everyone is well at home.

 

Week Nineteen

Al-salaam alaykum,

Monday was my birthday, and what a day it was. I went to work in the morning, and volunteer training that night. Not exactly a big birthday, but it was made really exciting for me. My boss made a chocolate cake for me that was to die for, it was unbelievable. That afternoon and evening it was off to volunteer training. We finished up around 8ish, then headed back to the apartment. Loz bought me a birthday dinner which was nice. The rest of the night was very quiet. It was a quiet but enjoyable birthday.

The rotational dinner was cancelled for the week, as no one was able to go. Instead I made tandoori chicken wraps. They weren’t too bad. It is amazing how many different foods I am eating since I have moved here, Bruce Reid should be proud of me.

For the past 3-4 weeks, a group of my friends organised a party for my birthday. They decided that it would be on the Thursday night after my birthday. There was 12 of them on the team, who decided to call themselves QOCBOC 2006, which stands for Quarter Of Century Birthday Organising Committee 2006. They went to so much effort it was unbelievable. The invitation was fantastic. I had no contribution to the party, and when I say none, I really mean none. The theme they chose was a school dance, and the costumes were fantastic. There were that many school uniforms it was amazing, cheerleaders, you name it. There are so many great photos. I’m sure you can imagine it without me even saying it, but it was a brilliant, and massive night. There were around 100 odd people there, which was great. Vic designed a quiz about me. I challenged Carissa Harris, who happened to beat me. I was never good at trivia, even when it is about me. I was told that because it was my birthday I had to be the Headmaster. I wasn’t even allowed to choose my own costume, that was all done for me. It was an amazing and fantastic night, I loved it, and so did everyone who attended. There are a lot of photos, only thing is many of them cannot be shown to the general public, sorry!!! Here is the link to some photo’s: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cathmellis/sets/72157594274907568/

The party was also the first chance we have had to catch up with Luke Hudson since he arrived in the country the weekend before. He had a few issues with his visa. There are now 15 of us from traffic and transport who worked together in Melbourne, working in different areas of the Asian games.

Friday was once again simply huge. Here in Doha, were able to get the St. Kilda v Melbourne Elimination Final live. Around 30 of us watched it the Ramada hotel. It aired here at 12.30, and every minute of the game was watched with pure excitement. We all stood as one to sing the national anthem, which created the most amazing atmosphere. I think I let out around 18 weeks of anger and frustration at the screen. By the end of the game I could barely speak, which wasn’t very handy, especially since I had to go to volunteer training afterwards. The win by the demons was fantastic, we went absolutely crazy. The game was live here in Doha, yet it was delayed in Melbourne. Mum rang me around 45 minutes after the game telling me the Dees had one. I love it, you never know what to expect in Doha…

Friday night around 20 of us went to watch Al Arabi v Al Khor in the soccer. Tony Popovic, the Australian World Cup Player team member and English Premier League player has been poached by Qatar club Al Arabi. There were Al Khor supporters on one side and Al Arabi supporters on the other side, the there was us in the middle. Every time he got the ball, passed it, headed it, or just ran near us we cheered. It didn't matter what the rest of the team did, it was all about Popa!!!!! What an experience.

We worked our first Saturday which was real exciting. We had our first Venue Readiness Exercise. Without a doubt, most of the functional areas in the village found that they were not ready, what a surprise.

I hope everyone is well at home.

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