Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An adopted dog

Thanks to the person who sent me the updated link to the Qatar Animal Welfare Society, my friend and his family stopped by on the weekend and adopted a nice german shepard cross. Your post to this blog found a dog a new home!

As for Beijing, I figured my next posts would be a simple "odds that..." format to give you a slice of life in Beijing.

Odds That In Beijing a girl coming up to you to practice English is really only interested in practising English . . . 50% (2 of 4)

Two girls I met at Tienanmen were genuinely wanting to practice English. One was really good, the other's English was pretty poor. The other girls, which I met on the shopping street and in a high-end mall, we more interested in getting me to "have coffee" at some teahouse somewhere down some alleyway. I declined and was later informed by my friend in Beijing that if you accept such offers there's a hefty bill waiting for you at the teahouse, as well as some muscle to make sure you pay it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

So, what have I been up to lately?

I haven't mentioned what I've been up to lately. Aside from work, now that the weather is pleasant a bunch of us have been organizing meet-ups on the weekend to various places in Qatar. This week we went to Sealine Beach resort south of Doha to hang out on the beach and go swimming. The week before that it was a Diwali celebration hosted by one of my Indian coworkers, and a couple of weeks ago we went to Souq Waqif, a marketplace designed to look like an old traditional souq. It has a lot of shisha cafes and restaurants so it is popular with locals. On top of that the Natural History group is up and running again so I've been going out on the field trips that they organize.

And a coworker has been organizing viewings of classic movies at his apartment every Friday afternoon. This week it is Double Indemnity. Last week it was Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise), a 3+ hour French romance hailed as the French equivalent of Gone with the Wind. I was surprised that I found it to be a good movie despite the fact I'm not fond of romances.

Other movies I've seen via "classic movie afternoon":

To Have and Have Not
The Seven Samurai
Mr. Hulot's Vacation

In other news yet another person in Qatar has mentioned to me that they found my blog on internet searches, which is why I'll reiterate that you are never going to read stories about my workplace on this blog!

What about Beijing? Well I'm off to Bahrain on business for three days so I'll post a bit more about that when I return.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sorry about the delay - updates

Wow, I have been remiss in posting. Sorry about that, with the RSI I've been trying to stay away from computing but 2+ weeks is a bit much.

Beijing: Although I hate commercials one of the things that I like doing in a new country is to watch the commercials on TV. Commercials are like a window into society and do a resonable job in reflecting things that the society cares about or are concerned with. So what did I find in Beijing commercials?

-- lots of ads for skin creams, including ones that 'whiten' skin
-- lots of ads for supplements and vitamins that will make your baby/child more intelligent, stronger etc.
-- lots of Olympic ads

what I didn't see much of:
-- ads for movies, TV shows or other entertainment
-- ads for applicances or cars
-- ads for airlines or travel

My favourite was an Olympics 2008 ad featuring the five official mascots. Now, most Olympic ads in the West are about gearing people up for it and emphasing the excitement of the games. But China is different - in China the ads were about how citizens should behave in preparation for the games! No joke! The ads featured the mascots instructing people to pick up trash, help tourists, form orderly queues and even instructed people to not talk loudly on cell phones in public transit. Bizarre. Obey Citizen!

Currency peg: talk in the media is that despite all the talk from the Central Banks that they will not de-peg or revalue the currency (due to the $US dollar decline) at least one of UAE or Qatar will drop the peg within 6 months. Interesting news, I hope they do that here, it means my money is worth more.

My trip back to Canada in January is booked. Good news is that I will be visiting Vancouver for the first time in about three years -- it'll be nice to see everyone again. Bad news: not visiting Bermuda en route. I couldn't get the flights to work out so I'm going to Vancouver via London rather than the US. Maybe next year Bermuda.