Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Dwarf Tossing Party

I had a very bizarre dream last night.

As if we were at some posh dinner (you know it is a dream already, as i have yet to get invited anywhere posh here) and there were a few locals of a very important calibre attending. Suddenly, my husband was sitting at the table giggling like an idiot, having taken off his shirt!

'What are you doing?' I shouted...'we will get kicked out! Not just from the posh event- from the country!'

And he just kept laughing. I glanced up and saw a security guard approaching us quickly, but, as i looked back at Husband, he was already back in his shirt, as if nothing happened. 'How did you do that?' I hissed, but he just kept giggling. An elderly, very important and very Arabic-looking man suddenly appeared at husband's side and bent down to quietly reproach him. But as soon as the man's face came close enough, husband suddenly planted a wet kiss on his nose.

 Now, please can anyone analyse this?

 Anyway. As i said, i have yet to get invited anywhere posh. However, i can proudly announce that, after thousands of various types of children' parties i attended in the UK, i discovered that there was still room for improvement.

Such as a dwarf-tossing party. See? And you thought you have seen it all.

My child got invited to her classmate's birthday today. Everything seemed totally normal and very typical to start with. It was a big play zone venue with a small private hire room upstairs...Everything seemed just like back in the UK, except perhaps, better decorated and with very! nice food for adults. But then, as all the children were told to sit on their little chairs, right there in front of them, a group of acrobats-jogglers appeared. One of them was a dwarf. At first, I thought it was quite entertaining, in a very un-pc way. My feelings got stuck somewhere  between wondering if we were watching a freak show and convincing myself a dwarf got a job and therefore, was employed and happy....Until one of the guys climbed on top of another, picked up the dwarf by his ankles and started swinging him around fast, pretending to toss him into the circle of watching kids. That is when my British Health& Safety awareness woke up and started knocking and shouting loudly inside my head. Too close, i thought. Too near! One wrong move and the flying dwarf will kill a child, if not two. It was hard to remain calm as the acrobatics got more and more intense.

Fortunately, it all ended well. And I can now add dwarf-tossing to my list of children birthday party options. I am tempted to hire that group to come to my house for the baby's first birthday next month. Just to see the faces of my friends when a bunch of gymnasts build a human tower in the middle of my living room, with a swinging dwarf on top. How cool will those photos be?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

What Azeris secretly aspire to be.

Someone just re-posted a photo of a pregnant woman with one breast on Facebook. They wrote "this beautiful woman survived a breast cancer and now is having a baby! God is good!" This logic always amuses me greatly. What about thousands of other people who die young from thousands of awful things happening to them-including various forms of cancer- is God good then, too? How does this God's goodness work, I am just curious? 
Ah, never mind.

There are lots of fascinating discoveries for someone like me to be made while living in Qatar, and I will in time, share some of them with you. But one of the first things that i realised as i walked around Doha is that...

Azeri government would love to turn Baku into Doha. Or perhaps, Dubai.

Now that i realised that, everything makes perfect sense- the style of the new architecture, the love for Land Cruisers, or the endless pulling out of the trees- to make Baku look like a desert. Except, of course, that these guys would love to have more trees here, in the real desert. They are spending a vast amount of money planting green stuff all around Doha, watering it, giving it loving care, looking after every flower.

So i understand now. You want Baku to be like Dubai. But, i doubt it is going to work. First of all, however rich you might get, you are not going to catch up with one of the richest countries in the world. There is simply no comparison here, my friends. It is like me trying to compete with the Azeri first lady. But most importantly, having funds to make the city look the way you wish isn't enough. You need this one more thing...something know?...what was that word again? Oh, yes. Taste.

You see, let me give you a simple example. The photo above is of one of the most beautiful buildings in Doha- the Museum of Islamic Art. It was designed by I.M.Pei. They say Pei spent six months studying Islamic culture to create this stunning piece of architecture.

So what? I heard you say. These guys are loaded, it is easy to get one of the best men in the world to design a building! They can afford to do so! Ah, yes. Of course. That part is easy! But, what i am impressed with is not the fact that whoever ordered this building chose I.M.Pei to design it. It is the fact that he saw that this was a beautiful building when shown the sketches. And did not say Meh...What's this? You call this pretty?! Could you, at least, throw in some golden handles?

That's what i think is pretty interesting. Not only do these guys have money to build great new buildings and hire the best architects in the world;  they can also see what is cool. Not always, but quite often. And that is impressive because, culturally, Arabs, of course, love blingey things- just like we, Azeris do. Gold, sparkles...the whole lot. And yet, you find stunning buildings like The Museum of Islamic Art.

So, yes. I now totally understand what direction Azeris would like to be heading, and what they are trying to turn Baku into. Whether they will have enough taste to build something elegant, original or stylish is yet to be seen.