Saturday, January 9, 2010

Now what's that smells like fish oh baby? Really would like to know (Hot Tuna)

It all started innocuously enough. Aussie Dene rang me with, "We're off to find the fish and veggie markets - fancy joining us? And you can drive."

"Yeah - sounds great", I said. Little did we know that the day would end with an escort to Doha's Air Force base and a telling off from the men with guns!

First up though - the markets.

I got my Qatari driving licence last week and had asked Dene for a drive on Friday, the week's quietest day, to get used to driving here (left hand drive cars/right hand lane driving). We made our way to the markets without incident and had a look around. The photos, of course, give you no clue to the smell! The fish (a dizzying array of species on offer) can be bought cheaply and then taken to a special room for gutting/filleting - you can imagine the noise and smell can't you. I wouldn't have been able to get Jacky through the front portal.

The veggie market is conveniently placed next door; much more sedate and sensory-friendly. Jacky will need to sit down before the next bit - I bought some vegetables. And I bought some fruit. Yes indeedy - I have not been abducted by aliens. There is no pod outside in the corridor. I got some nice firm kiwi fruit (yes - I do listen to you Roger and yes - I did eat them) and some fresh broccoli. Who'd a thought it eh - me buying fruit and veg - what a turn up (geddit)?

And so to the drama. Dene and Lynn's son, Mitch, is keen on planes (keen is an understatement - for comparison - I am keen on the Beatles, Keegan is keen on films, Jacky is keen on horses - you get the idea) and he asked to check out the Doha airport. More specifically the start of the airport where the planes begin their approach to land. So we went there. Now, how three literate people (okay two were Aussies but that doesn't excuse me) can miss big signs in red saying - "No Photography!" is beyond me - but we did.

As we waited for a plane to arrive so Mitch could photograph it - we noticed a military police jeep in camouflage colours speeding towards us. The young man had no English so he took our IDs and made it clear we should follow him to the base. We did (we're stoopid but we're not that stoopid). Dene reckons I looked terrified and I guess I did - the men wearing sub machine guns probably had something to do with it.

At the base we were interviewed by the duty officer - a thoroughly decent man who could see we were genuinely sorry for our transgression. He offered us Arabic coffee (the best I've had here incidentally), some pastries and a cup of tea. I politely declined his kind offer to stay for lunch and we made our exits in very shame-faced fashion.

As Homer would say - DOH!!

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