Monday, October 9, 2017

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 6: Birds in Doha


Preview: Yes, This Is Real Life

Part 1: Location, Location, Location

Part 2: Brits In Beantown

Part 3: Shades On, Wheels Up

Part 4: Welcome to Ghostport

Part 5: When You Layover During Ramadan
In each of these adventures, there comes a point when I wax poetic about the experience of travel.  So, buckle up, because here it a minute, once I deal with some logistical preliminaries.  

As discussed in the last post, we spent the first nighttime layover in Doha at the Grand Hyatt.  It's a beautifully sited property at the entrance to The Pearl.  The Pearl, for those who 1, haven't been to Doha, and 2, care, is a man-made land form (I guess is what you'd call it) that spirals out into the gulf.  It is still under construction, if the huge cranes are anything to go by, but is home to a ring of high rise commercial and residential buildings, followed by even more outlying 'islands' that, as far as I can surmise, look to be exclusive residences.  It's best viewed from the air, but the 'gateway' is fairly impressive from the ground.

 Thanks to hotel status, we landed a suite with a great view for the night.  

 Now, let me just back up and say that I had my reservations about trying to check into a hotel in Doha with a person of the opposite sex who I'm not married to.  It might be silly, but the blaring notice that a marriage certificate is required for Qataris gave me pause.  I'm on a mileage run, and ain't nobody got time to spend with the morality police between flights.   

As it worked out, there were no questions, and hardly any side-eye.  I was pleasantly surprised after my last major foray into this town, wherein I learned that at night most people don't walk the streets, especially single western female types.  I didn't feel unsafe really, just out of place.  

After we over indulged at Iftar, and spent a few minutes relaxing at the man-made 'beach' out front, we retired to the room, and realized it was about noon at home and there probably wasn't any sense in trying to adjust to the local time.   So, what're a couple of mileage runners to do?

Step 1- Open the bottle of wine the manager left for us to thank us for our brand loyalty. 

Step 2- Drink it & converse all night about the thrill of flying around the world. 

And on this point I need to expand (you were warned) because there's something existentially beautiful about mileage running.  When you're planning the average, or even above average trip, there is generally an accepted purpose that you try to fulfill- Wine tasting in Napa, or skiing the alps.  You start there, and build the necessary plans around it.  You have a goal, you meet it, you are victorious.  

However, a mileage run is a trip in reverse.  The plans come first.  And I don't mean the plans to go on a snorkel cruise, and then a romantic sunset dinner.  I mean the airline tickets, the layovers, and the one nights hotels- what is usually the most pedantic part of the plans.  The outcome of this is that you aren't beholden to preconceptions, or to anything at all.  If you go and come back, mission accomplished.  Everything else is gravy. 

Which means that, when you and your friend just spend the entire night's layover watching rugby, talking about nothing, drinking wine covertly, and then watching the sun come up over Doha, it's perfect.  There's no sense that you were supposed to do a single thing differently. 

So when at 4am, you start to hear bird calls as you stand looking out from the darkened balcony of your hotel, and your friend says he didn't think there were birds in just laugh and have another drink.  Because sunrise will come all too soon over this expensively camouflaged desert. 

Because yes, there are birds in Doha, as there are the world over.  And yes, they wake up at 4 am, as they do the world over.  And it's beautiful to realize this, when for once your only purpose in life is to know that there are still a few universal truths....and then to you yourself to fly on to your next stop along the way. 

And that, is what's up next...

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