The best part of any place is the free stuff. Or free access areas. Where you don’t have to pay your way through.
I watched ‘The fabulous lives of Bollywood wives’ only for the Doha part. Stopped with that. Seems total fake to me. Cannot identify with any of these stars or this kind of society. Neelam, of course, I have heard of in my teens. I think she debuted with Govinda? Must be my age. Late marriage and parenthood perhaps.
Doha looks stunning in the Netflix series but the Doha I know in last 15 years is quiet and relaxing and laidback. I have not taken the airtaxi or whatever but have instead been on Dune safari twice in Qatar deserts and once in Dubai. Both are different kinds, no comparison. But the desert safari in Qatar has a much more beautiful landscape. There is a small backwater sea in the terrain that separates the tiny nation from Saudi and we make it right up to this point. Breathtaking backdrop. This must be done in the wonderful winters we have here. Nominal fee. No dramatic ride like in DxB but impressive in its own way. For those interested, there is the buggy ride always and camel safari.
Plus we have great free access museums that are truly a delight to those like me. I am the museum kind of person. There are free access art galleries. I and my husband take daily walks either in parks or through galleries. Have had the once-in-lifetime opportunity of looking up close at Picasso’s originals including his art installations. Very generous of the Qatar government to bring them down for display. Similarly the temporary museums from different nations are the best in the league. One from China is still unforgettable. Art keeps evolving in different media as well. Many especially in India never get it. We outgrow some and we cultivate new forms. That invaluable lesson I learnt in Doha. Savoured M F Hussains original as well including His Hindu God paintings that may not be exhibitable in India. Firsthand. Oman’s only Hindu family Khimji art as well. Just to name a few. All this for free. I would suggest the museum and art galleries circuit first for visiting tourists. If you have an eye for art, you will be lucky to catch up with both contemporary and period art on display here at various galleries. Because of my husband’s interest, I too get drawn to art – mixed media or sculpture or whatever. You feel such a sense of calm looking at these impossible creations. I love the photography exhibitions as well. To create art of mundane stuff is the challenge. India has more artists but not enough display. What most moved me in Doha galleries, have been from the war torn nations of the Middle East. Their artists spoke through their art. Their pain was literally touchable. The suffering and screaming came upto you. I never knew calligraphy could be speak volumes either. Doha enriches our lives in a different way, much different from India. The generosity of the administration/government to give access to public for free of cost anything and everything that may improve the quality of our lives, touches me most. For instance, if you have to declare in the Art section of the Souq that you are an amateur or professional, they supply you with material like painting brushes, colours, canvas, easel etc for free so that you can do there your business without a fee. 9 to 5. You have your own little art corner or painting studio to work at, in the most frequented public place of the city where you need no marketing or publicity. Crowds come to you. I learned what good governance is, here.
As for medical facilities, touchwood all these years we could keep off this department with good health, but I hear this is one great wonderful area of service that even expats benefit from. Many younger ladies from not only India but from other nations working/living in Qatar opt to delivery here for this reason. Five star facility for nothing. We all have our health cards for all-paid medical treatment for whatever. Expats are fortunate to work here.
There are foreign campuses of world class universities from UK and the US. Best international schools.
Shopping, we do in regular malls. I do shopping in small retail businesses as well. From Vasantha Bhavan to Saravana Bhavan to Sangeetha, I have home delivery in Doha as well 😀 Street food means, I can say falafel and falafel sandwich both of which are vegetarian. I love lebanese vegetarian food and also turkish. Hummus, labneh (whey) and of course and the egyptian baba ghanoush. Eggplants, olives and cheese are local delicacies here. I relish the middle eastern vegetarian. So different and not spicy. Olive oil floating. Love the cheese blocks, cheese varieties from the meditterrannean. One chief reason for me to gain weight in Doha. Just can’t resist. Cheese and wholesome dates (not like what you get in India) are my daily snack. Hibiscus tea. I enjoy vegetarian from any part of the world. Pastries! Bread! If you are a nonvegetarian, oh my god, then the sky is the limit for you! If you are the barbeque type guy, well, well. My husband and son enjoyed the Malaysian steamed meat and fish 20 years back. My hubby enjoys the arab done non-veg now as well. Mostly smoked. I love the Arabi sharia rice made with ghee and seasoned with kishmish and their nutty walnutty baklava (dessert). Only in Doha, in north Indian restaurants have I enjoyed live hindi music with food. Sung with them as well as I spooned my food… I long for such restaurants in Chennai with light music. Celebrating food with music! Within a small restaurant I mean. That luxury within confined space is worth whatever the price.
We pass frequently through the (upscale) Lafayette mall but never been there. It is styled like the Louvre of Paris that the show misses to mention, with the glass pyramid and all. I buy my brands from Doha although I would like to say I am not a brand conscious person! We get the best brands at best price during sale (the only time we shop!). M&S is my fave, then Mango, Zara etc. I get my best fit jean only in Doha. After my US visit and Europe visit, I felt that middle eastern shopping is better than shopping in Europe or America. Real value for money. But I am not a cosmetics person so I don’t shop for cosmetics at all. I use only our desi Fair & luvly 75 rupees 😀 Apart from that only the eye pencil and mild lipstick that last 3 years. But other ladies shop for cosmetics as well as perfumes here. However for skin care, I like Bodyshop. The outlets and stuff we have for M&S, Zara, Bodyshop etc., in Doha are much different to what is available across India. Value shopping. Friends opt for Mac or whatever. I have only seen this brand and been with friends here but not so far got it. I miss that kind of shopping seriously here in India. Discounts are real discounts. I think for middle class tourists visiting Doha, these are the highlights that must be projected.
A friend of mine visited Doha and did a whopping shopping of upto 1 lac bucks for herself and daughter in teens. It is worth it. Clothes, cosmetics etc.
Electronics and mobiles may be next in the shopping list.
Gold shopping: i prefer Indian outlets in Doha although once or twice done Arab gold shopping. For those ready, there is always the gold souq. Gold shopping almost always strictly only in middle-east.
That brings us to the souq. Close to my apartment and my most fave haunting place in winters with my hubby. Love walking through the cobblestoned alleys. If you are the hookah guy in chilly winters, this is the place for you. Old world charm recreated. I love the syrian dessert ‘sahlab’ here like our kheer. 10 qr simply out of the world. Plus the roasted chestnuts. Heavenly. I learnt to snack different in Doha! And appreciate others cultures, tastes etc.
My zumba in Doha was also another level. It was kind of less dance and more work-out unlike bollywood influenced Indian zumba. Learnt even bellydancing hahaha. Had an tunisian girl teaching me that! Plus my exposure to broadminded lebanese muslim woman who refused to fast for ramzan taught me the lesson that we must never stereotype people or nations. This woman left soon but she used to tell me how different many of the arabs were. A moroccan girl treated my hair for US tour. Knowing these ladies as an average Indian gave me different perspectives from around the world. Of course there are the filipinos. Never seen a filipino get angry in my life. Born for the hospitality sector! Always happy. As an expat I draw something valuable from each of these guys I meet outside India. This is what shapes me, irrespective of what I write in my blog. I have to specially mention the nepali women, I see them working in the loo of malls. Just the sight of my bindi brought tears to a young girl from Kathmandu. I met once a Bhutanese woman in Bodyshop. I wanted nothing. I was with a friend. But when I asked her if she was Nepali, she said she was Bhutani and that Bhutan luvs India. Just for that i gave her business. She said the sight of salwar kameez or sari excited her so much because she was on her own, away from home. Unmarried and under 30. Interacted with women from entire Indian subcontinent: Paki, Bangla, Srilankan etc. Once you fly out of India, you think of all these women like your sisters as well.
The parks in Doha are amazing. The new one Al Bida crosses over a highway laid with red asphalt to the otherside of the road. From the top we can watch a football ground and speeding cars in the 8 lane highway. Our favourite spot that has knoll to ascend up and descend down for fitness. Aspire park is around a manmade lake. Another favourite of mine. Doha Torch is there. We never dine at expensive restaurants. But the 47th floor 360 degree REAL revolving restaurant on top is our chosen one for wedding anniversary always. We have Zaffron by Sanjiv Kapoor to everything from India.
Doha is truly a middle class budget tourist’s delight. Fits your pocket neatly. Not flashy like Dubai. Very relaxing and laid back.
But it is okay, the series is made for the moneyed who can luxuriate in 7 star hospitality and can have private lounge for jewelry shopping. It is this part of Doha I can never have access to, not that I regret.
I love the boating in the backwaters over the powerboat ride which also I have done.
Happiest to be part of this city and great nation where expats feel securest and most respected. Here is where I rethink a lot.
It annoys me when people comment back in India without having to move their butt an inch in foreign countries.
I wish this small young nation all happiness and prosperity in all eternity. The dignity and calm and quiet and tight lip they maintained through their crisis time wants me to give them a standing ovation. Hats off. you pulled it guys. With a single word, the tensions had the potential to escalate. How they steadied their nerves and chilled and cooled with a maturity rare for Arab nations is profound and historic. Their patience paid off. Not a single complaint or bitching I heard muttered in public. Extremely wise and responsible. I was there when it happened. I don’t want to spell it all in the open here. Even in our personal life we can learn so much from others. A nation teaching an invaluable lesson to its expats here in last few years. Grateful for that. Life changing experience for many of us. I am learning to cultivate patience and control my temper from my second home Qatar.
The series does no justice but gives a peek into areas beyond closed doors for middle class women like me.
Other than that the series is a drab. However I find the girl gang exciting a little because I too go on all girls trip with 3 different gangs: school gang, zumba gang, doha wives gang. Just being on our own as girls is like being a different kinda person. We are with the girls, what we are not in front of our own family! I let my hair down always with my girls online or in person. It relaxes me completely. Brings out the wildest you that you are calmed and at peace having voiced it out. Only with girlfriends this is possible.
That facefilling, facelifting etc.. omg. Clothes, shoes, accessories… looks like sin. As i said, I cannot identify with my own country women – these 4 ladies. Our daughters I mean our kids are also mostly the academic kind with nothing to do with show business. I am dusky, clumsy, poor at accessorizing, dress awkwardly, don’t have class yet I am Indian and most of us Indian expat women in Doha are like me 😀
That Karan Johar joker. Had i known he was the producer, I wouldn’t have even watched it for Doha.
I am quitting right after Doha.