This week I am playing with a Buzzfeed-style listicle to recap some of the highlights from my week. Please excuse the hyperbolic title and clickbait image. Enjoy! 😉
1. Received My Library Card from the Qatar National Library
I am now the proud owner of a Qatar National Library card! I can check out four books at a time for 21 days. Books can be renewed, either in person or online, for another 21 days. The only problem is that there is a lot of road construction around Education City, so it’s not easy getting to the library!
2. Visited My First Farmers Market in Doha
The Torba Farmers Market is held every Friday and Saturday morning at Education City. It’s a small event but a nice sign of Qatar’s interest in supporting locally grown food and homemade products. At the market, there was a woman who was selling delicious-looking homemade pies, but I was saving my appetite for Biryani Festival (see next item). Aside from this stall, there wasn’t too much that I was interested in. Still, I appreciate this nascent event. The most inexplicable thing at the farmers market, however, was when I showed up, the US national anthem was playing, just because someone had programed it into the playlist for event. Strange choice.
3. Biryani Festival
According to Wikipedia, there are 2.6 million people in Qatar. 88% of the population is foreign workers with Indians being the largest community (650,000 people). As a result of this sizable presence, it is no surprise that Indian cuisine is well represented around Doha. Last weekend, there was a Biryani Festival to celebrate this popular Indian dish. Biryani is a rice dish that comes in many varieties, usually it is served with a meat, but there are also vegetarian options too. (Click on the following link to see the different varieties of biryani.) Since coming to Doha, I have fallen in love with biryani. If I’m having a tough day or feel like treating myself or am just plain hungry and don’t want to cook, I head over to Festival City—my favorite mall—and order a plate of biryani. The festival lasted four days, and I was there on the first and last day of the festival. I was able to sample lamb chop biryani, chicken biryani, and prawn biryani. Note: if you do the math, I was at Biryani Festival for two days and tried three separate biryani dishes. I’m not going to say on which days I had a biryani bang bang. A bang bang is “when you go eat, eat a full meal, then go to another place and eat another full meal” (Urban Dictionary). The gif below depicts me on the day of my biryani bang bang. That’s how much I love biryani!
4. First Day of Classes for the Spring Semester
This was the first week of classes for the spring semester. However, because students are still adding and dropping courses and, in some cases, coming back from their travels outside of Qatar, attendance during the week was low. In some of my classes, I had 3 to 4 students present. Now that I have one semester under my belt, I expected this behavior, so I used the week to chat with the students who came to class and administered some diagnostics. Classes don’t really begin in earnest until the second week of the semester, or when the last day to add/drop courses “officially” ends.
5. Qatar National Sports Day
In Qatar, the second Tuesday of every February is designated National Sport Day. Since this is a national holiday, a majority of the population has the day off. This holiday just happened to coincide with the first week of classes, so I taught for two days, had a holiday, and then had to teach for two more days before the weekend. For the holiday, a friend and I decided to walk along the corniche. Initially, I wanted to walk from the Sheraton Park to the Museum of Islamic Art (7.6 km one way). However, it was really hot, and I was afraid we would be sunburnt if we walked the entire length, so we just walked midway, had a water break, and then walked back (approximately 8 km roundtrip). The next day, when I asked my students what they did for National Sport Day, they said that they relaxed or slept. Young people!
6. Black Panther Movie Release
Thursday was the release date of the first Marvel superhero movie for 2018. Since I am such a stan for Marvel Comics, Ryan Coogler films, and narratives that promote positive representation for people of color, I was at the film on opening night. Note: a stan “is an overzealous maniacal fan for any celebrity or athlete” and is “[b]ased on the central character in the Eminem song of the same name” (Urban Dictionary). A friend and I went to go see the film. This was actually her first film-going experience in Doha—this was my fourth—so she was a little taken aback by the phones going off throughout the movie, the guy who was laughing too loud during the movie, and the gentleman who was snoring behind us. These were only minor distractions to me because I loved the movie so much. Wakanda forever!
Chinese New Year (or as we say in Vietnamese Tết Nguyên Đán, or simply Tết) fell on Friday, February 16. On the day, I made sure to wish everyone—especially my mother—a Happy Tết and made plans to have dinner with a friend. There are about 10,000 Chinese expats in Doha, or . 45% of the total population, so the holiday is celebrated to some extent in the city—mostly by the restaraunts (I♡Qatar).