Orchids and Sand

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “We Built This City.”

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Artificial turf in front of Doha Sheraton

When I first came to Doha, it was a hot month of June. I remember the first impression of the city on my way from airport being many people working on the roadside construction, under sun. The blazing Sun  was making me feel uncomfortable by just looking at it from inside my air-conditioned car. I couldn’t even begin to think how and with what superhuman power these human beings were spending so much time under bare sun, toiling to turn a desert into a city. A city, a country which is not their own! Arijit explained me that the whole of Doha is getting ready for the Football World Cup 2022.

Over the months I watched how these men have taken care of the sand on the road dividers, watering it incessantly, and by what magic I don’t know it gradually started turning into something that looks very much like soil.20150211_193932This Winter I saw beautiful flowers of so many variants on both sides of the roads, planted in a designed pattern to beautify the city. In some places real grass have been grown creating thin layer of soil bed over rocky surface.  Trust me, when I say such perseverance to bloom an orchid on sand, turn a desert green, is not just construction work. These workers are from various parts of Asia. I hear, once they get into the labour contract, their employer keeps their passport with them. They are not allowed to leave Qatar on their free whims. 20150201_205111

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A part of Lusail City work in progress: February ’15
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A part of Lusail City work in progress: March ’15

They are not allowed to leave Qatar, even if they fall sick. Their toiling here under Doha Sun feeds their family back at home, I understand. However, I read in newspaper recently that the Kafala labour law is soon going to change. And by all means, I’m totally happy about men getting some kind of employment to earn rice and hygiene (bread and butter sounds luxurious, isn’t it?). Any employment is better than no employment at all. And if a country can afford to spend, and has vacant land to spare, why not beautify and redesign itself! Afterall, Qatar has its big brothers Saudi and UAE to match steps with. I am truly all for development, for everything constructive and creative.

What I can’t support is the unnecessary demolition of fresh constructions only to redesign them again.

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View from my kitchen

Now, there are many traffic roundabouts in the city. One very close to my apartment was particularly looking beautiful after the flowers had grown on them. And the flowers had just begun to grow on them. Now it is getting broken, because it has come to notice, that roundabout was causing traffic distress. The same workers who were struggling to grow orchid on sand are now struggling to eliminate it all. It would not have been my point of discussion, had it not been a common happening, but a singular faulty road plan that needed changing. No, it’s very common here. First they think to create something, they build it overnight with huge cranes and labour force. A few months later, again they think of breaking it and doing something else on its place. And yet, the underground train is still not made, there is no fly over and the traffic congestion is maddening in the city.

Many of my friends post wonderful images in their blogs and Facebook, taken from their kitchen window. I feast my eyes on those images hungrily. From my kitchen window, all I could got to see so long was concrete jungle of slums. I had written about those in one of my very early post, you can find here.  Now the image has worsened, as those buildings are getting demolished.

I think it’s okay to try and beautify oneself. But change should come slowly! As I see Doha, it is made of ninety percent construction work (perpetually in progress) and ten percent beautifully crafted roads and buildings. Overall, it’s looking worse than a long stretch of harmonious natural desert land. Making and unmaking things, randomly, you do, just because you can – well, I’m not asking that the country should donate the excess of money to the third world countries. It would be a farcical rambling, if I do. But at least think about the huge amount of pollution you are causing in your own land! You doing and undoing things, just because you can!?

Continue reading “Orchids and Sand”

Desert Diary – Rajasthan

It’s raining here in Doha today, and feeling more wintry than the sixteen degree temperature should have felt. This reminds me of my last monsoon’s vacation to Rajasthan Thar Desert. A local magazine had asked for a write up, where I had written this travel experience. Reading your own writings in print always gives the same joy like it’s the first time. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to collect a copy of the mag after it got published before I left India. Sharing the article with you here will make me feel good; if you leave your valued comments will make me feel even better, as always. And to those who have never visited India, I recommend you visit Rajasthan to experience the true colours, notwithstanding my poor narrative skill.

A continuous cuckooing of peacocks pierced through the early morning dessert, and woke us up, for we had slept the night on the terrace, in front of our hut room. If you are already taken aback with this line, then wait before you make a judgement of my experience to be too good to be true. Wait, and let me tell you that it was really late before we had fallen asleep last night cause we had a plenty to do and be fascinated about – the desert, night, stars, music et al.

Registhan: It was dusk by the time we reached here, and the camels were heading to their shelters in a row, women were done pulling water from the adjacent bore well, and were returning home carrying water vessels on their head. Some camel drawn carts were taking a few European youths  Continue reading “Desert Diary – Rajasthan”