Friday, February 27, 2009

Brief Report

First day in Doha. Arrived last night and could not sleep after Skyping with Don and Henry. Took my fiddle and sat outside the hotel and played tunes for an hour. On a white plastic chair not more than fifteen yards from the sidewalk and the street. Little foot traffic but a few men in dishdashas (the long garment worn by Arab men) of varying colors and styles. Most white, the local color. Of cars. Or dust and sand. More dust on the streets, on the leaves of the date palms, the limestone and stucco buildings. Some stopped to listen. One man held up his phone and recorded the odd circumstance of a woman in pants playing a fiddle outside a hotel after midnight on a Thursday night.

Asleep by 2 am, but awake again at ten minutes before 5 am to the chanting of the first call to prayer of the day. Later, after breakfast, Stephen Vitello and I went out to walk and explore. I recorded/documented images, he recorded/documented sound. Men in robes and head scarves, some wearing sarongs, many in western clothing. Stray cats. A lot of them. No women out, especially in this area of the city of predominantly guest worker housing. I can see from my hotel window into the courtyard and perimeter structure where the men live communally. Men in sarongs and towels washing up, preparing for the day.

After winding through the narrow streets in the nrighborhood across from the hotel we found our way to the souq and sat at a cafe drinking something with green tea and ice, listening to the calls echoing off buildings, a muezzin chorus from loudspeakers mounted on minaretes. Across the way someone is sorting silverware, preparing for the swelling crowds later, after sun down. The souq is closed today, Friday their holy day, but will reopen at 4. Just a few tourists, wait staff at the restaurants, a couple locals in their shops. The image above is at a mosque on the way back to the hotel. Men gathered outside the mosque. Some rushing in even after the prayer had started, dropping shoes, washing feet, and standing beside the others, or tossing down a prayer rug.

Back at the hotel. A another change of shirt. Images are just now being uploaded to Flickr.

We gathered together again and drove out to VCUQ to meet the speakers with whom we will be conducting a charette workshop. I met Barbara Sudek and Frank Armstrong, and Don Crow. We began to strategize about the charette and took the meeting out to dinner.

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