Small Nation Big Dreams!

104i5qaIt was a sunny Thursday morning. I had just been dropped at my work place by Faqhar, our office driver from Bangladesh whose name is never easy to pronounce without making it sound obnoxious. I was getting ready for another day’s work. But before that I had to quickly check my emails. As I reviewed my mails, the little chat box came alive at the bottom of the computer screen. It was Shekhar, my old friend from Delhi.

‘Hello there! Where have you vanished, my dear friend?’

With the help of internet and networking sites, people today have the means to get in touch with each other irrespective of their geographical location. Shekhar knew I was not in Delhi, but didn’t have any inkling that I was not in India.

‘Hey Shekhu...! Good to hear from you!’

‘Where on earth are you? I tried to call you, but your phone... Are you in Bombay?’

‘No, not Bombay, I’m out of India...’

‘Abroad? That’s cool...where?’

‘Doha.’

‘Wow, Doha...that’s very good. Where is this place?’

I gave Shekhar an idea of where Doha was. He asked me how difficult life in a strict Islamic country was and whether I was allowed to drink there. Our online conversation didn’t last long as I had to start my work for the day and there were plenty of them lined up for me.

I reached Doha International Airport in the early hours of a March morning. When I left Delhi, it had already started getting hot there and I expected Doha to be even hotter. It didn’t take me long to realise that Doha remains cooler than Delhi at this time of the year. A cool breeze made the mornings pleasant and in the evening the air felt surprisingly chilly. Doha is not the most happening place in the world but it certainly looks like the citizens of this sleepy town are happy with the way things are. People here are ridiculously wealthy and they love to flaunt their wealth. One cannot miss the Hummers, Lamborghinis and Bentleys on the roads, not to mention the extra-large mansions. Here luxury is spelt in capital letters.

Qatar is small country in the Arabian Peninsula and Doha is the capital of Qatar. My trip to Doha was for a temporary job assignment in an advertising agency where I was to be stationed for six months and execute a few advertising campaigns. Before heading there, I’d spent some time googling about the place to gather some basic knowledge. I knew that it was not a country of fanatic people. What I didn’t know was that one can actually lead a peaceful life here. People don’t come to Doha to spend holidays like they do in Paris or Switzerland. It is a place strictly meant for earning money. Most people get attracted to this country for jobs that yield tax-free income. Qatar is a surprisingly small country and looks like the palm of a hand on the world map. But in spite of being small in size, Qatar is a phenomenally rich nation, thanks to its seemingly endless reserve of natural gas and oil. In fact, Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world today and occasionally finds its way in the

international media for ostentatious reasons. Many who are not acquainted with this country wouldn’t be aware that Qatar already owns a large number of iconic properties in London. Apart from pocketing the famous Harrods Store, the Qatari Royal family has acquired London’s 2012 Olympic Village and ‘The Shard’, EU’s largest skyscraper. All of this is a bit ironic considering Qatar was a British Protectorate for 150 years. There have been other similar eyebrow-raising acquisitions made by the QRF but I’m not here to cause heartburns talking about them.

Qatar managed to attract the attention of Indians when renowned Indian painter M.F Hussain was given citizen status here by the Qatari Government. This sport loving country had been famously bidding to hold the 2022 Football World Cup, which they managed to net; it is another story that it has been a controversial decision in the soccer world to say the least. If things go according to plan, the soccer matches will be held in stadiums featuring a unique technology which will maintain the temperature inside the stadium under a comfortable 26 degree Celsius!

On Fridays, which is the weekly off for all offices, I prefer to head for the Corniche, Doha’s famous seafront which is the most visited and most liked part of the city. Paved walkways, impeccably maintained green cover, a calm looking sea and the unmistakable Arabian boats or ‘Dhows’ sailing on the sea make Doha’s Corniche a nice hangout. People spend long hours here with their families and friends. I smoke a couple of cigarettes sitting by the seafront, watching the Arabian sun go down beyond the glitzy skyline of Doha. Few minutes away from Corniche is the ‘Souk Waqif’, a traditional Arabian market where modern cafes and restaurants share space with shops selling falcons and camels! I have discovered few Bangladeshi eating joints around this place where I feast on Bengali food on such evenings.

On Fridays, after I’m back from my weekend visit to the corniche, I go to bed with the thought of another week of fresh deadlines, brainstorming sessions and late hours at the office. But before I start my day, I look at the bottom of my computer screen – a few moments of virtual chat with someone back home enlivens my day.