Saturday, 1 November 2008

From Curry to Grits to Orchestras to tennis in Doha

Just to prove that this is a city that is offering everything, I will tell you about our last couple of days here in Doha. We decided to eat out on Thursday night (beginning of the weekend ) and took some friends to a restaurant we had heard was good. Sure enough, we had the most wonderful Indian meal in a gorgeous setting nearby. Cost? $15 each and we were well fed with delicious curries and biryani and such. The following morning we were invited to Riks for breakfast, just to set the weekend into relaxing mode. We finally found this little place in the back of a dusty car park in a part of town we do not know very well. It was like stepping into Mary's Restaurant in Hibbing, where the menu is the same as Riks- you can eat grits, hot cakes and gravy, omelette and eggs easy over, hash browns of a sort and even a kind of bacon made from something other than pork of course. Sitting at our table were two Harley riders who had just been for their regular morning spin around Qatar- leaving at 5.30 a.m. to avoid heat and dangerous driving! I had to pinch myself to remember where I really was. 
That evening we dressed up in our fancy clothes and ventured out to the National Theatre where the new Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra were to perform their first ever concert. This orchestra has been collected from all around the world in the past year, with musicians from 30 different countries; many parts of Europe, Asia, Russia, Uk and America. Unfortunately I couldn't find one Australian or New Zealander, but never mind. They were predominantly young people who were obviously incredibly talented. 101 of them play traditional orchestral instruments and this group played Beethoven and Ravel in the first half. From the moment they began there was the most delicious balance of instruments and we were just transported into another world. In the second half we heard the World Premiere of the Arabian Concerto, composed by Marcel Khalife , who is a world famous oud player (has toured Australia). He was asked to compose this piece for the orchestra and it became a wonderful blend of the traditional orchestral sounds and those of 5 incredible musicians playing Tabla, Bouzouq, Ney, Qanoun and Oud. The music was truly wonderful, understandably coming out of the mind of such a man-  what a treat to be at this concert, with the composer quietly sitting behind us in the audience. I read on my program that he has been named the music director and the resident composer of this newly founded orchestra. What other treats might we be in store for?? I loved the Arabic feel of this rolling, majestic piece of music. He must have been bursting with pride listening to his beautiful orchestra last night.
So what next? Tomorrow brings the start of the tennis tournament nearby. The Sony Ericson Championships where we get to see such greats as; S Williams, Ivanovic, Dementieva, Safina and Jankovic. My seat cost $2.50 so I think I will be getting my money's worth!! 

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