Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Clean your sunglasses Madam?

It's hot. Desert hot. Cooking Hot. Step outside and get concussed by the wall of heat hot. Are you getting the general idea?

I would have blogged sooner but all the keyboards I got to had melted in the excessive, exhaustive and overwhelming heat. Naturally, everyone who actually lives here (Qatar), is commenting on the delightful coolness of the autumn weather. They wear jeans and shiver theatrically. They are obviously afflicted by sunstroke and don't know what they are doing.

I can't stay for long. I am going into the desert this afternoon for a
'desert adventure'. I imagine that this is to see if it is possible to get any hotter. I shall fall off sand dunes and lie in a dehydrated heap at the bottom of them. I shall watch water evaporate out of the bottle as I tip it towards my gasping throat. It's all good, clean, overheated fun at 110 degrees in the shade, if there was any shade that is.

The cool misting rains of Wales seem an impossibility from here. The sound of the stream tumbling over the rocks and around the rushes, the strange shifting veil of cloud that drops over the hillside to cloak me in a miasma of water. Water, water, everywhere. It's inconceivable.

Now, in my role as travel journalists I shall tell you that unless you have a friend out here that you want to see, this is not a country to come rushing to see. Not just because of the dubious sound of the name, but also because it is deranged.

It's brand new. Seriously new. An antique here is younger than me. It is a country without boundaries of cash or conventions. Everyone wants a waterfront property but there is a limited amount of waterfront in the city. The answer? Build islands - really. Entire new landmasses are being created to thwart the mapmakers and please the rich and bored. Endless hectares of new waterfront are built all the time. They even build seperate, temporary islands for the workmen who are building the islands. Then they remove these to make more waterfront. I kid you not.

There seems to be competition going as to who can build the tallest skyscraper, the shiniest skyscraper, the wierdest shaped skyscraper etc etc. There is one based on a tornado. One that looks like it came from a pin ball machine and one that looks as though the builder read the plans upside down. Most of them aren't actually lived in.

There is the Villagio, a shopping mall based on venice, with gondolas, Gilded ceilings, and every shop you have ever seen in London from Prada to Boots, but none that might remotely be considered remotely Arabic in origin. The place is deranged.

Deranged or not, there are some perks. This morning we went to the Four Seasons Hotel to loll around their multiple swimming pools (six of them at the last count, some with waterfalls). My friend has a permanent pass to this as it is a popular ex pat hang out. The service here needs to be seen to be believed. I shall try and summarise for you.

Arrive, get shown to changing rooms and given locker with dressing gown (padded in case it is chilly!!!!!), slippers, bag for wet swimming costume, hangers for clothes. Get shown shower rooms, sauna, steam room, hydrotherapy room, reflexology pool (pool filled with rocks that you walk over) and Laconium beds. These are not veiled yet sarcastic and witty loungers, but tiled beds heated to 42 degrees. In case you get cold I suppose.

Then head out to pool. Choose one of many shaded sunloungers. Staff mob you from all sides. They tenderly tuck a towel over the lounder and a rolled up towel as a pillow. You are given a mini cooler filled with bottles of iced water. A new member of staff approaches and offers you a cold towel drizzled with essence of rich person, and possibly lemon. You dab your brow. They look pleased.

If you are with a small child, as we were, a second person comes running over laden with brightly coloured toys, armbands and smiles for the little dear. They tenderly offer them at the feet of the golden child and bow their way backwards.

Left alone for a moment, you exhaust yourself walking around the various pools trying to decide which one to get into before finally falling in the nearest one and swimming across it in a desultory manner before returning to your lounger to drowse in the shade.

Within minutes of resuming the sleeping position a voice interrupts you. "Clean your sunglasses madam?"

"Huh?" There before me is a man with a box of assorted glass cleaning clothes and an earnest desire to polish my sunglasses. I feel slightly persecuted and send him away. Five minutes later a new voice.

"Frozen grapes madam?"
"Huh?" A diminutivie and immaculately groomed girl stands before me proferring a pineapple upon which are studded small plastic cocktail sticks speared through frozen grapes. Don't mind if I do.

I get up to walk to the pool again and before I can blink, my towel is whisked away and replaced by one unsullied by human hands.

The whole thing is mesmerising, yet exhausting. I'm not knocking the high life, but it's harder than it looks.

I know this ia rather random post but what can you expect. I'm in a building site in the desert and went shopping in Venice yesterday. I can't stay sane in conditions like these.


bevchen said...

Wow, that is truly insane.

Home Office Mum said...

Good grief. Hot and cold running servants who also tend to children? I'm there like a shot.

Anonymous said...

Ask them to peel the frozen grapes, that'll fox them.

bevchen said...

When you've quite finished having your sunglasses cleaned you need to come by my blog and pick up ana ward.

Welsh Girl said...

Bevchen - Insane looks normal out there - honestly!

Home Office Mum - They really love chidren out there. When my freind goes to the supermarket, the cashiers take her little girl and look after her whilst she does the shopping. What's really freaky about this is that they don't have to do this - they WANT to!

Anon - I'm booking a return flight to try this very trick.

Bevchen - an award? For me? I'm blushing, I feel faint, I'm an award winner! Really? THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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