Figs & Lemon

My Culinary Adventures

Doha Blues


So 2014 is about to come to an end. Cannot say it was an uneventful year. Started off sorta slow but still exciting as I had just started working at the school which is a whole different experience altogether. Travelling! There was a bit of travelling involved oh yes! I went to London over the summer with a friend. But that deserves a separate post on its own. After that I went on a completely spontaneous trip to Doha just because I wanted to go to a proper Jazz Bar. I know what you’re thinking, I know it! ” Who goes to Doohhaaa?? Where is Doha even? Is there anything to do in Doha?” Well, let me tell you…there is stuff to do in doha! Actually, not really, or maybe there is but a mere 2 days just isn’t enough to sit and ponder upon the goings on in Doha. It was however the lack of proper bars with live Jazz music in Abu Dhabi that drove me to taking the biggest risk of the year and learning a thing or two about my luck by going to Doha. You see, having a Pakistani passport, is like travelling with a rotten potato. It’s good for absolutely nothing! In fact maybe the rotten potato is more useful than a Pakistani Passport. With said passport, I am not eligible for a visa on arrival. “Well why didn’t you just apply for a visa like regular people?” Because Qatar is an extraordinary country. And yes, I did go to the embassy, only to find out that the application will go to Qatar and that you will need to have someone sponsor you yada yada yada. I promptly left the embassy after that.

Next route; the rotten Pakistani passport has a not so rotten GCC Residence visa on it! Which, does in fact entitle you to a visa on arrival at Doha Airport. Yaayyy! All my troubles seem so far away! Oh but wait. There’s a catch. My residence visa is sponsored by my dad. Which now means, that I have absolutely no clue whether or not the particular immigration Officer I end up with at the airport, will make a fuss out of it or not. No way of finding out. Do not have sufficient information to make an informed decision about whether I should or shouldn’t go to this goddamned place. Any normal person would be like ” Nope. Not taking that risk. What if they say I can only travel with my sponsor, and then I have to take a flight back from Doha. Or what if they don’t let me board the plane in Abu Dhabi and I have to come back home all bummed out and embarrassed. No. No. No. Dominick Farinacci can wait!”

Oh but the rush of endorphins to my brain at the thought of spontaneity running through my veins made me take the plunge. I saw it as an opportunity to find out exactly how lucky I am. And so I packed up and left. Got to the airport, everything’s all hunky dory. Get to my gate to board the plane that is taking me to judgement day, got a few stares just before boarding, looks of suspicion dodging back and forth between my passport and my face (which was contorted to be all cutesy at this point). And then, THEY LET ME BOARD! They let me go! They said it should be fine, and there shouldn’t be a problem, and I am free as a bird. And so I get to relax on this 40 minute joke of a flight. Oh did I mention I got bumped up to Business Class?? Ohhhhh yeaahhh baby!! God bless Etihad for not only letting me board, but bumping me up and taking me all the way to Doha! At this point you’re probably thinking; ” Yess! you made it!!! You’re in Doha!!” Let me tell you something. Living in the UAE is unlike living in any other place let alone any other Arab country for that matter. The next time you are at the Airport in the UAE and the guy behind the counter so much as smiles at you, or talks to you nicely, you will goddamn appreciate it!! You will appreciate and be grateful for the fact  that the Arabs in Dubai/ Abu Dhabi are more liberal and definitely atleast 20-30 years more forward and open minded than the Arabs EVERYWHERE ELSE!! Go ahead, go wink at that hot Emirati guy next time you see one, he deserves it!

Reason for the Rant: I got a bitch of an officer at immigration in Doha. Yep, this is the point where I am seriously considering “How does one fly back to Abu Dhabi now?” So this officer right, some Arab who just wants to exert his Authority and control for no reason, utters the words ” Where is your sponsor?” To which I reply “I am not travelling with my sponsor, I didn’t know I need to travel with my sponsor, and the fact that I have  GCC Resident visa means that I can get a visa on arrival here.” He looks up from my passport and gives me this stare of death which makes me realize ‘Ooop, spoke too much, too much english, too many well constructed sentences, now I’ve pissed him off. Commence operation: cute face” He asks me to step aside and wait while he hobbled off to go speak to “someone”. I doubt he needed permission. Something in my mind says he probably went and hung out in the offices of one of his friends, smoked some midwaakh, scratched his balls which must’ve felt so big at this point. I mean good for him! While I am standing there, waiting, and then waiting some more, all the while whatsapping with my American friend who was allowed to go without any problems. Oh did I mention he was a guy! Yep. It’s like the following (in a stupid Qatari accent ofcourse) “You are man, you can go. You are woman, you must go back to kitchen! *DENIED*”

Anywhoozles, he comes back after like 10 minutes (which, mind you 10 normal minutes feel like 10 hours in Airport Time), hands me my passport and lets me go, all the while reprimanding me to not “do this again” to which I respond with batting eyelashes and several heartfelt thank yous because I mean hellooo he has just done me a huge favour right? I mean c’mon Yusra! Anyway, I was free to go and that was all that I knew. Next stop: St. Regis Doha – Dominick Farinacci here I come!!

Jazz at Lincoln Centre – St. Regis Doha




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