From Philly to Doha

Firstly: Qatar is pronounced kAHH-tar, with emphasis on “ah.” Not kUHH-tar, nor kah-tAR, nor cAT-ar. Stay tuned for the proper pronunciation of “Qatari.”

Now that that’s settled: Apparently I missed the memo about sleep courtesies on international flights because, shortly after the plane reached cruising altitude, I was the sole person awake in the behemoth that was my Qatar Airways cabin. The only sunlight streamed from my lone, open window until we chased down the sun over Lisbon (above). 

A buzz-crackle coming from the overhead bin two seats in front of me pulsated for the first four hours of the flight. Of course, no other passengers were awake to share my annoyance and distress. After a while I worked up the guts to check inside the bins. Nothing suspicious. Only a combination of earplugs, headphones and Rachmaninov could drown out what nonetheless sounded to me like impending doom.

The other passengers eventually came back to life, but not before we had passed over the whole of Europe. One person walking to the bathroom gave me and my overhead light a scowl. It was 6 or 7 p.m. on the East Coast.

Perhaps contrary to that description, it was a pleasant flight overall; I got to stretch out over seats A, B and C in row 34, which I had all to myself.

DOH is located on the eastern coast of Qatar. We practically touched down on the Persian Gulf before we hit the landing strip. I worried for the fishing boats underneath us.

Pickup trucks and vans driving around the tarmac seemed incredibly clean for being driven around a desert. There looked to be a lot of dust outside.

Everything inside the airport is labeled in both Arabic and English. There are a number of flights to/from Europe.

A bored-looking young woman handed me a scent strip of a musky perfume when I passed a cluster of shops located between security and terminal gates — Chanel, Hermes, Burberry, Rolex, Tiffany & Co., etc.

I’ve not yet found a McDonald’s.

But I did find and purchase copies of Qatar’s two English-language newspapers in a Duty Free convenience store. Both are $0.55 American. Both are printed on glossy paper. Schmancy.

On to Cairo.

The Sunday front pages of Qatar’s two English-language newspapers. Once you’re able to look at anything other than the giant, salary-paying watch ad, note the prayer times printed to the left of the Qatar Tribune header. Also, cricket.

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