Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Perseids Are Coming

August is always a wonderful month for sky-watching. The Perseids are coming, and Wednesday should be prime time!

Skywatchers set for meteor shower
From BBC: Science and Technology

Skygazers are getting ready to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower, which peaks on Wednesday.
The Perseid shower occurs when the Earth passes through a stream of dusty debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle.

As this cometary “grit” strikes our atmosphere, it burns up, often creating streaks of light across the sky.
This impressive spectacle appears to originate from a point called a “radiant” in the constellation of Perseus – hence the name Perseid.

“Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on 12 August. Then, you could see dozens of meteors per hour,” said Bill Cooke of Nasa’s meteoroid environment office.

You can read the entire article on BBC News: Science and Technology by clicking on the blue type.

August 11, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Events, Living Conditions | 4 Comments

Qatari Divorcees and Widows More Likely to Marry

This caught my eye for a couple reasons – one of which is that Qatar has the second largest divorce rate after Kuwait. Second, while it is mentioned in the article, it is not mentioned at the end that the women have other options in Kuwait and Qatar, are more able to care for themselves financially, and are not bound to stay in unhappy marriages for reasons of financial dependency.

It is delightful to think that one unhappy marriage while young will not doom a still-young woman to a life of celibacy. 🙂

More Qataris tying the knot with divorcees and widows
Web posted at: 8/11/2009 2:41:41
Source ::: The Peninsula / By MOHAMED SAEED

DOHA: Qatar has the second largest divorce rate in the Gulf region after Kuwait, but a welcome development has been that now an increasing number of citizens prefer to marry divorcees and young widows.

Qatar being a conservative society, marrying divorcees and widows has been a taboo of sorts.So, since the largest number of divorcees is in the age group of 20 to 29 years, their remarriage is a healthy sign.

In 1986, for example, divorcees under 20 years of age accounted for 15 percent of the total. Their proportion has been declining and was down to 6.4 percent in 2007.

Studies conducted by the Permanent Population Committee (PPC) show the number of marriages breaking up in the country has risen from just 308 in 1986 to nearly a 1,000 in 2007.

And although the population of locals has also gone up in this period, the rates of marriage and divorce have risen at a larger rate than the population increase.

It is also interesting to note that nearly 85 percent of weddings ending into divorce are first marriages. In other words, a husband taking a second, third or even fourth wife has never been the cause for a wedlock to end.

With women having increasing access to education and employment, the number of married Qatari females asking for divorce (‘khula’ in Arabic) has been on the rise. The share of such divorces in the total is on an average between 16 and 23 percent.

The studies note that financial independence of educated women has much to do with the rise in the phenomenon.

And as for male citizens marrying young divorcees and widows, the number of such marital knots had increased to nearly 300 in 2007 as compared to barely 29 in 1986.

Among the Arab countries, Egypt and Syria have the lowest divorce rates, suggest the studies.

They point to erosion of social values, modern living, fading influence of families, as the major factors behind the rising incidence of divorce in Qatar. 

August 11, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Qatar, Values, Women's Issues | 17 Comments

Qatar Sizzles: Record High

I’m not saying my temperature gauge is correct. It’s made by Sharper Image, and the little measuring thing is in the shade on my windowsill. But while the Qatari weather station measured a high of 50°C (122°F), mine shows 62°C (144°F). Two of our air conditioning units stopped functioning yesterday. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like for those who have to work outdoors. The air conditioning men don’t come until after sunset, because they have to go on the roofs, and they can’t touch anything without getting burned until after the sun goes down.


Qatar sizzles in record high temperature
Web posted at: 8/11/2009 2:38:39

The temperature outdoors as recorded by instruments in many cars in Doha yesterday. QASSIM RAHMATULLAH
DOHA: The mercury touched a record high for the season during the past two days in Qatar, with the temperature reaching 48 degrees Celsius on Sunday and yesterday. The thermometers in vehicles posted the temperature still higher, at 50 degrees Celsius.

The country has been experiencing a steady increase in temperature for the past few days. The maximum temperature had been hovering around 45 degrees Celsius for the past couple of weeks before it shot up to 48 degrees on Sunday. The minimum temperature has also gone up substantially, reaching 35 degrees Celsius yesterday.

Labourers working outdoors and families alike complained that the dry and extremely hot weather had been unbearable during the last two days. Doctors have advised people to take precautions against the weather.

The labourers who used to spend their day break in the shade in open areas have been missing from the Corniche these days. Many of them are spending the time inside nearby air-conditioned shopping malls. “The heat wave was so intense that we could not stand it”, an Asian worker said.

Compared to the same period last year, the maximum temperature is high this time. The country recorded a maximum temperature of 40 degrees and 43 degrees Celsius on August 9 and 10, 2008, respectively, against the 48 degrees Celsius recorded this year. The minimum temperature is also higher this year.

The daily weather chart issued by the meteorological department yesterday forecast a maximum temperature of 46 degrees Celsius today. The minimum temperature is expected to be 34 degrees Celsius.

The Met department forecast hot conditions with dust blowing during the daytime today and moderate temperatures at night. North-westerly winds may blow at a speed of 15-20 knots, reaching 25 knots at mid-day and 15-25 knots offshore.

According to some weather portals, the temperature of Qatar’s territorial waters touched a high of 34 degrees Celsius these past days. Last year, when Qatar’s maximum temperature reached 48 degrees Celsius, the temperature of the sea water stood at 37 degrees Celsius.

Experts point out that any increase in the temperature of sea water above 35 degrees Celsius is “abnormal.”

The year 2006 also saw the temperature of Qatar’s territorial waters cross the 35 degrees mark (36.5 degrees Celsius), and massive quantities of fish and invertebrates, including endangered species of turtle, had washed up on Qatar’s shores.

August 11, 2009 Posted by | Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Weather | Leave a comment

Ramadan starts August 22

From today’s Gulf Times

Ramadan likely from August 22

Ramadan is expected to start on August 22, says Doha’s Arrayah daily quoting a statement issued by Abu Dhabi-based Islamic Project for Moon Sighting. Arrayah says that people in Central Asia and North Africa and in the northern parts of the US would be able to sight the moon with their naked eyes on August 21.

You might wonder why non-Muslim expats living in Qatar would care when Ramadan starts. There are multiple reasons, like not wanting to get arrested for drinking water in public, or eating, or chewing gum, or touching your mate, all of which could get you a fine or even arrested.

Another reason is that the Qatar Distribution Center (otherwise known as The Liquor Store, yes, there is only one in all of Qatar) closes for the entire month, so in the next few days, things are going to get mighty crowded at the Liquor Store, lol)

August 11, 2009 Posted by | ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Ramadan | 4 Comments

Written Communication, Plusses and Minuses

I was e-mailing back and forth this morning with a dear friend who is traveling. She was about to visit an old school friend, and before visiting, dug out all the letters she had received from the friend – an enormous collection – and read through them all. She said it was a very moving experience, and I could tell that even before visiting her friend, she was feeling close from having read all those letters.

When was the last time you got a letter?

I have some letters my husband has written, saved away. 🙂 Most of my written communications these days are done by e-mail, instant-message, or texting. I used to have files of e-mails, but as they grew bigger and bigger, I sort of stopped saving them, except for important ones, or business-related ones.

These blogs are also written communication, but more like books, less personal and you never really know who is reading on any given day, and who isn’t, so like it is not the most reliable way to communicate something important, especially to one person or a small group of people; e-mail just makes more sense. Or picking up the telephone, which I don’t do all that often as I am not so much of a telephone person and many people I would call are in different time zones.

But it makes me wonder what record we will have of these times? I told my friend when I was in college, I worked part time in the university xerox department, and most things in the Northwest Collection came to me. I could read them as I copied them – diaries, letters, to-do lists, shopping lists – ephemeral things, but written on paper, and they give us a tiny peephole into the daily lives of people who lived a couple hundred years ago.

Think of your life, and how things have changed, even if you are in your twenties. Two hundred years from now, people will have so many questions about our lives, how we lived, why we did the things we did. With fewer lasting pieces of paper, will the record be so complete?

Think of our electronic storage devices – remember floppy disks? My computer wouldn’t even be able to read a floppy disk! Think of the tiny little USB devices we are saving onto now – how long will that technology last? In another generation, it will be as opaque and accessible as the ancient inscribes stones buried in the deserts.

As we go more and more paperless, how are we saving the ephemera?

As I upload a couple years worth of photos to be printed, I think of the scrap booking craze, how you take a few photos and decorate all around them, but do the resulting albums give you truth, or do they give you a fantasy of the truth?

I think of the photographs from a hundred years ago – people with somber faces. Serious faces. No one ever smiled for the photos. There are photos of my earliest relatives in Seattle, they are truly a grim looking bunch, I think it was the style then, and I have a feeling that they didn’t look like that most of the time; our family culture is pretty jokey. So I am also wondering about family lore, family history and realities. Like most of us expunge the photos of us that are unflattering – and destroy letters we would never want anyone to read. In so doing, we don’t change the real history, but we do change the transmission of history! Much of what gets transmitted ends up being censored, by us!

(This is not my family, just a photo from the early 1900’s from

For years, I have taken my photos and put them in books – and they are heavy. But we actually take them out and look at the photos from time to time, whereas now, most of my photos are stored on the computer, and rarely do I take the time to upload them to be printed. I wonder what the photographic record will be, if there will be a downturn in photos showing what was going on because so few are printed in a relatively lasting format.

I have so much on the internet – photos, writing, etc. What is something happens to the internet. I haven’t even been saving back ups of the blogs. I used to, like the first six months, but, frankly, so much of it is trivial that I stopped backing it up. And if I lost everything, would it be a tragedy – or a huge relief? I think of friends who have lived through terrible events and who live their lives more lightly now – fewer purchases, fewer emotional turmoils – going through something horrible can truly streamline your life.

I guess I am just babbling.

August 11, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Books, Communication, Community, Generational, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Random Musings, Relationships, Social Issues | 5 Comments