Is Doha the Amazingly Deadliest Boring Capital in the World? A Journey to Qatar. Dull, drab, disappointing, Doha.

During my many stays in the Middle East, I also visited Doha, capital of Qatar.

Some background: Qatar is tremendously rich from the abundance of natural gas. As a result, it’s capital Doha has developed into a business and conferencing hub. It is a very strict islamic state, leaving little space for fun and games. To everybody’s surprise they will host the 2022 World Cup (I always wonder about the things money can buy). Soccer fans best bring a book.

The movie below I made on my way from the airport to the hotel. The links direct to photos I took and more details about country and capital.

Doha has been hailed as one of the most boring towns in the world, and there is considerable truth to this rumor.  The town has very little history left, it is new and fully focused on business. There is no extensive historic center. The town is very car-centric (many, many SUVs) and as a pedestrian you quickly feel very lonely on the broad boulevards; you do not meet many other people on foot, and windowshopping is severely hampered by the absence of, yes, shopwindows (there are many malls, if you go for that sort of thing). The Souk is a tiny market, completely new and unwelcoming, with stores that sell tortured exotic animals and mini-dogs. The climate is hot and humid: a stroll is only possible after sunset. As an Islamic country, there is no (or little) alcohol for sale – but even I as a teetotaler can only say that the town is absolutely underwhelming; I can’t blame the absence of alcohol for that deep feeling of loneliness and despair. I was visiting on business with a calendar full of appointments and I was preoccupied enough, yet during my quick tours through the city I was, well: disappointed. Perhaps some of you readers have different experiences to share. Perhaps an interesting museum or cinema that I missed? Pole dancing? A hidden bar? Table tennis tournaments?

The boycott by Saudi Arabia was in full swing, but it didn’t seem to have affected the Qatari much. They even imported 4000 Friesian cows from Australia and put them in an air-conditioned hall, to make sure enough milk could be produced, which they got from Arabia up to that point.

Women stay mostly at home (probably playing with the mini dogs), and the men tend to take their SUVs out for a spin at night; driving endless circles through the town. I got bored just watching them occupied with this non-activity.

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Citizens (men only) giving the four wheels a lackluster spin. At least the weather is in their favor.

Read more about travel in my books.

Originally posted 2017-09-23 17:45:18.

A painting of a Camel (oil, sand on canvas, 30 x 40 cm). And thoughts about Purgatory.

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Before turning to PURGATORY, below a painting of a camel, created in the nineties. The background is acrylic paint, enriched with natural pigments and desert sand, the camel itself is in oil. The motive suggest heat, and a pyramid is visible in the hump. I painted this shortly after our trip through the Libyan Desert.

Talking about heat: lately I have been thinking about the principal of purgatory. Although this concept has come out of fashion in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, it is high on my radar. Purgatory: I remember books from my youth in which, in graphic detail, naked sinners sat in metal cauldrons, faces distorted by pain. No wonder: flames flickered around their bodies, and a red devil (carrying a three-pronged spear, see my novel Celeterra) tested their flesh.

Wouldn’t purgatory be a suitable, after-death punishment for some unsocial fellow human beings? I am not religious, so the argument is moot, but in my mind I sometimes assign a few days of purgatory to people who behave anti-socially:

  • Four days of purgatory for people that hit a neighboring parked car with their car door.
  • One day of purgatory for the couple that pushed past 25 fellow passengers in an attempt to get out of the plane first.
  • One day for each person that borrowed but didn’t return a smart phone cable
  • One day in a cauldron with melted led for all drivers that blocked our driveway with their parked car, being too lazy to walk a few extra  meters.
  • One day of purgatory for all hotel guests that have loud conversations in the hotel floor between 11 pm and 7 am.
  • Half a day of purgatory for restaurant guests that have a dispute with the waiter, and try to pull other guests (me) into the argument. I don’t care about your problems, live with it. One day of hot cauldron, if this happens in a train or plane.
  • Two days for expressing an opinion about blogposts, without having read the entire text.

Suggestions for appropriate punishment welcome.

Originally posted 2017-09-06 14:30:24.

Atheist joke – the genie in the lamp (starring Daphne and John)

An atheist (let’s say her name is Daphne) buys an ancient Roman Catholic lamp at an auction, takes it home, and polishes it. Suddenly, a genie appears, and says, “My name is John. I’ll grant you three wishes, My Mistress.” The atheist says, “Oh well, interesting… let’s say: I wish I could believe in you.” The genie snaps his fingers, and suddenly the atheist believes in him. The atheist says, “Wow. I wish all atheists would believe in genies.” The genie snaps his fingers again, and suddenly atheists all over the world begin to believe in genies.

“What about your third wish?” asks the genie. “Well,” says the atheist, “I wish for a billion dollars.” The genie snaps his fingers a third time, but nothing happens. “What’s wrong?” asks the atheist.
The genie shrugs and says, “Just because you believe in me doesn’t mean that I exist.”

More humor? Find it all blogposts tagged with HUMOR:

https://clemenssuter.com/tag/humor/

 

Originally posted 2017-06-13 00:49:21.

eBook: “Amazing Stories.” Get hold of top adventurous literature for the weekend.

Announcing the release of my new book: “Amazing Stories,” a bundle of all stories that I have written over the past years in a single volume. Rock-bottom pricing for fun reading.

Get your eBook copy today at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1014440. This book is also available directly at Apple Books, Kindle and Tolino, or in any smartphone bookstore.

Read about the young man who finds a mysterious tunnel beneath his garden; strange goings-on in a French forest; a robot reporting home about its visit to Earth, or the tale of the watermonster of Hockenheim, which kidnaps numerous children: these stories will keep you on the edge of your seat. Clemens P. Suter, established author of visionary SciFi predicting (back in 2010) the corona pandemic, lets his imagination run wild with stories full of suspense, humor and action!

“Obesia opened her eyes. She looked straight ahead towards the water. Nothing could be heard, yet something had called her out of her sleep. She didn’t move, for ten, twenty, thirty seconds. Then a shape became visibly, on the bank of the river. A large dark hand clawed in the grass. Obesia froze with fear. The hand didn’t move for a long time, but then, slowly, it dug deeper in the ground, and the arm attached to it drew a large body from the water beneath. Finally, a fat, dripping figure climbed on the bank. It was at most twenty steps away, and directly between her and her pram. The figure, naked and black-green, had a tremendous chest carried by long thin legs. Its arms were long too, and muscular. The creature stared at Obesia with large pale eyes, blinking regularly.”

Originally posted 2020-04-11 22:01:00.

Dealing with Cabin Fever caused by Corona Pandemic-related Social-Distancing

(Originally posted in March 2020). Ok, so we are now deep in our self-isolation due to the pandemic. Social distancing obviously works (see this Washington Post article), so my wife and I “bolted the house door” and have dramatically limited our excursions into the outside world – like most of our acquaintances here in Germany. Not surprisingly, cabin fever has set in; that dreadful experience when the walls of the house seem to be closing in on you. It is as if breathing becomes more difficult, and the boredom is so stunning that our senses seem to be covered by an all suffocating net. I am pulling the (last) hair from of my head while gnashing my teeth! A quick look at the clock: our self-isolation has been going on for a full TEN hours!

How will we feel in ten DAYS? And what can be done to against cabin fever? I have checked across the internet and collected some ideas.

Cabin fever (also called stir-crazy, stir as in prison) is not a disease as such, but a claustrophobic reaction, resulting in irritability and restlessness, that happens when a person ends up in an isolated or solitary location, or stuck indoors in confined quarters for an extended period of time.

What helps?

  • Going out: even brief interactions with nature are helpful: garden, balcony, or even opening a window. Careful for those dizzy spells caused by a sudden intake of fresh air, you don’t want to drop down the building.
  • Keeping a schedule and regularity, for instance for your meals and activities.
  • Physical activity: indoor sports (push ups, crunches), yoga or breathing exercises. Take a look at this bloke running a marathon in his apartment. If you want to follow his example, do coordinate with your downstairs neighbors.
  • Keeping your mind intellectually occupied. Perhaps try solving an intriguing problem over a longer period of time – like challenging crossword puzzles.
  • Reading (I suggest these pandemic adventure stories).
  • Talking with people; by telephone, or shouting from your balcony. Carefully select the channel, you may not want to share details of your sex life with random passers-by.
  • Shaving
  • Writing (like this blogpost you are reading now).
  • Playing board or card games.
  • Cooking.
  • Creative arts (drawing, painting, singing, dancing). Get inspired by these Italians singing.
  • Can’t sing? Listen to music. Here my favorites.
  • In short: stimulating your mind helps keep you moving forward and reduce feelings of isolation and helplessness.

What doesn’t help?

  • Alcohol.
  • Smoking.
  • Drinking too much coffee or using other stimulants.
  • Sleeping too much (a good nights rest will strengthen your immune system, which in turn will help protect against infection; still, sleeping for long periods is also a symptom of cabin fever).
  • Eating too much. Don’t give in to food cravings.
  • Binge watching or computer gaming. Having that said, I am quite envious of my two millennial sons. After all, millennials know how to survive for weeks in a darkened room, feeding on potato chips and whiskey shots, while staring at a display, without any face-to-face interaction.
  • Try to limit your social media time.
  • Reading or watching too much news.
  • Counting and sorting your rolls of toilet paper.
  • In short: too much of any single activity is definitely detrimental.

Take some time regularly to evaluate how you are coping. Adjust your daily schedule if necessary. And most important of all: keep calm and try to keep a sense of humor. My wife and I are now well into our 11th hour of self-isolation and, at least superficially, still acting like rational, compassionate human beings. If we can cope, so can you :-)

More about the pandemic here.

The Raven (Oil on Canvas with Ocker and Gold. 2020. Clemens P. Suter)

Originally posted 2020-03-17 21:32:00.

Listen to this: the Tale of the Fig Leaf (starring John and Daphne)

A man (John) enters a fancy dress store. “Listen darling,” he addresses the proprietress, “I plan to attend a costume party, and I have decided to dress up as Adam, and hence I need a fake fig leaf.”

”OK,” says the woman (named Daphne), “Just a minute.” She disappears in the back and after a few minutes returns with a plastic fig leave.

”Sorry love,” says the bloke, “That’s too small to cover MY manhood. Don’t you have anything bigger?”

The woman shrugs and disappears, returning with a larger leaf.

”No, that is still too small! That won’t cover my penis by half!”

Grumbling, the woman disappears again, returning with a huge leaf, big enough to cover a man’s torso.

The man shakes his head angrily: “No, no, that won’t do. It’s simply too small!”

”OK,” says the woman, “Here’s an idea, mister. If your penis is that big, why don’t you just stick it in your ear and go as a gas pump?”

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More humor? Find all blogposts tagged with HUMOR: https://clemenssuter.com/tag/humor/

Originally posted 2019-03-23 19:26:00.

The Magic Pool (Variation on a classic German joke).

Practically everyone seems to dislike Greta Thunberg. Obscurely so, as she is ‘only’ a girl from a remote, partially forgotten and ex-socialist Nordic country. People seem to forget that humor is still the best weapon to deal with serious political issues… so here a joke featuring the Climate-Change Angel.

It is conference time in Saudi Arabia and dignitaries meet to discuss the climate crisis. International guests have been invited by his Royal Highness, Freelance Hacker, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (known to friends as “MbS“).
The Prince invites Greta Thunberg, Donald Trump and Jordan Peterson to a very special evening event. In the Palace in Riyadh, between the harem and prison, a magic pool has been installed. The sign at the entrance reads: Fantastic news! Jump into the empty pool, wish for your favorite drink and swim in it!” (below that the sign says: “No dogs allowed. No refunds. Skinny dippers will be whipped in traditional fashion“).

As the true gentleman that he is, MbS suggests that Greta should be allowed to jump first. Greta thinks for a few seconds and says in her cute Swedish accent: “I wish that the pool fills itself with soy milk, since ordinary cow milk production is associated with high levels of the gas methane; a gas that is 32-times as potent as the gas carbon dioxide in accelerating the global warming!” The three men smirk, and the Prince pats her on the head belligerently: “Now jump in, little one!” Greta climbs the ladder to the board, jumps into the pool and shouts “soy milk!”… and indeed the pool instantly fills up with the nutritious milk substitute. Greta lands in the white liquid, swims about, and takes big sips of the delicious non-alcoholic potable.

A pool-attendant steps forward and switches on a pump, so that the pool is emptied and the next person can jump in. A slight shuffle takes place, which Jordan (champion debater) wins with one of his typical kill-all arguments (in this case a quick knee to the groin). Jordan climbs the ladder, shouts “orange juice !”, the pool fills up, and Jordan can start swimming and drinking.

Finally, it is Donald’s turn. He climbs the ladder and starts out on one of his rambling speeches, during which he somehow seems to suggest that he is the greatest swimmer since Johnny Weissmuller; and most people leave. Then Donald takes a deep breath, jumps and shouts: “Soda !”

Thud! Donald hits the bare tiles at the bottom of the pool. The pool did not fill with any liquid. He manages to crawl to a ladder, climbs up, and staggers to the pool attendant. “What the hell happened,” says the Donald, “The sign said fantastic news and the pool didn’t fill?! Sad!”

The pool attendant looks at the sky quizzically and says: “…fake news?”

More humor here: the adventures of John and Daphne

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Originally posted 2020-02-08 19:13:00.