sarah vs the world

Not a video game, not a comic, not a band, but an amazing adventure continues...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Abort Mission - Leave Doha!

Doha is in the dustbin of history…

So it is finished. Halas as they say in Arabic. The closing ceremony has come and gone. The bump out is not finished, but my responsibilities on it have finished. Halas – really probably one of my favourite words I have learned in this crazy country – it really does sum it all up though. Finished.

The show was pretty good considering not many people really cared about putting it on. We were more concerned about the show that seemed to be getting in the way of taking it all out. The cauldron wasn’t really working very well on the night and there was the slim possibility that it wasn’t even going to descend causing an onslaught of other issues. But Allah was on our side this time and it didn’t rain, the cauldron came down, the camels and horses behaved, and the big purple inflatable genie looked fantastic. We didn’t even have to cut any of the flying this time. In fact, we added some flying elements from opening into the show. The story was probably too complicated for my liking of a closing ceremony. I prefer to have a few bands and maybe Ben Lee and just a big party…but this was cute and a bit more family oriented I suppose. Surprisingly I was able to sit in the stand for a good chunk of the show and see what it was all about. Here are a few shots from the show:

So the clean up began immediately following. And in true Doha style, the security guards disappeared and everything went back to normal. We moved our trucks in and out of the venue just fine and by 6:00am when I went home I was exhausted, but at least the hardest bits were well underway. We took a few days getting the bulk of the stuff out and slowly but surely the night shift ceased. Now that my body clock has changed several times, I think it will forgive me for a while at least.

Dawn James who looked after us all in Melbourne came across from London for the show with her niece Laura. Unfortunately for them, everyone has been asking them why on earth they would come to Doha, but they did want to visit and seeing the show was a bonus. It was cold and rainy for most of the first week they were here. One of these cold nights, I decided it was time to bring out Thanksgiving even though it was a bit late. I cooked the biggest bird I have ever made. 9.6 kilos or about 23lbs. I can’t believe it actually. It even just fit in my tiny oven. We had to borrow a few other ovens for the pumpkin cheesecake/pie and choc chip pecan pies, but we managed. Fiona and Sarah nicely made all of the 3 different kinds of mash and even some roast potatoes for PC. We also had a collection of dips for predinner appetizers. They weren’t really Thanksgiving like, but everyone loves them, so they made one last appearance. The Peggy Grubb recipes ruled again in Doha. In the end, everything was devoured. PC carved absolutely everything off the turkey with some help from Valie. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get a photo of the turkey so no one will believe me when I tell you it was giant. It actually fed about 30 people quite happily. Definitely the biggest crowd ever as well. Who would have thought so many non-Americans would be interested in Thanksgiving? Guess everyone likes a roast turkey though! Besides it was a great excuse to drink the rest of our alcohol before we all disappeared. Overall a good time was had by all and I had a great time cooking – which of course is something I rarely do! Some of our friends from DAGOC bought Sarah and I some volunteer outfits and for about 5 minutes we wore them! Thank goodness we were contractors!

Dawn and Laura headed to Dubai the next morning bright and early while I finished up a few more things at work. We made a few trips to the airport dropping people off on their ways home. Had a few heavy nights of drinking in between. Garveys became the hang out of choice. Lots of beers and dancing to remind us that we were all nearly leaving. After too much partying, I decided that I would go to Dubai for the day on Friday. Got up real early and just went. Arrived at Dawn and Laura’s hotel and we just hung out for a bit because we had lunch reservations at the Burj al Arab. This of course is the infamous 7 star hotel in Dubai. I have to admit while I was impressed with what it looked like I did assume it would be a bit cooler. It was all decorated for Christmas which was a nice change to Doha, but it really wasn’t all that I thought it would be. Definitely worth seeing if you are in the area, but the Jumeirah Beach Hotel where Dawn stayed was a lot classier. So after lunch we headed into town to do a bit of shopping. I was on a mission to find a dress to wear for New Years. I had actually found one in Doha, but when I went back to buy it the shop had burnt down in true Doha fashion! So I found the shop in Dubai and bought it there. We had a sneaky peak at the crazy Ski Dubai man made ski attraction. Man they have so little to spend all of their money on. Again probably not as amazing as we thought it would be. From the outside it looks quite big, but on the inside it was a bit smaller than I thought. It still was pretty strange. People were skiing and kids were sledding. After our shopping trip we headed back to Doha. The countdown till the Maldives was on!

Spent one day just buying the last of my Christmas presents and packing up my entire apartment. Was extremely surprised how much stuff I actually acquired during my time in Doha. Had to post a few items to all parts of the world. Christmas eve was spent in Doha airport waiting for our plane to leave. Unfortunately it wasn’t the last time I would be leaving Doha, but at least we were heading somewhere amazing. Here we are getting ready to open our presents...more to come from the Maldives soon!

This brings this post to a close for now. I now cordially invite you all to roll up for the Sarah Grubb Magical Mystery Tour. First stop Raa Atoll Maldives! Then London, Copenhagen, Oslo, and who knows where…maybe even Rio!! Gotta get use to being a nomad. Got too many places to go and too much to see.

Have a great holiday season, wherever you are.

All my love,

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Opening Ceremony Night

So the show has finished now. Its really hard to believe that after so many months of planning and sweating, it finally has come and gone. We have just over 10 days until the closing ceremony but we are having a few days off from working very hard from the bump out over 44 hrs. Might even get myself to see some sport sometime in the middle of all of this.

The show was pretty amazing. Doha did surprise us with about the windiest coldest day that I have experienced since I got here. Unfortunately we had to cut a bit of the flying elements due to the high winds, but overall it was fantastic! The LED Screen was the biggest spectacle. It has caused us huge amounts of grief with the construction of the steel structure to support it. Its about 50m across and 20m high. It really is something else. They don't even know what they will do with it when the games are over. Probably just trash it because you can if you have all the money in the world. It looked amazing and it basically was the backdrop to the entire show. Everything was choreographed from the Emir's point of view. So of course he had the best seat in the house for everything including the massive LED screen.

The other big moment of the night was the lighting of the cauldron. The Emir's youngest son trained for a few months to ride this horse up a great big ramp with the torch and then light the cauldron at the top. In the 2 dress rehearsals neither time went all that well, so on the night every one of us couldn't breathe. He actually did it in the end, tripped up a couple of times, and got the whole crowd cheering him on. It was magnificant. As you can see the Cauldron is absolutely massive compared to the guy on his horse and the screen dwarfs the cauldron so overall it was a huge $$ production that I am quite amazed I had anything to do with!

So the fireworks of course went off splendidly. Then the thunderstorm came. We were absolutely drenched during the load out. I stayed until 5am and changed my clothes into costume blacks around 3am because my other clothes were useless. We took 46 hours to bump out the show and then sport started.

We have had a couple of easy days just hanging out, buying cool Doha 2006 merchandise and catching up on some well deserved sleep. I have had a few shopping trips with Philby and PC and we came across the porn section in Doha. Check this out! I mean really - naughty librarians in Doha??? I think not...Oh and the shop called the clothes Langery. Gotta love their English here in the desert. It sure makes me laugh. So perhaps the reason it rained so hard on us following the show was because Allah thinks this shop has got to go! At least we still have more proof that the locals get up to no good even though they aren't supposed to! I have been dying to see Casino Royale but knowing how much kissing they cut out of movies, I didn't dare see a James Bond film here, but then after seeing this shop, Doha has surprised me again!

The closing ceremony is on Friday 15th December. Dawn James who was my boss in Melbourne is arriving from London on Weds to see the show and hang out to see the sights of Doha. This shouldn't take too long but then on the 24th December we all head off to the Maldives for 4 days of houses on poles, drinks with umbrellas and daybeds in the sun. Here is a photo of where we are staying but I am sure I will have better ones when I actually get there. We have to take a seaplane to get our little huts. Its going to be amazing. The seaplane also takes you to the spa I think or was it a speed boat? I can't remember. There will be lots off eggs florentine with Bacon, Bacon and more Bacon. Then I will head back to Doha before heading out to London with Dawn. I don't really have any plans, but I suppose the Doha blog will keep going even though I will not be in Doha. I will try to get work there, but eventually I will go broke, so we shall see how that goes. Still hoping to make it back to Tassie for Mackonis' wedding in Feb. Hopefully I will have enough money to head back to London after that.

I had to take this photo of this bird outside my window. I opened the drapes and there it was. You just don't see wildlife here so this scared me a lot! How creepy is he? Anyway he comes to visit a lot now. I think he needs a name as well.

There will be more photos of closing and all of the activities that go with leaving the gig. Am hoping to really cook a turkey soon so there will be photos of that I am sure. I have done it before and I will do it again! Doha Style! One of my really good friends has left already and it just reminds you that everyone has to go back home. No more parties, drinking, working late, laughing and trying to stay sane in a place that is more boring than the desert...oh wait it is the desert. Its hard to believe that as of late because it has been so rainy and cold. I actually had to buy a winter coat here! But then again its probably only about 12/55 degrees at night, but from 55/125 degrees, that is a huge difference. We just never thought we would be wishing for the warm again! It has given me the opportunity to buy some clothes for London as I don't have many here.

Anyway, if any of you will be in the London/Europe area in the new year, let me know. I am even thinking about the US eventually - maybe in summer time, but I have so much catching up to do that I am sure I will be in everyone's neck of the woods at some point!

Keep the emails coming and let me know what your Christmases will be like. It is so hard to remember that Christmas is nearly here. There are a few trees and lights around but just not what we are use to. At least it is cold so it feels a bit Christmasy to me.

Family - sorry I won't be there yet again but apparently we can use wireless internet from our hut on poles. Will skype you all. Pressies are on the way. I promise next year...

Love to everyone,

More Photos of the show for your enjoyment: