Doha – the sand peninsula

The plane from NYC to Qatar was huge – at least as long as an eight story apartment building and with a wingspan wider than the length of a brontosaurus.

The size of the plane paled in comparison considering I was cursing the stars around 4 am Sat morning as I wiggled in my eetsy beetsy economy seat trying to lift my swollen legs and get some sleep.  The passengers in the seats in front of me were “not amused.”  I wondered how and why development workers are required to fly economy class when they are expected to hit the ground running – jet-lagged, culturally challenged and everything new with very little chance to rest to wait for your body to catch up to whereever you are.  But then.. blessed relief … I found “the position.”  And so it was that I was able to get 7 hours of sleep give or take

Flying down the coast of Kuwait into Doha around sunset was great.  All you see is beige sand, on and on and on…and a few oil refineries.  There were dozens of huge shiny  skyscrapers  over Doha city. They looked incongruous to the flatness of the land around it.  Some were skeletons of skyscrapers  half built that looked like something out of those futuristic science fiction movies that I really don’t like watching.

Now in the Doha, Qatar airline terminal having a latte and an almond croissant (my lunch, Doha supper), I have another 3.5 hours of flying before arrival in Islamabad at 4 am Sunday morning.

Of course I almost didn’t make it to the plane in the first place.  Having landed in NYC at LaGuardia airport, who knew that international flights left from JFK ?  Maybe I should have done more than just glanced at the ticket! But thanks to the kindness and the curiousity of a UN colleague, I found my way and discovered ..the greatest airport invention since wifi hotspots…an airport spa – a real spa with massages, pedicures, manicures and gosh knows what else – I was overwhelmed by the choices.  The best part..they catered to their audiences.  Only have 15 minutes before your boarding call? No problem – here’s a 15 min massage for you.. Or a pedicure at 20 mins.  What great marketing.  My neck and back massage was superb.  Proof positive that carrying a backpack full of briefing papers does not for a relaxed back make.

Next posting – Islamabad.  If make computer works, if I can get internet etc. etc. etc.

"Relax, relax, relax…"

“It will be all right.”

Sometimes random things happen in the normal course of a day’s events and they end up having great meaning.

This morning I’m walking through the theatre district in New York City on my way to the UN building for my briefings.  I’m walking the NY walk, the big city walk, short fast steps looking out for the potholes and sidewalk cracks designed to sprain your ankle after your heel gets caught.  I’m looking out for craters, dodging pushy taxis and manouevring my way around lanconic tourists taking a stroll.  And while I’m in my private world of pleasure taking in, and loving the sounds and sights of being in a big city again, a man walked past me and in a normal voice talking to no one in particular he said – “…relax, relax, relax…it will be all right.”

How did he know?  How did he know  that at that moment I was reviewing the previous day’s briefings on the complexities of the situation in Pakistan and the difficulty I will have in reporting the news from the country.  Moreover it was very clear that all acknowledged the difficulty.

So I was thinking of this while I was walking until I heard “…relax, relax, relax…it will be all right.”  I thought about it on the way to the UN and again tonight on my return to the hotel.  And a calmness settled over me, unlocking my tension.  It will be all right.  I know it will.

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Went to see a Broadway play last night called  “I King” – with Geoffrey Rush, Andrea Martin and Susan Sarandon.  Kinda cool to see Geoff just five seats away from you and to hear Susan’s distinctive voice resonate in the theatre.  Left at intermission because I had forgotten how much I disliked Eugene Ionescu as a writer.  This particular play revolved around death and destruction and frankly, those are not the type of messages I want to hear before I leave for a crisis country.  A happy musical would have been a better choice!