Doha – Reinvent yourself

We arrived in Doha just a few weeks after the 2009 Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which meant any magazine in a hotel foyer, coffee shop or dentist’ office still had a reminiscent photograph of DeNiro or Scorsese in the first few pages. I read every article fascinated with who was in town and the beauty of the Festival, they had films screened in visually stunning locations and an incredible depth and variety of content.

I caught up with a girlfriend from Canada in our first few days here, we’d worked together in recruitment in Calgary and she had moved back to Doha to be with family. As we sat in the hotel foyer catching up on old news I asked what she was doing for work. She told me about how her sister was working on the festival and how she had gained a few months work there herself. She’d been helping out with the panels and discussions, her eyes lit up when she spoke about it. “I want to do that next year, it sounds fantastic”. I said.

Last night I sat with a group of woman who are all involved in writing, publishing and education in Doha. We were talking about future magazine article ideas and events going on in Doha. We started to get excited about some of the events and who we should be talking to.  Who were the key players, what were their achievements? One of the women said “people tend to come to Doha and re-invent themselves”. I knew what she was talking about,  I agreed.

It’s not unique to Doha. When any of us move city or travel overseas we have a chance to re-invent ourselves. School friends aren’t around to remind everyone of the time you wet your pants in Grade 3. Old work colleagues cant reminisce about the Christmas party that you snogged the bloke with the bad shoes and sometimes no-ones there to clarify if you really did complete that Law degree.  It sounds so much better to say you “ran” the project rather than simply be one of the team.

In some cases this re-invention can be diabolical, people are in jobs way beyond their capabilities. In other cases it’s inspiring. People are given an opportunity to show they can do anything, and they do. People start business’, they build things, grow things and develop things all the while flying by the seat of their pants using hard work, energy and optimism to keep them going. Particularly in Doha, there’s a feeling that anything is possible.

This morning I arrived at Katara Village, home of the 2nd Doha Tribeca Film Festival and it’s absolutely buzzing. People are rushing to get things finished, those little jeeps that you see on film sets are buzzing from place to place with stressed people hanging off of them talking quickly in to mobile phones. There’s action everywhere and it’s coming together. I can’t help but wonder how proud the the original crew who decided to do this event are. Is this what they pictured?

When you wander around from building to building you hear accents from all over the world. There’s people everywhere, some of them live here permanently, some are here for the short term, all are here for the expertise they can offer. It’s the same throughout Doha.  Whether your a banker in the city or you’re working in Operations out on the plant you’ve decided to take a chance, to uproot all that you know and give it a try. Maybe you want a better opportunity for your children maybe you just want to travel? Perhaps it’s all of that and more.

There’s enough interesting people around me to be able to write hundreds of blogs. Who are you? Where did you come from? Why Doha? Which is what I think I might do. I’d love to spend the next few days blogging about the people involved in the festival from the guy driving the jeep to (if I’m very very lucky) either Brigitte or Marian Lacombe.

This afternoon as I sat in the press room clicking away on my keyboard I enjoyed a bit of banter with a couple of cameramen from Al Jazeera. It’s times like these I feel a long way from the little travelers. My phone rang and it was a school Mum, she wanted to know should she bring Cheese Ghost’s, mini yoghurts or popcorn to the Kindergarten Halloween party. It’s a burning issue. The party is on Thursday and we’re not sure if we have a craft or an activity planned! Should she decorate pumpkins or do marshmallows on sticks. What are my thoughts? Have I collected the orange plates and forks? I can’t help but get the giggles at the absurdity of my two situations.

There’s a limit on how much you can reinvent yourself when you have 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle.

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