Friday, October 31, 2008

Unlike most American airports that roll up the runways at around 10pm, the Doha, Qatar airport is a bustle of activity as I write this at 2am. The terminal is still brightly lit as flights arrive and depart here all through the night.

It’s not lost on me that tonight is Halloween and I am spending my time assigning all of the costumes that parade before me to their appropriate nation or ethnic group. Even though this is my third time here, I am struck that this is the most ethnically diverse population I have seen in any airport. I am pretty good at distinguishing the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and South Asians, but sometimes have a hard time knowing is someone is Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi or Nepali. I can usually tell the sub-Saharan Africans from those in the North and can discern most Muslims, of any nationality, by their dress. There is something oddly sensual about the women in their burkhas or some in other robes where only their eyes are visible. I think it has to do with the way the cloth floats around them when they walk and the promise of what lies underneath. The Westerners are easy to identify as they travel around in pods wearing their trekking clothes.

During my total 10 hours (*sigh*) layover I have only seen 3 other people using a laptop and very few talking on their cellphones. What in the world are they doing with their time? Most are talking and laughing with their companions.

There’s a McDonald’s like playground and the noises of the children cannot be drowned out by the overhead flight announcements.

There is only one shop in the whole airport - duty free. It's filled with booze, cigarettes, chocolate, perfume and electronics for sale. No books. No magazines.

On to Nepal!


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